Korean Players Abroad & K-League Weekend Listing Sept 23-24 + Korea Women Knocks out Japan in AFC U16 Semifinals

Photo: AFC

We start in Europe, a semi-active midweek could equal rotation for this weekend – hard to predict exactly. We go to Korean Players Abroad for their midweek recap and weekend listing (all times in US EST and broadcast for US TV)

 

Midweek Recap Sept 19th and Weekend Preview Sept 22nd

Cup matches weren’t televised so hard to know how well midweek showings went for many of the guys. Health looks to be improving so we’ll see what role is there for those recovering…

Day Time Player Club Opponent TV
Saturday 7:30 AM Son Heung Min Tottenham @West Ham NBCSN
Saturday 9:30 AM Ji Dong Won Augsburg @Stuttgart Fox Match Pass
Saturday 9:30 AM Koo Ja Cheol Augsburg @Stuttgart Fox Match Pass
Saturday 10:00 AM Lee Chung Yong Crystal Palace @Man City NBCSN
Saturday 10:00 AM Ki Sung Yueng Swansea Watford NBC Gold
Saturday 2:00 PM Kwon Chang Hoon Dijon @Lyon None
Saturday 2:00 PM Suk Hyun Jun Troyes @Metz None
Sunday 9:00 AM Lee Seung Woo Hellas Verona Lazio BeIn Play

Son Heung Min — I forgot about CL next week, where a start midweek, bench weekend and start in CL (as Alli suspended) makes some sense. Reportedly played well and was very unlucky to not score. As I mentioned, probably bench this weekend ahead of CL midweek.

Ji Dong Won — Not in squad and with things going great for Augsburg, will have to be patient though with Baier suspended, perhaps he gets a bench spot.

Koo Ja Cheol — Was rotated out, and unclear if due to preference or fatigue, but he came on at halftime for Gregoritsch (I assume minor knock for latter). Instead of slotting into CAM role though, Baum changed the shape and Koo was alongside Baier in a deeper role. He played well and tidy and looked energetic in the rare times he pushed forward too. Not the best use of his talents in this role as he’s often poorly positioned on defense but for now it is working.

Lee Chung Yong — Started, reportedly as part of a strike pair though I assume he was more of a 10 than a 9. He played 90 so couldn’t have been horrific as before, but didn’t do much to win back the fans. I expect a bench role for him this weekend.

Ki Sung Yueng — He returned to full training today but I’d suspect its too early this weekend.

Kwon Chang Hoon — He was seen in training pics today so hopefully he’s nearing a return to the squad but I’d expect bench for him even if fit.

Suk Hyun Jun — We’ll see if he gets a larger role but I’d have to expect for now a bench striker role for him.

Lee Seung Woo — Disappointingly remained unused midweek as Kean looks to be higher up on the “young attacker on bench” role. It is early still so hopefully he gets to debut soon but for now, I’d expect him to be on the bench and probably remain unused.

Now over to Korea where a surprising Sangju Sangmu on Wednesday notched a last gasp goal against the run of form to defeat Jeonbuk  – makes the title race a bit more interesting for Jeju and Ulsan who are 3 and 6 points behind Jeonbuk respectively.
Saturday

Ulsan
5:00 AM

Jeonnam Dragons

Incheon
5:00 AM

Suwon Bluewings

Sangju Sangmu
6:00 AM

Jeju

Sunday

FC Seoul
2:10 AM

Pohang Steelers

Jeonbuk
5:00 AM

Daegu

Gwangju
6:00 AM

Gangwon
All times are in Eastern Time

K League United has their Round 31 preview here.  Modern Seoul has their preview here.  BTW -did you know there’s a dedicated TV show previewing the K-League fixtures before each round?

*Extra Time: a couple of items – in the busyness of things I forgot to highlight a fascinating interview Tavern contributor Steve Price did an interview with Mario Lemos, head coach of TNT FC.

Here’s the preview for the Q&A that appeared in K-League United:

While writing an article on grassroots football in AsiaSteve Price got talking to TNT FC head coach Mario LemosTNT FC are an amateur club based in Seoul that over the past few years has helped give ex-pros a second chance in their footballing careers. The club has had numerous success stories, including St. Pauli’s Park Yi-young. Now they want to turn pro themselves, starting in the K3 and working their way up through the leagues.  I asked Mario about TNT’s future, and about Korean football in general.

