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Coach Huh Names Preliminary WC Roster

Posted May. 01, 2010 07:27,   


“The national soccer team has a roster of the country’s strongest players ever. Team Korea is as strong as any nation.”

National soccer coach Huh Jung-moo looked full of confidence Friday in Seoul in announcing the 30-man preliminary roster for the World Cup finals in South Africa in June. Of these players, 23 will make the final roster before June 1, the deadline for submission.

Huh said, “I selected the 30 players by comprehensively considering their personal skills, ability to understand tactics, and physical and mental conditions. They must exercise and play games with a sense of pride as representatives of the Republic of Korea from now on.”

○ 23-man roster due in late May

The World Cup is the biggest spectacle for soccer and carries memories to last a lifetime, so this means tension runs extremely high. For this reason, coaches prefer veteran players with ample experience ahead of the event, and Huh also stressed “stability” as a keyword in his selections.

The preliminary list has the largest number of Korean players active in overseas leagues with 12, including captain Park Ji-sung (29, Manchester United), and Lee Chung-yong (22, Bolton Wanderers).

“The experience of playing in a big league in and of itself is an important asset in a big championship like the World Cup, which entails a heavy mental burden,” the coach said. “I’m paying attention to players active in Europe.”

○ Inclusion of veterans

Huh has named a number of veterans to the roster. Goalie Lee Woon-jae (37, Suwon Samsung) made the preliminary list despite being recently maligned for poor play. He could play in his fourth straight World Cup if he goes to South Africa. Only Hong Myung-bo, who is now coach of the national Olympic team, and Hwang Sun-hong, who now coaches Busan i-Park of the K-League, have played in four World Cups for Korea.

Ahn Jung-hwan (Dalian Shide), who has improved his performance, also made the list. He is tied for most World Cup goals scored by an Asian with Sami Al Jaber of Saudi Arabia with three, and could take the mark for himself if he makes the final 23-man roster.

Coach Huh also selected Lee Dong-gook (31, Jeonbuk Hyundai), Lee Young-pyo (33, Al Hilal), Kim Nam-il (33, Tom Tomsk) and Cha Du-ri (30, SC Freiburg). The players aim to start for Korea by banking on their ample experience.

Not making the cut are Seol Ki-hyeon (31, Pohang Steelers), who has returned to play in the K-League and wants to go to South Africa, and Kim Doo-hyun (28, Suwon Samsung) due to injuries.

○ Young bloods

Huh made no unexpected picks, but injected a dose of youth into the team, including Kim Bo-kyung (Oita Trinita), Gu Ja-cheol (Jeju United) and Lee Seung-ryul (FC Seoul), all of whom are 21 and played in the U-20 World Cup.

Lee Chung-yong and Ki Sueng-yong (21, Celtic) are leading the young blood in being named to the starting 11. Shin Hyung-min, 24, the centerpiece of the Pohang Steelers’ offense, and Kim Jae-sung, 27, also made the preliminary list.

In a dramatic move, Huh named to the team Hwang Jae-won (29, Pohang), who temporarily left the national team for personal reasons, as well as Yeom Ki-hoon (27, Suwon), and Kim Chi-woo (27, Seoul).

The players must report to training camp May 10 at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, to prepare for a friendly against Ecuador May 16.