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“Twenty-Year-Old Genius” Joins National Team

Posted May. 10, 2005 23:34,   


“Football Genius” Park Joo-young (20, FC Seoul) has joined the national football team led by Head Coach Johannes Bonfrere.

On May 10, following the request of Bonfrere, the Korea Football Association included Park Joo-young in the entry of 22 players for the national team, which will leave for the 2006 World Cup Asian qualifiers of Asian Group A against Uzbekistan on June 3 and Kuwait on June 9. This is the fourth time Park Joo-young has been on the national team following the match against Paraguay in April last year, the draft for the Asian Cup last July, and the preliminary draft for training in the United States this January (announced on December 10 last year). However, though his name has been on the list, he has never played in a national team match before, making this his first time.

A Hellish Race-

For the next month, Park Joo-young will have to run a hellish race. He is on both the U-20 national team and the national team. Therefore, he has to run in three K-league matches on May 15, 18, 22, participate in national team training from May 24, participate in the Uzbekistan and Kuwait matches, then run in the U-20 national team’s game in the Netherlands for the World Youth Championship on June 10. The U-20 team has matches against Switzerland on June 13, Nigeria on June 16, and Brazil on June 18.

Park says “A player is the happiest when he is running in a match. I will do my best on the national team.”

Competition for Survival-

The superficial reason for Park’s inclusion in the national team is to replace “Seol-valdo” Seol Ki-hyun, who cannot participate due to military service. However, Coach Bonfrere has changed his opinion about Park, saying, “His performance has improved significantly” from his earlier stance that Park is “not yet ready,” and so it is possible that Park will be a major player in the offense. Though Park is indisputably in the entry for the U-20 team, competition within the national team is inevitable. Star players like Ahn Jung-hwan (Yokohama), Lee Dong-guk (Pohang), Cha Doo-ri (Frankfurt), and Jeong Gyeong-ho (Gwangju) are his competitors.

Will Using Park Be Successful?-

KBS Commentator Lee Yong-soo, who is also a professor at Sejong University, says, “Park Joo-young is the only player that can bring change to the team’s offensive strategies. As all the team’s strategies have been exposed, changes can be made according to how the team uses Park. As he adapted well in the K-league, I hope for positive results this time as well. Though it is difficult for him to run the full 90 minutes, it will be worthwhile to let him run for at least half the game.”

Meanwhile, Head Coach Bonfrere confirmed the 22 preliminary entries, including “New Striker” Kim Jin-yong (Ulsan), who has been selected for the national team for the first time, and defender Kim Han-yoon (Bucheon SK).

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com