The Tavern is getting ready for another busy weekend now that the Fifa international break is over. South Korea’s frustrating 2-2 draw with Uzbekistan is now behind us (to gain closure, I had to re-watch South Korea’s high drama penalty kick win over Great Britain in the Olympic soccer quarterfinals. Lee Beom-Young! You did it you crazy bastard!). Where was I? Here’s some games you might want to catch (game times are in Eastern Standard Time, and TV coverage listed is US based):
Skip friday as Koo Ja-Cheol will be out of service when FC Augsburg plays at home with Wolfsburg. Koo out for roughly 7 more weeks nursing a damaged ankle ligament injury.
Instead clear the schedule Saturday for Swansea at Aston Villa. We are awaiting Ki Sung-Yeung‘s first start for the Wales side. He was solid in his debut, subbing for Michu 2 weeks ago vs Sunderland (10 am EST foxsoccer2go.com, fox soccer plus tape delay 4pm).
Quite possibly it’ll be Kim Bo-Kyung’s first go with Cardiff City in an English League Championship match at home against Leeds United. That game will be shown at 10 am EST in the US on Al Jazeera’s BeIN Sport network, so far on DISH and Direct TV (and rumored to be on Comcast – though it’s not being offered in my area of central Maryland).
Lee Chung-Yong had a decent game in the midfield in last Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan. He’s been a starter for Owen Coyle’s Bolton this season, but a leaky defense has given them trouble in the tables. Bolton could use a little shot in the arm in the form of Stuart Holden, possibly available to the Trotters in October. Meantime, they play at home in Reebok Stadium to Watford in the English League Championship at 10 am – no TV coverage in the US.
QPR may not have given up the bad mojo that Joey Barton bequeathed them, but if Mark Hughes can hurry up and coalesce his 7 new players including Park Ji-Sung into a functioning team-they might have a shot at European champion Chelsea. Should be a super charged atmosphere in there, especially if John Terry and Anton Ferdinand get into the mix. Terry was acquitted last summer of racial disabusing Ferdinand but still awaits an FA inquiry from the October 2011 incident -and QPR fans close to the pitch won’t let him forget it. A hot time on Loftus Road no doubt (10 am EST on Fox Soccer).
Going over to Spain and La Liga, Celta Vigo has a tough opponent at Valencia, and if press reports are to be believed, Park Chu-Young will be part of the18 man roster but will not start. Reason given: he just joined the club right before the international break and needs to learn their system. We’re getting indications that Park will see action the following week when Celta Vigo plays at home to Getafe. It’s a guessing game to see if he make his debut appearance as a 2nd half substitute (12 noon EST Be IN Sport Espanol).
And back to the EPL at 12:30 pm Sunderland at home with Liverpool trying to break out of the relegation zone. So far, Ji Dong-Won hasn’t made an appearance for the Black Cats despite a strong display for South Korea in the 2012 Olympics. Newly signed forwards Steven Fletcher and Louis Saha has made getting minutes on the pitch difficult for Ji. Martin O’Neil may decide to take a chance with Ji if Louis Saha doesn’t make an impact for them. (12:30 Fox Soccer).
SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY -no, it’s not Monster Truck Mash -rather a promising development with Tottenham transfer Rafael Van der Vaart returning to Hamburg (he played for Hamburg from ’05-’08) and adding an effective attacking midfield role for a club with a dismal start to the Bundesliga season. Last week in a series of test matches, Van der Vaart connected with Son Heung-Min and the South Korean piled on for about 10 goals in 3 matches with lower tiered teams. Tests with the minnows over; the real test is a league away match with Eintracht Frankfurt (11:30 am GOL TV).
Suk Hyun-Jun is a forward toiling in obscurity in the Netherlands -this season he’s been getting a few minutes in nearly every FC Groningen match thus far. The next Eredivisie league match is with Vitesse Arnmen on Sunday (10:30 am – no TV coverage in the US).
Park Joo-Ho, is defending again for FC Basel this weekend, but more interestingly, his Swiss side will be playing a European match after getting eliminated from the Champions League 2 weeks ago. Fairly new rules now means they’ll be in the Europa League mix and will face off against Sporting Lisbon on Thursday September 20th at 3:05 pm – no TV coverage in the US -yet).
Ok, Tavern closed for the night. Come back tomorrow,’cause seeing as Kim Bo Kyung might see some action, I may have an interesting introduction to Cardiff football culture. 안녕히 주무세요 / Good nite!
PS, For a great concise table to browse the weekend schedule of Koreans playing in Europe, head over to Korean Footballers Abroad, a solid blog, and they’ve been at it far longer than the Tavern.