Koreans err a bit too much
In The City

June 10: 
The line between success and failure is often very thin and it was South Korea’s turn to wake up to this reality Monday. The 1-1 draw with the US can’t be viewed as failure, but it can be damaging for the Koreans. They needed a win to boost their chances of reaching the last 16 and must now wait for a tough last match against Portugal to see whether they can actually make it.

The US are ranked 13th in the world and South Korea 40th. The match presented a completely different picture as the co-hosts started pushing the visitors back to their own half and kept them there for almost the entire match. They created at least four clear chances apart from the penalty and though ‘keeper Brad Friedel had a great day, the US should thank their stars for escaping a heavy defeat. South Korea dictated terms but ended up searching for the equaliser for a greater part of a match they dominated.

The Koreans came into the match soaring in self-belief and this became evident in their confident strides inside the rival half. They took five minutes to read the Americans and began pressing by attacking the ball inside the rival half. They started with three forwards and a sense of purpose was clear. They should have scored in the sixth minute but that was just the beginning of the tale of missed chances.

The US could do little apart from waiting for the chance to go on the counter and one such move after the initial Korean storm fetched them the goal. It could have been different had Korea scored earlier, but though the goal came completely against the run of play, it was well earned. The Americans are faster than Koreans in one-to-one sprints and Clint Mathis raced past two defenders before converting a cleverly-flighted lob.

The Koreans were unruffled and the setback saw them come back with greater vigour. They were sweeping into the US half with seven-eight men and there was a lot of variety in their forays. Apart from regular use of the wings, the Koreans constructed moves down the middle and varied the height and length of the passes. The home support added spring to their heels.

However, there is no margin for error in a World Cup and the Koreans committed too many in front of the US goal. Apart from the missed penalty, Seol Ki-hyeon twice failed to find the mark from seven-eight yards and Choi Yong-soo could not tap it into an empty goal in the last minute. Despite being so impressive, these blunders could cost the Koreans dear.

There was this hint of a tactical flaw on part of the Koreans as well. During their quest for the equaliser, they didn’t try to bring the US forward and allowed them to get used to the pace of the game.

They could have held the ball more in the middle-third, enticed the Americans and then increased the pace again to launch a new attack. This is easier said than done, but expected from teams hoping to make a mark in the World Cup.

Goalkeeper Friedel stood between Korea and victory, his anticipation saving the US on many occasions. He got the penalty at a favourable height but there were a few other good saves, which could prove precious in the future. The US’ central defenders used their height to good effect and stayed calm even in tough situations.


June 10: 

Tumpa, Rakhi make Commonwealth squad

Four Bengal gymnasts — Tumpa Debnath, Rakhi Debnath, Sundari Mondal and Rupali Haldar — have been named to the Indian team for the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Manchester next month. Punjab’s Rohika is the other girl in the five-member Indian women’s gymnastic squad for the July 25 to August 4 meet.

The five girls were picked up following their successful completion of the trial, held in Patiala June 6, a West Bengal Gymnastic Association release said.

Regatta trouble

St Thomas’ School senior girls team, which was scratched from the ongoing inter-school regatta at Lake Club, alleged Monday that they were the “victims of injustice” on the part of the organisers.

“We were first declared winners against Birla High School and then asked to take part in a re-race. But we refused because it was an injustice. And in the end, Birla girls were announced victorious,” team captain Dipanwita Mondal, a national player, alleged.

The organisers, on the other hand, said the St Thomas’ girls misbehaved with the judge during their fours event Sunday and then refused to provide a written apology, leading to their expulsion from the event.

Dipanwita, talking to reporters, however, said: “It is a rule that if any team does not show up within five minutes of the scheduled time, the opponents get a walk-over. It was also confirmed in the captains’ meeting. But yesterday, we had waited in the water for more than half an hour even if it was raining quite heavily, but our opponents did not turn up in time.”

Meanwhile, in Monday’s action, M.P. Birla beat Saifee Hall, St Joseph Marry got the better of La Martiniere and Birla HS lost to Chetla HS in the senior fours event.

Chess selections

Debashish Mukherjee, Swapan Mitra, Nilotpal Ghosh and Tamal Chakraborty, who finished as the top four in the ninth state chess selection trial, will represent Bengal in the National B meet.

Karthikeyan 3rd

Indian ace driver Narain Karthikeyan grabbed the third place in the second race of Sunday’s two-legged 2002 Telefonica World Series at Jarama circuit in Spain. According to information received here, The Chennai-based driver had finished ninth in the first leg. “I had a good start in the second race and overtook a few people and am very pleased with how I finished,” Karthikeyan later said.


REGATTA: National inter-school meet at Lake Club water course from 6 am to 10 am.    

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