Episode 141 – Once Busan, Twice Shy

Episode 141 – Once Busan, Twice Shy
The Ulsan tiger finally wakes up from its domestic slumber!

The boys meet up to wrap-up the 2017 K-League season as Ulsan hosted Busan in the final match of the year in the 2nd leg of the FA Cup final. The visitors had it all to play for as they came into the match 2-1 down but it was unfortunately not to be and the ‘fairytale’ ending that all the neutrals had hoped for wasn’t to be realised. Continue reading “Episode 141 – Once Busan, Twice Shy”

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Episode 98 – “We would’ve gotten away with it…”

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Episode 98 – “We would’ve gotten away with it….”

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music_double_note_song_melody-512 “Who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof, woof” music_double_note_song_melody-512

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Biscuit the dog!

This week sees the boys discuss the all important stories in the K-League and some rather touching ones too as Seongnam FC not only get a new kit sponsorship deal but also decide to sponsor a rescued greyhound in the shape of “biscuit”…not quite sure that’s what most fans had in mind when Park said there’d be new faces at the club. The boys also discuss FC Seoul’s title defence amidst Adriano’s ever-impending move to China and the announcement that Kwak Tae Hwi will take over the Captain’s armband from Osmar for the upcoming season with Park Chu Young becoming the “assistant to the captain”

Tune in this week as the boys discuss transfers, the “taking on of fluids”, the 2017 opening day fixtures, FC Seoul and the “Super Charity Shield Match” the World Cup expansion and what it means to Korea  and more…….

music_double_note_song_melody-512 “Loves got the world in motion and I know what we can do” music_double_note_song_melody-512

ACL Half-term Report

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Yesterday marked the conclusion of Round3 of this year’s ACL group stage so it’s time for a half-term report. So who have been the class swots, the class clowns and those that should really get expelled for bringing the game into disrepute. Each ‘student’ gets a grade with a letter for effort and a score for ability. 

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Form E

Teams P W D L GF GA GD PTS
JEONBUK HYUNDAI MOTORS (KOR) 3 2 0 1 6 4 2 6
JIANGSU FC (CHN) 3 1 2 0 4 3 1 5
FC TOKYO (JPN) 3 1 1 1 4 3 1 4
BECAMEX BINH DUONG (VIE) 3 0 1 2 2 6 -4 1

Jeonbuk Hyundai  Grade : C1

Although Jeonbuk is top of the class, he appears to have been doing the bare minimum to get by including an underwhelming performace at home to Binh Duong and a loss in China. Must do better or may get overtaken after half-term.

Jiangsu Sainty Grade : B2

Jiangsu informed me that she returned late from her Winter holiday and this clearly had an impact early on in the term as she struggled with Vietnamese. Doesn’t seem to have made full use of her top quality new study aids.

FC Tokyo Grade : B3

Tokyo has performed reasonably okay but needs to up his game if he wants to fulfil his potential.

Binh Duong  Grade : A4

Not everyone can go to Oxford and we are all about fulfilling potential. Binh Duong has improved greatly from last year and has exceeded my expectations.

Form F:

Teams P W D L GF GA GD PTS
FC SEOUL (KOR) 3 3 0 0 14 2 12 9
SHANDONG LUNENG FC (CHN) 3 2 0 1 6 5 1 6
SANFRECCE HIROSHIMA (JPN) 3 1 0 2 5 6 -1 3
BURIRAM UNITED (THA) 3 0 0 3 0 12 -12 0

FC Seoul Grade :  A1

If Seoul keeps up this level of performance, he looks certain to get a prize come prize-giving.  Has been the star of this class, answering all questions thrown at it with answers way above what is expected at this level.

Shandong Luneng   Grade : B2

Started brightly but has faded badly in recent weeks.  The results of her last test were nothing short of disastrous and I wonder if she did any studying for it at all.  Needs to pull her socks up if she hopes to progress.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima  Grade : C3

Started the year with a good reputation but has not shown any of that potential so far.  Her answers to questions are superficial at best and she has struggled with the tougher elements of the course.  Much work will be required in the second half of term if she wants to pass.

Buriram United  Grade :  D4

Having taught Buriram before I have seen firsthand how he has blossomed in recent years. This year however has seen him take a step backward and I fear that he will have to repeat the year.  He has seemed distracted and disorganised; perhaps you could arrange to come and see me and we can discuss any troubles you may be having outside of the classroom and how to try and salvage this academic year.

