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Advocaat Still High on Ahn Jung-hwan

Posted June. 08, 2006 03:01,   


The Korean national soccer team’s main striker Ahn Jung-hwan (30, Duisburg) appeared confident as he showed up at the team’s camp in Cologne on June 7 after wrapping up training in Scotland.

In the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, Ahn scored a tying goal in the U.S. match and a golden goal that defeated Italy and brought Korea to the quarterfinals. Four years later, Korean soccer has seen a number of changes. Despite high hopes, Ahn drifted from club to club, displaying mediocre performance. But the talented striker who led the national team to glory four years ago still has the strong support of the team’s new leadership.

Ahn is the answer to Team Korea’s weakness in goal-making. What he lacks in gruff he makes up for by brilliantly spotting his location and instinctive shooting. Despite that fact that Ahn was on the bench more than he played in Duisburg, Advocaat’s confidence in Ahn never faded as he put him in the forefront in all four of the recent evaluations matches. Although Ahn has not scored a single goal in these warm-up matches, he is confident that he will be at the center when Korea defeats Togo and advances to the final 16.

History might yet repeat itself. Four year ago, Ahn returned the insult he received from his Serie-A club Perugia by scoring a goal that defeated Italy in the World Cup. After the World Cup, Ahn played for Shimizu S Pulse and Yokohama Mariners, then moved to FC Metz in France, and finally to Duisburg in Germany, with no remarkable performance. Now another opportunity for redemption knocks at his door, and he welcomes it.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com