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Koreans grow in self-confidence

2 Feb 2006(Thu)

Hong Kong, January 31, 2006: There's a very familiar face among the South Korean delegation at the Carlsberg Cup in Hong Kong over Chinese New Year.

For a long time they had a reputation as dour and machine-like, rarely smiling and always playing under pressure.

But their achievement in reaching the World Cup semi-finals four years ago, eventually finishing fourth, has clearly given them a lot more self-confidence and esteem, and this is reflected in their manner.

Of course they continue to train hard and play h ard, but now they seem to have an inner strength and self-belief to accompany their athleticism, speed and physical power.

Pim pointed out all these things, and feels the preparations are well advanced compared to four years ago. With a few more matches to come and the Europe-based players to be drafted into the team, the chances of Korea qualifying from a group which also comprises Togo, France and Switzerland are looking good.

On Sunday they beat Croatia here 2-0, with two fine goals from left-sided wing-back Kim Dong Jin and forward Lee Chun Soo. The first was a cracking long-range drive from Kim, who collected the ball just inside the Croatia half and powered forward befo re having a go himself; the second was a smart finish from the lively Lee after center forward Lee Dong Gook had controlled a long clearance from goalkeeper Lee Woon Jae and fed Lee, all in one smooth movement which carved open the Croatia defence.

Advocaat says Korea have become hard to beat at home, but now they have to do the same away by playing physical, European teams.

Judging from their impressive performance against Croatia − admittedly with only one first-team regular − the Koreans look to be on the way to achieving this next target. ENDS

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