The Return of Park Ji-Sung

Just when it looked like Harry Rednapp had cast Park Ji-Sung aside and left him out of the equation for masterminding QPR’s escape from relegation, several close losses in recent weeks have forced him to reconsider. On Saturday, Rednapp surprised everyone, including the Tavern, by selecting Park in the starting XI against Southampton.  The veteran Korean midfielder didn’t disappoint and was crucial in QPR’s game winning goal late in the 2nd half. Final score, Southampton 1 : QPR 2.  This is the moment where I’m supposed to insert an established media writer’s take on Park’s vitalness in the game, but this time I’ll first opt with my micro-blogging brethen,

Which brings us to that beast of a performance, climaxing in Park’s enthralling challenge with Maya Yoshida to win the ball, then feeding a lovely cross over to Jay Bothroyd for the game winner:

Boss. So Harry can wipe a little sweat from his beady forehead, this on his 66th birthday, as this was a must-win for the Rangers…well practically every game from now until the end of the season are must-wins really. Where does that leave QPR in the table? Still dead last. Nevertheless, the situation is less dire than last weekend, as they are only 4 points away from escaping the drop -assuming of course Reading, Aston Villa, and Wigan all remain stationary.

Several writers, including Sean Smith (writing for the QPR blog at ESPN FC), talked up Park’s factoring in for the win: “For a start, we saw Ji-Sung Park roll back the years with a harrying display. His persistence was the vital key that finally unlocked Southampton’s defence.”  For nerdy tactical analysis, we go to Richard Jolly’s post: “Park played on the side of a central triangle with Stephane Mbia at the base – but he was the one of the central trio charged with getting forward to support striker Jay Bothroyd. More often, however, [Park] was shielding his defence...”

Jolly observed a defensive shift by Rednapp in pulling out Estaban Granero for Jermaine Jenas, and QPR swiftly morphed into a new 4-4-2 formation, switching Park to the right. “The Korean has long been a defensive winger – in his Manchester United days, he was often chosen for key games precisely because he could be relied upon to help his full-back – but he took that still further by setting up Bothroyd’s winner after a tackle.”

QPR owner Tony Fernandez tweeted this soon after the game:

Which begs the question: Tony was in the know about Park’s capabilities…so what took Rednapp so long to re-install Park as a starter?

 As the Tavern mused last week, the Rangers could’ve used the ex-Manchester United man when QPR lost to Park’s former team. QPR were down only 1-0 for most of the match (until the ageless Giggs scored the insurance goal only late in the game -at 40 years old no less!). Rednapp gave Ji-Sung the snub, and he didn’t get the opportunity to play against his former club. Mere speculation, but the Tavern can’t help but conclude this: Rednapp finally figured that whatever his reservations or vendetta towards the former captain were, in this do-or-die battle to escape relegation, he could no longer afford to go without his services.

{Note to self: Great, time to re-adjust Park’s status at the club —just when my narrative was starting to come together around rumors of Park’s departure to the MLS, given the shabby treatment Park has been getting at Loftus Road lately –see the last post headline. Oh the rollercoaster of life…}

 

Speaking of Manchester United, Shinji Kagawa scored a hat trick against Norwich; soon afterwards, some incorrect tweets emerged announcing the Japanese international as having been the first Asian to score a hat trick in top flight European football. Not so – John Duerden twittered the record straight:

Seol Ki-Hyun did so in 12 minutes?  Remarkable. I sent the Tavern statistician to look into Seol. The Korean international initially had a productive career in Belgium, first with Royal Antwerp in 2000, then roughly 3 seasons after that with Anderlecht. During that time with Anderlecht, he became the first Korean to score in the UEFA Champions League. He moved on to then Champions division side Wolverhampton in 2004 – showed enough promise to get picked up by a Premiership team -newly promoted Reading in 2006. The rest of his time in Europe (including a stint with Fulham) was not as successful, but he is in the record books for his earlier adventures, especially that 12 minute hat trick in Belgium!

The K-League Classic kicked off on Saturday, marking 30 years of continuous professional football on the Korean continent. A couple of ‘firsts’ last season including introducing relegation for the first time in it’s history. Which means this year, the new 2nd division (named oddly enough the K league) will be in business making it’s debut. FIFA.com took notice, and laid out some new information on how promotion will take place. We’re not sure if this is totally correct, but according to the FIFA.com article, “There is an added twist to the relegation battle this season though. While the bottom two sides will be automatically relegated, the 12th-placed team (i.e. the bottom third team of the lower half) will have to play-off against the champions of the K League for the right to stay in the top flight.”

