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Who Will Score Korea’s 1st Goal in World Cup?

Posted June. 04, 2010 14:50,   


In the history of Korea’s participation in the World Cup soccer finals, the country’s first score has played a key role.

In the 1986 tournament in Mexico, Park Chang-sun scored Korea’s first World Cup goal and gave his Korean teammates confidence that they could succeed in the world’s biggest sporting event. The team’s subsequent 1-1 tie with Bulgaria and 3-2 defeat to Italy after a hard-fought match were possible because Park’s historic goal.

In the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Lee Chun-soo’s score off a free kick against Togo served as the springboard for Korea’s performances in its remaining two group games, a 1-1 draw with France and a 2-0 loss to Switzerland.

In the 1994 World Cup in the U.S., however, Team Korea allowed two goals to Spain before Hong Myung-bo scored in the 85th minute. Korea eventually played to a 2-2 draw in that game, but lost momentum.

In the 1990 event in Italy, Korea lost its first game against Belgium 2-0 and dropped its other two group games as well.

So who scores Korea’s first goal could determine whether the team advances to the second round of the South Africa World Cup this month. Five soccer experts – four color commentators for Korea’s three major TV networks and one professor of sport records analysis – predicted who will get things going for the Taegeuk Warriors.

○ Unanimous support for Park Chu-young

The five experts unanimously picked striker Park Chu-young to score Korea’s first goal, citing his ball touches, ability to penetrate quickly, and his fast shooting. While Greece, the first team to face Korea in the World Cup, has tall defenders, it is slow to shift from offense to defense, they said.

If Korea can stop Greece’s corner kicks and get the ball to its flankers, the experts said the team can create space behind Greek defenders for Park to infiltrate.

SBS commentator Park Moon-sung said that if the flankers can get the ball to Park on the inside, he could be left in a one-on-one situation with the Greek goalkeeper.

○ Surprise goals expected

The experts then picked Park Ji-sung of Manchester United as the second most likely player to score first for Korea, citing his ability to keep and dribble the ball and move in spaces. They say he could repeat his “lightning shot” as shown in an Asian World Cup qualifier against Iran or his surprise mid-range goal in the May 24 exhibition game versus Japan.

No. 3 on the list is Lee Chung-yong of the Bolton Wanderers. Shin Moon-sun, a professor at Myongji University in Seoul, said Lee’s short steps and rapid acceleration can result in surprise shots. In particular, Shin said he expects Lee to employ good sense in set plays.

○ Free kick goals

Several of the experts raised the possibility of a goal from a free kick early in the Greece game. While Greek defenders will likely set up a high wall, a ball that passes through the barrier could prove fatal to the goalkeeper.

SBS commentator Shin Yeon-ho said Yeom Gi-hun could score with his steep and powerful free kick, just as Lee Eul-yong did in the 2002 World Cup consolation game against Turkey.

MBC commentator Kang Shin-woo said the first goal is necessary so that Korea can implement stable tactics. “Whoever scores it, the first goal should come early against Greece,” he said.