On Saturday, the East Asian Cup (hereafter referred to as the EAC) will kick off. South Korea is the host nation, and will play Australia. The tournament is a once every four year tournament (the last one was held in 2010). More history can be found here, and a list of Hong Myeong-Bo’s call ups can be found here. In the US, the EAC will be broadcast on One World Sports live and streaming here starting on Saturday July 20th at 6 am EST. In Korea, JTBC TV will broadcast the game on Saturday evening beginning at 7 pm. Seoul Sang-am World Cup Stadium will be primed for the start of the tournament.
The only player news of note is that Hong has named FC Seoul captain Ha Dae-Sung as team captain for the tournament. This would indicate (of course) that Ha Dae-Sung will take one of the central midfield roles, which would mean that one (or two) of Lee Myeong-Joo, Park Jong-Woo, and Han Kook-Young will likely be left out. It also hints that Hong is not quite ready to give the proverbial “keys” to his kids yet either. The presence of Ha in the line-up is surely due to the fact that Hong is looking to have a few experienced heads on the field. In that regard it seems likely that Hong will start one experienced player in each section of the pitch. Jung Sung-Ryong in goal, likely Kim Chang-Soo in defense, Ha Dae-Sung in midfield, and Yeom Ki-Hoon in attack.
Word floating out of the training camp is that the above formation is what Hong has been trying out with what is likely the starting XI. There have also been reports that Hong has tried Seongnam striker Kim Dong-Sub in place of Kim Shin-Wook as well as Lee Yong at right back instead of Kim Chang-Soo. I have a feeling though that the two more veteran players (KSW and KCS) will start though. The only surprise, should this be the starting XI, is that Park Jong-Woo is starting ahead of Lee Myeong-Joo. Lee is easily the best passer amongst the four central midfielders called, and would seem to be a more natural balance with Ha Dae-Sung. Ha and Park are similar, box-to-box style players. Neither is a pure holding midfielder nor an skillful attacker. Park Jong-Woo has decent passing abilities, but his long passes are a bit lacking at the international level.
Go Yo-Han is another slight surprise. I’ve never really pegged him as a natural wide player, and would suspect that he would possibly switch positions with Lee Seung-Gi, who often plays wide for both the national team and Jeonbuk. It’s great to see Hong Jeong-Ho back in the thick of things, and it looks like Kim Young-Kwon will get a chance to rectify his error from the last qualifier.
Like Korea (and all the teams really), Australia is relying on domestic players. With virtually all their squad plying their trade in the A-League. Also like Korea, they are largely inexperienced at the senior level, but with a few veteran players mixed in.
NAME CLUB A-International Caps (Goals)
Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) Newcastle Jets FC, AUSTRALIA 0 (0)
Joshua BRILLANTE Newcastle Jets FC, AUSTRALIA 0 (0)
Nathan COE (gk) Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA 3 (0)
Robert CORNTHWAITE Chunnam Dragons, KOREA REPUBLIC 7 (3)
Mitchell DUKE Central Coast Mariners FC, AUSTRALIA 0 (0)
Ivan FRANJIC Brisbane Roar FC, AUSTRALIA 3 (0)
Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) Adelaide United FC, AUSTRALIA 6 (0)
Craig GOODWIN Newcastle Jets FC, AUSTRALIA 0 (0)
Tomi JURIC Western Sydney Wanderers FC, AUSTRALIA 0 (0)
*Josh KENNEDY Nagoya Grampus, JAPAN, AUSTRALIA 31 (16)
Matt MCKAY Changchun Yatai FC, CHINA PR 38 (1)
Ryan MCGOWN Shandong Luneng Taishan FC, CHINA PR 3 (0)
Mark MILLIGAN Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA 22 (2)
Aaron MOOY Western Sydney Wanderers FC, AUSTRALIA 2 (2)
Mitch NICHOLS Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA 1 (0)
Jade NORTH Brisbane Roar FC, AUSTRALIA 34 (0)
Connor PAIN Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA 0 (0)
Erik PAARTALU Tianjin Teda, CHINA PR 0 (0)
Trent SAINSBURY Central Coast Mariners FC, AUSTRALIA 0 (0)
Adam TAGGART Newcastle Jets FC, AUSTRALIA 3 (2)
Archie THOMPSON Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA 50 (28)
Michael THWAITE Perth Glory FC, AUSTRALIA 11 (0)
Dario VIDOSIC Adelaide United FC, AUSTRALIA 16 (1)
Ruben ZADKOVICH Newcastle Jets FC, AUSTRALIA 1 (0)
Josh Kennedy, while called, has not been released by his club, Japan’s Nagoya Grumpus. Australia manager Holger Osieck complained publicly about a few clubs in China, Japan, and Korea that were reluctant to release players (all have since done so, except for the aforementioned Grumpus). I’m not sure why Grumpus decided not to release Kennedy (they’re not obligated to do so as the tournament is not FIFA protected), but Grumpus is not playing for much right not. Lower half, but clear of relegation worries for now. One would hope it’s not something from higher up (JFA) as Kennedy is a star player for the Aussies.
I’m not terribly familiar with the A-League, where most of the players play, so I’m a bit hard pressed to come up with some sort of XI for the Socceroos.
While the EAC is not an important or terribly glamorous contest, it will be important for Korea. Hong needs the team to give a good display (particularly against Australia and Japan) to relieve some of the pressure that’s on the squad, and show that there is still hope for the future. The EAC will also give a chance for Hong to blend in some of the Asian-based players for the future, and find players who are capable of stepping up and filling in some holes. The Euro players are important, but we can’t rely solely on them.
Australia will be a good first match, and Korea needs to make sure they get off on the right foot (which would be a win).
Live tweeting most likely (@SKSBlog). Catch y’all on the flip side.