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Report: Japan Envies Team Korea’s Rise

Posted May. 13, 2006 06:54,   


The news has it that Japan is jealous over the strides the Korean national team has been making. A May 12 Reuters article titled: “Japan envies Korea’s success,” reports that the Japan Football Association’s desire to outrun Korea in World Cup is hounding Japanese national team manager Zico .

The news article asserts that Zico’s recent statement—that Team Japan’s aim in this year’s World Cup was to make the semifinals—was conscious of his team’s traditional rivalry with the Korean squad. Zico spoke in April that his foremost goal was to clear the first round, and doing so will bring his team one step closer to another goal: the semifinals.

Reuters said that Zico’s comment was influenced by JFA officials, who felt outdone by Korea in the 2002 World Cup. On the other side of the hearty congratulations they extended toward Korea for its success in the World Cup, JFA officials were clearly upset to see their rival thrive, the article writes. The report suspects that Zico might be under pressure from Korea-conscious JFA officials.

In reality, Zico gets irritable whenever he is compared to Guus Hiddink or Dick Advocaat. “Soccer is like a lottery. You can win all three group matches, and you can lose them all just as easily. But I want to go to semifinals,” said Zico.

JFA officials are nervous that Korea shows more potential of making the final 16 than Japan does. Although Korea faces tough opponents like France and Switzerland in Group G, it hopes to rack up at least one win against Togo. On the other hand, Japan is in a less-encouraging mix, facing Brazil, Croatia, and Australia as its opponents in Group-F. Reuters projected that there will be a fierce competition among Asian countries to claim themselves as Asia’s best; these countries includes Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Australia.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com