Cha Du-Ri won a total of 76 caps for South Korea, and represented his country at two World Cups. He spent most of his club career in Europe, turning out for clubs including Eintracht Frankfurt and Glasgow Celtic. We caught up with him to talk about his memories of playing on home soil at the 2002 World Cup, why his generation of Korean players was so successful, and what he is looking forward to seeing as member of our Technical Study Group in Qatar.
Five Talking Points
Playing in a home World Cup
Cha remembers the 2002 World Cup as an amazing experience. Playing in such a successful South Korean side was especially enjoyable, because their performances made the home fans happy and proud of their team. The fact that expectations were not that high helped – the team were able to enjoy their football, and the further they got, the more their fans backed them.
Why the 2002 side did so well
The support of the home crowd was very important in the Koreans' success, but the fact they were able to prepare together for six months before the tournament was also key. They were able to train and prepare like a close-knit club side, and manager Guus Hiddink made full use of that advantage to craft a formidable side.
Comparing the class of 2022 to 2002
The 2022 crop of South Korean internationals shares the strong mentality and pride that the 2002 squad showed on home soil, but there is an important difference. In 2002, most of the team had only played in the K-League, whereas the side that will take the field in Qatar will feature a host of stars from European clubs, including deadly Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min.
Changes over the last 20 years
Cha played in his last world cup in 2010, when Spain wowed the crowds with stunning possession football. Germany used broadly similar tactics when they triumphed in 2014, but today's top sides tend to focus more on quick transitions and counter-attacks. It is telling that France won the tournament in 2018 despite averaging less than 50% possession.
Key data for analysts
Cha is excited to see the different types of data that will be available to analysts at this World Cup. The team length stats will be especially telling, because they will show how compact teams want to be and how high they will press. Whatever tactics they decide to employ, we should be in for an exciting tournament.