One game to focus on at the Tavern for midweek: last Champions League group match with Bayer Leverkusen visiting Benfica. Just a few hours to go before kickoff.
Benfica v Bayer Leverkusen 2:45 pm US EST / 4:45 am Korea Time
US Broadcast: ESPN3 and Direct TV
Leverkusen has already qualified for the knockout stage. However, they could use a victory today to win Group C outright. Here’s how group C is shaking out pre-match:
|1||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||5||2||0||1||1||0||1||3||0||2||7||4||3||9|
|2||AS Monaco FC||5||1||1||0||1||1||1||2||2||1||2||1||1||8|
In the previous match with Benfica, Son Heung-Min provided the 2nd goal in a comprehensive 3-1 win. The Lisbon side struggled overall in Group C and will not advance to the knockouts. Son leads Leverkusen with 3 Champions League tournament goals + 2 in the qualifying stage = a breakout year for Son in European competition.
Over to Group D, Ji Dong-Won is still in recovery – restarted light training recently but won’t be available for Borussia Dortmund who will face Anderlecht today. Like Leverkusen, BVB are already through to the knockouts, but would could win the group outright today.
Tavern Kickaround time:
A dire situation in Gyeongnam as a result of being relegated last weekend, losing to Gwangju in the promotion/relegation playoff, now this:
ICYMI Gyeongnam governor Hong Joon-pyo has raised the possibility of the dissolution of Gyeongnam FC following the team’s relegation. — Jae (@ArmchairRegista) December 9, 2014
The provincial government is struggling to meet their budget for next year and may decide they can no longer finance the team’s operation — Jae (@ArmchairRegista) December 9, 2014
Now the gov’t will study their options and see if something can be worked out, but ending the team is a possibility. — Jae (@ArmchairRegista) December 9, 2014
Almost relegated Seongnam meanwhile has a situation brewing, their mayor (who is also club president) embroiled in controversy over his criticism of K-League officiating. Korean team boss Uli Stielike issued a statement during a meeting on the state of Korean football with K-League coaches in attendance, lamenting what he viewed as possible political meddling in the K-League’s officiating. He urged that politics should stay out of sports.
“Promotions and relegations are all part of life in football,” the former German international said. “It’s regrettable that politics has taken precedence over players and clubs.”
For context regarding K-League machinations, K-League clubs have a ‘different’ arrangement where either corporations or municipal city governments own clubs rather than individuals. There has been discussions amongst analysts and supporters on the best way forward for Korean football -and the issue of club structure / ownership is one of the roots of possible ways improve the overall health of Korean club football going forward. Meantime, perpetuating a model that some say has been a systemic mistake borrowed exclusively from the US / MLS system: the K-League draft has just finished. 540 players applied for the draft. This just in:
84 players have been picked in the 2015 K League draft. Welcome to the K League, rookies! — Korea Football News (@KORFootballNews) December 9, 2014
Let’s go over to the KFA – they have some interesting items to vote on in their annual poll:
— Jae (@ArmchairRegista) December 9, 2014
The vote is in Korean only (not available on the English-language site) — Jae (@ArmchairRegista) December 9, 2014
We’ll post later on the KFA poll – including the items up for vote.
We had a Tavern goer AnJrue share this link from Koream on Kang Su-il, a mixed race Korean American forward for Pohang. He’s had quite a difficult time growing up in Korea, facing racial discrimination as a black Korean. The article covers his remarkable journey, from a chance trial at Incheon United and earning the MVP in the K-League reserve leagues in 2007 (no longer in operation) to his struggles for their first team. Last season Pohang’s coach Hwang Sun-hong gave him a new lease on his football career – since going on loan, he scored 7 goals across competitions for the Steelers and earned a call up to the national team in their December camp.
New contributing writer Evelyn Kim came across info on Hong Myong-Bo’s Share the Dream football charity match -it’s happening this Saturday and features an interesting and fun lineup. From her comment post:
The first team is “Team Love” and Ahn Jung Hwan is coaching it. The folks I recognize from this first squad are: Kim Seung Gyu / Jung Sung Ryong / Kim Seung Dae / Kang Su-il / Yun Il Lok / Jong Tae-Se
The 2nd is “Team Hope” and Kim Byung Ji is both coaching + playing as the goalkeeper… which is odd! This team has women footballers I recognize: Ji So Yun and Shim So Yeon (she captained the women’s squad at the Asian Games) Kim Jin Hyeon is on that list, along with Jang Hyunsoo / Park Jong Woo / Kim Minwoo and Ha Daesung (he’s been off my radar since the WC)