If that is true, that means promotion is not necessarily guaranteed from the 2nd division. I’m wondering if in fact it’s the 3rd place team in the 2nd division that will have to clash with the 12th place 1st division team for the honors of being in the top K-League Classic the following season. I can only imagine that if a team has worked hard enough to stay on top of the table in the 2nd division, that should by rights earn them automatic promotion. To be continued…

UPDATE: Lex Nande of K-Talk has confirmed FIFA.com’s version of relegation/promotion: “…it’s true about the play-off between KLC 12th place and KL 1st place teams. It will be held at the KL stadium, and if the KL team wins, they will swap places with the KLC team. This means a total of 3 teams could go down. Reasoning is that they want the K-League teams to have something to play for.”  Very interesting. Lex also mentioned that the Army/Sangju team will be eligible to potentially play for the KLC next season if they win promotion, having reworked some key FIFA requirements structurally as an organization. They were one of two of the teams relegated at the end of last season – and currently have on their roster Lee Keun-Ho, last years’ Asian Player of the Year.

In the last post we just started an internet campaign to get ESPN FC to include the K-League Classic in their fixtures and news listings. They got the J-League and the A-League. But no love for the K-League Classic -after winning 3 out of the past 4 Asian Champions Leagues?  What’s the oldest professional league in Asia have to do to get some respect around here – or at least a western media football outlet like ESPN FC?  In the meantime, props to soccerway.com for having K-League Classic game results listed. ESPN FC: take a look at how it’s done. K-Talk blog along with SKS blog are in with coordinating this online protest. If enough people complain to ESPN FC about this – I do believe there’s a good chance we can force a good outcome here. For more details on how to get involved and add your voice, check out Saturday’s Tavern posting here.

The Korean FA just put out their roster for the Taeguk Warriors March 26th World Cup Qualifier against Qatar -we’ll list the roll call at the end of the post today (no Park Chu-Young?!)  There’s also reports of a closed door friendly to be scheduled against Syria. Syria – that civil war torn nation still has a football team? The Tavern has to cringe a bit, knowing that there has been tremendous suffering and civilian deaths by the tens of thousands (or more) at the hands of President Assad’s brutal regime. Why the Korean FA would even consider Syria to set up a friendly with in light of these atrocities taking place is absolutely beyond me.

Let’s get to the weekend roundup, shall we?  K-League Classic first. Over at K-Talk blog, they have all the game’s round 1 reports in glorious detail.  Here’s the scores:

Saturday

FT Ulsan 2 – 1 Daegu  
FT Seoul 2 – 2 Pohang Steelers  
FT Chunnam Dragons 0 – 1 Jeju United

Sunday

FT Seongnam 1 – 2 Suwon Bluewings  
FT Incheon United 0 – 0 Gyeongnam
FT Busan I’Park 2 – 2 Gangwon  
FT Daejeon Citizen 1 – 3 Jeonbuk Motors

 

In Canada, Vancouver’s Lee Young-Pyo went 90 minutes and while not credited with an assist, was vital in setting up the only score of the match against Toronto FC Saturday night. Here’s a recap of that:

Didn’t know this until recently, Lee had sent out a tweet nearly 2 weeks ago to rally support for the K-League Classic. Here it is:

A translation (by a poster on BigSoccer Koreans Abroad forum):  I can not accept the fact that people call the k-league “boring.” To the people who only watch european football due to “high standards,” who is more of a gourmand? one who can only taste the sweetness of food, or one who can taste all of the saltiness, spiciness, etc of food?

Before we look at the European roundup, Portland Timbers and the NY Redbulls just ended their match, a rollicking 3-3 draw. Evidence of the MLS improving it’s brand: 19,000+ in a solidly sold out Jen-Weld field in Portland, Oregon – a pumped up atmosphere on and off the pitch – a national ESPN TV audience – not to mention significant improvement in play on the field. This is not your MLS game from the 90’s. Smaller yet elegant soccer specific stadiums, chock full of energetic supporters…in a nation not known for being particularly enthusiastic about professional soccer…hmmm, perhaps something that the K-League Classic promoters can take a page from? Anyway, on the Portland Timber’s facebook page we came across an interesting photo taken today. Portland taegukiMany flags waving, including the TaeGuk-ki flag. No, there’s no Korean players representing on the pitch for either team (not that we know of). Still, a neat photo – whoever that was representin’ there, keep on with your freak flag flying over there in P’town.

