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S. Korean Coach: Inexperience Hurt

June 25, 2002

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ South Korea coach Guus Hiddink blamed Tuesday’s 1-0 World Cup semifinal loss to Germany on a lack of experience and too much admiration for the Germans.

``In the first half we had a little bit too much respect,″ said Hiddink as South Korea failed to impose its speed game on the three-time champions. The hosts couldn’t increase the pressure in the second half, and Germany kept its cool, with Michael Ballack scoring in the 75th minute.

``We killed ourselves at that moment,″ Hiddink said.

``I have to be realistic and say they’re a little more experienced,″ added the Dutchman, who lauded the support of the entire nation throughout the one-month tournament.

Ask if his team was tired, Hiddink replied: ``I don’t want to look for many excuses. We didn’t have power in the first half and were marking too far away from them and were too respectful. That’s also experience.″

His players also received lavish praise.

``We can be proud of the boys, what they did _ and not just tonight ... but especially in the long run of the tournament. I’m very proud of how the team performed.″

Hiddink was the first coach to take two nations to the World Cup semifinals, but he lost on both occasions. In 1998 in France, the Netherlands lost to Brazil in a penalty-kick shootout.

``We are disappointed not being there,″ he said of the final. ``We have to swallow this disappointment.″

South Korea plays for third place in Daegu on Saturday against the loser of Wednesday’s game between Turkey and Brazil.

``Of course there’s disappointment tonight. But we’ll recover,″ Hiddink said. ``I hope to bring the players again to an acceptable level to go for third place. ... We must recover in three days for the public and for our own sake.″

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