January 11, 2013
Winter break is still not over for the Bundesliga, but Sunderland loanee Ji Dong-Won’s stock is already rising, having scored the 2nd goal in a 4-1 exhibition win against FC Hansa Rostock in midweek for Augsburg. Watch the sequence starting at 48 seconds into the video, culminating in Ji’s long distance strike in the 58th second…
Ji was subbed out later for the 2nd half. A very good start for Ji as the Augsburg training camp continues to prepare for the 2nd half of the season. Meanwhile, both Ji and his Augsburg + South Korean national teammate gave an interview in Kicker magazine about his recent move to Augsburg and some high hopes that the Korean duo can help stave off relegation for the club. Here’s a small excerpt (loosely translated):
kicker: They’re aware of the South Korean national team that won the bronze medal at the Olympics. Can you become the new dream duo?
Koo: We like to play together, understand each other well on the pitch. In the national team we have harmony. I scored five goals and added three assists for Ji. He has made four goals and two assists for me.
kicker: In Germany you are still largely unknown. How do you characterize yourself as a player type, Mr. Ji?
Ji: It’s always hard to describe yourself. But I see myself as a striker…and quite fast. I have average heading ability.
Koo: Ji is too modest to praise himself. Even in the air, he’s great…
Before we move on, it should be noted that for several days during the festive season when rumors were flying about Ji’s possible move from Sunderland, the Sunday Sun, one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids based in the UK, published an article headlined:
Ji Dong–Won desperate to return to South Korea December 23, 2012
The link for it will lead interweb users to a now non-existant page -the link was removed after the transfer to Augsburg was awarded, obviously their premise was exposed as utterly false- but then again it’s a Rupert Murdoch owned franchise, so par for the course. The question remains, where did they come up with rubbish like that? They did seize upon the fact that his former K-League club, Chunnam Dragons put a bid for him to return to Korea (for less than the original £2.5 million price they sold Ji for 18 months ago). What the Sun totally conjectured and erroneously reported as fact was his so-called ‘desperation’ to return to Korea. Did their ‘reporters’ even ask Ji what he wanted -never mind the fact that there was already a strong and credible link to Augsburg that would allow him to remain in top flight European football to join his Korean compatriot Koo Ja-Cheol? If you search for news on Ji Dong-Won, search engines will still bring up the Sun article, a ghostly link emanating it’s shoddiness for all to see. For fraudulent and the total lack-of-respectable-reporting, you get the Tavern 바보 in Media Award. Congratulations, or something to that effect…
Moving on…Son Heung-Min had a few test matches as Hamburg continues their winter break training. In midweek exhibitions against Lokomotiv Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Borussia M’gladbach, Son registered a pair of assists in both games.
With the announcement that Wolfsburg’s youth player Park Jung-Bin will be on loan to Grunther Furth, the Tavern is going to have to issue a rare apology. The Tavern has previously made light of their harsh sounding name, saying things like it’s a perfect name for James Bond’s next villain. Now that Park is on board, we must abide by the ‘unwritten code’ of the Tavern. Which means the Tavern will now adopt Grunther Furth as one of several teams to lend support to. So without further ado: I’m really sorry Grunther Furth, for making light of your name. I hope you survive this year in the Bundesliga. Whew, now that’s out of the way, I’ll be curious to see how this Jung-Bin does on your team. UPDATE: looks like Jung-Bin got a start in Friday’s exhibition match with 2nd division Frankfurt. From what we can gather, he got a shot on goal that was blocked. Another Korean, Yoon Ju-Tae played for Frankfurt. Grunther Furth won the game 2-1.
Earlier in the week, FootballKorea blog got the skinny on FC Seoul’s Ha Dae-Sung, a sought after European prospect. It’s official: he will not be going to Europe, but staying with FC Seoul. According to the post: “At least three clubs made official offers; Standard Liège from Belgium offered transfer fee of $1.2million and Croatian giant GNK Dinamo Zagreb made a $1.5m offer. There were also interests from the Middle East; El Jaish SC from Qatar, which has been interested in the South Korean since 2012 summer, made a $2.5m offer whiling promising to pay $400m in total of three years to the player.” He’ll be instead looking forward to competing in next season’s Asian Champion’s League on top of another sequel to their K-League title win. Oh, that’s right, K-League Classic title. Are you feeling it people? K-League Classic…feel it wash over your mouth…like Coke Classic…chaser please. [Note, if you missed the news, the K-League will now be the name of the new relegated division while the regular division will henceforth be named K-League Classic. I could be wrong, but this episode may one day make the history books filed under ‘Confusing Marketing Disasters.’]
New transfer rumor: hidden in the Daily Mail’s article on Everton’s Leon Osman, the very last line pops up out of the blue: “Everton are also keen on 6 ft 5 in South Korean striker Kim-Shin Wook, 24, at Ulsan Hyundai.” Kinda random in the presentation, but okie-dokie, we’ll wait to see how this will play out.
Park Joo-Ho‘s time in Europe may be over. He’s been out of favor at his Swiss club FC Basel and now the left back is being considered for a transfer to K-League Classic’s Suwon FC.
