By Hijiri Kono
South Korea Guus Hiddink, unhappy with his team's play throughout the Gold Cup, finally blew his top late in his team's quarterfinal match with Mexico.
The Dutch coach was ejected after kicking the ball on the field to interrupt the match in the 117th minute. He said he kicked the ball because Honduran referee Jose Pineda tried to continue play, ignoring Korean midfielder Lee Eul Yong, who had collapsed after being punched by a Mexican player.
"I did that on purpose," Hiddink said afterwards. "I think the organization of this tournament and the judgment of referees are fail marks."
Hiddink hasn't been pleased with his team's play despite its shootout victory over Mexico that moved it into the Gold Cup semifinals against Costa Rica (kickoff: 9 pm ET/6 pm PT; TV: live, Fox Sports World and Galavision).
The Koreans had a wide edge in possession in the 2-1 loss to the United States but couldn't put away their chances. They could only manage a 0-0 tie with Cuba in their second game. South Korea was the better team against Mexico, but the quarterfinal match also ended 0-0.
Two areas of concern for Hiddink have been his team's play in midfield -- youngsters Park Ji Sung, 20, and Lee Chun Soo, 19, have been used as playmakers -- and its lack of finishing.
"It is the biggest problem that I've seen in our team to this point," Hiddink said of his team's dismal attack. "Creating only some five clear chances in an international game is good enough, but it's also somewhat worrying to me that we arenÆt taking the goals from those chances we create. I canÆt be the one to score them -- I'm too old."
One bright spot has been the play of Korea University striker Cha Doo Ri, 21. Cha is the son of former Korean star Cha Bum Kun.
Hiddink was forced to make four changes after the first round. Choi Yong Soo, Hwang Sun Hong and Yoo Sang Chul returned to their J-League clubs, and Lee Chun Soo returned home for treatment of an injury.
Among the players added to Korea's roster were Lee Dong Gook, the leading scorer at the 2000 Asian Cup. Lee, 22, is attempting a comeback at Pohang Steelers after a short stint at German club Werder Bremen.
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