Huh vows to reach round 2 at Cup

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Huh vows to reach round 2 at Cup


National football team manager Huh Jung-moo speaks to the press at the ceremony for the World Cup trophy at the Millennium Hilton Hotel in central Seoul yesterday. By Kim Kyung-bin

Korea’s national football coach pledged yesterday to advance his team to the second round of the upcoming South Africa World Cup in June, adding that his players are ready to take on the world’s best football teams.

“Of course my ultimate goal is to win the World Cup and bring this trophy home,” said coach Huh Jung-moo at a ceremony for the World Cup trophy, which arrived in Seoul on Monday as part of a global tour ahead of the tournament. The trophy will be exhibited to the public in Seoul today.

“But I will take it step by step. So the first goal is to advance to the second round, surviving the group round.”

Korea, grouped with Argentina, Greece and Nigeria in Group B, has only once gone into the 16-nation knock-out stage, at the 2002 World Cup co-hosted with Japan.

“I’m mapping out plans to compete in the finals against the football powerhouses and checking our players’ conditions to make sure we have the best squad,” Huh said.

Huh will announce the preliminary 30-man roster for the World Cup on April 29, and submit the list of the final 23-man squad to the International Football Federation by the end of May.

Park Ji-sung of England’s Manchester United, Lee Chung-yong of Bolton Wanderers and Park Chu-young of France’s AS Monaco are expected to be included.

“Many people expect a lot from Park and Lee, obviously, but a number of unknown players have grown into world-class stars in their own right at the World Cup finals. Every Korean player is ready and deserves to become a star player at this year’s World Cup,” Huh said.

The Korean team will have friendly matches with Ecuador, Japan, Belarus and Spain in May and June before heading to South Africa for its first game with Greece on June 12. It will take on Argentina on June 17 and Nigeria on June 22.

The World Cup kicks off on June 11 with the South Africa-Mexico match.

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