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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Lemerre praises Koreans
France's Thierry Henry tussles with a South Korean player
South Korea led France at half-time in their friendly
South Korea have the necessary qualities to qualify for the last 16, according to France coach Roger Lemerre.

France edged out the co-hosts 3-2 in their final warm up game with a late Frank Leboeuf winner.

The home side had led 2-1 at half-time and Lemerre told his South Korean counterpart Guus Hiddink that his team could compete with the world's best.

Hiddink reported Lemerre as having told him he was "very surprised at the improvement of the Korean team and that we can match up with the big teams."

Lemerre said: "When a team like Korea is playing in front of a home crowd, they are a very hard team to beat.

Open Quote
Now it is not a matter of a lack of quality, it is a a lack of experience
Close Quote
South Korea coach Guus Hiddink

"France had a difficult time with Korea's strength of spirit. Hiddink has done well."

Korean will face Poland, Portugal and the USA in group D and coach Hiddink admitted there were encouraging signs against France.

"They were surprised in the first half. They got caught by our pressure," he said.

"We attacked in the midfield so they couldn't play their own game.

"It was good to see what the Korean team can do."

But the Dutchman refused to get carried away with his team's chances and said they were still learning.

"I'm not so happy to lose the game but this is a learning process," he said.

"At the end we were a little bit overexcited and didn't get the result.

"But in the last seven games we have improved day-by-day and game-by-game tactically, we have more than eleven good players at a good stage of development.

"Now it is not a matter of a lack of quality, it is a lack of experience.

"We are ranked fourth (by FIFA) in Group D and so we have to be realistic about our goals."

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France defender Marcel Desailly
"Korea have the quality to progress"
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