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Defender’s Woes

Posted June. 09, 2005 06:39,   


Park Dong-hyuk (26, Chonbuk), a defender for South Korea’s national football team that is on a hard expedition path, is suffering from heartache. He does not appear except for meals. He does not even hang around with his teammates.

This is because he blames himself for a mistake that caused the team to give up a goal to Uzbekistan on June 3. Park Dong-hyuk tried to receive the ball from the midfield and pass it on to the goalkeeper with a header, but missed it, and this had led to a goal for the opponent.

Netizens are reproaching Park Dong-hyuk with personal attacks such as “Did you make the mistake because you tried to look at Su-ae (an actress) who was in the stands?” Sympathetic opinions such as, “Anyone can make a mistake. Let us not blame Park Dong-hyuk,” are a minority. This is similar to the case where Park Jae-hong (27, Chonnam), who played as a defender in the March 26 match against Saudi Arabia when the team lost 0-2, was hurt by so much criticism that he had to close his homepage.

In short, Park Dong-hyuk is suffering form defender’s woes. No matter how good he played for the rest of the game, a defensive player suddenly becomes the enemy with a single mistake. This is exactly the opposite of strikers who become heroes with a single goal even if he has been performing badly for the rest of the game. The fact that Park Joo-young became a national hero when he shot a goal right before the final whistle after Korea had been playing a poor game against Uzbekistan proves this.

Experts say, “Soccer is not played by a single player, but by 11.” In other words, it is true that Park Dong-hyuk made a crucial mistake, but this was because there was a problem in the entire defensive line. A lack of organized play with midfield was also a reason. Park Joo-young may not have been able to score the goal without help from Kim Doo-hyun (23, Suwon) and Chung Kyung-ho (25, Sangmu).

For defensive players, nothing happens when the team wins, but they have to suffer the consequences when they lose. They are desperately in need of encouragement and applause.

Jong-KooYang yjongk@donga.com