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Soccer Team Enters Venue of Opening WC Game

Posted June. 11, 2010 11:56,   


The national soccer team entered Thursday Port Elizabeth at the southern end of South Africa, where it will play its first World Cup Group B match against Greece Saturday.

The Taegeuk Warriors arrived in the city by airplane and warmed up at Gelvandale Stadium after checking into the Paxton Hotel. South Korea must defeat Greece or face a slim chance of advancing to the second round, so Port Elizabeth is a land of opportunity and promise for the team.

A tough game is expected between the two teams at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as Greece is in the same situation.

○ Wind as a variable

The coastal city is a mecca for maritime sports and nicknamed “city of the wind.” Accordingly, the wind could serve as a variable in Saturday’s game.

South Africa’s weather agency says northwestern or southwestern winds are expected to blow between 5.3 and 7.8 meters per second on game day. The stadium’s ventilation space could cause whirlwinds on the ground, giving rise to unexpected situations for players.

The winds could cause unexpected changes in the ball’s movement, making things tough for goalkeepers.

Coming down from the highlands of Rustenburg some 1,200 meters above sea level, South Korean players will find Port Elizabeth more comfortable since its altitude is just 15 meters. Sports science experts say people training at highly elevated areas perform better physically after coming down to a lower altitude.

The players have gotten used to training in highlands after doing so at 1,200 meters above sea level for 16 days at their training camp in Austria. They face another challenge, however, of dealing with different ball speeds in a low-lying area.

○ Facing Greece in perfect condition

A source at the South Korean team said no player has injuries or is in bad condition. Center defender Cho Yong-hyung has overcome shingles, lead striker Park Chu-young has recovered his health, and veteran striker Lee Dong-gook’s thigh injury has improved.

Coach Huh Jung-moo is running a program designed to keep his players in peak condition in the Greece game. Barring an unexpected injury, the team is expected to face the Greeks in perfect condition Saturday.