Rome wasn’t built in a day, so despite this heartbreaking Asian Cup loss, it is time to move on. And there are exciting times ahead – so chin up and let’s look at what’s ahead in Korean football.
In late March, Korea’s senior national team will have a chance to play some friendlies, their only such chance to do so before World Cup Qualifying – yes, already – begins in June. Those friendlies are reportedly against Uzbekistan and New Zealand, both in the motherland.
Also in late March, the U-22’s begin their quest for the Olympics as they take part in the first round of qualifying for the U-22 AFC Asian Cup. Led by new manager Shin Tae-Yong, they will take on Brunei, Timor-Leste and hosts Indonesia. I would be *slightly* wary of the latter as they are the hosts, tend to create a hostile atmosphere and their U-17 team beat the Lee Seung-Woo team before (I think?).
Back to the senior level, this cycle, Asian Cup qualifying has merged with World Cup qualifying. The KNT will be entered into the second round of qualifying and will play in a group of 5 teams. They must win that group or be among the 4 best runners-up to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup and make the final round of qualifying, which starts in September 2016, in a group of 6 teams of harder opposition.
If KOREA fails to qualify for the third round (which I find so unlikely, I don’t see us losing to Thailand and the like) then they can still enter another stage of Asian Cup qualifying.
The draw for the WC Qualifying – Second Round will be held in April – perhaps we can hold a Live Chat on the Tavern or something for that? I’ve always liked the idea – we’ll talk about it in April.
The second round will begin in early June.
In August, after World Cup qualifying gets underway, we’ll have the biannual EAFF East Asian Cup, where domestic leagues essentially send their all-star teams as rarely do overseas-based players participate for any participating team. It’s sort of an unwritten rule. Both the men and the women will take on Japan, North Korea and hosts China.
Backtracking a bit, in June-July, Canada opens its doors to the world to welcome Women’s Soccer’s finest teams for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Taeguk Ladies’ will take on Brazil, Costa Rica, and Spain in the Group Stage. They have been playing in small tournaments in recent weeks and had a positive showing in China, beating the host nation and just barely losing to Canada.
And in a tournament not exactly on everyone’s radar, and sticking with the women’s theme, the U-16 Ladies will play their continental tournament in Wuhan, China, in late November. If they make the finals, they will qualify for the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup, to be held in Jordan. I have my own opinion on that selection of host but I’ll keep it to myself.
On October 17th, the FIFA U-17 World Cup gets underway in Chile. It is probably the most anticipated tournament on our calendars as Lee Seung-Woo takes the pitch in front of the world.
The AFC CL starts up soon and FC Seoul play their qualifier in a week, on February 17th, in Seoul. It will be most likely against Hanoi T&T. The AFC CL itself begins on February 24th, and Jeonbuk Hyundai, Suwon Bluewings, Seongnam FC and possibly FC Seoul will be carrying Korea’s colours in that tourney. I’m working on a series to simply present all 12 K-League teams after a year of following the league.
The K-League Classic (first tier) begins on March 7th with a de facto Super Cup (it’s not actually one, but I don’t think it was by chance that the season starts like this) as defending league champions, the green machine of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors takes on FA cup holders Seongnam FC.
The K-League Challenge returns two weeks later, on the 21st, but Seoul E-Land make their debut on the 28th as they have a bye on the first day.
Be sure to stay tuned at the Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors for all the latest coverage. DAEHANMINGUK FIGHTING!