The 48’s – “The Tom Hanks & Villa Unlikely Allegiance Award”

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Park Hang-seo in his Dejan-baiting days

During the World Cup, 48-Shades was not impressed by the love shown to Mexico. To be clear, 48-Shades has nothing at all against that proud footballing nation yet their pitiful 2nd-half capitulation in the final group game against Sweden ensured that Korea’s defeat of Germany was ultimately futile for the Taeguk Warriors. It did see Mexico through though.

Distressingly, all it took was a few scenes of the Korean vice-consul being carried shoulder-high through downtown Mexico City and, instead of adopting the correct football fan’s position of hoping they get smashed in the second-round, Korea was suddenly fully supporting El Tri. Or “El Not Tri Very Hard” as it was against Sweden.

Which brings us to Park Hang-seo. Notable among K-League followers for being Gyeongnam’s first manager before a spell at Chunnam (we’re still boycotting the “Jeonnam” spelling – they never got relegated as Chunnam) and more recently a lengthy stint at Sangju, the 59-year-old’s previous national media exposure came mostly through a 2009 spat with Dejan Damjanovic when he expertly induced the then FC Seoul striker into fit of rage that resulted in a needless sending off in a vital end of season tie.

Now, Park is manager of Vietnam. And he’s doing well, guiding them to victory in the AFF Championship and naturally, one would expect that success to be noted at home. But oh, how it has been noted. Front-page news articles, top key-word search on Naver and then, the pièce de résistance, the AFF Final being shown live on free-to-air TV.

Again, don’t get 48-Shades wrong; any football on TV is better than no football on TV and it’s infinitely better than the 874th repeat of “Super Son Time” with subtitles of English commentators saying “great pass by Son there”, and Park Hang-seo has undoubtedly done an excellent job with Vietnam which will help open more doors for Korean coaches, who are already respected around Asia. But something about it grates nonetheless.

Park Hang-seo works for the Vietnamese FA, not the KFA. It wasn’t a Korean triumph, it was a Vietnamese one and one for Park Hang-seo personally. It continues to back up the evidence that an achievement overseas – any achievement overseas – is better than one in Korea and while this continues to be the case, the status of the K-League will remain as it is.

Anyway, Korea and Vietnam win the Tom Hanks & Villa Unlikely Allegiance Award.

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