Captain young, but ready for World Cup

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Captain young, but ready for World Cup

The average age of the national football team that will compete in Brazil next month makes it Korea’s youngest World Cup squad ever. Not surprisingly, Koo Ja-cheol, who was named captain of the 23 Taegeuk Warriors on Wednesday by Coach Hong Myung-bo, is the youngest man to wear the yellow band on his left arm.

The role isn’t new to the 25-year-old Koo, who captained Korea’s U-20 World Cup squad in 2009, the team at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010 and the national team at the 2012 London Olympics, where Korea won a bronze medal by defeating the nation’s biggest rival, Japan, 2-0.

In past World Cups, the captain role was generally given to a veteran who was in his 30s: Joo Young-gwang, 34, in 1954 Switzerland; Park Chang-sun, 32, in 1986 Mexico; Jung Yong-hwan, 30, in 1990 Italy; Choi In-young, 33, in 1994 United States; Choi Young-il, 32, in 1998 France; Hong Myung-bo, 33, 2002 Korea-Japan; and Lee Woon-jae, 33, in 2006 Germany.

Retired midfielder Park Ji-sung was the first player to be named captain while still in his 20s, as he was 29 in the 2010 South Africa World Cup.

But it looks like there won’t be problems for the new captain because the average age of the squad is only 25.9.

“I feel responsible enough for the role,” Koo said yesterday. “I will focus on my role not only as the captain, but as a player on the field.”

Insiders of the Korea Football Association said it was predictable that Hong would name Koo as captain because the two have worked together since the 2012 Olympics and Koo understands Hong’s football style, which emphasizes teamwork and pressing hard against the opponent’s attackers, meaning players need to run a lot.

Koo also has developed a good relationship with Hong’s coaching staff as most of them were at the Olympics and Asian Games.


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