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Swiss, Korean Goalies Are On a Roll

Posted June. 23, 2006 04:06,   


The last obstacle to scoring a goal is the hand of the goalkeeper.

The goalkeeper of the Korean national team is Lee Woon-jae (33), who will play his 100th A-match (matches played at the national level) this Saturday against Switzerland, and will be the first goalkeeper to join the “Century Club” (a group of players who have played in more than 100 A-matches) in Korean football history.

Lee Woon-jae, who lit up like a star during the match against France, is on a roll. Even during foot volleyball, he shows great performance, even having attempted an overhead kick.

Lee says, “We weren’t able to beat France, but I want to conquer the Alps this time. Beyond the Alps lie great promises.”

Swiss goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuhler (35) has allowed no points so far in this tournament. He says, “Korea showed great performance in 2002, and is a very aggressive team. But, that will still be no excuse to allow a goal past me.”

Both players have firmly secured their position as starting goalkeepers. Lee Woon-jae plays in his 10th consecutive final selection match starting from World Cup 2002. Zuberbuhler played in all 12 preliminary matches of this World Cup and has played in 42 A-matches.

Lee is 182 cm tall and Zuberbuhler is 197 cm tall. Lee Woon-jae’s strength is stability, while Zuberbuhler’s strength is his ability to handle mid-air balls. Lee has received higher ratings, even though he has allowed two goals, and Zuberbuhler none.

Zuberbuhler was initially assessed to have slow judgment and therefore the goalkeeper position was thought to be the weakest among the Swiss defense. On the surface, it has allowed no goals. But would it have achieved that had it not been for the four-back defense system?

Who will get the last laugh on Saturday?

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com