Only a few hours since Lee Chung-Yong returned to the Premiership, transferring right before the transfer window closed last night, more head turning events: newly hired Blue Samarai boss Javier Aguirre sacked by the JFA -and now this came in only a few hours ago: Harry Redknapp resigned as QPR manager…Harry’s reasoning? Knee operation apparently will sideline him according the the BBC. That may be the ‘official’ line but the embattled Ranger’s manager has had a historic no away wins this season so far, which hasn’t helped their fight to escape relegation. Yun Suk-Young’s fate in left back is in the hands of head of football operations Les Ferdinand and academy coach Chris Ramsey, taking over in the interim. The bookies are lining up possible picks to succeed Harry, including Tim Sherwood, Glen Hoddle and the aforementioned Ferdinand.
Meanwhile, back to Japan, Aguirre’s departure was dutifully announced via twitter:
— FootballChannel Asia (@fcdotasia) February 3, 2015
AGUIRRE OUT | JFA Chairman Daini: Aguirre was the right choice but I feel responsible for troubling everyone. — FootballChannel Asia (@fcdotasia) February 3, 2015
He was rumored to be on the way out even before the Asian Cup tourney for prior match fixing allegations – then the shocking exit by the Blue Samurai in the Asian Cup quarterfinals with a PK loss to UAE sealed his fate.
Korea can hold it’s head up high: this seems to be the overwhelming consensus after coming the closest in 55 years to winning the Asian Cup final last Saturday. The narrative being framed by some in the Korean media, including John Duerden in the Korea Times paints a dramatic turnaround for the KNT, a squad regaining their confidence and mojo after a disappointing World Cup only 6 months ago. I (and a number of the Tavern writers) would venture to say they’re moving in the right direction but much work needs to be done (structural overhaul please!).
Still, it’s nice change to see Korea as a whole not over-react to a single result (in this case an overtime loss to hosts Australia). You mean Koreans aren’t demoralized? Instead they’re dusting themselves off and ready to renew the fight? This renewed sense of optimism is a breath of fresh air. Let’s hope this carries into citizens turning out and giving their K-League a chance. The past several seasons, the relatively new A-League and the more established J-League have outpaced the K-League in one notable stat: stadium attendance. Renewed optimism? Sure, but let’s see if that translates in respectable attendance figures when the K-League season starts up in March.
Jae (he may be retired, but never completely gone from the Tavern) twittered this after the team returned to Seoul:
In nicer news, the Korea senior team arrived home yesterday. No yeot (candy) was thrown. pic.twitter.com/mfD30g4eO3
— Jae (@ArmchairRegista) February 2, 2015
Stielike says in Korean “Korea you can be proud of your boys”. He’s very emotional at the moment. — John Davidson (@johnnyddavidson) January 31, 2015
— KoreAm (@KoreAm) February 2, 2015
Moving quickly to midweek action, the Bundesliga’s 2nd half continues onward: Kim Jin-Su and Ji Dong-Won both tipped by their respective mangers as possible starters.
Koo and Hong Jeong-Ho are still recovering from injuries (update: looks like Koo made the bench – lineups just announced) and Son Heung-min and Park Joo-Ho are tentative, both may still be exhausted from Asian Cup duties. The midweek fixtures (with thanks to Korean Footballers Abroad):
|Tuesday||2:00 PM||Koo Ja Cheol||Mainz||@Hannover 96||None|
|Tuesday||2:00 PM||Park Joo Ho||Mainz||@Hannover 96||None|
|Wednesday||2:00 PM||Hong Jeong Ho||Augsburg||@Dortmund||GolTV|
|Wednesday||2:00 PM||Ji Dong Won||Augsburg||@Dortmund||GolTV|
|Wednesday||2:00 PM||Son Heung Min||Bayer Leverkusen||@Hertha Berlin||None|
|Wednesday||2:00 PM||Kim Jin Su||Hoffenheim||Werder Bremen||None|
|Off||n/a||Lee Chung Yong||Crystal Palace|
|Off||n/a||Yun Suk Young||QPR|
|Off||n/a||Ki Sung Yueng||Swansea|
|Off||n/a||Suk Hyun Jun||Vitoria Setubal|
Update on Lee Chung-Yong transfer: lots of love from former Bolton colleagues like Stuart Holden and from Bolton supporters, all wishing him the best with his new lease in the Premiership. Since joining the Wanderers in 2009, Lee was sensational in debut, earning him the distinction of being Bolton Player of the Year. But a near career ending injury prior to the 2011-2012 season took him out for several long months- only to return to action on the day they dropped to the Championship. He’s steadily recovered his earlier form as the new look Neil Lennon inspired Wanderers climbed from the bottom to the Champioinship’s midtable. His 5 and half year run with Bolton endeared him to supporters. Entering the ranks of Crystal Palace, Lee, now 26, returns to the EPL, joining fellow Korean ballers Ki Sung-Yeung and Yun Suk-Young. He won’t be in action immediately, he’s still recovering from the tibia fracture incurred during the Oman match in the Asian Cup. Though the transfer fee was undisclosed, the Guardian had put it somewhere near £750,000, while other figures have floated between £500,000 to as high as £2 million.
Extra Time: All respect to the U22 Korean squad participating in the King’s Cup tournament in Thailand – they endured some horrific conduct by their U22 counterparts from Uzbekistan recently:
The Uzbekistan FA issued apologies all around, saying those two players involved, Tohir Shamsitdinov and Jaloliddin Masharipov will “undergo strict disciplinary sanctions both by Uzbekistan Football Federation and relevant football clubs,” in their formal statement. Both received red cards in the game which Korea won 1-0, goal by Song Ju-hoon from a corner kick.
This tournament might not have been on my radar before, but after that incident, it is now. There’s no playoffs, just strictly a single round robin tourney. Here’s the rest of Korea’s fixtures:
Wednesday February 4: Korea U22 v Honduras U20 7 am EST / 9 pm Korea Time
Saturday February 7: Thailand* v Korea U22 7 am EST / 9 pm Korea Time
* not sure, but from the website it seems to indicate this will be Thailand’s senior squad. Here’s the current standings:
|South Korea Olympics||1||1||0||0||1||0||+1||3|
Some of these players will be part of Korea’s U23/hybrid Olympic squad set for Rio 2016.
March FIFA international break right around the corner. Here’s what we know so far:
Uzbekistan FF have announced that a friendly match against South Koera will be held in Seoul WC Stadium on 27 March.
— Korea Football News (@KORFootballNews) February 3, 2015
There is also reports of another friendly during the March break against New Zealand. (2) #KNT
— Tim Lee (@korfan12) February 3, 2015
These will be Stielike’s last chance to experiment with the first team in friendlies until World Cup Qualifying begins this June. (FIN) #KNT
— Tim Lee (@korfan12) February 3, 2015
Last note: New York / New Jersey Tavern goers will have this to look forward to in late May as the Lady Taeguk Warriors will face #1 ranked US Women at Red Bull Arena in a nationally televised friendly World Cup tune up (Canada hosts the 2015 Women’s World Cup in June/July). This is a great chance to see Player of the Year Ji So-Yun and all the other ladies in action. Ji and her club Chelsea Ladies will get their WSL season underway in April.
May 30th USWNT vs Korea Women’s National Team 4pm EST / 6am Korea Time
Broadcasts in the US: ESPN, Univision Deportes and streaming at ESPN3.com