National team grouped with Argentina, Greece and Nigeria
The national football team seems pleased with the World Cup draw and is sounding confident about its chances to advance to the round of 16 for only the second time since the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan. Coach Huh Jung-moo and his men have been grouped with Argentina, Greece and Nigeria for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa.
“There are no easy groups at the World Cup. Our goal is to reach at least the round of 16 in South Africa next year, and we will be well prepared to do that,” Huh said early Saturday to the media. “In order to make to the round of 16, we need a win and two ties or two wins and a loss and I cannot say for sure how we’ll measure up to the other teams in the group. We will have to analyze and prepare thoroughly. As one of the games will take place at a high altitude, we will need to get accustomed to that kind of environment though training overseas.”
Nigeria is considered the dark horse of the group by many and boasts plenty of speed and individual talent on its roster. Greece lacks experience on the world stage but has the distinction of having won Euro 2004. The toughest team in the group is Argentina. Although they finished fourth in their regional qualifying round, they have a world class roster led by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
Aside from having to face Argentina, the South Korean team will have the additional challenge of competing at Soccer City Stadium, also referred to as FNS Stadium, in the Soweto area of Johannesburg. The stadium, which underwent a major upgrade starting last year and was completed in October of this year, is already known as the toughest venue in the 2010 World Cup. Aside from being the largest venue in Africa with a capacity of 94,700, it is located 1,753 meters above sea level. Playing in such high altitude can be tough on a player’s stamina due to the low oxygen levels.
“We were expecting to play at least a game or two at high altitude. We will need to make adjustments by setting up our base camp in a high altitude area,” stated Huh.
Huh will assemble his players at the National Training Center in Paju, Gyeonggi, on January 4, and the team will begin training overseas on January 6 in Rustenburg, South Africa. Located 1,250 meters above sea level, Rustenburg is an ideal locale for the national team to begin preparing for the World Cup.
By Jason Kim [email@example.com]