40,000+ witnessed a historic moment in South Korean football today. It was a cagey affair in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Men’s Football Finals, and South Korean players were given a choice – beat them (the North) on the soccer pitch now or train to beat them on the battlefield, over a period of 18 months, instead of developing as a footballer. Every shot brought a gasp, every corner, heart-in-mouth moments. But in the 120th minute, Daejeon Citizen wingback Im Chang-Woo blasted home the goal that sent a nation into euphoria, and changed the careers of 20 men, from army for all, to Europe for many.
Plus the Weekend Listings in the K-League and Korean Players Abroad. Let’s get cracking.
Asian Games Victory
I don’t think I need to elaborate too much on the outcome of the game. There isn’t much to analyze – it was a typical, cagey final.
Lee Gwang-Jong doesn’t know what squad rotation is and stuck with the same XI that beat Thailand rather comfortably. Lee Yong-Jae, yes, a J.2 League striker, was our one-top. God help me. The first half was rather uneventful, with Lee Jong-Ho getting the first good chance, the corner swinging in, a diving header and a solid save by DPRK keeper Ri Myong-Guk.
The second half, which I still haven’t managed to watch completely, was equally as cagey (and thus not worth watching completely). The North Koreans had their big chance with about 15 minutes to go, however, as they rattled the crossbar on a header as well – the Munhak stadium, at near capacity, heaving a sigh of relief.
Lee Gwang-Jong’s defensive tactics meant extra time, and a couple of missed chances set the scene for the winning goal. It was the 120th minute, and the corner came swinging in. Ri Myong-Guk flailed at the ball, but misjudged the height of it, landing in front of Lee Yong-Jae with the net and a gazillion North Korean defenders in front of him. He hit the ball, coming off of a North Korean hand and cleared, maybe, off the line by a NK defender. Many S. Korean players, thinking the ball went in, wheeled away in celebration or appeal for a handball. Im Chang-Woo, however, took no chances and blasted the shot into the back of the net. No one knew who scored, and we might never know who really did. It seems as though Im Chang-Woo got the goal officially. Nonetheless, Lee Gwang-Jong’s men heard the full time whistle and are exempt from the mandatory Korean army service.
Think about it – Kim Jin-Su, a young player, in Hoffenheim, now knowing he can continue the rest of his career unworried by the looming shadow of exemption. Tavern Owner interrupting: Park Joo-Ho can stay in Germany – he was scheduled to return to Korea later this season to end his career at Mainz and begin his military term. There’s immediate impact because of the result:
— Takeuchi (@Takeuchee) October 3, 2014
I believe it’s a 2 year contract extension…I can only note that as the Asian Games wasn’t a FIFA calendar event, those clubs didn’t have to release the pair – it was a gamble on their parts – but with military exemption granted – a high stakes gamble that paid off handsomely. In contrast, Son Heung-Min, who scored midweek for Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, elected not to release him for the Asia Games due to said Champions League fixtures. As difficult as it was to not see him get military exemption along with his peers, he scored several important goals for Bayer Leverkusen – in essence the club’s calculations in the short term was spot on. The 22 year old will have to wait until the 2016 Olympics in Rio or the 2018 Asian Games – that is if Korea qualifies and if Korea either wins any Olympic medal or Asia Gold. No guarantees and should he not get military exemption at either tournaments, he will be scheduled to return to Korea, end his time as a world class footballer and return to start his term in the military. Jesus H. Christ. …alright, back to Tim, (a brilliant job on this post btw- kudos!) Kim Shin-Wook has been rumoured to move to Europe – this will help. Kim Seung-Dae, a potential future KNT striker. Kim Seung-Gyu, Im Chang-Woo, Lee Jae-Sung, Lee Jong-Ho, all exempt. Heck, maybe Lee Yong-Jae will get better. This was a colossal win for the South Korean football system – definitely deserves a three cheers, or rather, a few “manse!”‘s. Here’s the winning goal, filmed by a potato, courtesy of Youtube: Inside the locker room:
And the medal ceremony/celebration:
After the game, the North Korean coach blamed the ref for everything, saying that they’ve been robbed and whatnot. He’s never heard of the advantage rule it seems. Probably right to blame the ref – right answer for the Supreme Leader when they return to Pyongyang.
