2002 WC squad to play against K-League stars

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2002 WC squad to play against K-League stars

The stars of the 2002 FIFA World Cup will reunite to play a special match in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Korea’s semifinal run.

Ahn Jung-hwan, a member of Korea’s 2002 World Cup squad and an honorary public relations ambassador for the Korean professional football league, said yesterday that the 2012 K-League All-Star Game is planning to feature a match between the 2002 World Cup team and current K-League All Stars.

The event is scheduled for July 5 at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Ahn, who scored two goals in the 2002 World Cup including a golden goal that eliminated Italy in the round of 16, held a press conference to explain why the league has come out with such a plan.

“We received a lot of support in the 2002 World Cup and to give back, I thought we need to devote ourselves to the K-League,” Ahn said. “I hope the members of the 2002 World Cup provide enjoyment again to fans and boost the excitement of the league.”

K-League officials said that it has already sent invitations to 23 players from the 2002 squad and its coaching staff, including Dutch manager Guus Hiddink.

Among the 23 players, 12 are currently either playing or coaching in the K-League, so they are certain to feature in the All-Star matchup.

Striker Hwang Sun-hong, who scored Korea’s first goal in the tournament against Poland, is currently managing the Pohang Steelers, while Yoo Sang-chul, who scored the team’s second goal against Poland, is coaching Daejeon Citizen FC. Striker Choi Yong-soo is the manager of FC Seoul.

Lee Eul-yong, who assisted Hwang’s goal and scored on a free kick against Turkey, and right back Choi Sung-young are also currently working as a reserve team coach and assistant coach for Gangwon FC, respectively.

Three goalkeepers on the 2002 squad - Lee Woon-jae (Chunnam Dragons), Kim Byung-ji (Gyeongnam FC) and Choi Eun-sung (Jeonbuk Motors) - are still playing in the K-League.

Midfielders Choi Tae-wook (FC Seoul), Hyun Young-min (FC Seoul), Seol Ki-hyeon (Incheon United) and Kim Nam-il (Incheon United) are also active players.

Those who work outside the K-League are also likely to feature.

Three starting defenders throughout the tournament - Hong Myung-bo, the 2002 national team captain and current Olympic football team coach; Kim Tae-young; and Choi Jin-cheul - are expected to feature as they work for the local football governing body, the Korea Football Association.

Defenders Song Chong-gug, a football commentator for TV Chosun, and Lee Min-sung, former assistant coach for Guangzhou Evergrande, are also expected to play.

It is uncertain whether Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung, Celtic’s Cha Du-ri or Vancouver Whitecaps defender Lee Young-pyo will play due to their respective club schedules.

Yoon Jung-hwan, who is currently coaching Japanese club Sagan Tosu, also seems unlikely to play because of the team’s ongoing campaign in the J-League.

Another issue will be whether Lee Chun-soo will be able to feature in the K-League event. The 30-year-old forward, who is currently without a club, is suspended from play in the league after a transfer dispute.

The final roster of the team representing the 2002 World Cup run will be announced early next month.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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