The article referenced appeared in These Football Times – part of an overarching theme of different set of factors facing various Asian countries from developing their respective football programs to their fullest potential.  For Korea, lack of clubs in their football pyramid and looming military conscription stunts the growth of potential impact players. Here’s an anecdote from the article:

Lemos told me of another player at the club who played regularly at top K-League sides like Pohang Steelers and Gangwon FC, but wasn’t able to make the cut for Korea’s army side, Sangju Sangmu. As a result, when his military service started, his footballing career essentially ended. In most countries you need a bit of luck to make it in the game; in Korea, with so few professional teams in the country, you need all the luck you can get.

Both the article in These Football Times and the source interview with Mario Lemos are worth your time to read up.

Photo: AFC

Next up – In Thailand there’s the AFC U16 Women’s Championship -which also acts as Asia’s qualifier for the U17 World Cup in Uruguay in November 2018 – this tournament somehow escaped my radar. But I did catch the fact midweek that Korea and Japan were locked in an haniljeon for the semifinal (with North Korea already moving past China in the other semi). Korea was down a goal in the 1st half, but clawed back into the game in the 2nd half. Let’s go to the AFC’s description of what happened next: Jang You-been flicked the ball over the goalkeeper only to be brought down as she closed in on goal. Korea Republic’s ever-reliable captain Cho Mi-jin stepped up, and despite Fukuda getting a hand to it, the ball crept in and the sides were level with 25 minutes to play.  FT whistle blew, both sides couldn’t break the 1:1 deadlock and the game immediately went into penalties to decide the outcome (AFC tournament rules, don’t ask).  Nail biting drama with a new implementation of the ABBA penalty taking format adding to the tension, Korea and Japan both converted their opening PKs but when Tomoko Tanaka struck her ball into the low left corner, Korea’s keeper Kang Ji-Yeon dove to swiftly bat away the ball. That left Japan reeling. Eventually substitute Tomoko Tanaka missed her penalty, setting the stage for captain Cho Mi-Jin to knock in the final and decisive kick. That she did and Korea could not restrain their joy.

 

https://twitter.com/28_june/status/910502522091061248

 

Here’s the entire PK sequence:

Korea had qualified for the 2010 U17 World Cup by defeating North Korea in the U16 AFC Championship.  Korea not only qualified – they would go on to win the U17 World Cup – beating Japan in the title finale. Granted, it’s not the U20 nor the senior edition of the Women’s World Cup, but still, that’s technically the highest international football trophy Korea – in either men’s or women’s squads – has ever won. Quite a remarkable achievement and feat given the abysmal lack of attention and resources the KFA has bestowed on the women’s side of the program.

Asked how she felt when her decisive PK that stamped their ticket to the World Cup, Cho Min-Ji said she got “Goosebumps!”  “There are no words to describe it. It’s unbelievable.”

Before taking the kick, her thought process approaching the PK: “More than being confident, I felt a responsibility.”

“Depending on my shot – either we went to the World Cup or we didn’t, so I took responsibility, and that way there was not so much pressure.”

At age 16, suffice to say, Cho is a baller.  But there’s still one more game for the Asian championship title and it’s Saturday morning in the US, kickoff at 8:30am (9:30pm Korea time).  But it’s an awkward derby of sorts, against North Korea. Say no more.

 

DID YOU KNOW: the golden ball winner in the 2010 U17 World Cup was won by Yeo Min-Ji. She holds the all time record – matched only by North Korea’s Ri Un-Sim and recently matched last year by Spain’s Deyna Castellanos.  The question is, what’s happened to Yeo Min-Ji? She seems to have dropped off the map after playing in the Asian games in 2014. Mysteries abound.

 

The men’s U16 AFC tournament for Korea kicks off on Sept 25 against Philippines (4:30am -ouch time in the morning). They’re in Group H, with China and Myanmar also in their group.

Extra Extra time, Korea’s U18 apparently played Malaga’s U19 today in a friendly match and won 8:2.

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