Switch Mode

Weird Defender Joo Ji-Tae Chapter 99

99 – Misfortune


It’s been ten years since the South Korean national football team left Paju NFC and established a new home in Cheonan.

Officially named ‘Korea Football Comprehensive Center,’ also known as Cheonan NFC, it was welcoming its second World Cup season since its opening.

“The national team players are arriving one by one. Kim Hyungtae, the commentator. Manager Marzio Del Neri has called up 30 players this time, right?”

“Yes, that’s correct. Since the 1998 World Cup, which had a 22-player roster, it expanded to 23 in 2022. The preliminary entry also increased from 35 to 55.”

“After 24 years, the entry has expanded from 23 to 26. But, Kim Hyungtae, the commentator, the entry is 26 players, and they called up 30. What happened?”

“Well, since the final entry can be submitted until 6 days before the opening, it seems Manager Marzio Del Neri intends to continue selecting until the last moment.”

The national team, especially the World Cup season, always garnered expectations, but the interest in this World Cup team was exceptional.

This was because the national team boasted quite a luxurious squad this time.

From the ace of the team, AS Roma’s goal-getter Oh Seunghwan, to West Ham’s Kim Chanki, and Marseille’s Choi Jeongjun—

“Oh! Ju Jitae and Jo Jaeshin are entering!”

They had Ju Jitae and Jo Jaeshin, after all.

The national anticipation for the two players was immense, to the extent that it could be compared to the time when Lee Kang-in, the youngest Golden Ball winner of the U-20 World Cup and the greatest technician in South Korea’s history, played alongside Kim Min-jae, known as ‘Levamun,’ at Bayern Munich.

“Truly remarkable players! Even though it’s a youth tournament, aren’t they the future of South Korea, leading the U-20 World Cup to victory with the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe?”

Not only did they win the U-20 World Cup with the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe just two years ago,

“Haha, aren’t they already showing excellent skills for the future?”

“Yes. Following last season, they both displayed dazzling performances again this season, with Joo Jae-tae receiving a WK rating and Cho Jae-shin receiving an IK rating from Kicker Rangliste!”

Thanks to their outstanding performances last season and an extraordinary display this season.

Moreover, receiving a WK (Weltklasse) and the immediately lower IK (Internationale Klasse) rating from the notoriously strict and fair Kicker Rangliste is no small feat.

Considering that even receiving the lowest rating, NK, is above the league average, achieving WK and IK ratings is remarkable. Especially considering that seasons without any player selected for WK are common, and even combining all major European leagues, it’s challenging to surpass 11 players, making Joo Jae-tae undeniably the best player in his position for this season.

Of course, Cho Jae-shin’s IK rating is equally noteworthy.

Being officially recognized as a player representing the Bundesliga, a category commonly associated with ‘world-class’ players among football fans.

“Receiving a WK from the notoriously strict and fair Kicker Rangliste means he’s undoubtedly the best player in that position. Our Joo Jae-tae is the only center-back to receive WK.”

“That’s right! It’s evidence of his outstanding performance. They are truly players to be proud of.”

The 2034 World Cup is the third jointly hosted World Cup after the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup and the second three-nation jointly hosted World Cup since the 2026 North American World Cup.

While the 2026 North American World Cup was jointly hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, the 2034 World Cup is jointly hosted by Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.

Morocco, originally challenging to host the 2026 World Cup, joined the Spain-Portugal alliance after a bitter failure and declared joint hosting in June 2021. Despite another failure, the three nations did not give up and successfully secured the 2034 World Cup. King Mohammed VI of Morocco expressed joy, stating that this unprecedented joint hosting would unify Africa, Europe, the northern and southern Mediterranean, and the Arab-Europe-Mediterranean regions.

The schedule for the 2034 World Cup, hosted by Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, was set to begin on June 14th and conclude on July 15th after a month-long journey.

South Korea, already deeply involved in World Cup preparations, finalized its squad in mid-May. However, the actual call-up was not until mid-May, following FIFA regulations allowing call-ups three weeks before the World Cup.

