Ji Dong-won has finally gotten back to scoring for Augsburg – he was so excited he leapt into the air and…somehow injured his knee on the way back down. Some have all the luck.
What a weird time it is for those who follow Koreans playing in Europe, so many have migrated to Germany and to the 2.Bundesliga in particular. Progress? Hard to say but for now we present you the infrequent KPA weekend roundup/midweek listing with Son (probably) playing in the Champions League today for Spurs at Inter Milan and a surprise inclusion in Bayern Munich’s CL squad…stay tuned….
Let’s go to the roundup/midweek listings from Korean Players Abroad- we’ll return to add some more players from around Europe into the mix:
Weekend Recap Sept 15th and Midweek Preview Sept 18th
Sigh. It starts painful from the get go with the need to buy B/R Live subscription to watch Tuesday. No iPad app and a fairly high price hurts. For those preferring legal streams like me, I suggest using the monthly subscription which is $10/month where 3 months now will cover group stages, and 2-3 months will cover knockouts which is cheaper than the $80 all-in. Of course you have to remember to cancel and if you’re Tottenham only, you can buy a la carte for cheaper.
Son Heung Min — 12:55 PM on B/R Live at Inter Milan. Son only came on as a late sub with needing some rest but also the match which was going poorly to presumably start CL tomorrow. Son didn’t have too much action when he did come on, but in the final seconds of the game, looked to have earned a PK with a good run into the box. Sadly it wasn’t called. He should start midweek and we’ll see who he plays with. [Tavern Owner interrupting: Galavision will also air this in the US as well as FUBO.tv as another aggregate streaming service].
Ji Dong Won — Came on as a sub and after some good touches, found himself with acres of space. He looked a bit surprised by how Mainz refused to close in, and eventually got into shooting position and blasted a shot for a goal to give Augsburg a lead. Sadly, it literally all went downhill from there, with Ji twisting his ankle celebrating and needing to be subbed off and Augsburg giving up two goals in remaining minutes. Hopefully his injury is minor and he can ride this goal upwards.
Koo Ja Cheol — I only saw the last 35 minutes or so and Koo was positioned between a second striker role and a 10. He had some pretty good touches and played the whole 90.
Ki Sung Yueng — Left off the squad. I’m not sure if he’s not 100% after international travel, or picked up a minor knock but Rafa had a lot of people on the bench who weren’t available either so probably both.
Suk Hyun Jun — Was disappointingly still a sub and only came on for final 20 minutes or so.
Tavern Owner returning: You can watch the highlights of Ji’s goal below, fast forward to 0:43 in the youtube video to find Ji shimmying past several Mainz players, using a few fake kick feints to buy some space, then launching what looks like a 25 yard shot. Great goal, but too bad for Ji getting injured. He’ll be out for a few weeks. Augsburg would capitulate 2 late goals, agonizing as Koo had a few golden chances to score against his old team.
And to get to that teaser about a Korean in Bayern Munich’s Champions League squad, this:
Jeong Woo Yeong in squad for CL! https://t.co/S8Hb3fuNV6
— Korean Footballers (@KoreaFootAbroad) September 18, 2018
Jeong Woo-young has been doing well for Bayern’s reserve squad, and while the 18 year old might not see playing time against Benfica tomorrow (unless it’s a blowout), he will be traveling to Portugal with the CL squad as he gets integrated with the club as a whole. Good experience, let’s see what happens…
Let’s quickly get to Koreans in other divisions:
Hwang Hee-Chan 90 minutes for Hamburg in a 3:2 win Heidenham, he was surprisingly inserted right away into the starting XI despite just joining his new team on loan from RB Salzburg only days ago. He looked brightest in the 1st half, getting some good shots on target and looking his pacy dangerous self.
Lee Jae-Sung on bench after traveling and playing in 2 games for Korea in the international break, he subbed in for last 32 minutes, but Holstein Kiel were already down 2:0 to Greuther Fürth – they would go on to lose 4:1.
Lee Chung-Yong 25 minutes in the 2nd half for Bochum, the Blue Dragon finally got his wish to stay in Europe after a harrowing effort to find a club after parting ways with Crystal Palace this summer. It didn’t help his cause that the UK’s work permit rules tightened significantly and he lost his work permit there – closing several possible avenues (Korea’s FIFA ranking at 57th means a tremendous difficulty for Korean players to either transfer to or remain in the UK -see this article from the Bolton News on Lee Chung-Yong’s work permit loss – it’s also affected Lee Jae-Sung who had to settle for 2.Bundesliga side Holstein Kiel despite interest from newly promoted Fulham and some other UK based clubs – again the work permit tied to Korea’s international ranking nixed the ex Jeonbuk player’s transfer efforts to join a club in England). Back to Lee Chung-yong, he subbed in the 76th minute and 2 minutes later his corner kick led to Losilla scoring Bochum’s 6th goal to defeat Ingolstadt by a whopping 6:0 scoreline. Lee was quoted postmatch in saying he was glad to finally get back to playing football.
Park Yi-Yong 90 minutes for St Pauli, they would go on to lose 3:1 at Erzgebirge Aue.
|#||Team||MP||W||D||L||F||A||D||P||Last 5 matches||H2H|
Koreans playing in 2.Bundesliga teams are doing relatively well (though to be honest, I haven’t gotten to get a sense of how fullback Park Yi-Yong is faring at St Pauli – a club that is exciting perhaps for it’s inconsistency), but Holstein Kiel and Hamburg are within striking distance of the top 3, while Lee Chung-Yong’s club Bochum is a point below table leader Gruether Furth.
