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Can Korea Beat France? Coach Says Yes

Posted June. 16, 2006 03:08,   


After Korea’s dramatic upset win against Togo on June 13, Korean national team players were able to relax a little. Finishing their stamina recovery training at Leverkusen Baiarena on June 14, the Korean players took some time off until noon on June 15. The players invited their friends to the Schloss Bensberg Hotel in the city of Bergisch Gladbach for a barbeque dinner and some good time. Ahn Jung-hwan (30, Duisburg) was reunited with his beautiful wife Lee Hye-won and his two-year-old daughter Li-won. Choi Jin-cheol (35, Jeonbuk Hyundai) met with his wife as well, while the young Baek Ji-hun (21, FC Seoul) and Park Ju-young (21, FC Seoul) met with their parents who traveled from Korea. The team members saw their loved ones after exactly twenty days since the evaluation match with Bosnia Herzegovina on May 26.

Winning against Togo has uplifted the team’s mood a great deal. “We must keep on playing in our own style. France is a strong team, but anything can happen,” said Lee Young-pyo (Tottenham Hotspur) with confident tone. When asked what that Korean style of play was, Lee explained: “It is the play we showed in 2002 World Cup—pressuring in the offense line, the teams offense and defense moving as a whole. If such play could be re-enacted, we will not be afraid of any team in the world.”

Lee Chun-su (25, Ulsan Hyundai) said, “A draw was what we hoped for when we thought of playing against France. Now we think we can win. Korea has gained momentum while France doesn’t after their draw against Switzerland. We can beat France if we use our superior speed to our advantage.” The team’s assistant coach Pim Verbeek agrees: “France is putting up a poor fight. The draw against the Swiss must weigh on their team heavily. In 2001, we lost 0-5 to France; in 2002, it was 2-3. We are getting better. Now it’s time to win.”

The Korean squad fastened its shoelaces as Advocaat on Jun 15 ordered the resuming of training aimed at beating the French team. Alongside Togo match participants Park Ji-sung (25, Manchester United) and Jo Jae-jin (25, Shimizu S Pulse), Baek Ji-hun, Park Ju-young, Jeong Gyeong-ho (26, Gwangju Sangmu) were seen running about in the field of Leverkusen Baiarena.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com