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New National Team Coach Makes First Practice a Tense One

New National Team Coach Makes First Practice a Tense One

Posted October. 08, 2005 07:57,   


Now under a new head coach, the atmosphere surrounding the national football team is one of great tension.

On October 7, the date of the national team’s first training session since “Little General” Dick Advocaat’s appointment as head coach, players arrived in cars driven by their family and friends because of the new head coach’s strict order: “Do not drive your own cars to training camp.”

Most of the players who arrived followed the coach’s order to arrive at the National Football Center (NJC) in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, by 1:00 p.m.

Choi Jin-cheol (Jeonbuk), Kim Young-gwang (Jeonnam) and Jo Won-hee (Suwon), arrived by taxi. Kim Young-gwang had to pay 25,000 won coming from Kimpo Airport and Jo Won-hee, coming from Seocho-gu, Seoul, paid 35,000 for the taxi. Lee Cheon-soo (Ulsan) came in his girlfriend’s car, and Park Ji-sung (Manchester United) and Park Chu-young (FC Seoul) came in their agents’ cars. Others were given rides by their fathers or friends. Certain rookies had to struggle with security guards who refused to let them in because their faces were not recognized.

Among the players, Lee Dong-gook (Pohang) and Chung Gyeong-ho (Gwangju), who arrived together at 11:25 a.m., were the earliest arrivers. Song Jong-gug (Suwon) was the only one to be late, arriving at 1:09 p.m.

Advocaat arrived at around 10:45 a.m. Assistant coach Pim Verbeek, who had been in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province the previous day to watch a friendly match between FC Seoul and Vissel Kobe, was the earliest member of the team to arrive, checking in at 10:25 a.m..

After a 30-minute lunch at 1:30 p.m., the players took a short break and started training at 4:45 p.m. They became tense, however, when the head coach did not reveal the details of their post-lunchtime schedule. This is a method that Guus Hiddink also used during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup to keep the team in control. It is a method known to keep the players ready all the time by maintaining a state of tension.

Advocaat said nothing but “Nice to meet you” to the team when he faced them for the first time during lunch. The team finished their meals in silence and tension, with some players showing determination as they thought of the upcoming fight for starting lineup positions.

Summoned to the national football team in the last days of former head coach Johannes Bonfrere’s term, Jo Won-hee said, “Our head coach seems to emphasize mental strength,” with a rather flushed expression.

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com yjongk@donga.com