In German debut, Koo ‘ecstatic’ at call to play

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In German debut, Koo ‘ecstatic’ at call to play

WOLFSBURG, Germany - Midfielder Koo Ja-cheol made his Bundesliga debut with VfL Wolfsburg yesterday. The 22-year-old was substituted into the match as a defensive midfielder against Hamburg SV in the 64th minute and played a total of 26 minutes in a 1-0 losing cause.

The start was a bit of a surprise considering Koo had signed with Wolfsburg at the end of the 2011 Asian Cup last month and recently played 82 minutes in the international friendly against Turkey on Feb. 9. Koo had merely participated in two light training sessions with his new club before his debut yesterday.

Wolfsburg’s new manager Pierre Littbarski gave Koo an opportunity to gain some playing time and the midfielder responded by providing active play and even creating a scoring opportunity in the 77th minute of the match off a left-footed shot that narrowly missed the net.


Q. Your debut match with Wolfsburg came a lot sooner than many expected. Did you know that you would get some minutes leading up to the match?

A. Our manager gathered players who are not familiar with German like Tuncay Sanli, Simon Kaer and myself and gave instructions in English. That’s when I thought there was a possibility that I would receive some playing time off the bench. The entire time I was sitting on the bench, I was nervous. When our manager called on me while I was warming up on the sidelines, I was ecstatic.

Did you perform well in the final practice a day before the game?

I was fatigued from participating in the friendly against Turkey but I was eager and ready to go. I didn’t have a lot of time but I think the coaching staff liked what they saw in practice. I still didn’t think that I would make my debut so soon.

What was the post-game reaction of your teammates and coaching staff in the locker room?

Since we lost the game, my teammates didn’t say much. Makoto Hasebe [a player from Japan] came over and tapped me on my shoulder. Manager Littbarski came over and asked me what I thought of my own performance in the game. I told him that I thought I had a mediocre outing and he told me I did well and to do better next time. That was a bit unexpected.

You made some mistakes during the game. Can you run us through some of them?

To be honest, I don’t really remember the details of the match. I was a bit taken aback by the 30,000 or so in attendance for the game. It felt like a dream. It felt as if I was staying still and everyone else on the field was moving at a rapid pace.

I think it was only natural for me to make mistakes. There was a chance for me to one-time a high pass in front of the net but I fanned on the shot. I was so nervous I saw five balls at the time.

You nearly scored on a left-footed shot in the 77th minute.

As soon as the ball left my feet, I thought the shot would go in the net. It’s an area of the field where I feel comfortable taking shots. It’s too bad that I came up short but I think it will motivate me to focus harder in the next game. I’m anxious to show my 100 percent to the coaching staff, teammates and fans.


By Kim Hwan [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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