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Weird Defender Joo Ji-Tae Chapter 100

100 – First Group Stage Match


The World Cup, needless to say, is the world’s largest sports spectacle.

While the Olympics might compare, fundamentally, the World Cup surpassed it in every aspect, from scale to commercialization, and popularity, primarily due to its professional nature.

In short, it was unmistakable that the World Cup was unequivocally the world’s largest and greatest sports festival.

And for the world’s largest and greatest sports festival, the corresponding level of attention was immense.

“Yes, the 2034 World Cup, co-hosted by Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, is just around the corner. It’s a moment we’ve all been eagerly waiting for. So, we can’t afford to miss the preview time right here, can we?”

Broadcasting companies vied for ratings, determined not to miss this opportunity, offering more than just live game coverage.

“Today, we’ve prepared a preview for Group C of the World Cup. I believe this is the most anticipated preview time, especially since it includes our South Korea. Kim Hyungtae, the commentator. How do you assess Group C?”

“Yes. Our country, South Korea, has been placed in Group C alongside the Netherlands from Europe, the United States from North and Central America, and Colombia from South America. Frankly, they are all formidable opponents, aren’t they? The Netherlands goes without saying, and the United States, which has rapidly grown into a regular World Cup participant since the 2010s, is a team we can’t ignore. And as for Colombia, South American teams have always been a thorn in South Korea’s side, regardless of the group. It’s the region where South Korea has historically struggled the most, and you could even call it South Korea’s ‘nemesis.’”

“In terms of external evaluations, the Netherlands is expected to be in first place, and it’s believed that the United States and South Korea will compete for second place… But Colombia is no pushover either, right? In essence, it’s predicted to be a three-way fight among these three teams, excluding the Netherlands. In other words, a ‘Group of Death.’”

“So, with no clear weak team, it’s even more perilous… That’s the right way to understand it, isn’t it?”

“That’s correct. In a way, it’s easier to predict when you have groups where the disparity in strength is clear. But in a case like this, where teams with similar strengths are grouped together, every single match becomes incredibly important.”

The experts’ choice for the top spot in the group was undoubtedly the Netherlands, the “Orange Army.” Following closely behind, it was expected that the United States and South Korea would battle for second place, but the key question was how Colombia’s spicy gameplay would affect the outcome for one of these teams.

“Our South Korea has participated in 12 World Cups so far, playing a total of 44 matches. Our overall record is 9 wins, 13 draws, and 22 losses, which means our winning rate is just slightly over 20%.”

“Ah… Hearing those objective numbers, you can really sense how challenging the World Cup is.”

“Out of those, we’ve faced European teams 29 times, with a record of 7 wins, 8 draws, and 14 losses, giving us a win rate of 24.1%. In contrast, against South American teams, we have 2 draws and 5 losses, and against North and Central American teams, 2 draws and 3 losses, with just one victory.”

It’s not for nothing that South America is considered one of South Korea’s major nemeses.

These objective statistics prove the dynamics between South Korea and teams from the Americas.

“In the end, the sample size might be relatively small, but we can say that South Korea finds it most challenging to compete against teams from the Americas, which include South America and North and Central America.”

“That’s right.”

Korea, positioned at the heart of world football and facing formidable opponents in Europe, maintains a win rate higher than the average. Remarkably, Korea has triumphed over powerhouses like the ‘Tank Corps’ Germany, the ‘Invincible Fleet’ Spain, as well as Italy and Portugal. However, when encountering teams from the Americas, Korea strangely finds itself unable to exert its strength, failing even to secure a single victory.

This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the “matchup factor.”

“Realistically, Korea should aim for second place in the group… but it’s not as simple as just settling for second place; that’s the challenging part.”

“If we finish second in the group, isn’t that enough to advance to the Round of 16?”

“If Korea’s goal is merely to reach the Round of 16, then second place in the group is acceptable. However, if they aspire for more, aiming for first place in the group might be necessary.”

“Why is that?”

“As you all know, this World Cup is jointly hosted by Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. Our Group C plays its group stage matches in Morocco.”

Morocco, situated in the Maghreb region in northwest Africa, enjoys milder weather compared to other African nations, thanks to its location between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

The crucial point here is that it’s “milder” compared to African nations, not absolutely mild.

