Talking Tactics/ Korea, Japan begin journey to realise Asian dream
Sourav retained for tour of England
In The City
Udhagamandalam Races/Star Carnival may strike

 
 
TALKING TACTICS/ KOREA, JAPAN BEGIN JOURNEY TO REALISE ASIAN DREAM 
 
 
BY P.K. BANERJEE
 
June 4: 
There was no doubt over Japan and South Korea’s organisational efficiency to host an event of such magnitude but there was apprehension about their ability to perform on the biggest stage. Tuesday’s performance of the co-hosts should help Asia start the journey towards a more prominent place in the atlas of world football.

Japan showed that Asians can dream big with the 2-2 draw with Belgium but South Korea turned that into reality following their maiden World Cup victory — a 2-0 conquest of Poland — where the margin could easily have been bigger. Most encouraging was their commanding performance against two seasoned European teams, much richer in football culture than the Asians.

This is a crucial World Cup for Asian teams since they have to prove that they can compete with the best rather than being mere participants. At least two of the four Asian teams must reach the second round to achieve this and the onus is on the hosts because Saudi Arabia and China don’t look the part. South Korea and Japan don’t have to face serious title-contenders in the group stage and must build on their good starts.

The influence of European coaches was evident in the co-ordination and discipline showed by the Koreans and the Japanese and, though, inferior in man-to-man strength, the players made up for it with their speed, agility and flexibility. They matched the Europeans in technical and tactical aspects and also showed they can operate at high speed for 90 minutes.

South Korea were cautious in the beginning and took time to gauge the rivals. Rather surprisingly, the Poles were soft and subdued and came under pressure once the hosts realised that attack wasn’t their initial ploy. The Koreans took control of the midfield by outnumbering Poland in the crucial positions and used the flanks to reach the danger zone in the rival half. They played some long passes with telling accuracy, as did the Germans against Saudi Arabia, and left Poland clueless with their swift turns and body-feints.

Japan faced stronger opposition from Belgium and it was an intensely physical match with Japan setting a brisk pace after conceding the goal. The Belgians were superior in physique but Japan showed they could match the strength. They also showed they are well versed with the tricks needed to excel in the modern game and earned numerous free-kicks by inviting tackles before losing possession.

Japan and Korea excelled in getting enough men behind the ball when required and never let the rivals outnumber them inside their own half. Poland didn’t attack with alarming regularity before the closing minutes but Belgium did and both teams inevitably found a third man closing in on the player with the ball. Such vigil is normally associated with European teams and it was great to see the Asians beating them at their own game.

Most Europeans teams are expected to outpace the Asians but Japan showed that the times are changing when they tore into the Belgians after conceding the goal. It was too fast to last long but it did. But while the speed fetched Japan two goals, it also made them that bit overzealous and instead of playing more passes and slowing down, they got carried away.

There was no such tactical error on part of the Koreans. Their shooting and the ability to slip into the rival box from unexpected angles are superior to Japan and they also seemed to have some sensible heads, which was evident in their way of protecting the lead.

After having achieved the principal goal of recording their maiden win, South Korea should feel disappointed if they fail to reach the second round. They have a tough opponent in Portugal but must fancy their chances against the US.

Japan are in an easier group and there is no reason why they shouldn’t do well against Russia and Tunisia. This generation of Japanese players appear fit to keep up the good work started by the lot which beat Brazil in the 1996 Olympics and there are many apart from Hidetoshi Nakata to make them believe in this.

Yours truly had the distinction of scoring against Japan and South Korea in India’s Asian Games triumph in 1962 but we stopped dreaming soon after that. Japan and South Korea must not do that now since they have started the act of turning dreams into reality.

   

 
 
SOURAV RETAINED FOR TOUR OF ENGLAND 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 4: 
As expected, the national selectors Tuesday retained Sourav Ganguly as captain for the forthcoming England tour. Niranjan Shah, BCCI secretary, said from Rajkot that the decision follows a tele-conference among the quintet this afternoon.

India will start with a triangular meet involving England and Sri Lanka before the four-match Test series. The team for the one-dayers will be picked Saturday.

Sourav has completed two years as full-time captain, having taken over from Sachin Tendulkar in March, 2000. His stint as captain has been fairly successful with Test wins in the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe though India failed to win those series.

At home, the left-hander’s most notable success is the dramatic 2-1 Test series win against Australia last year.

   

 
 
IN THE CITY 
 
 
 
June 4: 

R.P. Singh, Kapoor leave Bagan

Star Mohun Bagan medio Rajendra Prasad Singh has switched allegiance to Mahindra United.

This is the third blow for the National League champions following James Singh and Debjit Ghosh’s departure for the same club.

The Bagan officials are now keeping their fingers crossed about the Debjit issue, but adding more to their wounds, their side back Rishi Kapoor will play for a Delhi club in the coming season.

YMCA snooker

The YMCA Open for the handicapped snooker championship will get off at the YMCA Chowringhee branch from June 8. The last date of entry for the tournament is June 5.

The winner will get a prize money of Rs 3000 while the runner-up will bag Rs 1,500.

TODAY IN SPORT

SOCCER: Calcutta League — Fifth division matches (4 pm)    

 
 
UDHAGAMANDALAM RACES/STAR CARNIVAL MAY STRIKE 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Udhagamandalam, June 4: 
B. Suresh’s ward Star Carnival may win the 1,600m Amaravathi Plate at the Udhagamandalam races on Wednesday. G. Ross partners the Placerville-Schiaparelli gelding.

SELECTIONS

11.30 am: Octogonal 1. Evening In Paris 2. Head Hunter 3.

12 noon: Bourbon Boy 1. Calypso Run 2. Victory Arch 3.

12.30 pm: Star Carnival 1. Signal Tap 2. Great Occasion 3.

1 pm: Supreme Challenger 1. Society Column 2. Amazing Crown 3.

1.30 pm: Direct Hit 1. Apache Len 2. Our Ambition 3.

2 pm: Capitulate 1. Fighting Brave 2. Atalantis 3.

2.30 pm: Great Emperor 1. Alminstar 2. Major Attraction 3.

3 pm: Height of Elegance 1. So-uthern Host 2. Double Bubble 3.

3.30 pm: Lines of Power 1. Far Excellence 2. Kiss Me Honey 3.

Day’s Best: Lines of Power

Double: Octogonal & Direct Hit.

   
 

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