Park reaches milestone with 1,000th minutePRETORIA - Park Ji-sung set a milestone in the match against Argentina yesterday when he surpassed the 1,000-minute mark at the World Cup.
Having made his World Cup debut in Korea’s 2-0 opening match win against Poland in 2002, the national team captain entered yesterday’s game having played 998 minutes in 11 World Cup games.
It’s reminiscent of former national team captain Hong Myung-bo’s feat in 2002. The defender, known as much for his stoic demeanor as his on-field skills, clocked his first World Cup minute in Italy in 1990 as a Korea University junior, and went onto become the most successful and recognized Korean footballer ever. Hong became the first ever Korean player to reach the 1,000-minute milestone at the group match against Portugal on June 14, 2002. He achieved his feat, coincidentally, on the day Korea defeated Portugal 1-0 to secure its first-ever trip to the round of 16.
That match also saw Park score his first World Cup goal.
Park’s playing time to date is third only to Hong and veteran goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae, who has played 1,002 minutes in 11 World Cup matches. Hong, Lee and Park are all current or former captains of the national team.
Lee was the starting goalkeeper in past two World Cups, but manager Huh Jung-moo has decided to go with Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong in South Africa.
There are other starting members from the 2002 squad playing on the current team with notable World Cup experience. Ahead of last night’s match, Lee Young-pyo had 843 minutes in nine matches, Ahn Jung-hwan had 620 minutes in 10 matches and Kim Nam-il had 588 minutes in nine matches.
It’s a significant milestone. To reach the 1,000-minute mark, a player must run in 11 full games. Retired German midfielder and defender Lothar Matthaus holds the all-time World Cup record, with 2,048 minutes.
Park sounded indifferent to the personal milestone. Instead, he’s focused on a team effort against the strong Argentine squad, which has two World Cup titles under its belt.
“We will enter the match with the mind-set that we will defeat Argentina,” Park said at a press conference on Wednesday.
By Choi Won-chang [email@example.com]