Moving on to Europe:

English Premier League

Swansea  M  Ki Sung-Yeung: last 29 minutes in 1-0 victory over Newcastle. 2 shots

QPR  D  Yun Suk-Young: not in 18 man roster

QPR  M  Park Ji-Sung: 90 minutes, 1 assist

English League Championship

Bolton  M  Lee Chung-Yong: 90 minutes in 2-3 victory at Barnsley

Cardiff  M  Kim Bo-Kyung: in 18 man roster, did not play in 2-1 loss at Middlesbrough

German Bundesliga

Hamburg  F  Son Heung-Min: 87 minutes in 1-1 draw with Greuther Furth. 2 shots.

Greuther Furth  F  Park Jung-Bin: 35 minutes in 1-1 draw at Hamburg.

Augsburg   M  Ji Dong-Won: 90 minutes in 0-1 win at Werder Bremen. 4 shots.

Augsburg   M  Koo Ja-Cheol: 87 minutes in 0-1 win at Werder Bremen. 1 shot.

Swiss Super League

FC Basel  D  Park Joo-Ho: 90 minutes in a 1-2 win at Servette

Portugese Liga

Maritimo  F  Suk Hyun-Jun: last 37 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Moreirense

 

MONDAY – we don’t have the Park Chu-Young report yet as Celta Vigo’s game against Sevilla will take place several hours from now.  UPDATE:

Celta Vigo  F  Park Chu-Young: in the 18 man roster, didn’t play in a 4-1 loss at Sevilla.

 

And as promised, the roster selection for the March 26 World Cup Qualifier vs Qatar (regrettably coach Choi chose Lee Dong-Gook over Park Chu-Young):

Position No Name Date of Birth Cm/Kg Club Caps/Goals
GK JUNG Sung-Ryong 1985.01.04 190 /86 Suwon Samsung 45/-40
GK KIM Young-Kwang 1983.06.28 184 /85 Ulsan Hyundai 17/-15
GK LEE Bum-Young 1989.04.02 199 /94 Busan I’Park /
DF OH Beom-Seok 1984.07.29 181 /77 National Police Agency 42/2
DF KWAK Tae-Hwi 1981.07.08 185 /80 Al-Shabab(KSA) 29/5
DF PARK Won-Jae 1984.05.28 175 /69 Jeonbuk Hyundai 10/0
DF KIM Chang-Soo 1985.09.12 179 /72 Kashiwa Raysol(JPN) 3/0
DF JUNG In-Whan 1986.12.15 187 /84 Jeonbuk Hyundai 4/0
DF KIM Ki-Hee 1989.07.13 187 /83 Al-Siliya(QAR) 1/0
DF YUN Suk-Young 1990.02.13 182 /74 Chunnam Dragons 1/0
DF JANG Hyun-Soo 1991.09.28 187 /77 FC Tokyo(JPN) 0/0
MF KIM Do-Heon 1982.07.14 177 /73 Suwon Samsung 63/12
MF SON Heung-Min 1992.07.08 183 /78 Hamburg SV(GER) 12/1
MF KI Sung-Yueng 1989.01.24 186 /75 Swansea City(Wales) 50/5
MF LEE Keun-Ho 1985.04.11 177 /75 Sangju Sangmu 47/15
MF JI Dong-Won 1991.05.28 186 /75 Augsburg(GER) 19/8
MF HAN Kook-Young 1990.04.19 183 /73 Shonan Bellmare(JPN) /
MF KOO Ja-Cheol 1989.02.27 182 /73 Augsburg(GER) 29/10
MF LEE Chung-Yong 1988.07.02 180 /69 Bolton(ENG) 43/5
MF HA Dae-Sung 1985.03.02 182 /73 FC Seoul 7/0
MF SHIN Hyung-Min 1986.07.18 182 /76 Al-Jazira(UAE) 9/0
FW KIM Shin-Wook 1988.04.14 196 /93 Ulsan Hyundai 13/1
FW LEE Dong-Gook 1979.04.29 187 /83 Jeonbuk Hyundai 95/30
About Roy Ghim 403 Articles

The old Tavern Owner

1 Comment

  1. hey, it’s true about the play-off between KLC 12th place and KL 1st place teams. It will be held at the KL stadium, and if the KL team wins, they will swap places with the KLC team. This means a total of 3 teams could go down. Reasoning is that they want the K-League teams to have something to play for.

    Also, Sangju Sangmu has reworked their structuring. They will be eligible to be in the KLC next year, meaning the KFA won’t be able to have a mandatory regulation on them.

Comments are closed.