The K League season comes to an end (almost) while two Koreans – Kwon Changhoon and Suk Hyunjun – stole headlines in France with both the Dijon and Troyes players getting on the scoresheet in Ligue 1’s first ever Coreano Derby!
KOREAN PLAYERS ABROAD
This weekend was really all about Kwon Changhoon and Suk Hyunjun. Kwon was making his 10th start this season in Ligue 1, while Suk was making his his third start. In the grand scheme of things, it was an important game for both mid-table sides hoping not to slip into relegation trouble. On a more narrow level, it was (correct me if I’m wrong) the first ever time two Koreans went head-to-head in the French division, and for the occasion there was a Korean flag perched off of a bleacher in the corner of the Dijon stadium.
Troyes were dominant in the first half, and had several golden opportunities – and that began with Suk Hyunjun scoring his second of the year early on… since pictures tell a 1000 words, and videos have like thousands of pictures, we’ll defer to some Tavern tweeting to tell the story:
Suk should have made it two a few minutes later after getting into the right position for a tap-in, but I suppose there are disadvantages to being tall, and this is one of them… too slow to position himself for a shot, it all looked a little laborious:
After Cabo-Verdean Julio Tavares made it 1-1, both sides entered halftime with the scores level, but Troyes firmly on top. At halftime, however, Kwon Changhoon clearly ate his bread and came out flying with this super assist:
With Dijon flying and Troyes firmly on the back foot, Kwon Changhoon took the initiative to register a super goal – fortunate for the keeper’s blunder, sure, but a good run nonetheless.
Afterwards, Canal+ commentators (a French TV channel) were raving on Jour du Foot (their Match of the Day) about the “left-booted right-midfielder” who is really bringing something unique to Ligue 1. Kwon even got his own little segment, if you have 2 minutes of poor iPhone recording and French commentary to handle, hit me up and I’ll post it, but for now I’ll let the WordPress demons tell me the file is too big and move on.
Ultimately Suk came off at the 76th minute, Kwon went the full 90 and Dijon won the game 3-1. After the match, both players met up and exchanged jerseys. The spotlight shone on Suk and if he continues in this form, perhaps we will see him called up to the national team in March. Kwon Changhoon, however, is improving game by game with palpable results and is proving why he deserves to keep starting spot on the KNT heading up to the Russia World Cup.
Kwon getting praise from Ligue 1:
And a funny post-game interview with his goalkeeper, who praises Kwon, his superb left foot and then asks him if he understands, to which the silence is probably the best answer…!
Other Korean Players Abroad news… we’ll do this quick.
Son Heungmin came on for garbage minutes against Arsenal (well, 20 minutes or so, but he was on for Alli, it was like-for-like) in their 2-0 defeat at the Emirates. Hopefully Son will return to the Spurs side midweek as they aim to maintain their Champions League group lead against Borussia Dortmund. Son didn’t start in the last two matches against Real, which Spurs got a draw and a win out of.
Incidentally, Son Heungmin is up for Asian International Player of the Year, up against Aaron Mooy and Shinji Kagawa.
— Ian Griffiths (@IanGriffiths67) November 18, 2017
Koo Jacheol played no part in Augsburg 3-0 loss at the hands of Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern, while Ji Dongwon came on for garbage time in the 83rd minute.
Lee Chungyong is missing, not in the 18 again against Everton.
After basically playing 180 minutes in the international break, Ki Sungyueng started on the bench against Burnley before coming on in the 70th minute. With the loss, Swansea falls to 19th, only above Palace. The tradition of one Korean being relegated every season was broken in the past couple of years, but it may be coming back in force for this season…
Hwang Heechan came on as a substitute for the first time in a while and assisted Salzburg’s 4th goal.
Lee Seungwoo’s Hellas Verona play tomorrow (Monday).
The 2017 K League season came to a close over the weekend, with some interesting results on both halves of the table. Perhaps we’ll do a proper domestic round-up in due course, but here’s what you need to know:
- Despite not winning since August 2nd, Jeonnam stave off relegation. They conceded the most goals in the league, and were without a win in 18 – EIGHTEEN! – encounters, but still managed to avoid dropping into the relegation playoff spot.
- Incheon United also stay alive. Despite scoring 32 goals in 38 games, the worst in the league, Incheon will survive yet again. They’ve been something of a Sunderland in the K League, finishing in the bottom half consistently since 2011, and yet they remain alive. That kept their fans very happy:
Live scenes from Incheon as they confirm K League Classic football for next season https://t.co/Qml0JOig0y
— K League United (@KLeagueUnited) November 18, 2017
- It is Sangju Sangmu who, by virtue of that 2-0 loss in Incheon, will fall into the relegation playoff, which, as Devon Rowcliffe on Twitter notes, pretty much guarantees relegation…
Sangju Sangmu will either become the first South Korean club relegated three times (in just six seasons), or the first K-League Classic club to win the promotion-relegation playoff (in five attempts). #kleague
— Devon Rowcliffe (@WhoAteTheSquid) November 20, 2017
- Jeonbuk had already sealed the title, so they took their final game as an opportunity to unveil their new crest and jersey… top marks for the kit, and okay for the crest. I know it’s got a lot of people upset, especially because of how it uniformizes Hyundai’s logos into one template, but it’s a logical business decision that can’t really be blamed too much, in my view. K League clubs have never really been independent from either corporation or state.
— Matthew Binns (@Matt_Binns) November 19, 2017
— 오늘의 K리그 (@today_kleague) November 19, 2017
- Suwon Samsung and Jeju United will be the two other Asian Champions League qualifiers. Suwon were trailing in Jeonju until Brazilian midfielder Santos came on to score a brace and send the Bluewings to Asia – rounded off by this spectacular winner:
Aye aye aye. Santos reminding me why I love the K League. What a shot. pic.twitter.com/4xvIuobnwI
— Tim Lee #DefendDACA (@korfan12) November 19, 2017
- Ulsan Hyundai will be frustrated that they’ve missed out on the top three, but they will have a chance to qualify for Asia anyways against Busan I’Park in the KFA Cup final.
- Speaking of Busan, a resounding 3-0 win over Asan Mugunghwa means that the southern side will play Sangju for the chance to earn promotion back to the top tier, and they’ll also get a chance to qualify for Asia in that KFA Cup bout. This could either be a really difficult way to end the year for I’Park fans, or a triumphant one. Whatever the result, Cho Jinho will be smiling down on his boys.
I’ll leave you on this depressing note…
2017 K League Classic average attendance: 6,502
— Steve Han (@RealSteveScores) November 19, 2017
EDIT: That’s a little too depressing, so we’ll actually finish on this. I was going to say more, but less is more. Thank you guys.