Big test awaits Huh’s men in European friendlies

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Big test awaits Huh’s men in European friendlies

The national football team left for Denmark yesterday morning to face its last big test before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Korea will play Denmark on Nov. 15 and Serbia on Nov. 18.

Huh Jung-moo’s men are currently riding a 26-game unbeaten streak, and if the team manages to win or draw the two friendlies in Europe, Korea will tie an Asian record for the most consecutive unbeaten games.

But Huh made it clear he will use the two games as a learning experience for this team, even if that means forgoing the Asian record.

“The unbeaten run is important as well. However, if it takes a loss for us to learn about our shortcomings, that’s far more important,” Huh said at Incheon International Airport yesterday morning.

“Considering our players will have jet lag and are facing a tight schedule, it will not be an easy test for our players. However, it is important for our players to go through the experience. We will take this opportunity against tough European teams to get prepared for the World Cup,” he said.

The most important task will be for the team to find a way to face the physically stronger and better skilled European clubs. Korea will be grouped with at least one European team in South Africa next year and in the past, Korea has always been grouped with two European teams.

Since Denmark and Serbia both finished top of their respective groups in the qualifying stages, the two friendly matches will be a good test for Korea.

Defending against the taller and stronger European players will be more important than working on offensive strategies, Huh said, which is why the coach will be looking at how well his central defenders hold their ground in set pieces.

Another point of interest is that the upcoming games are away games. Since qualifying for the World Cup, Korea has held all its international friendly matches on home turf. In some cases, the opposing teams suffered from jet lag and were missing some key players. Hence, it was difficult to see a top notch opponent that could really test the Korean side.

The forwards will have to produce some goals. While Park Chu-young and Lee Keun-ho have become the team’s regular forwards in recent games, veteran forward Lee Dong-guk will look to cement his place on the team with a goal.

Lee led the K-League in goals but has not been able to score one for the national team since rejoining the team in August. “My experience in the English Premier League will definitely be a help at the upcoming games. If I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way, I will be able to score a goal,” Lee said.

By Lee Jung-chan []
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