February 15, 2013
Enough of this Hallmark-contrived holiday, glad it’s over and back on focusing on international football (“ever the romantic,” chimes the Tavern owner’s wife in the background). Couple of quick items, we’ll start with Park Joo-Ho‘s 90 minutes performance today with FC Basel in their impressive 2-0 Europa League victory over Dnipro. The Korean left back is in full swing after being left off the squad for a spell in the fall. He also played 90 minutes in last weekend’s 3-0 victory over FC Sion. Two clean sheets in a row, not too shabby. [Thanks to @FCSamB for the quick reminder -whew, nearly forgot to include him in today’s post].
As for the headline, Son Heung-Min made his debut entry in the weekly Associated Press Global Soccer Rankings. In fact, he becomes the first Korean to make the AP Top 10 players of the week (at least since they started compiling this last year). He was voted 7th overall outstanding international player of the week for his performance with Hamburg last weekend against defending Bundesliga Champs, Borussia Dortmund, a 4-1 drubbing. Here he is with some household names, let’s take a quick look:
AP Global Soccer Rankings for week ending Feb. 10
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, 183 points.
2. Andres Iniesta, 101.
3. Gareth Bale, 98.
4. Lionel Messi, 87.
5. David Alaba, 84.
6. Robin van Persie, 70.
7. Son Heung-Min, 36.
8. Michu, 32.
9. Mario Balotelli, 29.
10. Ryan Giggs 26
UPDATE: Great article came out today on FIFA.com; Son revealed his ambitions and hopes to play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He name drops Cha Bum-Kun in conversations he had with the Eintracht Frankfurt/Bayern Leverkusen legend recently, “He told me he thought it was good that I was playing so well in the Bundesliga and that I should keep doing what I’m doing.” Cha-Boom!
Now for a bit of dour news: South Korea’s Taeguk Warriors have dropped in the latest FIFA rankings. The South Korean national team is now ranked 38th, a 4 point drop since last month. They lost last week to Croatia at Craven Cottage by an abysmal score of 4-0. Croatia moved from 10th place to 9th in this latest rankings. For comparison with their neighbors, Australia is now ranked 37th (a 1 point drop) and Japan is ranked 28th (a 7 point drop). South Korea’s next match is a World Cup qualifier with Qatar in Seoul scheduled March 26th. They are in 2nd place in their World Cup Qualifying group, behind Uzbekistan.
Midfielder Park Jong-Woo was part of the celebrated Taeguk Warrior Olympic Bronze medal winning squad, but the only member that didn’t come home with his medal. When he held a fan made sign that read “Dokdo Island is Ours” in the post game celebration in August after beating Japan in the Bronze medal match, he was immediately banned from the medal ceremony, having violated the rules for holding up political banners. After a light fine and several game suspension, he pleaded his last final case on Tuesday to the IOC committee in Switzerland. The verdict: he was quietly given the medal and flew home, finally an official medalist with restored honors. He returned to training with Busan IPark as they are tuning up for the upcoming K-League Classic season. Not sure if originally not receiving his medal affected his military exemption status, but now that the incident is behind him, the Tavern wonders if he can more seriously eye a European transfer in the summer.
With QPR’s miserable performance in last weekend’s clash with Swansea, relegation is looking a bit more likely now for the Rangers. Curses to Harry Rednapp -for depriving the world of the opportunity of seeing a possible 3 Korean players in an EPL game that day. Ki Sung-Yeung made it out for the full 90 for the Swans, but Park Ji-Sung sat on the bench the entire match while newly transferred left back Yun Suk-Young was in the stands and not part of the 18 man selection for QPR. Circulating on the twittersphere was this photo after the game in the bowels of Liberty Stadium of all 3 Korean players meeting up.
Despite the gloominess in QPR-land, with 7 points to get out of the relegation zone, Rednapp’s side has a difficult but not impossible way forward. Ever optimistic -perhaps it’s the new glasses I just got recently. Coincidence?
It’s getting late here at the Tavern. Lots of great matches this weekend -we’ll post the listings later on Friday afternoon. Have a great night.