Big weekend about to unfold, critical matches both in Europe and Asia, let’s first get all the necessary logistics with the ACL as well as Korea FA Cup leg 1 kickoff starting times out of the the way:
Asian Champions League Final: Al Ain vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Saturday Nov 26
9:25am US EST / 11:25pm Korea Time [more on this 2nd & final leg after the jump…]
Korea FA CUP 2016
Sunday, November 27
And we jump to Korea Footballers Abroad for the KPA games in Europe:
|Ji Dong Won
|Fox Soccer 2 Go
|Koo Ja Cheol
|Fox Soccer 2 Go
|Park Joo Ho
|Fox Sports 2
|Kim Jin Su
|Lee Chung Yong
|NBC Extra Time
|Ki Sung Yueng
|NBC Extra Time
|Son Heung Min
As you can see, most of the games are on Saturday with the exception of Hwang Hee-Chan and RB Salzburg (not listed above) hosting Admira 10:30 AM on Sunday. Hwang, by the way was subbed in for the final 6 minutes of their Europa League match at Krasnodar. FT ended 1:1. Hwang (I believe) was recovering from injury- he’s been on fire for Salzburg in recent games until the last international break.
Koo and Ki are both out for their respective clubs due to injury recovery (apparently Ki had been playing with a broken toe since Swansea played Man U -and that was BEFORE the int’l break!).
Son Heung-Min is the player I’m curious to see how he’ll respond after a not so good CL performance at Monaco midweek. Inconsistent? Hell yes, but when he’s on – he’s seriously on and incredibly impactful for the Spurs, particularly for league matches. It’s fair to say he’s one of several factors in which Spurs have remained the only unbeaten team in the EPL thus far. But this will be by far one of their biggest tests in facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are on form at the moment so this could shape up to be a delicious matchup.
Ji Dong-Won didn’t score last week in a scoreless affair with Hertha, but he’s been putting in good work for his Bavarian club -expect him to start for Augsburg.
BVB’s Park Joo-Ho is reportedly looking for a new club – hoping to stay in Germany – all this according his agent. Stay tuned…
Let’s jump back to Asia as the continent’s biggest match all comes down to this ultimate showdown, the 2nd leg to the Asian Champions League final between Al Ain and Jeonbuk. Last Saturday, Jeonbuk were remarkably composed despite conceding poorly, with a 0-1 deficit, they clawed back, eventually won 2-1 at home. It was a flawed yet highly entertaining game in Jeonju – see the Tavern’s highlights to catch you up on all the hair-raising spectacle here:
This will be Jeonbuk’s last shot at winning a trophy with the Jeolla club bowing out of the FA Cup and then unbelievably losing 0-1 on the very last day of the season to FC Seoul. Jeonbuk have reason to be angry and with a chip on their shoulder, they have something to prove.
With a 2-1 aggregate score to bring to the UAE for the 2nd leg, here’s what Jeonbuk are looking at in order to win the Asian title:
- Jeonbuk has the advantage with that scoreline from leg 1, thus would only need at a minimum a draw to claim the title.
- With the away goals rule in effect, the one goal Al Ain’s Asprilla notched may prove critical. In this 2nd leg, a 1:0 score will force Jeonbuk to go all out for an equalizing goal. Should Jeonbuk fail to score an away goal, Al Ain will claim the trophy. Other than that, a 2 goal margin is the buffer Jeonbuk has to work with.
- Even if Al Ain go ahead and end regulation time with a 2:1 scoreline, the away goal scored by Jeonbuk will force overtime. As in most competitions, if after 2 extra times no clear winner is produced, it all comes down to PKs.
Check out K-League United for a writers chat on the 2nd leg and things to look out for. Me: admittedly speculating here, but Lee Jae-Sung I believe will be the difference maker -and possibly net one as well for Jeonbuk. More wild speculation from the old Tavern owner: should Jeonbuk return to Korea with the Asian title in tow, could it be the last game in uniform for the Lion King, Lee Dong-Guk?
Fast forward to Sunday and Korean FA CUP finale winds up being a Super Cup matchup, 2 leg affair between longtime rivals Suwon Bluewings and ‘just-in-the-nick-of-time’ K-League Classic 2016 title winner FC Seoul. Leg 1 will be at Suwon and once again I look to K-League United for a preview of what should prove to be a well fought battle for the last remaining trophy on the 2016 calendar (Dec 3 will be the 2nd leg in Seoul).
Extra Time: as 1.5 million people are expected to be demonstrating in the streets to demand the ouster of president Park Guen-hye, we divert some attention from that very important historical gathering of people hoping to transform the country and bring some unexpected news about Korea jumping to 37th in the FIFA World ranking:
— The-AFC.com (@theafcdotcom) November 24, 2016
According to Tavern contributor Nicole Chung, it’s been 3 years and 9 months since Korea has been ranked amongst the top 30.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Korean Women’s U20 team as they put in a valiant effort before exiting the Women’s U20 World Cup:
— Taeguk Warriors (@taeguk_warrior) November 21, 2016
It was Group D: the group of Death for this tourney, with Mexico, Germany and Venezuela. Korea was able to glimpse hope when they beat Venezuela 3-0 in the 2nd match, but having already gone down 2-0 against Mexico in the first game, it was a steep steep mountain to climb to get vital points against Germany. In the end, a good experience for this squad. Meanwhile, North Korea tops their group of Brazil, Sweden and hosts Papua New Guinea, getting all 9 points possible.