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Players Fight for Spots on Team Korea

Posted August. 10, 2006 05:29,   


The temperature was reading 34 degrees Celsius. Water sprayed on the grass to cool off the hot weather vaporized, only raising the temperature of players, but their eyes were full of life.

The Korean National Soccer Team held a practice drill on August 9 at the National Football Center (NFC) located in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. They were summoned on August 6, and were put through two grueling practice drills a day under the scorching sun, but the players did not seem tired at all.

They trained crossing the ball from the sides for the strikers in the middle to connect them to shots, as well as making short passes and then long passes from the midfield, and mini-games with nine players on each team. FC Seoul’s Kim Dong-seok and Suwon Samsung’s Shin Young-rok, both 19 year-olds and the youngest players on the squad, as well as Park Joo-young (FC Seoul), Seongnam Ilhwa’s Kim Doo-hyun, and other star players such as Ahn Jung-hwan played enthusiastically on the field.

The drills started at 10:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. in order to avoid the heat wave, but there wasn’t much of a difference in temperature. The sunrays were hot, there was no wind, and the players were literally soaked with sweat, but they kept playing in order to secure a spot on the roster.

Coach Pim Verbeek’s decision to add a large number of young players in order to change generations was paying off with synergy effects. Everybody, from 19 year-old Kim Dong-seok to 30 year-old veteran Ahn Jung-hwan were giving their all to join the starting lineup.

In particular, Kim joined the pros in 2003 just after graduating from Yonggang Middle School and is currently the youngest sensation of this drill. After playing for FC Seoul’s second team to improve his skills, since this year he plays in the big leagues, but even so, his name is virtually unknown even to the most passionate soccer fans. However, Verbeek boldly selected Kim, despite his young age, for his ball control and passing skills, and even Ahn and Suwon’s Kim Nam-il commented, “Although he is small, his skills and stamina are great, making him distinguished from the rest of the younger players.” Ulsan Hyundai’s Roh Jung-yoon, who is currently training to become a second-class coach at NFC, remarked, “It is like seeing a second Park Ji-sung.”

The fate of the players who endured four days of training will be decided on August 10. Coach Verbeek will make the final selection to choose 20 players out of 35, 28 who have been practicing since August 6 and seven who couldn’t join due to their clubs’ schedule, who will play the Asian Cup preliminary match against Taiwan on August 16.