South back in training to take on the titans

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South back in training to take on the titans


Midfielder Park Ji-Sung, front and center, and his teammates stretch during a training session at Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg on June 13 during the 2010 World Cup football tournament in South Africa. [AFP/YONHAP]

RUSTENBURG/PRETORIA, South Africa - Savoring their victory in the Group B opener against Greece, South Korea’s World Cup squad resumed training at their base camp to prepare for the upcoming high-altitude match against Argentina.

The South Koreans secured three points in Group B after beating Greece 2-0 in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, inching toward their goal of advancing to the second round for the first time in an overseas tournament.

The team, led by manager Huh Jung-moo, headed back to their base camp in Rustenburg, near Johannesburg, on Sunday on a FIFA-provided chartered plane and entered recovery training at the Olympic Park stadium.

The South Koreans are set to face off with Argentina, one of the top World Cup contenders, on Thursday at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, which is some 1,700 meters (5,577 feet) above sea level.

South American titan Argentina, coached by legendary footballer Diego Maradona, is one of the top contenders at the South African finals.

The South Koreans have used oxygen masks and special rooms with lower-than-normal oxygen levels to adjust to the high altitudes, a key drawback they are up against in South Africa.

“The team’s mood is much better compared to when we first got here. We have gotten used to our days in South Africa.

“While there are concerns regarding the next match against Argentina, we believe we can achieve good results as we’ve done fairly well so far,” defender Kim Nam-il said after the training session.

Jung Sung-ryong, a junior goalie who played in the match against Greece, noted that while the Argentine team includes world-class players such as Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, the Korean squad’s defense line is better organized.

“I think it will be best [for our offense] to play with full trust in our defenders,” said Jung.

At a press conference in Pretoria, Argentina’s star winger Messi described the South Koreans as “strong and fast,” but said he believes the Argentines only need to worry about their own form.

“It’s about what we do .?.?. we are our own rivals,” Messi said at a post-practice press conference at the University of Pretoria.

The South Koreans were scheduled to train in Rustenburg until yesterday.

They travel to Johannesburg today to tune up for the match against Argentina.

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