Scribes name names in Cup FAQIt’s been close to a month since the Korean national football team departed for their overseas training camp on May 24, more than enough time for manager Huh Jung-moo to come under fire for his player selection.
JoongAng Ilbo sportswriters were with the squad as it ran through its final stretch of preparations for the 2010 World Cup, and they sat down this week to give their insight into some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the national football team.
Q. Forward Lee Keun-ho played a big role during the regional qualifiers. What was the real reason he was left off the final 23-man roster?
A. Kim Jong-ryok: Lee’s physical conditioning was a big factor. One Korea Football Association official told me that Lee didn’t show any sign of improvement during physical trainer Raymond Verheijen’s physical conditioning program and tests. I know many fans questioned the move, saying that Huh went with Lee Seung-yeol because the connection between the two goes back to Huh’s Yongin Football Center days, but the data on Lee Keun-ho proves otherwise.
Choi Won-chang: Huh couldn’t ignore the fact that Lee was struggling and hadn’t scored a goal for the national team in 15 months. In his last shot to prove himself to the coaching staff, Lee failed to impress in the friendly match against Belarus. It must be tough on the players who don’t make the final cut, but to make the World Cup squad, I think you always have to be prepared to play your absolute best.
Who should get to start at right fullback, Cha Du-ri or Oh Beom-seok?
Lee Hae-joon: I personally think the coaching staff has overlooked Cha’s international experience somewhat. Oh is an intelligent and versatile player who can be a big help in domestic or Asian matches, but in big international matches, Cha and his physical play are more effective.
Kim Jong-ryok: Cha and Oh are distinctly different players. The manager has to play to his strength and choose the man best suited for each opponent.
Choi Won-chang: Huh decided early on that he’d use Cha in the opening match against Greece and go with Oh against Argentina. Oh’s decision-making skills and superior man-to-man coverage were expected to help against the Argentines. Oh committed many fouls in the game, but it would have been the same for any defender.
I’m also surprised to hear people suggest that Huh favors Oh. Oh is a top-notch defender who has been a fixture on the national team since Dutchman Pim Verbeek was the manager.
Why hasn’t veteran forward Ahn Jung-hwan earned more playing time?
Lee Hae-joon: Ahn has been one of the disappointments on the national team so far. He’s failed to keep up with his teammates in training and his physical conditioning and movement on the field have been below par. Having said that, he has worked hard in training and provided moral support for some of the younger members of the team.
Kim Jong-ryok: I met Ahn at the winter training camp but he seemed far removed from his former self. To be honest, I think it would have been better if Huh had selected Lee Keun-ho instead.
Choi Won-chang: If the national team advances to the knockout rounds, Ahn can be of value to Huh. He was chosen to provide a spark off the bench. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, if Ahn can provide a change of pace, he’ll have done his job.
By On Nu-ri [firstname.lastname@example.org]