It’s also back to Asian Champions League time, Jeonbuk goes to Suwon for the 2nd leg of the Quarterfinals. The K-League leaders are in a hole though, down 3-0 in aggregate to Dejan and company.
Kickoff is 6am US EST / 7pm Korea Time.
Extra Time: There’s been rumors swirling around German media that Bayern Munich is interested in signing Son Heung-min and whisking him back to Germany from Tottenham. Steve Han doesn’t buy that, but there are some interesting personnel in Munich who have firsthand experience in working with Son previously…
I don't believe that Son Heung-min to Bayern Munich rumour has legs for now, but for what it's worth: Bayern technical director Michael Reschke, assistant technical director Marco Neppe, chief scout Laurent Busser and fitness coach Holger Broich all worked with Son at Leverkusen.
— Steve Han • 한만성 (@RealSteveScores) September 17, 2018
In women’s football Ji So-yun scored in the Women’s Champions League at Sarajevo for Chelsea Ladies last Wednesday, they beat their hosts in a nil to 5 drubbing. The return leg will be on September 26th in London.
Last but not least, I’ll have a kickaround relatively soon to wrap up my very extremely late thoughts on Korea’s journey in the World Cup (and how VAR hurt and helped the team) including that historic win against Germany, the US tour that brought Son to LA and Jeong Woo-Yeong on US televisions for Bayern Munich, the exciting aftermath of a tougher than expected Asian Games tournament and what gold medal means for this generation of players released from mandatory military service (and the future of how earning exemptions might look), the travel fatigue that plagues players during the international break, and the new look for Korea’s senior squad with the recently hired Paulo Bento. When that’s done and over, I’m returning to semi-retirement status at the Tavern (Hal Kaiser style). It takes a village to operate a Tavern and I’m hoping that with our current super dope writers and perhaps newly vetted future contributors from within our community, we can continue to provide a neat perspective and get insight into the world of Korean ballers. I won’t be gone entirely, but with so many projects that I need to get back to (the physical Tavern is falling apart – goddamn money pit, mutter mutter mutter), I will not ride into that proverbial sunset, but rather pop back in and out of the Tavern as time permits.
It’s been 6 years since the Tavern booted up for the first time in 2012, with the wind at our backs after a spectacular Bronze medal Olympic victory over Japan and military exemption for those kids back then, including Ki Sung-Yeung, Koo Ja-Cheol, and Ji Dong-Won who just scored over the weekend. We celebrate in a muted fashion having just caught our breaths with back to back coverage of the Asian Games final (with yet another 2-0 haniljeon victory, mirroring the scoreline in 2012 Olympic) right on into the September international friendlies, a 2-0 win against Costa Rica followed by a tougher game and a hard fought 0-0 draw against Chile. Though all this, Son Heung-min wasn’t the only player we kept track of, but we can’t help but note that we have been observing the Chuncheon native for years, and suffice to say, we feel inadvertently attached. Shortly after the Tavern was raised, Son had his breakout year with Hamburg, scoring those spectacular and iconic goals against the Jurgen Klopp led yellow machine of Borussia Dortmund. We’ve followed the highs and lows of his career, notching Asian Player of the Year awards while scoring Champions League goals at Leverkusen, waiting patiently to see if/when he would get his chance at getting military exemption and all the while ruing his club for not letting him go to the 2014 Asian Games. It’s not just one player that we want to focus on, but it’s interesting that as the Tavern has continued onward, Son has been with us through thick and thin. When the gold medal was finally hung on the necks of the team on September 1st, we breathed a collective sigh of relief, and the worst case scenario of Son having to hang up his boots for 2 years of civic service was avoided. Through his own journey, Son overcame the shortcomings of the 2016 Olympic quarterfinal knockout and as a positive consequence, Korean football advances onward – and tonight for Son, probably a start at the San Siro.
But there remains SO many challenges and obstacles, some that are of Korea’s own making. This could be a good stopping point for the Tavern, a end of a long chapter that saw out 2 World Cup campaigns, with tragedy and miracles all in between.
It would be a good ending, a fine ending for the Tavern. However, there’s still a compelling story to tell. There’s still the mystery of what’s going to happen, in several arenas. Will Korea, despite it’s perpetual Cold War state of being, be able to stay internationally competitive in football with Japan (and China close behind) starting to take the lead in several metrics over Korean football? Can the K-League be able to close the gap and regain the audience they lost over the years, and revenue wise keep up with the J League and the CSL? Will the youth be able to develop properly and get valuable professional minutes in a culturally confucius dominated society in which meritocracy on the pitch (and the value/experience gained by playing the youth) loses out to undue deference to aging veterans? Can elite Koreans who venture abroad overcome cultural and language differences and find chemistry and success in the vast hyper-competitive environs of Europe? Will Korea finally figure out how to allow their best and brightest football athletes to balance their military obligations and be unshackled to represent Korea as football ambassadors to the world?
I don’t know how long semi-retirement will be. However…I am curious and I want to know how this will all play out. I guess that’s all I can hint at as to my future with the Tavern, for now at least.
Thanks for hanging out at the Tavern with me and the Tavern crew of writers, contributors and people working behind the scenes to help make all this happen. It’s a journey that I never expected would be as thrilling or have as much heartbreak, but it’s been brilliant through and through. The journey continues. Stay tuned and chal ga-yo!