A Taegeuk trio with a warlike mentality
As the Korean national football team takes the stage tonight for their World Cup Round of 16 match against Uruguay, Lee Dong-gook, Oh Beom-seok and Kim Nam-il are all itching for some playing time - and a shot at redemption.
The 2010 World Cup is a special opportunity for veteran Lee Dong-gook. It’s the first time he’s returned to the big stage since he made his Cup debut in 1998, and so far, he’s been kept to a limited role. Lee made his only appearance in South Africa during the match against Argentina, when he was substituted in at the 81st minute, with the victory out of reach.
“I’ve waited 12 years, I can wait a bit more,” said Lee after a team training session yesterday. “I’m just waiting for a shot to play. I’m physically fit and ready.”
When the followers are passionate and the stakes are high, a player can go from hero to scapegoat in a heartbeat. For right fullback Oh Beom-seok, the 2010 World Cup has been a nightmarish experience so far. Oh got the start in Korea’s second Group B match against Argentina, but couldn’t contain Angel Di Maria. After Korea was trounced 4-1, Oh drew hellfire from disgruntled Red Devils.
Having made his national team debut in January of 2005, the versatile and intelligent Oh was a regular on the national team during the regional qualifiers, appearing in 11 matches. Now he’s ready to prove to his critics that his sub-par performance against Argentina was not a fair representation of his true abilities.
Huh told the press yesterday that he’s thinking of making one or two changes to the starting lineup tonight. But whether in a starting role or as substitutes in the second half, Lee, Oh and Kim are all raring to make a statement.
By Kim Jong-ryok [email@example.com]