Hong will release his call ups for the World Cup in just a couple weeks, and of course, we’ll have full coverage here at the Tavern. But, to tide us all over until then, a quick update on what each player is up to as of now.
I think Hong’s roster is pretty well known, but I’ll include players who are seemingly on the fringe and may be included in the 30-man roster. This is simply meant to serve as a primer for the players who will likely make the trip to Brazil.
Jung Sung-Ryong (Suwon Samsung): Jung Sung-Ryong has started all 10 games for Suwon thus far and played every minute. The team has conceded 11 goals, and Jung has kept four clean sheets. Overall, Jung has been the keeper we all know and are frustrated by. Solid for the most part, but prone to the occasional error and bizarre decision.
Kim Seung-Gyu (Ulsan Hyundai): With Kim Young-Gwang over at Gyeongnam this season, Kim Seung-Gyu has started all 10 games for Ulsan and played every minute. Ulsan has conceded seven goals, and Kim has kept five clean sheets (although the last one came at the beginning of April). Overall, Kim has shown that he has the raw ability to be a solid keeper, but like Ulsan as a whole, he’s been in a bit of a slump lately.
Lee Bum-Young (Busan IPark): Like the other two keepers, Lee Bum-Young has started all 10 games for Busan and played every minute. Busan has conceded 10 goals thus far, and Lee has kept four clean sheets. Lee has been fairly impressive in his ability to save penalties, and he’s been in the K League team of the week three times (and MVP twice).
Kim Jin-Hyeon (Cerezo Osaka): Suffered a minor injury in the AFC Champions League game against Shandong Luneng, but should be recovered soon. Has played in eight league games for Cerezo, conceded eight goals, and kept three clean sheets. Additionally, Kim started all six AFC Champions League matches where the team has conceded nine goals and kept just one clean sheet.
Lee Yong (Ulsan Hyundai): A mainstay for Ulsan’s backline, Lee has started all ten league games for Ulsan, plus he started in five of their AFC Champions League matches. After a blistering start to the season, Ulsan has really fallen off the pace and the team has suffered at both ends of the pitch.
Cha Du-Ri (FC Seoul): The veteran rightback has been a surprising attacking, energetic force on the right for Seoul. Despite being 33, Cha still has plenty of pace and his technical ability is better than many of his younger counterparts. Cha has started eight league games and five AFC CL games (plus one sub appearance) for Seoul.
Kim Chang-Soo (Kashiwa Reysol): Kim Chang-Soo continues to recover and regain his full fitness after a serious leg injury sidelined him for several months. Kim has only made three appearances for Kashiwa Reysol this campaign (two starts and one sub appearance).
Hong Jeong-Ho (FC Augsburg): It’s been a decent first year in Europe for Hong Jeong-Ho. Despite only starting in six league matches, Hong has made an additional 10 sub appearances. Minute-wise he’s played more this year than he did the last two with Jeju United. Hong has generally been quite impressive when he has featured, and should become a more prominent figure in years to come.
Kim Young-Gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande): A mainstay in Marcello Lippi’s backline, Kim continues to feature regularly for the Chinese giants. Kim has started five league games and made an additional substitute appearance. Kim also scored a goal in a 4-2 win over Dalian Aerbin. Kim also started all six AFC Champions League group matches.
Hwang Seok-Ho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima): The versatile defender has been largely consigned to a role player for Sanfrecce this season. Hwang has started just one league match, and even in that match he was subbed out on the hour mark. Other than that he has been a substitute on four occasions, but for short times. All told Hwang has only played 95 minutes this season domestically. Hwang though has seen more joy (and the pitch) in Sanfrecce’s AFC Champions League campaign, where he has made four appearances (two starts and two sub appearances). Hwang even managed to get on the scoresheet in one of those matches, a 2-2 draw with FC Seoul.
Kwak Tae-Hwi (Al Hilal): The veteran centerback has been a in and out for the Saudi side. He has started four games total (two in the league and two AFC CL games), as injuries have held him back.
Kim Ju-Young (FC Seoul): An everpresent feature in Seoul’s domestic and Asian campaigns. Kim Ju-Young has started every match and played every minute in both. Despite being close to the bottom of the table, Seoul’s defense hasn’t been terrible (eight conceded in 10 matches). Seoul also topped their AFC Champions League group. Kim Ju-Young has scored one goal this year.
