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Soccer Team Preps for WC Qualifier vs. Saudis

Posted June. 09, 2009 07:18,   


The national soccer team yesterday gathered at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, to train for its final two World Cup qualifiers.

The Taegeuk Warriors looked proud for making their seventh straight World Cup, but got tense when head coach Huh Jung-moo appeared.

○ Reserves determined to play

In preparation for Wednesday’s qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Seoul, Huh gave tailored training to those who played against the United Arab Emirates Saturday, replacements, and those who sat on the bench.

Nine players who played the full 90 minutes Saturday, including captain Park Ji-sung, Park Chu-Young and Ki Sung-Yueng, ran on the lawn wearing jogging shoes and got a massage.

The remaining 11 players loosened up by running and doing defensive and offensive drills such as a one-on-one and two-on-two plays. They also played a 30-minute scrimmage to boost game-time skills.

The reserves sat on the bench against the UAE Saturday, but looked determined to play versus Saudi Arabia in the scrimmage.

While watching the scrimmage, Huh pondered who to start against Saudi Arabia. Defenders Lee Young-pyo and Oh Beom-seok must sit out because of accumulated yellow cards and midfielder Kim Jung-woo because of his red card against the UAE.

“Until yesterday, we celebrated our victory, but from today, we must focus on games. For the upcoming qualifier against Saudi Arabia, I will pick the best team by choosing from qualified players who didn’t play Saturday along with existing members,” Huh said.

○ Forming the best team

“We shouldn’t be complacent about qualifying for the World Cup,” the coach said. “Every match matters and Korea’s pride is pinned on every match. I will do my best to ensure a good finish.”

On the replacement of older players with younger ones, he said, “I am 80 percent satisfied with the replacement process. Younger players have made rapid progress and shown superb performances.”