Tavern contributor Tim Lee with the roundup featuring Koreans in top flight European football this weekend:
Let’s recap a pretty sub-par weekend for the Korean Players Abroad, where Ki tries to repeat as League Cup champion and there was another surprise appearance for an almost forgotten defender.
Ji Dong Won and Hong Jeong Ho started in a 1-1 draw against Hannover 96. Hong was starting in lieu of the suspended Callsen-Bracker, out on yellows. Ji had a quiet game, with no shots, and was subbed out in the 60th, while Hong got in a shot. We should see both when they travel to Greece for the friendly on March 5th/6th. Augsburg are in 9th.
LEVERKUSEN v MAINZ
A mini-Korean derby at the BayArena saw Son Heung Min take on Koo Ja Cheol and Park Joo Ho. Ryu Seung Woo was not in the squad. Unfortunately, Leverkusen’s poor form continued as they dropped their fifth straight game, their last win coming against Monchengladbach on February 7th. Since then, they’ve been outscored 11-2. I thought Son had a good game, and the stats would suggest so: with 7 shots, 4 of which were on goal. Around the end of the first half, Son had the best chance of the game, a header which just, and I mean *just* didn’t go past the line. Son picked up a yellow later in game.
Meanwhile, Koo Ja Cheol seemed a bit lost to me all game, and only managed a shot, while Park Joo Ho, playing as a Defensive Midfielder, where I think Tuchel likes to play him now, was more effective than his Korean teammate: (from ESPN FC) “Shinji Okazaki almost put Mainz in front in the 29th minute when a cross from the right from Choupo-Moting was helped on by Park Joo-ho to the Japanese forward, who placed his shot straight at Bernd Leno from point-blank range.”
With the 1-0 win for Mainz thanks to a nice Choupo-Moting backheel, a desperate Leverkusen drop down to third place, with Dortmund ahead of them now, while Mainz are now in 6th place.
Three of our players in the Championship were on the bench – wait, three? – yes, three, as Chungy, Park Ju Young and Yoon Suk Young were included in the 18. Yes, Yoon on the bench for the second week in a row leaves some to wonder if 1) is he actually in Redknapp’s plans? 2) does he have an outside shot at going to Brazil – but bear in mind, he hasn’t been called up to the Greece friendly, and it’s an unlikely scenario since he isn’t PLAYING. Bench and playing are different things.
Park Ju Young’s Watford won 4-0, so he was not needed.
Chungy was subbed in in the 77th minute in a 4-0 win over rivals Blackburn Rovers.
Undoubtedly the most anticipated game this weekend from a Korean standpoint was the League Cup final – could Ki repeat as League Cup champion, with Swansea and Sunderland? Despite Borini taking the lead for the Black Cats in the 10th minute at Wembley, City’s sheer talent was enough to bring the League Cup to Manchester. Sunderland had outplayed and outworked City all game, but sometimes, playing 88 great minutes against a tough City side isn’t enough, with three incredible goals winning it for City. Ki was one of the best Black Cats in the first half, and seemed to be instructed to attack more, and even at the start of the second he was excelling:
51′ KIIIIII! The Korean takes aim from 35 yards and sees his shot tipped over.
— Sunderland AFC (@SAFCofficial) March 2, 2014
Near the end of the game, Sunderland became more desperate and so did Ki, and he was on and off in terms of his execution. He was taking corners and free kicks but some of his passes were a bit off the mark.
A valiant effort by Ki and Sunderland, but such is sport: you can be near perfect all game, but near perfect sometimes just isn’t enough. 3-1 City the final.
>> Tavern owner interjecting: a fair and accurate assessment by Tim – for what it’s worth, several analysts and pundits weighing in gave Ki good marks. One Tavern reader sent this along- Sports Mole
listing Ki as their Man of the Match for Sunderland. I just heard Barry Glendenning on the Guardian Football Weekly
earlier today serve up some high praise for Ki and called him his Man of the Match for Sunderland.
And Kim Bo Kyung went from not in the 18 to in the starting XI for a struggling Cardiff – and they continued to struggle with a 1-0 road loss to the Spurs. He picked up a yellow in the 11th, took free kicks and played an okay game. Cardiff, like Leverkusen, has scoring woes – the Bluebirds are scoreless in 370 minutes, and sit 1 point off the bottom.
PARK JI SUNG ASSISTS
Disappointed yet? Well, maybe the bright spot here is that Park Ji Sung appears to have assisted the equalizer in a 3-2 victory against the Go Ahead Eagles. He played 76 minutes.
JDW – 60 minutes (1-1 Draw)
HJH – Full 90 (1-1 Draw)
SHM – Full 90 (0-1 Loss)
KJC – 71 minutes (1-0 Win)
PJH – 90 minutes (1-0 Win)
LCY – Sub on 77 (4-0 Win)
PJY – Unused Sub (4-0 Win)
YSY – Unused Sub (1-1 Draw)
KSY – Full 90 (1-3 Loss – League Cup)
KBK – Full 90 (0-1 Loss)
PJS – Sub off 76 (3-2 Win)
Mark your calendars! March 5th/6th, noon EST 2am Korea time vs. Greece!
Tim Lee is a Tavern Contributing Writer