Security Concerns for World Cup Qualifier in Lebanon

The old Tavern Owner has fired up the typewriter again (or is the laptop? can’t quite tell anymore). It’s been awhile -nevertheless, looking at all these recent posts and comments, the Tavern inside has never looked more alive!

Enough chit chat: we are at the eve of the Taeguk Warriors crucial World Cup qualifier on June 4th [early morning June 5th] against Lebanon. Thanks to Jae and Jinseok, we’ve had an amazingly thorough look at the squad over the last several days, and what the best options might be (despite coach Choi Kang-Hee’s path to mediocrity). Bottom line: the team has to win in spite of their coach.  Sounds like the plot to a future sports movie (cue the soundtrack to The Natural).

Game Time: June 4th 1:30 pm Eastern Time US / June 5th 2:30 am Korea Time

TV Broadcast in the US: One World Sports * Exclusive web streaming by oneworldsports.com -caveat: you might have to fill out some personal info, but if you don’t have Dish Network to watch One World Sports, this could be the way to go. (note: we think it’s just for North America, but not sure -it might be available worldwide. Check out One World Sports’ press release)

TV Broadcast in Korea: KBSN SportsSBS ESPN

…and for the main headline, let’s go to Beirut where the Taeguk Warriors flew in last weekend from their training camp in Dubai. Not the greatest of timing -and not that they could do anything about it, but unless you’ve been enveloped 24/7 exclusively in football news, there’s a terrible war going on next door in Syria. Just in the last few days, the fighting has spilled over across the border into Lebanon. NPR yesterday put out this news post titled: Hezbollah, Syrian Rebels in Worst Clash in Lebanon

This morning they documented further Hezbollah’s role in aligning themselves with Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad’s regime and their brutal crackdown on the Syrian Sunni population. Hezbollah has a Shiite base of support -however it’s new involvement in aiding Assad now pits Arab against Arab in this war -Shiite against Sunni.  It has the potential of igniting a powder keg all across the Middle East. Just as Dr Evil planned all along: a horrific cross-border war claiming thousands of lives to distract from what could be a lovely game of international football.

[Previous line obviously meant for bitter-comic relief, but seriously and in all honesty, no disrespect the true scope of the tragedy and the civilians/refugees all caught up in this horrible war.]

Yonhap News reported late last week of discussions by FIFA and South Korea to move the World Cup Qualifier to possibly a different location/different country due to the deteriorating situation. However it became clear that it was logistically impossible to move the game on such short notice. In a bit of mixed-messaged miscommunication, a horde of 120 Red Devils supporters were initially told not to come to a potential war zone, then oddly enough were cleared to fly out to join the ‘fun’ in Lebanon. According to the report, the South Korean embassy made a call to the foreign ministry back in Seoul, urging the Red Devils not to make the flight. The most notable item in the article referred to the threat of an attack by a faction of the Syrian rebels, promising to attack near the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut if Hezbollah didn’t pull back their militia from Syria – that according to a source from the embassy.

So…come what may, it’s game on.  Could be a hot time in Beirut on Tuesday night. Most likely though, probably nothing spectacular is going to happen. Some of the most peaceful moments in the Middle East are during football matches. Still, looming war (and a reputedly awful pitch) has to be somewhere on the team’s mind as they enter the stadium under extra tight FIFA provided security. An interesting game on several levels. One thing’s for sure: as soon as the game is over, that team will be leaving the country faster than you can say ‘peace in the middle east.’

Some thoughts to share for WCQ eve: Lebanon, while they are struggling in last place in the WCQ group, did stunningly defeat Iran in this current round. They also beat Korea in preliminary rounds infamously by a score of 2-1 in the fall of 2011 – many Taeguk Warrior supporters have never forgotten that loss as it meant Cho Kwang-Rae was sacked – which ushered in the current Choi Kang-Hee managerial era (shudder).

Here’s a twitter post from Korea Football News earlier:

Looking ahead to a feverish next 2 weeks for the Taeguk Warriors, they have 2 more vital World Cup qualifiers to compete in. One World Sports will also be streaming those games for those in the US who do not have that channel on DISH network. From their press release:

On Tuesday, June 11, ONE World Sports will live stream online via its website, oneworldsports.com:

Australia vs. Jordan            5 a.m. EDT (live)
South Korea vs. Uzbekistan     7 a.m. EDT (live) 
Iraq vs. Japan                              10:30 a.m. EDT (live)
Iran vs. Lebanon                  12:30 p.m. EDT (delayed)

On Tuesday, June 18, ONE World Sports will live stream online:

Australia vs. Iraq                5:30 a.m. EDT (live)
South Korea vs. Iran                     8 a.m. EDT (live) 
Uzbekistan vs. Qatar                        10 a.m. EDT (delayed)
Jordan vs. Oman                            12 p.m. EDT (live)

Last Tavern note: the Lady Taeguk Warriors do not get their just coverage here in the Tavern. I hold myself responsible. In an attempt to reverse course, we got to highlight an amazing result from back in August of 2012. Of course there’s been more than enough coverage of the men’s Bronze medal win against Japan earlier that month, but before the Tavern went online, an incredible 2012 U20 World Cup group stage was had by the U-20 Lady Taeguk Warrior. After a rough start (2-0 loss to Nigeria), South Korea improved their learning curve, beating Italy by a 2-0 score before facing Brazil on August 26th. Last week, FIFA released on their official YouTube channel a nice recap of the game in which South Korea were beasting it up with a wicked brace by Jeoun Eun-Ha. The win eliminated Brazil from that group stage and advanced the Lady Taeguk Warriors onward to the quarterfinals.  Definitely worth a look:

The Lady Taeguk Warriors will be in the United States later this summer for an international friendly, June 15: U.S. women vs. South Korea at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The US Women are ranked #1. Could be an interesting test; can the Lady Taeguk Warriors make an impression?  Stay tuned.

About Roy Ghim 403 Articles

The old Tavern Owner