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Who Will Make the National Team?

Posted January. 04, 2006 03:03,   


When the Korean national team’s overseas training camp starts on January 15, it will be survival of the fittest.

Dick Advocaat, like his predecessor Gus Hiddink, will not announce the players who make main lineup of the national team beforehand.

“There will be no gimmie’s, not even for Park Ji-sung and Lee Young-pyo,” he said.

The selection of Korea’s best 11 soccer players depends on performance, not popularity. Everyone is waiting eagerly for this upcoming training camp, where the pressure will weigh heavily on local players in particular since this is their chance to get as much of Advocaat’s attention as possible while the European league players are not around.

Younger players who haven’t completed their military service yet have an additional ambition: if they make the final 16, they will get exemptions from military duty.

The most competitive position is for defensive midfielder. Kim Nam-il (Suwon), the “Vacuum Cleaner,” Kim Jeong-wu, Yi ho (Ulsan), Baek Ji-hun (Seoul), and Kim Sang-sik (Sungnam) will be competing for one position.

Since the final roster will carry two players per position, the competition ratio is 2.5 to 1.

Wings on both sides will be much sought-after positions as well. On the left, Park Joo-young (Seoul) and Jung Kyeong-ho (Sangmu) will fight over Seol Ki-hyun (Wolverhampton)’s place; and on the right, Lee Chun-soo (Ulsan), Cha Du-ri (Frankfurt), and Choi Tae-uk (Shimiz S Pearls) are competing over the position that will likely go to Park Ji-sung (Manchester United).

Center forward hopefuls are Ahn Jung-hwan (FC Metz), Lee Dong-kook (Seoul), Jung Jo-guk (Seoul), and Cho Jae-jin (Shimiz S Pearls).

Cho Won-hee and Song Chong-gug, both from Suwon, will fight over the right midfielder position, while on the left, Lee Young-pyo (Tottenham Hotspur), Kim Dong-jin (Seoul), and Jang Hak-yeong (Sungnam) will compete with each other. Offensive midfielder positions will be sought by Kim Du-hyeon (Sungnam) and Lee Eul-yong (Trabzonspor).

The team’s defensive lineup is pretty much set.

The defense consists of Kim Jin-gyu (Jubilo Iwata), Kim Yeong-cheol (Sungnam), Yu Gyeong-ryeol (Ulsan), and Choi Jin-cheol (Jeonbuk). Advocaat has built a tight defensive unit with these four elite, handpicked defenders. But he is also contemplating moving Kim Dong-jin to defend left, and appointing Kim Sang-sik as another defender.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com