After about a week of evaluations conducted domestically, the final squad of 26 players, consisting of 3 goalkeepers, 9 defenders, 7 midfielders, and 6 forwards, departed from Incheon International Airport on May 29th.

Their destination: Salzburg, Austria.

As a venue that had been used for layovers in the 2010 South Africa World Cup and 2018 Russia World Cup, it had been a familiar place for the KFA to choose accommodations, training grounds, and opponents based on the experiences of the past two World Cups.

The final preparations for the World Cup were underway.

Now in his third year as the head coach of the South Korean national team, Italian tactician Martino Del Neri, with a serious expression, scanned through the report.

“Most of the players’ conditions have deteriorated.”

“It seems the European players, who are the core of the team, aren’t in great shape as they joined after completing their seasons. We should focus more on recovery training.”

“That’s not possible. We’ve already called up even the reserve players mainly for recovery training in the domestic camp. There’s no time now.”

The nickname ‘the second Paulo Bento’ given by the media wasn’t without reason. Martino Del Neri is an active and dominating coach who favors dynamic football.

And such soccer inevitably emphasized the importance of players’ cohesion.

Active and dominating soccer involved playing with a higher line and controlling situations through more passes; for this to happen, players needed to synchronize their breaths.

Fortunately, Marzio, while leading the national team for the past two years, consistently called up key players to coordinate and harmonize. Thanks to this, the organization could be reasonably well-structured, but at that time, he received a lot of criticism from the Europeans, who wanted him to bring in some smaller players. Especially when Ju Ji-tae and Jo Jae-sin were eliminated from the Champions League due to injuries and fitness issues, it was a peak moment.

However, Marzio did not yield.

Without yielding, he continued to summon European players for every A-match.

“Sigh… It’s almost complete, but… why do the conditions have to be like this…”

And the result was this.

They had almost completed the organizational structure, but just before the final completion, the players struggled with poor conditions.

“There’s no choice. Let’s schedule only 3 exhibition matches… no, just 2.”

“2 matches? Isn’t that too few? There might be issues with the match fitness.”

“It’s okay, it’s appropriate. They’ve either played the entire season or are in the middle of it, so taking a break won’t cause significant problems with match fitness. If they play one game at a time, they’ll quickly get back into the groove.”

“But still…”

“It’s better to have a few matches than to risk injuries. The important thing is to recover their fitness. We need them in top condition until the World Cup.”

Despite the coach’s concerns, Marzio emphasized the players’ fitness recovery, but—


“What the heck!! Who is it!! Medical team!!”

In the end, an injured player emerged.

The first casualty was Oh Seung-hwan, who had been playing the role of the ace for the national team. The 29-year-old striker, who showcased his peak skills by scoring a total of 19 goals for AS Roma this year,

“Ugh… a fractured toe due to accumulated fatigue.”

“A fracture? And it’s a toe fracture?”

He received a diagnosis of toe fracture.

“Considering recovery and rehabilitation, it will take at least 3 weeks… even if we’re optimistic, it’ll need more than 2 weeks.”

“2 weeks… 2 weeks… how much time is left until the World Cup?”

“Exactly 2 weeks.”

“2 weeks… sigh.”

“The first match in the group stage is tough… the second match… he needs to recover quickly to play from the second match onward. Can he play properly if he hasn’t trained for two weeks and then enters a game?”

“…It’s difficult. Should we bring up a replacement player?”

“No. While it’s not entirely impossible, we can’t afford to lose the ace. Let’s take him with us for now. Damn. We need some divine intervention.”

The misfortune did not end with the injury to the team’s core attacker and ace.

“Damn! Everyone, take care of your bodies, and medical team! Check the condition every three days and report back!”

Fortunately, since then, there were no major injuries, but—

“Coach! You should take a look at this!”

“What is it?”

“The draw…”

“Just when… it had to turn out this way.”

Another obstacle awaited.

Weird Defender Joo Ji-Tae

Weird Defender Joo Ji-Tae

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


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x


not work with dark mode