We pause briefly as we await #5 in the 15 for 2015 series to add a belated KUDOS to the Blue Dragon, Lee Chung-Yong and his stunning strike, an end of regulation game winner no less as Crystal Palace won on the road against Stoke. And to help accomplish that we’ll pull a K League United, do sensible like they do and repost Korean Footballers Abroad’s weekend recap (love both blogs, they’re very much the bees knees when it comes to following hanguek chu-gu). Stick around after the recap, got a bonus kickaround for you, including the latest involving training sessions with the Koreans at Barcelona academy and the countdown to the end of the transfer ban for Lee Seung-Woo and Paik Seung-Ho (January 6th)! With all the buzz surrounding them, Korean networks appear to be jockeying for position to air Barcelona B games. More on that later but first, here we go, without further ado…Weekend Recap time
Korean Footballers Abroad Dec 20th weekend recap from Europe
Wow, Chungy with a world-class goal this weekend. Unbelievable winner too!
Kim Jin Su — Another good performance. His offensive contributions were better as well, with some nice passes actually reaching their target and creating danger. He is still far from efficient on offense right now (still plenty of errant passes) but positive signs that his confidence is improving. Highlight of the match for me was KJS slipping trying to cover the dangerous Sane and somehow recovering and dispossessing him nicely.
Yun Suk Young — Another weekend, another match not in the squad.
Hong Jeong Ho — He started off real rough but started to play better and better over the course of the match and helped preserve a clean sheet, albeit helped a lot by hideous finishing from Hamburg.
Ji Dong Won — Had one half chance when a saved shot bounced in front but Ji couldn’t react in time to put in the goal. He had a number of nice touches and runs, and almost had a goal another time using his chest to deflect a cross off the crossbar. A good but not great performance.
Koo Ja Cheol — Out with injury. It sounded minor and now he has winter break to recover. Hopefully he recharges his battery for the second half.
Park Joo Ho — Started off strong with better tempo and passing but things just went all wrong thirty minutes in or so. First he lost the ball in his own net and had to foul to save the situation which nearly resulted in a goal on the ensuing free kick. He also was too far up on the offside trap, and was beaten badly for another scoring chance for Koeln. Then finally, he should have been called for a PK foul when he tripped the attacker just inside the box. His day ended early as he was pulled at halftime and his confidence must be very poor. He’ll have to raise his game over winter training if he still wants a spot in the squad.
Son Heung Min — He came on as a late sub. He wasn’t really needed as Tottenham had the match well in hand and was saved for the upcoming holiday schedule crush.
Lee Chung Yong — He was probably only in the squad because of a late injury to Cabaye, and continuing missed matches from Sako and Jedinak. And when he was called on with just 10 minutes left, it felt like Pardew was looking to kill time to save the away point. His first significant action was a disappointment too, with lots of space and some help on the edge of the box but a pass right to the defender. His next major touch was a bit better, a nice cross to open up space for Bolasie who couldn’t beat Butland. But then on a failed clearance, Lee Chung Yong scored one of the goals of the season, launching a shot from way out and blasting it just inside the post. And he showed great speed to help protect the three points as he raced back to dispossess the Stoke attacker. How much he plays going forward will still probably be up to luck and circumstance but that goal will be quite a career and team highlight.
Suk Hyun Jun — He started but only played a half. The match appeared to be well in hand and as I wasn’t watching the match, its unclear if he was hurt or just taken off to protect their investment so close to January transfer window in their final match of 2015.
Ki Sung Yueng — He came the closest to his previous season form as he has in a while, covering huge portions of the pitch, controlling the play and popping up in dangerous attacking positions. He had one shot well saved by Adrian and had a blatant handball on another shot missed by the referee. The only negatives were a couple errant passes and getting himself in a bit more danger than necessary. But a big step up for Ki and though again the three points escaped Swansea, the performances look more like the club challenging for Europa spots than one stuck in bottom 3.
Thanks again to Korean Footballers Abroad! Ki eventually wound up winning Sky Sports Man of the Match. Lee Chung-Yong’s brilliant stunner? Worth another look here, definitely hit that link up for a video replay of the goal.
WOW! Chung-Yong Lee scores one of the prettiest goals you’ll ever see #ForeverFaster https://t.co/S7aKDBN3xP
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 19, 2015
It was such a world class goal, let’s share a snippet from BBC’s Man of the Match (thanks to BSK poster Jitvera) which does a great job graphically breaking down the goal:
Lee Chung-Yong MOTD 151220 from Jitevra on Vimeo.
