Korea Republic have produced some of the best football of any
side so far at Canada 2007. Against the United States, the Asian
outfit offered a master class of movement, tactical intelligence
and pace. At the heart of this well-oiled machine were two key
cogs: Young Sum Shim and Young Rok Shin. What one provides, the
other finishes off, and vice versa. Read on for
FIFA.com's exclusive interview with this
Asian culture is such that teams are never satisfied with a draw, no matter how good the performance. This was very much the case with the young Koreans after they were held 1-1 by the USA, but Shim and Shin are determined to remain upbeat. "We created a whole heap of clear-cut chances, so of course it's disappointing to only have one goal to show for it at the end of the game. But it was only the first match and now we're going to approach the Brazil game in exactly the right way. We need to prepare ourselves mentally for what is a massive game," said Young Sum.
"On a personal level, I'm really disappointed as I'm a goalscorer who had three big chances but only scored once. I felt bad for my team-mates, because I should have done better. But it's only made me more fired up for the match against Brazil," explained Young Rok.
Although he declined to read the riot act, their coach Dong Hyun Cho was also frustrated, admitted Young Sum. "He didn't highlight individual errors, but we could see in his eyes in the changing rooms that he was disappointed we didn't take our chances, especially as the first match is always so crucial."
Effective 3-5-2 formation
It is fair to say that the Taeguk Warriors were wasteful, the most flagrant examples being Young Sum's shot against the post when it seemed easier to score, and Young Rok unwillingness to let fly when he only had the keeper to beat, just moments before the young Americans opened the scoring. But the Asians' highly flexible 3-5-2 system proved nothing short of a nightmare for the American defenders, who over the course of 90 minutes were well and truly run ragged.
In the packed stands of the Olympic Stadium, it was impossible not to be reminded of the 2002 FIFA World Cup™. The roars of "Korea! Korea!" bounced off the stadium's rafters as the side took on the same opponents as their senior team in an unforgettable first round match some five summers ago. Most reminiscent of all though was the incredible energy displayed by the Korean players.
The two team-mates of today give short thrift to such comparisons: "Like all Koreans, we experienced a great moment for our country in 2002, but I believe our team has its own style of play," Young Sum explains. "We've moved on a great deal from the style of 2002. We prefer to look forward rather than back," adds Young Rok, thereby avoiding any uncomfortable comparisons with the class of 2002.
Working well together
The two young men find each other on the field practically with their eyes closed, yet while they have played together in the national team for three years now, their paths do not cross at all for the rest of the year. One plays on the island of Jeju, and the other at Suwon near Seoul, locations several thousand kilometres apart. But the mutual admiration seems entirely genuine.
"I can appreciate Young Rok's qualities, as I was trained as a striker myself. However, I don't have his remarkable finishing ability. Through his speed and the runs he makes, he also creates numerous gaps in defences, which is a real boon for me," says one. "Young Sum fills the spaces that he creates himself, and despite what he says, he's also a good finisher and an excellent passer. What's more, he's a team player and is always in the right place at the right time. Playing with him is a real treat," the other adds.
It is time now for thoughts to turn to the next challenge, in the considerable form of Brazil. "Everyone knows that Brazil are global giants, but there's absolutely no point being in awe of them. We know we're capable of doing well against them, but the key will be how well we do defensively. They have no shortage of attacking firepower and we're going to have to contain them before committing men forward, and then this time make our chances count," says the determined Young Sum.
"It's definitely going to be a very tough game. Its outcome will depend on our preparations, which we need to get just right. But we're going to have to walk the walk on the pitch, not just talk the talk in the media," smiles Young Rok.