NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Zico gets first win in charge

Zico gets first win in charge

April 17, 2003 15:41 IST

Japan coach Zico is not about to look a gift horse in the mouth after his side's fortuitous 1-0 victory over South Korea in Seoul on Wednesday.

But while some of the pressure may have lifted after his first victory in charge, the Brazilian was left with more questions than answers as he looks to build for the Confederations Cup in France this June.

Japan had looked like stretching their winless streak under Zico to four games until a bizarre injury-time goal by substitute Yuichiro Nagai settled an absorbing match dominated largely by South Korea.

Both teams were without key European-based players and, despite a mature performance from Mitsuo Ogasawara in midfield, Japan lacked cohesion and were devoid of ideas going forward.

Brazilian-born Alex did little to promote his cause in the absence of Hidetoshi Nakata (Parma), Shinji Ono (Feyenoord) and Shunsuke Nakamura (Reggina) as South Korea over-ran Japan in midfield.

With Hamburg striker Naohiro Takahara also missing and makeshift front pair Masashi Nakayama and Yoshiteru Yamashita ineffective, the only way Japan looked like scoring was via a South Korean mistake.

That duly arrived, against the run of play, two minutes into stoppage time to the horror of 65,000 "Red Devils" fans at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Defender Cho Byoung-kuk looked to have checked Nagai's run but was slow to clear, allowing the Urawa Reds striker to deflect the ball over stranded South Korea goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae.


Nagai, rushed into the squad after a spate of injuries over the weekend, deserved credit for his willingness to try the unusual after coming on for his full Japan debut in the 76th minute.

But despite his late cameo and the non-stop industry of Ogasawara, Zico will be alarmed at how easily Takashi Fukunishi and Koji Nakata lost the midfield battle against Kim Do-keun and South Korea captain Yoo Sang-chul, who was outstanding.

For his part, South Korea coach Humberto Coelho had genuine reason to feel aggrieved after the World Cup semi-finalists again failed to take their chances.

Held 0-0 at home by Colombia in their first game under the former Portugal coach last month, South Korea missed a string of chances in the first meeting between the 2002 World Cup co-hosts in two and a half years.

Midfielder Lee Chun-soo rattled a post midway through the first half, while Japan-based striker Ahn Jung-hwan and Lee Dong-gook also went close, but South Korea could not turn their pressure into goals.

Even the substitution of Lee, who departed with a military salute to watching South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in the 65th minute for young talent Choi Sung-kuk failed to lift a team still adjusting to Coelho's 4-2-3-1 system.

South Korea, like Japan, continue to struggle when they are restricted to picking players from domestic clubs.

Neither Zico nor Coelho will be any the wiser as they try to solve the puzzle of playing without their European-based players.

Alastair Himmer
© Copyright 2018 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.