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Team Korea’s Victory Quiets Critics

Posted June. 15, 2006 03:48,   


SBS sports commentator Hwang Sun-hong, 38, coach of Jeonnam Dragons, had a flushed faced after he broadcasted the Korea-Togo match at Frankfurt’s Waldstadion. It was because he witnessed a dramatic victory coming from behind, as well as Korea’s first World Cup victory abroad, but also because he was proud of his fellow soccer players that quieted European countries such as Italy, which attributed Korea’s advancement to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup as a string of luck and help from referees.

He said, “I thank them. Honestly, before the World Cup I was most concerned about a victory abroad. That is because it is not easy to overcome the difficulties of an away-game. However, I ardently prayed that my fellow soccer players would win and scorn the arrogance of Europe.”

Commentator Hwang scored the first goal in Korea’s first match of the 2002 World Cup against Poland. This goal acted as a detonation charge for the team to advance to the second round, and reach the quarterfinals. However, his pride was hurt when European reports downplayed Korea’s achievement, which was the fruit of the efforts and toil of 23 players.

He said, “If results are not good, European countries might continue to say that Korea’s quarterfinal appearance was a fluke. With today’s victory, we can completely eliminate such opinions.”

He added with a smile, “The significance of a victory coming from behind at an away World Cup match is great. It means that Korean soccer is strong. Now no one will be able to ignore Korean soccer.”

He did not forget to advise the squad on its June 19, second match against France.

“Now it is not impossible to beat France. In the match against Togo, the players were full of energy when converting from defense to offense. After all, one should score to win a game. They should play more actively. However, France is a very strong team, so I think it will be better to attack after stabilizing defense. In addition, the offensive tempo should also be fast.”

Jae-Yun Jung jaeyuna@donga.com