October 24, 2012
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i defeated Bunyodkor in Tashkent, Uzbekistan today by a score of 3-1 in the first leg of the Asian Champions League Semifinals. The South Korean side came back from being down a goal, which they conceded to Jovlon Ibrokhimov in the first 5 minutes of the game. Brazilian international Rafinha equalized in the 31st minute, and the score kept even until Kim Shin Wook, otherwise known as the Wookie, delivered a header into the Uzbek net in the 53rd minute. Some furious back and forth action typified the 2nd half as each side scrambled to find an edge. Lee Keun-Ho drew more blood, sending a magnificently placed header into the upper left corner of the net off a corner set piece in the 72nd. But just when you thought it was all over, a mere 5 minutes later a bit of chaos ensued. Kang Min-Soo was yellow carded for a handball in the penalty area (replays showed it an Uzbek shot bounced off his chest, but his hand movement was misinterpreted as handling it). Jasur Khasanov took the PK…fast shot towards the bottom right corner – Kim Young-Kwang guessed correctly and lept with outstretched arms – the ball went right past his fingertips…and bounced off the post. With it went Bunyodkor’s best chance to get back into the game. Jar Stadium emptied out in disappointment. The second leg is scheduled next Wednesday, October 31st for a Halloween showdown in South Korea (8 pm Korea Time / 7 am US EST). If Ulsan advances next Wednesday, the Asian Champions League finals will be held on November 10th (time TBA).
Pohang Steelers secured their qualification to next year’s Asian Champions League by winning the Korean FA Cup with their 1-0 win over Gyeongnam yesterday. K-Talk wrote up an account of the match on their blog site, you can read that here. According to K-Talk, Pohang should be an excellent contender, having won the Asian Champions League trophy 3 times previously.
Both Bolton’s Lee Chung-Yong and Cardiff’s Kim Bo-Kyung did not feature for their respective club’s Tuesday matchups in N-Power Championship league play. Cardiff won a nail-biter in stoppage time against Watford, winning 2-1 with substitute Aron Gunnarsson’s late header. This was a chaotic game, with Cardiff coming from behind, only to see their rivals self destruct in a short span of time; Daniel Pudil and Nathaniel Chalobah getting sent off with red cards in the 64th and 72nd minute. With the win, Cardiff made a bit of history: they became the first Cardiff team to win 6 home victories in a row. Friend of the Tavern and BigSoccer Koreans Abroad forum poster CJay mentioned this phenomena in an earlier Tavern musing; their home performance with donning the new non-traditional red jerseys have coincidentally resulted in this stellar home record. They didn’t re-take 1st place in the N-Power Championship table, but are tied on points with Leicester and only slightly behind on goal differentials. Bolton came from behind to draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2.
SportalKorea correspondent Santiago Perez reported on his rainmaker18.com blog that Park Chu-Young finished his first full training session with Celta Vigo since leaving practice the past two days. He sustained an adductor leg injury from last Saturday’s clash with Real Madrid. His recovery time may determine whether he can factor in this Saturday’s heated derby with Deportivo. Santiago also reported a visitor in tow: “The courious fact of the day was the presence of Korean coach Yong Kab Kim, Park’s former U19 and U21 coach, and one of his mentors. I spent some time with him, and will post a deep interview very soon.” The Tavern is looking forward to this interview to see what his mentor has to say. For more on Perez’s description of today’s practice, look no further than here.
Lee Young-Pyo is still making waves even after retirement from the Taeguk Warriors. On Sunday he won Vancouver FC’s 2012 Player of the Year award. The 35 year old right back was productive for Vancouver all year with a workman-like rate of 32 appearances and 2880 minutes of action. Vancouver became the first Canadian team to qualify for the MLS playoffs (they will clash against LA Galaxy in 1st knockout round next week). Yesterday it was reported in the Vancouver Sun that the Whitecaps are hoping Lee stays one more year. However, he’s on the fence on that one, “I have two options – retire now or play one more year in Vancouver…I want to retire from this club. I don’t want to go to any other team. But it’s a very difficult decision for me and I need to decide in the next four or five weeks. It’s 50/50 right now.”
There’s no loss of love for the former Tottenham and PSV Eindhoven player as his jersey is amongst the top 20 MLS jerseys in demand. However if he does decide to retire, according to the Vancouver Sun, he might go back to school to study sports marketing in Vancouver or Las Angeles. The full Vancouver Sun article can be found here.
Uh…gots to go. An egie might be coming sooner than expected. Not for certain that it’s tonight, but it’s going to be a Tavern visit to the hospital -right now. Check in with you all later in the week. peace