FA Cup last weekend means midweek games in England. For that we visit Korean Footballers Abroad: (all times and TV listing in US EST).
|Tuesday||2:45 PM||Lee Chung Yong||Bolton||@QPR||None|
|Tuesday||2:45 PM||Kim Bo Kyung||Cardiff City||@Manchester United||NBC Extra Time|
|Wednesday||2:45 PM||Ki Sung Yueng||Sunderland||Stoke City||NBC Extra Time|
And don’t forget, Wednesday night January 29, Mexico and Korea square off in San Antonio, 8pm CST / 9pm EST. TV: ESPN News and Univision Deportes. The third and final game for the mini US tour comes to an end when they face off against the MLS version of the USMNT on Saturday at Stub Hub Center in Carson California, 2pm PST/ 5pm EST. ESPN2 will carry the event live.
Need to make the kickaround short but sweet as I’m totally lacking sleep, but I couldn’t help but see Paolo DiCanio shooting off his mouth in recent days about his time managing Sunderland (before getting sacked in fall 2013) – calling a number of his former players ‘cowards.’ Rewind a few months ago, he publicly criticized Ji post match for lacking courage and heart in what he considered ducking out of a heading on goal opportunity against Crystal Palace. [What I saw of the replay, in the micro second of the moment, while Ji was close, he really didn’t have a good opportunity to get a head on the ball with the angle and trajectory it was on]. You don’t have to be Blackcats supporter to have a bit of a laugh at crazy DiCanio’s expense -especially on the news today that Sunderland are considering legal action over his slander/rant in the media over the weekend.
Which moves us to the next point: John Durden aptly put it in ESPN FC: “The question is obvious and has been asked by many: How can a player who can’t get a game at relegation-threatened Sunderland suddenly be snapped up by one of the biggest teams in Europe and 2013 UEFA Champions League finalists? Ji Dong-Won’s transfer from Sunderland to Borussia Dortmund (via a six-month spell with FC Augsburg) has plenty scratching their heads — even more so when he scored against his new side this weekend.” An excellent article – and I’ll simply add: Sunderland didn’t know how to develop Ji, didn’t know how to play him positionally, didn’t know really what they had with the raw talented 22 year old. Enter Ji last Saturday, in his 2nd incarnation for Augsburg (last season on loan helped Augsburg in avoiding relegation) coming off the bench, scoring against his future employers in less than 120 seconds! How do we phrase this exactly, it’s kinda awkward?
That dramatic goal has been on the minds and tongues of a number of talking heads on the subject of European football this weekend. In the Bundesliga official website, General Manager Stefan Reuter admitted he was stunned – simply because Ji had not time to adjust with their system and settle in as he was still recovering from a leg injury – not to mention that he just transferred in only a few days ago. He added, if it weren’t for Molders getting injured, Ji wouldn’t even made the 18 man roster for the BVB match…”It’s madness!” And just like that, Ji was voted Bundesliga Player of the Week:
Going back to Duerden’s piece, “Dortmund had seen something they liked in Ji. Coach Klopp is a friend of Augsburg boss Markus Weinzierl, and together they came up with a plan that allowed Augsburg to have him cheaply for the rest of the season while BVB get their man in the summer on a four-year deal. Although he cost them three points on Saturday, the club is delighted to have a young international with European and German experience and possessing the ability to play in various positions.” I love a good scheme – it’s almost, not quite, but almost like an Oceans 11 kind of behind-closed-doors plot that was hatched between the 2 men. Anyway, point being: Klopp saw something that Sunderland did not – and he believes he can mold Ji further – a player that he believes to be very versatile. Ji will join up with BVB to start his multi-year contract after the World Cup – and play in the Champions League (baring any late season catastrophe).
[Bit of a late update but on the comment section, a Tavern goer had graciously shared a very decent article in Sports Illustrated on Ji and the BVB transfer. The best lines from that apt article by Ben Lyttleton:
“The root of the reason for Ji’s failure at Sunderland is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with English football,” said Michael Graham of Sunderland fans’ website Roker Report. “From the second he joined, no one at the club ever considered him as anything other than a center forward, and that was how he was used and judged. For me, Ji didn’t fail Sunderland. Sunderland failed Ji. It’s a disgrace that the club did so little to nurture a very talented player.”
For the development of Korean football – Ji’s move to BVB is an encouraging signpost. However that good news for Ji doesn’t eliminate structural problems plaguing Korean football as a whole, including the obvious roadblocks of mandatory military conscription.
To conclude the Tavern, I know there different views on Park Chu-Young, and whether Hong Myong-bo should add him to the WC2014 squad. It is Hong’s intent to add him, but while I do side with Hong on this, I respect other viewpoints opposed to that. That said, my point is Park Chu-Young, like Ji was at Sunderland, has been massively underrated. When you look at his AS Monaco days, I contend that Park wasn’t a flop at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger created the flop situation by not playing him during the 2011-2012 season -and more disturbing – didn’t allow Park to transfer during the January 2012 window to get playing time. Conversely it has effected Park’s confidence, and thus his ability to prove his worth on the European club level ever since. Just as Ji scored against BVB immediately after moving away from Wearside, Park has that potential, if utilized properly, to reclaim the mantle as Korea’s #1 upfront offensive weapon -provided the right club is mutually found with the right perspective. Let’s hope he gets a transfer out of North London –and soon. Window is closing this Friday.
Wait, Tavern isn’t closed just yet: another Ji makes a move to Chelsea!
We’re delighted to announce the signing of South Korean star Ji So-Yun http://t.co/gijKn47eqt
— Chelsea Ladies FC (@ChelseaLFC) January 27, 2014
Ji So-yun Signs Two-year Deal with Chelsea Ladies http://t.co/ayoJtmt0Ys
— The Chosun Ilbo (@EnglishChosun) January 28, 2014
First Korean woman to make it to Europe. 3 cheers for Ji So-yun – she was fantastic and a prolific goalscorer for her Japanese club INAC last year as they took the Cup and the title (I think they took the title- Tavern Statistician? Where the hell is he?)
And one last item to share, while sadly ktalk blog went dark with Lex Nande heading down under (to Australia) kleaguefootball.com went online a few short days ago. It looks pretty damn good as a website. It looks promising as another English language site on all things K League and the Korean National team. The blog is managed by Will Evans, another In Bed With Maradona contributor, and he is looking for other writers to help out. Meanwhile, our own Jae Chee has reconfigured his IParkBusan blog which I updated in the Tavern Links. I’m very psyched about his blog and you can find his adventure in following IPark this season right here.