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Soccer Coach Renews Commitment to Victory

Posted June. 26, 2010 20:28,   


“We`ll pay what we owe at any cost.”

This is what national soccer coach Huh Jung-moo said ahead of South Korea’s second-round match against Uruguay Saturday.

Prior to starting practice Thursday, he said, “Korea advanced to the second round not because of one person. We must repay the Korean people, who rooted for the team throughout the night, as well as the parents who nurtured these players.”

"I have this message of this phrase to prevent players from becoming negligent or complacent, and motivate them to aim even higher.”

Huh has communicated his intent through a four-character Chinese saying at critical moments. Upon completing the team`s first practice Jan. 3 this year, Huh quoted the phrases, “A tiger gazes at its prey with aggressive eyes,” and “Wise judgment of a tiger and slow steps of a cow.”

He metaphorically compared his stern determination to a tiger in preparing for the World Cup in the Year of Tiger under the Chinese zodiac.

Ahead of the final group game versus Nigeria, the biggest obstacle the team faced in its drive toward the second round, Huh suggested the phrase, “Break the pot for cooking rice and sink the ship to prevent a return.”

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won also used the phrase early this year, which effectively signals determination to stage a do-or-die battle.

Huh said, “Four-character Chinese phrases are simple but can conveniently communicate my intent,” adding, “I always prepare and agonize over which messages to give.”

Shin Seon-woo, coach of the domestic pro basketball team SK Knights and Huh’s classmate at Yonsei University in 1974, said, “Jung-moo is very knowledgeable because he read a lot of books as a student. He is amateur grade 4 in the game go and has a keen interest in four-word Chinese phrases.”

Huh spoke of “repaying benefits” in his squad`s march toward the quarterfinal. Team captain Park Ji-sung was a little known player at Myongji University but was given an opportunity after being picked up by Huh, who was then the Olympic coach.

Park says he considers Huh the benefactor of a lifetime.