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Team Korea Departs for Iran after a Fuss with the Clubs

Posted November. 15, 2006 03:02,   


Led by Pim Verbeek, Team Korea has just embarked on a voyage towards the Middle East, but it seems that it is already facing rough and huge waves.

After a big quarrel between the Korea Football Association and the K-League clubs, the national team departed for Iran on November 13 to play its final match of the qualifying round for the 2007 Asian Cup. On November 15, it will battle Iran at 9:00 p.m. (Korea time) at Azadi Stadium located in Teheran.

Since both Korea and Iran have secured their tickets to the main tournament, the game is about prestige, deciding which team will be listed at the top of Group B. With three wins and two ties (11 winning points), the two teams are even in winning points, but in terms of goal differential, Korea, which scored 15 goals while losing three, is ahead of Iran, which has scored 10 while losing two.

It was only eight hours ahead of its departure on November 13 when Team Korea finalized the squad for Iran. Instead of the match against Iran, the members of the national team were chosen based on the needs for the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006. Moreover, they had only a short training session of less than five days. On the contrary, Iran is mobilizing its best players including those from overseas leagues.

Recently, criticism from clubs and fans has arisen against coach Verbeek as he has summoned players affiliated with Suwon Samsung and Seongnam Ilhwa, which are expected to have their first match for the K-League championship on November 19.

Kim Hak-beom, coach of Seongnam, complained, “It is nonsense to summon players from clubs competing for the championship just for a match in which winning or losing doesn’t really matter.” Nevertheless, for Verbeek, it does matter. He has declared that he will use the voyage to Iran as a launching pad to build up Team Korea for the Asian Games. Fifteen of the 20 players on the squad to Iran will be playing in Doha as well.

It seems that Verbeek will use a 4-3-3 formation as his basic strategy against Iran. While Jung Jo-gook (FC Seoul) will play the center forward position, players such as Choi Sung-kuk (Ulsan Hyundai), Lee Jong-min (Ulsan Hyundai), and Yeom Ki-hun (Jeonbuk Hyundai) will take the left and right wings. Considering the stamina problems of players from Suwon and Samsung, who have just went through the playoffs, it is likely that midfielders such as Lee Chun-soo (Ulsan), Kim Jung-woo (Nagoya Grampus), and Lee Ho (Zenit) will start the game. Depending on how the game unfolds, Kim Do-heon (Seongnam) could play as a substitute.

On the four-back defense line, it appears that Kim Dong-jin (Zenit) and Kim Jin-kyu (Jubilo Iwata) will take the center while Kim Chi-gon (Seoul) and Oh Beom-seok (Pohang Steelers) may be positioned on the left and right sides, respectively. Kim Young-kwang (Jeonnam) is expected to be the goalie.

Meanwhile, Koreans are becoming increasingly interested in watching whether Verbeek can prove himself correct with all the decisions he has made.