August 21, 2021
It was a satisfactory six days for new South Korean coach Huh Jung-moo in the sprawling city of Chongqing. South Korea lifted the East Asian Championship trophy for the second time in three occasions. The opening day dramatic 3-2 victory over China was followed by 1-1 draws with North Korea on Wednesday and then Japan on Saturday.
The trophy is not a big deal but the performances of a young and inexperienced team have been encouraging. There is still much work to do but a Qiu Qiu Online number of players have emerged from the haze of the polluted megapolis with reputations and confidence enhanced.
Former Korea, and current Australia, coach Pim Verbeek was at the tournament to check out China. The Socceroos will be in the Middle Kingdom in March for a 2010 World Cup qualifier.
The Dutchman was keeping quiet on the Chinese but was happy to see some familiar, and some not so familiar, Korean faces in action. “It was good to watch Korea again and it was good to see them win,” he told me. “I was quite impressed against China – I thought that they did a good job and played well.”
“There were lots of young players in the team. I am happy that Park Chu-young is fit and he scored two great goals. The first goal, he showed fantastic timing to head the ball into the net…hopefully he will be fit now for a whole season.”
That is unlikely. The striker has already been ruled out of FC Seoul’s season opener on March 9 and will play no part in the game with LA Galaxy and David Beckham on March 1.
As well as Park, Yeom Ki-hoon, who was handed his national team debut by Verbeek, showed his versatility in attack. The Ulsan forward scored the goals against North Korea and Japan and is starting to look like he may fulfill his undoubted potential.
There is potential in the team that lifted the oversize trophy last Saturday but some of them are not yet, and perhaps never will be, good enough for international football. That is the whole point of these kinds of games however; it’s a time for testing and trying. March’s World Cup qualification game in Pyongyang will feature a very different line-up.
There is virtually a completely new starting eleven that Huh could call on. English-based stars such as Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo and Seol Ki-hyeon will be certainties for the game. With that match due to played out in front of over 100,000 fans in the North Korean capital, Huh may go for experience. Other 2006 World Cup stars are also likely to be recalled – Lee Chun-soo of Dutch giants Feyenoord, Kim Dong-jin and Lee Ho of Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg and Kim Do-heon of West Bromich Albion.
Cho Jae-jin is another likely recall. The powerful striker ended his three-year stint in Japan last December and since then has spent much time in England trying to do deals with three English Premier League clubs, in order, Newcastle United, Portsmouth and Fulham.
All came to naught and last week the powerful striker joined Jeonju team Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors ahead of the new season that kicks off on March 8.
Cho Jae-jin signs for Jeonbuk
After three seasons and dozens of goals in Japan, Cho needs to show that he can score goals on the Korean peninsula. He struggled to do so in his first spell in the K-League prior to 2004 but a goal or two in Pyongyang at the end of March, wouldn’t go amiss.