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Korea Republic: in need of a morale boost

South Korea's Lee Dong-Gook celebrates his goal against Costa Rica with teammate Lee Young-Pyo (L) in the first half during first round action of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Los Angeles February 17.
Photo: Sam Mircovich, Reuters
The Korean Republic team is a well established feature on the world football scene. Indeed, for many years it was the face of Asian football. Having first qualified for the World Cup Finals in 1954 in Switzerland, the Koreans will be involved for the fifth time in succession in 2002, a record far better than that of any other Asian federation. However, the Korean team has yet to make it past the group stage, and their performances in 2000 have fallen some way short of their own expectations.

Park Ji-Sung (L) of the Korean Republic fights for control of the ball with Indonesia's Uston Nawawi (R) during their Group B match of The Asian Cup in Beirut October 19, 2000.
Photo: Damir Sagolj, Reuters

Park Ji-Sung (R) of Korea Republic battles for the ball with Nawaf Al Temyat (L) of Saudi Arabia during their team's semi-final of the Asian Cup in Beirut October 26, 2000.
Photo: Damir Sagolj, Reuters

Two draws in a guest appearance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup at the beginning of 2000 (against Canada and Costa Rica) meant a premature exit for the Koreans, as did two 1-0 victories at the Olympic Football Tournament in Australia, despite finishing level on points with Spain and Chile. And at the actual highlight of the year, the Asian Cup in the Lebanon, the team again failed to start convincingly. The Koreans survived the group stage by the skin of their teeth and did not show their true strength until the quarter-final, when they defeated the fancied Iranians. After going out to Saudi Arabia in the semis, a late goal from Dong Gook Lee secured them third place, but this cannot conceal the fact that they still have a lot of work to do before the World Cup on home soil.

Yet they will have to do it without coach Huh Jung-Moo, who had been planning to selectively re-build his team. Shortly before the year was out the Koreans confirmed that the national side will tackle the run-up to the World Cup on home ground under the renowned Dutch coach, Guus Hiddink. One player the new coach will definitely be able to rely on is 32-year-old Myung Bo Hong. The defensive stalwart plays in Japan for Kashiwa Reysol and is set to break the record for international appearances, which currently stands at 121 by his legendary compatriot Bum Kun Cha. Having played in the Korean team at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Hong acts as a foil for the many talented, yet inexperienced players in the side. Players such as 19-year-old Ji Sung Park, for example, who also plays in the J.League for Kyoto Purple Sanga, or the 21-year-old striker Dong Gook Lee of the Pohang Steelers. The latter, reverently called the "Lion King" in his home country, has played his way into the notebooks of a host of top European clubs with his recent performances and goals.

Pos   Popular Name   Shirt Name Club D.O.B.
[ 1]   GK   LEE Woon Jae   W J LEE   Sangmoo 26-Apr-73
[ 2]   DF   KANG Chul   C KANG   Linzer ASK (AUT) 02-Nov-71
[ 3]   DF   CHOI Sung Yong   S Y CHOI   Linzer ASK (AUT) 25-Dec-75
[ 4]   DF   SONG Chong Gug   C G SONG   Pusan I. Cons 20-Feb-79
[ 5]   DF   PARK Yong Ho   Y H PARK   Anyang LG 25-Mar-81
[ 6]   MF   YOO Sang Chul   S C YOO   Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 18-Oct-71
[ 7]   DF   KIM Tae Young   T Y KIM   Chunnam Dragons 08-Nov-70
[ 8]   MF   YOON Jong Hwan   J H YOON   Cerezo Osaka (JPN) 16-Feb-73
[ 9]   FW   KIM Do Hoon   D H KIM   Chonbuk Hyundai 21-Jul-70
[10]   FW   CHOI Yong Soo   Y S CHOI   Jef United (JPN) 10-Sep-73
[11]   FW   SEOL Ki Hyeon   K H SEOL   Royal Antwerp FC (BEL) 08-Jan-79
[12]   GK   KIM Yong Dae   Y D KIM   Yonsei Univ. 11-Oct-79
[13]   DF   SEO Deok Kyu   D K SEO   Ulsan Hyundai 22-Oct-78
[14]   MF   SEO Dong Won   D W SEO   Suwon Samsung 14-Aug-75
[15]   DF   LEE Min Sung   M S LEE   Sangmoo 23-Jun-73
[16]   FW   AN Hyo Yeon   H Y AN   Kyoto Purple Sanga (JPN) 16-Apr-78
[17]   MF   HA Seok Ju   S J HA   Pohang Steelers 20-Feb-68
[18]   FW   HWANG Sun Hong   S H HWANG   Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 14-Jul-68
[19]   MF   LEE Young Pyo   Y P LEE   Anyang LG 23-Apr-77
[20]   DF   HONG Myung Bo   M B HONG   Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 12-Feb-69
[21]   MF   PARK Ji Sung   JI S PARK   Kyoto Purple Sanga (JPN) 25-Feb-81
[22]   MF   KO Jong Su   J S KO   Suwon Samsung 30-Oct-78
[23]   GK   CHOI Eun Sung   E S CHOI   Taejon Citizen 05-Apr-71
 x-France 3 2 0 1 9:1 6
 x-Australia 3 2 0 1 3:1 6
 Korea Republic 3 2 0 1 3:6 6
 Mexico 3 0 0 3 1:8 0
30-05-01   [1] Daegu, Korea 17:00 France vs. Korea Republic 5:0 (3:0) GHANDOUR Gamal, EGY
01-06-01   [6] Ulsan, Korea 19:30 Korea Republic vs. Mexico 2:1 (0:0) DALLAS Hugh, SCO
03-06-01   [10] Suwon, Korea 19:30 Korea Republic vs. Australia 1:0 (1:0) RUIZ Oscar Julian, COL

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