We do have weekend games in Europe to be happy about, enough to share with you good people but first a quick recap of some midweek games:
Wednesday saw 2 matches: Park Chu-Young playing for Celta Vigo’s Copa del Rey at Real Madrid AND Ki Sung-Yeung playing for Swansea in the semifinal 1st leg of the Capital Cup as they visited Chelsea in Stamford Bridge.
In the Spanish Cup match, the pre-story narrative had people wondering if more drama and insanity from Jose Mourinho could distract Real Madrid off their game, as Celta had previously beaten them in the first leg by the score of 2-1. Alas, the defensive minded approach to the Celta Vigo starting XI collapsed within the first 2 minutes of the game as Cristian Ronaldo immediately scored to equalize the aggregate score. By the end of the half, Real Madrid was up 2-0 and with it, went ahead on aggregate 3-2. Park was a surprise insertion into the starting XI, and while he had a decent outing, it wasn’t a trail blazing performance by any means. He tried to insert his imprint on the game with a few good touches and some dangerous runs. He won most of the aerial battles. But the team overall was not entirely in sync and had trouble mustering a coherent offense. Early in the 2nd half, Park had 2 chances to score, particularly in the 50th minute when DeLucas sent in a pernicious cross that had Castillas beat to the far post. It was unfortunately too far ahead of Park Chu-Young as the ball was about a yard too far to make contact to send it home for the equalizer. In the 55th minute he was subbed out for Iago Aspas, who created a few good chances of his own -but the team could not find the equalizer despite a red card ejection by Sergio Ramos in the 73rd minute. Rather, it was Real Madrid who kept piling on the score late in the game, the hat trick goal by Ronaldo with an added Khedira goal to complete the Celta defensive collapse. It didn’t help that Hugo Mallo severely damaged his knee in a freak accident in the first half. It completely buckled on a routine play, and he was eventually taken out on a stretcher. Mallo is out for the season for ACL damage + severe damage to the external meniscus of the left knee, a pretty devastating loss for the Celta defense.
Meanwhile Ki Sung-Yeung and his Swansea crew kept rolling on, running over Chelsea in the process as the 1st leg of the Capital Cup semifinals ended in a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge. Until Wednesday, Swansea haven’t beaten Chelsea since a 3-0 win at the Vetch Field in 1981, and haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since the very first meeting between the two clubs in 1925 -that according to the Guardian. In light of that, a very impressive win for the Swans. The short story: Ki was efficient, not sexy but got the job done as he and the team pulled together for another historic win for the Welsh side. By most accounts, Chelsea was the club pinning down Swansea with some fairly decent one touch football, but 2 huge defensive errors by Chelsea allowed for Michu (earning 4% of Fernado Torres’ salary) and Danny Graham to capitalize and take the first game. The Swans newest victory at Stamford bridge, 88 years in the making. Ki nearly got another fantastic assist as he sent a magnificent through ball to Michu, only for it to be ruled offsides.
Ki’s contribution for the Swans has not gone unnoticed. In the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast on Thursday, Owen Gibson (at least I think it was Owen, and if wasn’t him it was Sean Ingle) talked up Ladrup’s signing several talents this summer:
“…also he (Ladrup) brought Ki in. He’s physically strong, with Swansea perhaps last season were getting turned over away from home. He’s 6’3” -very strong, he gets around a lot, and he’s made Swansea much more difficult to beat on the road then they were last season.
If Swansea do go on and get to the final and win it to get into Europe…the narrative may be less about where these players go onto next… Swansea might not be seen as just a stepping stone, and could actually be a team you might want to go onto and stay on.” You can hear the entire podcast here.
Weekend Listings (In US Eastern Time. Channels listed are in the US. Internet streaming should be available worldwide).
England, QPR vs. Spurs 7:30 a.m. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com Captain Park Ji-Sung should be starting in this grudge match for Harry Rednapp as he faces the team he took to the top 4 of the Premier League last season, only to be sacked.
England, Everton vs. Swansea 10 a.m. Fox Soccer Plus, foxsoccer2go.com Didn’t we just talk about Everton and Swansea? Due to strategic rotation, it’s anyone’s guess what Ladrup will do, so we’re not entirely sure if Ki Sung-Yeung will start or rest on the bench.
England, Bolton vs. Millwall 10 a.m. No TV/Internet? Lee Chung-Yong should be getting the start. Still hearing rumors about the Blue Dragon going to Stoke during January transfer time, but nothing new to report.
England, Cardiff vs. Ipswich Town 10 a.m. No TV/Internet? Not sure if Kim Bo-Kyung will get the start. Cardiff now commands a 7 point lead in the Npower Championship and as long as they truly aren’t cursed by some kind of pirate spell, they are on track for promotion.
Spain, Espanyol vs. Celta noon beIN Sport Espanol Park Chu-Young time? Celta sits 3 points out of La Liga’s relegation drop zone, every point is vital.
And that’s a wrap. What game or games will you watch this weekend?