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Team Korea Still Searching for Stride

Posted June. 07, 2006 07:17,   


The Korean national team members gathered together in a circle in the middle of the field during their last overseas training at Glasgow. Dick Advocaat watched from afar. It was not Advocaat who summoned this meeting. Instead, it was team captain Lee Wun-jae’s idea to bring together his teammates for a solemn discussion. As the coaching staff watched on, the athletes talked amongst themselves quietly for a while before dispersing.

“I cannot discuss what it was about. I am not at liberty to disclose the details of the team’s internal affairs,” said an expressionless Lee. “We are a box that remains to be opened. When it is open, you will see a whole different side of us,” Lee continued. He became more relaxed as he continued. “I am sorry to have disappointed the fans in the Ghana match. But our determination to make the most of this World Cup has not changed.” The teamwork faltered during the Ghana match, according to Lee. “This needs to be addressed as we count down the hours. The World Cup cannot be put off because we need more time. It falls on us to quickly adapt to our surroundings.” What Lee must have talked about with his teammates at this meeting can be inferred from his comment.

The team’s more experienced members said that they should not be disheartened by the outcome of the Ghana match. Lee Young-pyo said, “It was not a good match but a worthy experience. As winning against Ghana does not guarantee us a victory in the next match, losing to them does not guarantee us more defeats. What’s important is to actually win the next one.”

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com