August 10, 2012 10:32
As if tension between the Korean and Japanese Olympic football teams was not sky-high already ahead of their bronze-medal match, the two sides were surprised to find themselves assigned to the same hotel in Cardiff by the London Olympics organizing committee.
The Korean squad arrived in the Welsh capital on Thursday after a brief training session in Manchester to learn that the country standing in the way of Korea's first Olympic football medal was staying two floors above it at the Marriott Hotel.
The Korean players are on the third floor and the Japanese players are on the fifth. But the probability of uncomfortable encounters is even higher for the their coaching staff, with both sides housed on the fourth floor, creating a somewhat awkward atmosphere.
An official at the Korea Football Association said, "There's high level of tension within the hotel among players and coaches." They often bump into each other at the hotel, but tend to avoid making eye contact.
Although the two teams maintain a friendly and cooperative relationship at other international competitions, such as by sharing tips and information, it is different this time around as they prepare to fight for an Olympic bronze medal.
Japan seems wary of Korea's familiarity with its team's tactics. Korean manager Hong Myung-bo played in the J League, and his assistant coach is Seigo Ikeda, a Japanese national.
Many member of the Korean squad have also played in the J League, including Kim Bo-kyung, who recently joined Cardiff City, Kim Young-gwon, who now suits up for Guangzhou Evergrande in China, Hwang Seok-ho, who plays for Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Baek Sung-dong of Júbilo Iwata, and Kyoto Purple Sanga’s Jung Woo-young.
Korea will wear white in the bronze-medal match at Millennium Stadium early Sunday morning, and Japan will wear blue. Unlike in the quarterfinal against Great Britain -- which Korea won on penalties -- the stadium's roof will stay open for the upcoming clash.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com