Ok, old Tavern Owner back again. The new year is looming on the horizon – one thing to look out for and mark in the calendar, the AFC 2016 U23 Championship in Qatar. Jan 14-30th. Ryu Seung-woo, Hwang Hee-Chan and other European based Korean players are fine tuning the Taeguk Warrior machine to rev up for the new year. First up: Uzbekistan Jan 14th in Doha, followed by Yemen on the 16th and Iraq on the 20th.
Jae Chee noted on twitter that the U23 Korea team yesterday whomped 9-1 in an exhibition match with Gwangwoon University. Moon Chang-Jin brace along with Ryu Seung-Woo, Lee Young-Jae, Lee Chang-Min, Jung Seung-Hyun, Jin Sung-Wook and Hwang Moon-Gi all got in on the goal fest.
Gamba Osaka are close to winning the race to sign Kim Bo-kyung.
— Korea Football News (@KORFootballNews) December 22, 2015
Should Gamba Osaka complete the deal, Kimbo would join fellow countryman Oh Jae-Suk (RB) at the club.
And we’re back again viewing Jae’s twitter feed:
Few surprises. Son #Heungmin and Ji #Soyun voted Korean men's/women's player of the year by fans. https://t.co/nSeRXWOP5P
— Jae (이재혁) (@ArmchairRegista) December 21, 2015
Son's equalizing goal vs Australia in Asian Cup final votes best goal and that game voted best match.
— Jae (이재혁) (@ArmchairRegista) December 21, 2015
Finally…nothing says Korean football click bait better than Lee Seung-Woo and the other Koreans, Paik Seung-Ho and Jang Gyeol-Hee -all signed with Barcelona’s academy teams.
Luis Enrique recalls Paik Seung-ho to FC Barcelona first team training after their Champions League clash. pic.twitter.com/Ht0GUuX4Yj
— Steve Han (@RealSteveScores) December 11, 2015
Forum and twitter Korean football aficionados have been buzzing in particular over Barcelona B player Paik Seung-Ho’s sightings while training with Barcelona’s first team in recent weeks. Below is an example from mid December of the nearly daily training session pics coming out with Paik paired alongside the likes of Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Iniesta and company.
I don’t want to jinx anything, and I know he hasn’t played any first team games, much less Barca B games even. But I have to say: even to be training on the same pitch with them for much of December, that’s pretty fucking rad.
Paik even accompanied Barca to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup, the trophy never really in doubt. Luis Enrique apparently sees some promise in the youngster. As Lee and Paik’s transfer ban is ending, they’re set to join Barcelona B on January 6th (but provisionally play in Juvinil A until fully fit), definitely on the 2016 ‘things to look forward to’ menu.
Back in Korea, Lee Seung-Woo and Jang Gyeol-Hee (who won’t be able to join up until April 2016 due to his birthdate in this transfer ban saga) have been dutifully training with newly promoted Suwon FC, with Lee also getting in extra training sessions with an unnamed coach assigned by Barcelona.
Korean TV isn’t messing around with all this buzzing around talk. From Steve Han’s twitter:
Korean TV networks competing for rights to Barca B matches w/ hopes of seeing Lee Seung-woo & Paik Seung-ho making their professional debut.
— Steve Han (@RealSteveScores) December 17, 2015
and one more update: Suk Hyun-Jun rumors are swirling – the in form striker for Vitoria Setubal is linked to top Portugal clubs like Sporting Lisbon and Benfica. Word on the street is that he will likely be at a new club, thanks in large part to his double digit scoring season, not to mention sick goals like this one:
Que golão! O coreano está imparável Suk, hoje, no Vitória Futebol Clube – Rio Ave Futebol ClubeVídeo de Ricardo Fausto Rocha
Posted by Visão de Mercado on Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Getting late at the Tavern. Looking forward to the next installment in the 15 for 2015. Chal ga!
For those interested (shameless self promotion), my translated KFA article on the fans’ vote for 2015 is up! Read it here -> http://www.kfa.or.kr/eng/news/news_view.asp?BoardNo=440&Query=Gubun%3D12106
Right on! Interesting that the U17 World Cup win over Brazil came in 2nd for best match of the year. Me thinks it was widely watched and celebrated in Korea?