“For Korea, which has already exposed the physical issues of key players, playing matches in the scorching heat of Morocco against Spain and Portugal is a concern. Even more problematic is that if we advance as the second-placed team, we’ll have to play in Morocco again. Two out of the Round of 16 matches are scheduled in Morocco, which is quite… unfortunate.”

“Oh… So, what if we aim for first place in the group?”

“If we finish first in the group, we move on to Lisbon, Portugal. The travel time is only 1-2 hours by plane, so that’s better.”

The caster calmly summarized the commentator’s explanation.

“So… if we aim for the Round of 16 or beyond, it’s advantageous to finish first in the group against the Netherlands, the United States, and Colombia.”


“The ball is round, isn’t it? It won’t be easy, but our national team players can do it. Considering their good performance in the two recent friendly matches, I expect them to aim for first place in the group. Now, let’s move on to a detailed analysis—”

* * *

Setting up camp in Salzburg, Austria, the national team spent about a week aligning their steps before heading to Morocco for the decisive matches of the World Cup. The publicly held two friendly matches, which doubled as evaluations, resulted in one draw and one loss.

Although the outcome wasn’t favorable, considering that the draw was against the host country Portugal and the loss was against the South American powerhouse Argentina, it was deemed a somewhat acceptable result.

Most importantly, despite the less-than-ideal outcome, the performance of the national team in the two matches was remarkably impressive.

Certainly not enough to satisfy the discerning eyes of FC Korea, but still enough to think, “Well, they seem to be holding their own.”

Before departing for Morocco after the evaluation matches, Manager Marcelo del Nero stated,

“Most players were struggling with fitness issues, so we focused on recovery. That’s why the evaluation matches were for regaining the game sense. We’re not concerned about the results. We are progressing steadily according to our plan, and ultimately, we will prove ourselves in the actual matches.”

The skeptical public opinion now turned its gaze towards Korea’s first match.

The venue for Korea’s first match was Marrakech, located in central Morocco. As the fourth-largest city in Morocco and known as the ‘Land of God’ in Berber, Marrakech drew quite a crowd to the stadium, reminiscent of its name.

“Why are all the spectators wearing orange uniforms?”

As the majority of the over 45,000 seats were covered in a wave of orange, Korean national team’s center-back, Jung Chaegun, felt his mind becoming dizzy already.

“Well, Morocco is close to Europe, that’s why. Just cross Gibraltar, and you’re in Europe, right?”

Despite being a game held in Morocco, the atmosphere was no different from a Netherlands home match. Fortunately, the red devils occupied only a corner of the stands, their fervor not as loud as their voices.

“Make sure to stretch thoroughly. It’s the first game, so you’ll be more nervous than usual. Work harder than usual to keep your body from stiffening too much. Chaegun, you practice trapping with me. Midfielders, get ready too. After Chaegun, the rest of you check your touch on the ball.”

Ignoring whether the stands were bathed in orange or red, the players rolled their eyes at Coach Joo Ji-tae’s expression, showing complete indifference.

“That guy is the captain? What’s with his behavior, it’s not what you’d expect from the youngest, but the top dog.”

“Indeed, he’s different. I remember trembling with nervousness the first time I went to the World Cup. Hey, Jaeshin. You’re doin—”

“Yes, yes!? Me!? What about me!?”

“…Never mind. Just loosen up.”


Seeing the somewhat absent-minded expression on Cho Jaeshin’s pale face, the players shook their heads in disbelief.

“That’s our captain for you.”

“Anyway, I am who I am.”

“Now, stretch, pass the ball around, and finally, check your physical condition! The game is about to start!”

The final check of the national team took place in a solemn atmosphere, contrasting sharply with the Dutch players on the opposite side, who were freely laughing and playing with the ball.

As the two sets of supporters passionately sang competing cheers, the preparations of the Korean and Dutch national team players were complete.

Players heading towards the locker room.

The moment they face each other again is precisely the time of decision.

Weird Defender Joo Ji-Tae

Weird Defender Joo Ji-Tae

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Score 9.0
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Released: 2023 Native Language: Korean
“This is a defender…?”


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not work with dark mode