Also, interesting note, this South Korean team did not concede a single goal… all tournament. Granted, we played Laos and Malaysia, but still, it’s a nice stat to accompany the win and exemption.
|Friday||2:45 PM||Kim Bo Kyung||Cardiff City||@Blackpool||BeIn Play|
|Saturday||9:30 AM||Son Heung Min||Bayer Leverkusen||SC Paderborn||None|
|Saturday||9:30 AM||Ji Dong Won||Dortmund||Hamburg||None|
|Saturday||9:30 AM||Kim Jin Su (@AG)||Hoffenheim||Schalke||None|
|Saturday||10:00 AM||Lee Chung Yong||Bolton||AFC Bournemouth||None|
|Saturday||10:00 AM||Ki Sung Yueng||Swansea||Newcastle||NBC Extra Time|
|Sunday||9:30 AM||Hong Jeong Ho||Augsburg||@Wolfsburg||GolTV|
|Sunday||11:00 AM||Yun Suk Young||QPR||@West Ham||NBC Sports|
|Sunday||11:30 AM||Koo Ja Cheol||Mainz||@Gladbach||GolTV|
|Sunday||11:30 AM||Park Joo Ho (@AG)||Mainz||@Gladbach||GolTV|
Kim Bo-Kyung is still struggling for bench time, and he isn’t exactly highly rated by the new interim manager of the Bluebirds/Dragons/whatever.
Son Heung-Min scored midweek in the Champions League, and Leverkusen host newly-promoted Paderborn. Maybe Son will be rested in a game which BL should win, but if he’s feeling good, and Schmidt doesn’t use his squad rotation (he is the anti-LGJ. he actually rotates the squad), then we could see him play again.
Ji Dong-Won is an interesting case. Chances are he will play for BVB II, but reports have surfaced that he will make his Bundesliga debut this weekend as well. The former is more likely than the latter, but we’ll have to see.
Lee Chung-Yong is pretty much a mainstay in the starting XI, but Dougie Freedman’s future at the Macron Stadium is uncertain, which could affect LCY’s squad status. We’ll have to see.
Ki Sung-Yueng will probably start, while Hong and Koo are likely bench roles. Yun Suk-Young might as well be on the moon, he’s not expected to crack the team at all this weekend.
And obviously the Asian Games players won’t play this weekend – they’ll be exhausted.
K-League Classic Listings
Saturday 1am ET/2pm KST Kickoffs:
Jeonnam-Gyeongnam (The Dragons fighting for a top half spot, Gyeongnam trying to avoid relegation.)
Jeju-Ulsan (Jeju find themselves in the split chaos, joining Ulsan as a team trying to finish the season in the top 6.)
Saturday 3am ET/4pm KST Kickoff:
Seongnam-Jeonbuk (League leader Jeonbuk plays struggling bottom half club Seongnam)
Sunday 1am ET/2pm KST Kickoffs:
Seoul-Suwon (It’s another Super Match. Will the disappointment of missing out on the AFC CL Finals be too big for FC Seoul in this derby?)
Pohang-Busan (An easier fixture for Pohang, who look to keep Jeonbuk within touching distance – Busan are in desperate need of points to avoid relegation)
Sunday 3am/4pm KST Kickoff:
Incheon-Sangju (Incheon have been pulling clear recently, and hope to furhter distance themselves from the relegation battle against the Army side)
That’s all I can cram in for tonight. What game will you be watching? And what does this Asian Games win mean for you? Let us know in the comments section below. Jalgayo!
Tavern owner interrupting one more time: this game, while it wasn’t pretty, insane conscription law withstanding, was a monumental result. And what a wild wild finish. With so much on the line, so close to going to PKs, it was an electric feel when the ball (possibly by LYJ, without a doubt by Rim Chang-Woo) was solidly in the net with seconds to go in extra time, we just have to have this match available to witness again. If you want to simply skip to the end of extra time, you will be amazed…and there in is this lasting image of absolute joy by Rim Chang-Woo, juxtaposed with a North Korean player nearby, both collapsed on the field after the final whistle with contrasting emotions…