Hiddink starts his South Korean salvage bid

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 12:00am

Newly appointed South Korean head coach Guus Hiddink flew into the SAR yesterday ahead of next week's Carlsberg Cup and said: 'I can't wait to see my team play.'

The former Holland and Real Madrid boss told reporters at Chek Lap Kok Airport on his arrival that he was anxious to see his team play against Norway in South Korea's opening game in the Lunar New Year extravaganza on Wednesday.

Paraguay take on the Hong Kong League XI in the other match of the four-team tournament.

'It's very important to be here . . . we have to wait. I'm very curious to see how we do. It's good to play this game [tournament],' said the 54-year-old Dutch coach who is seen as the man who can salvage South Korea's football pride.

'I'm definitely looking forward to the game. We have already had three to four sessions together and we have to get the team prepared as soon as possible for the World Cup in 2002,' he said.

Hiddink, who became the first foreigner to be appointed head coach of the South Koreans, will take charge of his first match in the Carlsberg Cup, but he admitted his main priority was to 'get South Korea into the second round of the World Cup'.

'That's my main aim. We must be physically and mentally strong. We have to be realistic, too,' he said.

South Korea have made four consecutive appearances in the World Cup finals but have yet to progress past the first round, or win a single game. Now expectations are high, especially as South Korea and Japan jointly host the 2002 World Cup finals.

Ironically, Hiddink was head coach of the Dutch team who humiliated the South Koreans 5-0 in the last World Cup in France in 1998.

'I have said before that I wanted this job because I have a lot of respect for the South Koreans,' said Hiddink, who has two other Dutch officials as part of his coaching and technical staff.

'I need these people [Dutch] to help me. We have a small staff and we have three Korean assistants as well. I have worked in several countries and we have always had this kind of arrangement.'

The South Korean media have reported that the team were on a bonus of one million won (US$80,000) each if they reach the last 16.

But Hiddink said: 'Money is not the key. Motivation is the key and I always try to motivate my team. I noticed during our past sessions [with the team] that all the players are motivated and are willing to make a huge commitment.

'I have made a few rules for the team. I want technical expertise and discipline for the side both inside and outside the hotel. Little things like starting training together at the same time and finishing at the same time. We have had no problems so far.'

The South Koreans are at full strength for the Carlsberg Cup and they will include goal-scoring hero Ko Jong-soo and Choi Yong-soo, voted the Most Valuable Player in the Korean League last year. Goalkeeper Kim Byung-ji, defender Lee Lim-saeng and forward Kim Do-hoon have also been included.

Seoul's political football - Sunday Review, Page 2