중앙데일리

Dueling mind-sets as Korea, Japan clash

한·일전 앞둔 양 감독…‘여유만만’ 허정무 vs ‘초조한’ 오카다
Hot tickets going for triple original price online

May 24,2010
The managers of Korea and Japan’s national football teams are approaching tonight’s friendly match in Saitama, Japan with different mind-sets.

Korean manager Huh Jung-moo sees the friendly match as a tune-up match that can be a big help to his team as it prepares for the 2010 World Cup with the goal of reaching the round of 16. Japan’s manager, Takeshi Okada, has been talking about taking his team to the semifinals at the Cup and is looking to improve the morale of his club, which has been waning.

At the four-nation East Asian Football Championships held in Tokyo in February, Huh and Okada faced heavy criticism from fans and media alike. Huh’s team lost their second match to China, 0-3, on Feb. 10 at the Ajinomoto Stadium. It was Korea’s first ever loss to China since the two sides started playing each other in December of 1978. Okada also faced heavy criticism as his team struggled, despite expressing lofty goals to the public.

Fast forward three months and the two managers are in different situations. Huh managed to turn the momentum with a 3-1 win over Japan at the East Asian Football Championships. Korea then went onto defeat Ivory Coast and Ecuador by a score of 2-0 in two following matches to earn the trust of its fans.

Okada’s team, on the other hand, lost 0-3 to a Serbian squad missing its top players last month in Osaka. The Japan Football Association is currently reviewing candidates to replace Okada at the end of the World Cup.

“Instead of feeling the pressure of playing in the Korea-Japan rivalry, I will tell my players to enjoy the intensity and atmosphere at the venue,” said Huh. “With the World Cup approaching, it will be a good experience for our players.”

In contrast, Okada has expressed a more direct and short-term goal for his team. And with the JFA preparing a ceremonial send-off for its national team after tonight’s match, it’s clear the association and Okada are after the same goal.

“We must avenge Korea. It’s a game we must win,” Okada has been quoted as saying to the Japanese press.

Any time Korea and Japan meet for a match, it’s guaranteed to attract large crowds and boisterous fans from both sides.

The buildup to tonight’s match in Japan has exceeded expectations. All 60,552 tickets have been sold out and tickets are being offered online for over triple the original price.

The key to the matchup will be Korea’s core group of Park Ji-sung of Manchester United, Park Chu-young of AS Monaco, Lee Chung-yong of Bolton and Ki Sung-yeung of Celtic FC. The four will play together for the first time since an Oct. 14, 2009 match against Senegal. The importance of the four is evident when looking at Korea’s record in the nine matches in which the four players have played together: six wins and three ties. Since Huh’s first game back as the national team manager in January 2008, the national team has scored a total of 59 goals in 37 games and 19 of those goals have been scored by the four players. Lee Chung-yong, who is coming off a successful rookie season with Bolton, leads the team with seven assists.

Park Chu-young, who was recovering from an injury to his right hamstring and missed the friendly match against Ecuador last week, is expected to be substituted into the match in the second half.

Leading Japan’s attack will be Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow, Nakamura Shinsuke of Yokohama and Yasuhito Endo.

Korea has been dominant over its rivals over the years and leads the all-time record between the two squads with 39 wins, 20 draws and 12 losses with 114 goals scored and 61 allowed.


By Kim Jong-ryok, Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article

한·일전 앞둔 양 감독…‘여유만만’ 허정무 vs ‘초조한’ 오카다



·일전의 일본내 열기가 기대 이상이다. 24일 오후7시20분 일본 사이타마 스타디움에서 벌어지는 한국과 일본의 평가전 티켓 6만552장이 일찌감치 매진된 가운데 인터넷 상에서는 3배 이상의 가격으로 암표가 거래되고 있다. 일본 언론은 22일 도착한 한국 대표팀을 향해 '역사상 최강'이라는 수식어를 동원하며 일본 대표팀 선수들을 자극하고 있다. 2월 동아시아선수권 한·일전과는 비교할 수 없을 정도로 훨씬 격앙된 분위기다.

하지만 월드컵 첫 원정 16강이라는 확실한 목표를 갖고 있는 허정무 팀은 차분하게 한·일전에 임한다는 각오다. 부상을 피하면서 동시에 승리와 팀 전력 향상을 달성하는 것이 허정무 팀의 목표다.

▶'여유만만' 허정무 vs '초조한' 오카다

2월 일본에서 벌어진 동아시아선수권에서 허정무 한국 축구대표팀 감독과 오카다 일본 대표팀 감독은 똑같이 사면초가에 몰렸다. 허 감독은 중국에 충격적인 0-3 완패를 당했고 오카다 감독 또한 계속되는 무기력한 경기 운영으로 여론의 맹비난을 받았다. 3개월이 지난 현재 두 감독의 처지는 완전히 달라졌다.

동아시아선수권 일본전에서 통쾌한 3-1 역전승을 거두며 위기에서 탈출한 허 감독은 이후 코트디부아르(2-0승)와 에콰도르(2-0승)를 연파하며 남아공 월드컵 16강에 대한 기대를 부풀렸다. 반면 오카다 감독은 지난달 오사카에서 벌어진 세르비아 2군과의 평가전에서도 0-3 완패를 당하면서 벼랑 끝으로 몰렸다. 일본축구협회(JFA)가 이미 월드컵 이후 일본 대표팀을 이끌 후임 감독 인선 작업에 착수했다.

허 감독은 "한·일전의 부담감을 느끼기 보다 경기장의 뜨거운 열기를 즐기라고 선수들에게 주문하겠다. 월드컵 본선을 앞두고 좋은 경험이 될 것이다"고 말했다. 반면 초조한 오카다 감독은 "반드시 이겨야 한다"며 선수들에게 필승 의지를 강조하고 있다.

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