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S Korea set to surprise people

Coach Advocaat feels that his experienced squad will emulate the semifinals performance of 2002 in Germany this year.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 10:13 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

South Korea coach Dick Advocaat named 10 World Cup veterans on Thursday in his squad for the finals in Germany, as he looks to form a team that will 'surprise a lot of people' and emulate its semifinals performance of four years ago.

Manchester United's Park Ji-sung and Lee Young-pyo of Tottenham headline the 23-man squad that includes most of South Korea's Europe-based players.

Veteran Ahn Jung-hwan of German side Duisburg will spearhead the offense with Seol Ki-hyun of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cho Jae-jin of Japan's Shimizu S-Pulse and domestic players Chung Kyung-ho, Lee Chun-soo and Park Chu-young.

Ahn, 30, rose to stardom at the 2002 World Cup, co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, with his dramatic golden goal that sent fancied Italy home after the second round.

"We have a very balanced squad and a squad that can surprise a lot of people in the world," Dutch-born Advocaat said at the squad announcement.

Advocaat included 13 players who will make their first appearance at the sport's showpiece contest, scheduled for June 9-July 9 in Germany.

One surprise inclusion was defender Song Chong-gug, who plays for the domestic K-League's Suwon Samsung.

Song, 27, was a member of the country's 2002 squad, impressing fans with his strong defense against Portugal's Luis Figo. But successive injuries left him off the squad since Advocaat took it over last September.

Song's inclusion came at the expense of Cha Du-ri who plays for Frankfurt.

Cha was placed on a five-member standby list in case of injuries. Injured players can be replaced up to 24 hours before South Korea's first game on June 13.

Compared with 2002, Advocaat said the biggest advantage now is that the squad has more players who experienced World Cup finals and foreign leagues.

"We showed in the past that we can do something. We still are in a very difficult group with France, Togo and Switzerland, but we are capable to come at least in the second round. From that moment, in football, everything is possible," he said.

South Korea stunned the world in 2002 with its amazing run to the semifinals, beating Portugal, Italy and Spain on the way. It was the first time an Asian squad made it so far since North Korea reached the quarterfinals in England in 1966.

The South Korean squad, ranked 30th by FIFA, will play France, Switzerland and Togo in Group G at Germany.

In the run-up to the finals, the Koreans will play four warm-ups against Senegal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Norway and Ghana.

First Published: May 11, 2006 17:38 IST

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