Jang Hyun-Soo (Guangzhou R&F): A former regular in Hong’s youth sides, Jang has virtually disappeared from the senior set up. But, he has an outside chance at Brazil, and is doing his best in China. Jang has become a regular for Guangzhou R&F in his first season in China, starting seven league games for the Chinese side.
Kim Jin-Su (Albirex Niigata): A mainstay for Hong, and the likely starter at Brazil. Kim Jin-Su has started all nine league games for Albirex Niigata. Albirex has only conceded six goals thus far, making them the stingiest defense in the J1 League.
Park Joo-Ho (Mainz 05): It’s a bit of a mystery that Park Joo-Ho has featured more for the national team, as his club form with Mainz has been quite good. Park started 26 league games (plus two cup games) for Mainz and even managed to score a goal. Unfortunately he suffered an injury and has returned to Korea to recover.
Yoon Suk-Young (QPR): It’s been a odd year for Yoon Suk-Young. Largely on the periphery at QPR early in the season, his fortunes seemed revived after securing a short-term loan move to Doncaster. Unfortunately injury cut his time there short, and it seemed like he was back to periphery at QPR. But, numerous injuries there forced boss Harry Redknapp to select Yoon, and the young defender has generally performed well when called upon. All told, Yoon has made five starts in the Championship and an additional four sub appearances.
Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland): Ki was one of many new faces at the Stadium of Light this season, and he has generally impressed. A regular for both Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet, Ki has featured prominently in Sunderland’s league and League Cup campaigns. At times Ki was easily the standout player at Sunderland, but towards the end of the campaign he started to wane a bit. It was later revealed that he was carrying an injury and it seems unlikely Ki will feature for the Black Cats before the end of the season.
Han Kook-Young (Kashiwa Reysol): The tough tackling midfielder has become a constant for Kashiwa since his winter move from Shonan Bellmare. Han has started seven games for Kashiwa. However, a possible “worrying” sign is that he is being subbed out of matches with increasing frequency.
Park Jong-Woo (Guangzhou R&F): A late transfer from Busan IPark to Guangzhou R&F. Park Jong-Woo has firmly established himself in Sven-Goran Erikson’s side. Park has started seven of Guangzhou’s eight league matches, and missed one when he was sent off (two bookable offenses) against Beijing Guoan.
Ha Dae-Sung (Beijing Guoan): Another Korean plying his trade in China, Ha left FC Seoul in the offseason and headed from the Korean capital to the Chinese capital. Ha is playing fairly regularly for Guoan, having started five league games and been a substitute on two other occasions. Ha also featured in all six group matches for Beijing Guoan in their AFC Champions League campaign (started three, sub appearance in three). Ha has scored one goal this term, against Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the AFC CL.
Lee Myeong-Joo (Pohang Steelers): A dark horse candidate for Brazil. Lee Myeong-Joo hasn’t been a huge part of Hong Myeong-Bo’s squad, but he’s been driving force behind Pohang’s campaign to keep hold of the title. Lee has appeared in nine (eight starts, one sub appearance) of Pohang’s league games, and has four goals thus far. Lee also started five AFC Champions League matches, and has scored one goal (against Cerezo Osaka).
Son Heung-Min (Bayer Leverkusen): Son has enjoyed a fairly good first season with Bayer Leverkusen. He got his first taste of European Champions League action, and has been a regular in all of Bayer’s campaigns. Son has started 27 times in the league and scored nine goals. He scored an additional two goals in Bayer’s German Cup run, and featured in all eight of Bayer’s Champions League matches.
Yoon Il-Lok (FC Seoul): With the loss of Dejan Damjanovic in the offseason, Yoon Il-Lok has been forced to step up and take a larger role in Seoul’s attack. Yoon has scored four goals in all competitions (two in the league and two in the AFC CL), and is often at the middle of Seoul’s attack. He still is a little rough around the edges, but his direct style of play and eye for goal make him a threat. Yoon has featured in all ten league games (eight starts and two sub appearances), and started all six AFC Champions League matches.
Koo Ja-Cheol (Mainz 05): Spent half the year with Wolfsburg, and is now at Mainz. Koo hasn’t quite been able to hit the highs that he did when he first hit the Bundesliga a couple seasons ago with Augsburg. Injuries have been a problem, and have derailed his season a couple times. Despite that, Koo has started 15 games all year and made an additional eight sub appearances in the league. However, in all those appearances, Koo has just one goal, scored in the 2-0 win over Freiburg.
Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City): It seems like Kim has been very in-and-out at Cardiff, but the numbers show that he has started 20 matches for the Bluebirds and made an additional seven sub appearances in their first Premier League campaign. Kim has had some highs (the equalizing goal against Man United) and lows (really poor performances). The off-the-pitch turmoil certainly hasn’t helped, and Kim has been used in various positions all season.
Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton Wanderers): Enjoying a second healthy year (knocks on wood), Lee has featured in every league game for Bolton this season. Lee has started 31 times and been a substitute the other 13 times. Despite all the playing time, Lee has only managed to score twice for the Wanderers, who will spend at least one more year in the English second division. Lee has certainly impressed at times, but in the rough-and-tumble Championship, Lee’s silky skills aren’t always allowed to shine.
Nam Tae-Hee (Lekhwiya): Nam Tae-Hee was a regular in the Lekhwiya side that won the Qatar Stars League this past campaign. Nam started 24 of the 26 league games and scored an impressive 12 goals. He went through a period (from mid-January to early February) where he was scoring for fun. Nam also started all six AFC Champions League group games (plus the one qualifying match) and scored twice. Unfortunately for Nam, with the domestic campaigns over, and Lekhwiya eliminated from the Champions League, there are no competitive games left for him to impress in.
Lee Keun-Ho (Sangju Sangmu): Lee Keun-Ho has been a bit limited in his playing time this season as he suffered an injury while training with the national team (prior to the Greece game). But, he has since recovered and has played regularly for Sangju Sangmu making six appearances. Lee hasn’t quite hit the scoring stride he did last year, and thus far he has only scored once.
Ji Dong-Won (FC Augsburg): It hasn’t been a great year for Ji Dong-Won. He spent the first half of the season with Sunderland before returning to Augsburg on a short-term deal. Ji has made 16 appearances total for both sides, but he only started five matches. Ji has only managed to notch one goal this season, ironically against future employers Borussia Dortmund. Injuries have hampered his campaign, as well as the bizarre clerical error by Sunderland that didn’t allow him to play.
Kim Shin-Wook (Ulsan Hyundai): As Kim Shin-Wook has gone, so has Ulsan. The giant striker has five goals to his name in the league, which puts him second (just one behind leader Kim Seung-Dae) in the league. However, Kim hasn’t found the net since his brace against FC Seoul back on March 29. That makes seven matches in a row that he hasn’t scored. Besides his five league goals, Kim also scored twice in Ulsan’s ill-fated AFC Champions League campaign.
Park Chu-Young (Watford): It’s hard to imagine, but Korea will likely go to Brazil relying on a striker who has battled numerous injuries over the last couple seasons, and has only spent 70 minutes on the pitch all year. But that’s how things are. Park made just two appearances for Watford before he injured his foot, and has since returned to Korea to rehab and regain fitness.
Ki’s probably not playing anymore games for Sunderland because of tendinitis. Hopefully he rejuvenates back at Swansea. Sunderland’s a mess and staying there is a career mistake at this stage of his career. I have this high hope for him that he eventually ends up at a top 4 EPL club.
But in the near term, I expect nothing but his A game in Brazil. If he has any intestinal fortitude, he’ll dig deep NOW. Time is fleeting.
I think Ki has the talent to play for a top 4 side (personally I’d like him to go to Everton next year), but I question whether he has the mental toughness/fortitude to make it there, where every game is scrutinized and every mistake is a disaster.
I don’t worry about him for Brazil, like Park CY, he always seems to enjoy (barring the Choi KH years) playing for Korea, and does his best.
Thanks for the breakdown by the way, guys. Good stuff
Just read the news that Ki is requesting special treatment again. He wants to leave for korea to nurse his knee and not attend anything Sunderland for the remainder of the season since he will be out regardless.
Is this common thing for footballers in his place to do or is Ki the only one who seems to pull this with the clubs he plays for? Serious question.
It usually depends on the severity of the injury. Players with long-term/serious injuries pretty regularly get treated in the their home country or see specialists away from the team. For Ki’s injury, he (and others with similar injuries) probably wouldn’t seek special treatment, but given it’s a World Cup year that changes things. Normally, I imagine Sunderland would deny such a request and expect him to still attend matches (in the stands) as a sign of support for his teammates, but again the World Cup changes things and they’re probably more open to it.
Of course, right now Park Chu-Young and Park Joo-Ho have already done the same thing as Ki. Left their clubs and have returned to Korea to train at the NFC under NT doctors.