Sportswriters speak up on the CupJOHANNESBURG - With every World Cup team having played at least one match, five of the JoongAng Ilbo sportswriters covering the tournament in South Africa sat down to share their thoughts on the world’s biggest football event so far.
What was the most impressive or boring match so far?
* Lee Hae-joon: Korea’s opening match against Greece was impressive. I don’t think too many people would have guessed Korea would defeat Greece by two goals. Since that game, the foreign press’ take on Korea has drastically changed.
* Choi Won-chang: I personally liked the game where New Zealand tied their opening match against Slovakia in injury time. Overall, it was a boring match but Winston Reid’s header that tied the game in injury time was impressive. It reminded me of Korea’s first-ever tie at the 1986 Mexico World Cup against Bulgaria. I congratulate the Kiwis on their first-ever point at the World Cup.
* Kim Jong-ryok: I thought North Korea’s defense would be good but they exceeded my expectations. On the other hand, the match between France and Uruguay was disappointing.
Which player stands out in your mind?
* Lee Hae-joon: Korean midfielder Kim Jung-woo has been brilliant. If not for his mandatory military service and if he was a few years younger, I think a lot of English Premiership clubs would be after him. He doesn’t make a lot of highlight reel plays, but Kim is a valuable player on the national team.
* Jang Chi-hyeok: Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner caught my eye. Although he failed to score against the Netherlands, I was surprised to see such a big guy with the ability to work the defenders.
* Lee Jung-chan: I was impressed by the Nigerian goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama. He stopped countless quality shots from Argentine players. He showed great instincts and reflexes in making some amazing stops in that match. Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o was disappointing against Japan.
* Kim Jong-ryok: For me it was the sight of North Korean forward Jong Tae-se, who shed tears before the start of the match between North Korea and Brazil. I’m sure those who know the true meaning behind his tears would have applauded him. He’s a warrior on the pitch, but off it he looks like a person with a sensitive side.
Which of the top-ranked teams do you think will fail to reach the knockout phase?
* Lee Hae-joon: I say France. There are no traces of what made past French teams so impressive on the current team. It wouldn’t be so bad if Korea and France were to meet in the round of 16.
* Jang Chi-hyeok: The Italian squad traditionally starts slow at the World Cup, but they’ve always fielded strong defensive teams in the past. The current squad gave up a goal in their opening match against Paraguay and their offense struggled to find its pace.
Any general thoughts on the Cup?
* Choi Won-chang: I feel like I’m being incarcerated. Due to the news about high crime rate, my stay in South Africa has been limited to games and hotels. That said, the weather, food and overall environment have been good.
* Kim Jong-ryok: It’s still early but I think the 2010 World Cup will be considered a failure when compared to past World Cups. Construction work at some of the stadiums is still incomplete and the quality of games so far has been below expectations.
* Lee Jung-chan: I think everyone’s being a bit pessimistic. For me, I’m getting accustomed to the sound of vuvuzelas. Although the sound of vuvuzelas is drowning out other cheers at games, the distinct sound is a part of the African culture.
By Choi Won-chang [email@example.com]