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[World Cup] No pork, no problem for S. Korean players in Qatar

Nov. 18, 2022 - 10:34 By Yonhap
Kim Hyung-chae (left) and Shin Dong-il, chefs for the South Korean men's national football team at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, pose for photos at the team dining hall at Le Meridien City Center, Doha, the team's official hotel during the tournament on Thursday. (Korea Football Association)

DOHA -- With all pork products banned in Qatar, the two chefs who traveled with the South Korean national team for the FIFA World Cup to the Muslim country have had to find creative ways to prepare nutritious and delicious meals for the players.

The Korea Football Association shared the national team's menu for the first week of their stay in Doha, from Monday to Saturday, mostly based on the traditional Korean cuisine with some Asian dishes also thrown in.

In the absence of pork, the players have been getting their meat fix from chicken, beef and duck.

A chicken dish was featured for lunch every day of the week, while beef and duck highlighted dinner menus. The players also enjoyed seafood, such as shrimp, crab, sea bream and squid.

Chef Kim Hyung-chae, a veteran of four straight World Cups, said the key is to strike a balance between nutrition and taste.

"The players today all take great care of their bodies and maintain a healthy diet," Kim said. "We just want to help them keep a balanced diet here."

Kim's partner for the past four World Cups, Shin Dong-il, noted that the players prefer Korean food over other cuisines.

"We take cues from menus from earlier World Cups and try to find specific dishes that the players enjoy," Shin said. "But it has been a little bit difficult to gather fresh vegetables and meat overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic."

When these two chefs first worked together at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, South Korea reached the round of 16, the first time the country made it out of the group stage at a World Cup held outside the country. Kim and Shin are hoping for a repeat of that run in Qatar this time.

"It'd be great if we can reach even greater heights," Kim said. "But I'd be happy as long as the players stay healthy and enjoy their time here."

Shin chimed in: "The players have been through so much over the past four years. I hope they give their best effort and won't have any regrets at the end of the tournament." (Yonhap)