|The year of 2007 broke open a new chapter of Korea’s American football history book. It made the World Championship debut when the Team Korea defeated Australia 22-13 in the Asia/Oceania qualification tournament last January. It was the first ever victory for the national team in an international competition.
Of the 45-man national team roster, 13 Korean players now play in Japan’s X League (industrial league) or collegiate leagues, and are expected to have major roles in the World Championship at Kawasaki. Team Korea will also be guided by five Japanese coaches during the tournament. Katsuji Ibaraki of Osaka Sangyo University is the head coach of the team.
Starting quarterback Kim Kyoung Min, whose Japanese name is Akitoshi Kanazawa, played for the six-time Japanese national collegiate champion Kyoto University and is now in his second year with the Tokyo Bullseyes of the X League second division. He threw a touchdown pass to tight end Oh Joon Seok and scored a rushing touchdown in the qualification game against Australia.
Korea’s rushing game will be built around running back Kang Hyo Bak, who also scored in a win over Australia. At 168 cm, 75 kg, Kang may not have the ideal size as running back to compete in the international tourney where some backs weigh more than 100 kg, but he is quick and has enough speed to run around the corner.
One of Korea’s strengths is its defensive line which is anchored by Kim Bo Sun and Lee Seon Hyeung. Kim Bo Sun is a starting defensive end and the position captain of the Kajima Deers (X League). He rushes from the edge and gives the pressure to opponent quarterbacks. Lee, now with the Fujitsu Frontiers, started for Chuo University (Kanto League Division I) last season as defensive tackle.
Korea plays its first game on Sunday, July 8 against Germany before taking on the United States on Tuesday, July 10 in Pool 2 action.