Tuesday, October 6, 2009

South Korea loom large at World Cup

After their floundering start, South Korea has become a team to fear at the Under-20 Word Cup.
Coach Hong Myung-bo's players flexed their goalscoring muscles again Monday, hammering Paraguay 3-0 for a place in the last eight.
The win followed another 3-0 win, over the United States, when Korea keptthe Americans pinned back with long-range shots, fluid passing, and waveafter wave of attacks.
Both the U.S. and Paraguay were overrun by the speed of players like Kim Min-woo who scored twice against a Paraguayan team that could not cope with his team's swift counterattacks.
Striker Kim Bo-Kyung, who also scored Monday, is another constant threat to opposing teams.
Korea's drive and commitment was equaled by 300 traveling fans who have turned up at every game to energetically cheer them on.
Keen to attack
Coach Hong, who captained South Korea when it reached the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup when it co-hosted the event with Japan, says an open game suits his players' attacking style.
"Our aim is to play more combination football and create as many passes as possible,'' said the soft spoken 40-year-old coach, who ended his playing career at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
South Korea has made it to 11 of the 17 tournaments at this level and finished fourth in 1983. But they have been knocked out at the group stage every time they played for the past 16 years.
"Asian countries have not done so well at this level. So it's very important for us to be representing the continent here,'' Hong said.
"We still have room to improve ... No one knows how far we'll go. I'm planning to play three more matches. But to do that, you always have to concentrate on your next opponent.''
Big turnaround
South Korea looked toothless in attack in its opening match and lost to Cameroon 2-0.
A much-improved side then went on to hold Germany 1-1, and then followed the last two impressive victories.
"We're getting better with every game,'' Hong said.
His opponents agree.
"They are a quality team and play very well down the flank. They have good positions on the field. They're very strong,'' Paraguay coach Adrian Coria said after his team's defeat.
U.S. coach Thomas Rongen came to a similar conclusion after the Americans lost their final game here.
"They deserved to win,'' he said. "They played us off the park, both tactically and technically. They were also much better organised than we were.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Butcher lauds Burley achievements

Terry Butcher has paid tribute to George Burley for taking Scotland to within 90 minutes of a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ play-off, despite a campaign marred by criticism and bad luck. The relationship between the pair stretches all the way back to their playing days together at Ipswich Town in the 1970s and 1980s, but the former England defender has admitted he has seen Burley in a new light since becoming Scotland coach.
Burley has endured a tumultuous 18-month rein so far, which has included Kris Boyd walking out on the national team, the infamous 'Boozegate' affair, Chris Iwelumo missing a sitter, a whole host of injury problems and less than inspiring results on the pitch. Despite the hurdles, Scotland head into their final qualifier against the Netherlands on Wednesday night still with a chance of securing second place in Group 9 and a play-off place which could prove to be their ticket to South Africa next summer.
"I played in the same team as George and he broke my cheekbone many years ago, so I know how determined he is," said assistant coach Butcher. "He is a strong character. I didn't realise how tough the job was but, having seen George in it, he has handled it very well.
"He is the most positive man I've ever met. I think everybody has responded to the positivity and belief and spirit that he has. No-one would have withstood the hullabaloo and everything else that has gone with the job but he has focused on one thing.
"To get into this position considering all that is quite remarkable. But there is no point being in this position and not doing it on Wednesday. We want to make sure we make that final step and the players are determined to do that.
"George has been the same person all the time. He gets animated but never gets down. I've never seen him down. He has always been upbeat and he has certainly inspired me because I plumb the depths when we lose because I'm that sort of person. He is terrific and the whole squad has been terrific as well."