Kim: It's like the World Cup
© AFP

For someone with experience of winning the UEFA Cup, plus participating in the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, you could say that Korea Republic defender Kim Dong-Jin, has seen it, done it and bought the T-shirt.

Together with Kim Jung-Woo, the Zenit St. Petersburg star is one of only two over-age players in the squad of 18. The two were team-mates when the Taeguk Warriors reached the quarter-finals four years ago and Kim is adamant that the pair can use their previous knowledge of the tournament to good effect.

"I don't feel any pressure about being one of the over-age players, but I realise that I have an important responsibility," he told FIFA.com.

"I have the experience of the last Olympics and I've told my younger team-mates about the unique situations they will face here. Plus, as the senior defender, it will be my duty to marshal the back four during the 90 minutes, just as it is Jung-Woo's responsibility to look after the midfielders."

We went to Greece with a group of internationally inexperienced players, but this group has already has exposure of previous FIFA youth tournaments
Korea Republic defender Kim Dong-Jin compares his team to the previous Korea Republic Olympic side

"However, it is going to be a fairly straightforward role for me. This team is far better prepared than we were four years ago, in terms of our organisation on and off the pitch. ."

No difference
The 26-year-old opened the scoring in his country's 2-2 draw with Greece in their opening match at the last Olympics, and played twice at Germany 2006 as the South Koreans failed to make it out of a competitive group which included France, Switzerland and Togo.

As someone with experience of both competitions, it was interesting to discover Kim's thoughts on the difference between the Olympic Men's Football Tournament and the FIFA World Cup. His answer was an interesting one.

"Aside from the age issue, for me, there's no difference between the Olympic Games and the World Cup," he said. "The Olympics is the world's biggest sporting event, while the World Cup is the world's biggest event for a single sport. Both are huge. As a player, there is certainly the same desire for me to do well. I want a medal in this tournament just as much as I wanted to finish in the top three in Germany two years ago."

Standing in Kim's way are Cameroon, Honduras and Italy. The Indomitable Lions won the men's event in 2000 and Italy are the current bronze medal holders. With their final group opponents, Honduras, very much the surprise package, Korea Republic are under no illusions about how difficult their quest for a finish on the podium will be.

"There's no question that this group is the hardest of the four," he concluded. "I know that there are no easy games at the Olympics, but the teams in this group are so evenly matched. Even though it's the first game, I'm really looking forward to playing Cameroon, because it will affect how we prepare and play for the rest of the tournament."