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“When Training and Matches Are Separate, Players’ Morale is at Risk”

“When Training and Matches Are Separate, Players’ Morale is at Risk”

Posted May. 11, 2005 23:30,   


“There are a few things fans should know about the reality of Korean soccer.”

Park Sung-hwa (50), head coach of the Korean U-20 national soccer team, sighed as he watched the national team gathered at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on May 11 in preparation for the World Youth Championship (June 10~July 2, Netherlands). A preparation period is necessary to meet the fans’ expectations, but without the presence of “soccer genius” Park Joo-young, a crippled training session would be inevitable.

Park Sung-hwa said, “It’s all over. Park Joo-young will make a brilliant performance even in the national team. However I am about to talk about what reality the youth national team is faced with, because the fans have to know this.”

― Park Joo-young has been selected into the national team…

“This is a time to congratulate. Park Joo-young is a good player worthy of being one of the ‘best eleven.’ But look at the youth national team. The other players get the training, but Park Joo-young is the one to play in the actual games. I am concerned that this has caused the other players to lose morale.”

― If so, there must be considerable difficulties in preparing for international matches…

“Even leaving aside the matter regarding Park Joo-young, we are in a tough situation. Nigeria and Brazil, the two teams we will be facing at the World Youth Championships, are among the top teams. Switzerland is another team that we will play against in the preliminaries, and they are not deemed strong, but nations that are outsiders in European soccer prepare for this championship more than they prepare for the World Cup. Switzerland is one of them. In conclusion, not one is a weak opponent. We are in a difficult position to go beyond the preliminaries and there is not enough time for the training. All we can do is to do our best.”

― What is the U-20 national team currently most in need of?

“Confidence. It would be meaningless to aim for improvements in organization and power in the absence of our defense core player Kim Jin-kyu (Jubilo Iwata), and offense core player Park Joo-young. The foremost priority would be to make the players concentrate on their training without having any hard feelings about Kim Jin-kyu and Park Joo-young’s absence.”

― FC Seoul, Park Joo-young’s team, objected to Park Joo-young’s early joining of the U-20 national team on the grounds that soccer can flourish only when pro-soccer regains popularity…

“Imagine if the U-20 national team failed to bring a good performance in the international stage, such as winning the Asian Youth Championships last year. Would Park Joo-young be enjoying the popularity he has today? We should not disregard the World Youth Championships, which is a gateway to success for young soccer prospects of the world.”

A total of 26 members of the U-20 national team, in the absence of four players, including Park Joo-young, went into training camp amidst a drizzle of spring rain, aiming to re-live the “top-four legend” of 1983.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com