Jeremy Paxman gives his view of Seoul v Buriram
Jeremy Paxman gives his view of Seoul v Buriram

Form G:

Teams P W D L GF GA GD PTS
SHANGHAI SIPG (CHN) 3 2 0 1 5 4 1 6
MELBOURNE VICTORY (AUS) 3 1 2 0 3 2 1 5
GAMBA OSAKA (JPN) 3 0 2 1 2 3 -1 2
SUWON SAMSUNG BLUEWINGS FC (KOR) 3 0 2 1 1 2 -1 2

Shanghai SIPG Grade : A2

It’s always tough being the new kid in school but Shanghai has adapted relatively well and tops Form F at half-term.  Apart from that unseemly fight with Melbourne, she has been a leader in the classroom and looks to have a head older than her years.  Keep up the good work!

Melbourne Victory   Grade :  B2

I am aware that Melbourne lives quite far away from school and she sometimes seems tired by the commute.  Her performance in the debate against Suwon was slightly disappointing given that it was supposed to be her specialist subject, her home turf if you will…with more long trips to come there is no room for complacency.

Gamba Osaka  Grade : C3

I think this has been a disappointing half-term for Gamba.  After his strong performance last year and nomination as a potential prefect I expected more than his tepid performance.  I know he has often started slowly in the past but there is a real risk of him being left behind this year.

Suwon Samsung Grade  : D4

This year was always going to be tough for Suwon but she hasn’t put in the necessary effort and seems to be lacking the teeth for the fight. Suwon will have to focus on her goals for the rest of the term if she wants to avoid being put in the bottom set for the rest of the year.

Form H:

Teams P W D L GF GA GD PTS
SYDNEY FC (AUS) 3 2 0 1 3 3 0 6
POHANG STEELERS (KOR) * 3 1 1 1 1 1 0 4
URAWA RED DIAMONDS (JPN) * 3 1 1 1 4 3 1 4
GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE (CHN) 3 0 2 1 3 4 -1 2

Sydney FC   Grade : A2

Sydney has handled the long commute to school better than expected and this is reflected in his grade for the half-term.  Given that he has opted for home-schooling for most of the second half of term, I am optimistic that he can get a good result come the end of term exams.

Pohang Steelers Grade : B2

It’s always tough being the younger brother at a school where your siblings have excelled and we have tried to moderate our expectations for the latest Steeler sibling. Results over the half-term have been mixed with decent performances on his Chinese and Japanese tests but a disastrous effort on his essay on From Summer Bay to The OC: a Treatise on Home and Away Actors’ success in Hollywood, which frankly was garbage. Pohang is still in with a good shout of finishing the term well but will need to demonstrate which is his true self.

Urawa Reds  Grade :   C3

A topsy-turvy half-term for Urawa.  He started strongly, faltered in the middle and came back right at the end.  If he maintains his momentum, he could still make the top set.

Guangzhou Evergrande  Grade :  D4

Massively disappointing from last year’s star pupil.  Has looked distracted all term and I wonder if she has issues at home.  The decline in performance has been astounding and I wonder if we should have a chat about signs of drug-use or abuse as declines of this level are normally a cry for help.  While there is still time for things to turn around, it will not be easy at all.

'Big Phil' accepts his 48 Shades report card.
‘Big Phil’ Scolari receives his 48 Shades report card.

Episode 49 – The Bank Holiday Giveaway

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Episode 49:

The Bank Holiday Giveaway


music_double_note_song_melody-512 Give it away, give it away, give it away now music_double_note_song_melody-512

For 60 minutes the young pretenders were looking like the real thing, two goals to the good on their bitterest rivals they were playing with a confidence and a swagger that was well to be honest non-Korean. They were stroking the ball around the park like it was connected solely between the ‘soon-to-be-heroes’ in red, when Japan did get the ball they lacked the composure to do anything with it other than return it to a red shirt. The script was written for not just a victory but a humbling, that was until Makoto Teguramori, the Japanese U23 Manager, used his magic eraser and changed the script forever.

With one change, namely bringing on Takuma Asano on the hour mark, he not only reversed Japan’s fortunes but transformed them into a completely different team. Within six minutes it was 2-1, two minutes more and it was 2-2 and to be honest from then on there was only going to be one winner and it came as no surprise when that man Asano struck again to deal the fatal blow.

And so yet again a Korean National team feel short at the final hurdle. It was a tournament that promised much but delivered that same old feeling of disappointment. That it came at the hands of their rivals and in such a heart-breaking manner made it all the tougher to take.

Tune in to Episode 49 for a full review of the final and the tournament as a whole. The boys also talk K-League finances (or lack there of), season ticket prices for 2016, the hugely anticipated 2016 K-League slogan and we have a look at the next set of ACL play-offs and more.

By 48shadesoffootball for @Kleague_Podcast

 

Korea’s AFC Under 23s Championship!

AFC_Under_23s

This past weekend brought down the curtain on the AFC Under 23 Championship. It was yet again a tournament of highs and ‘could have beens’ that were unfortunately brought crashing down to Earth by the now all too familiar  under-achieving that has seemed to plague Korean national teams since those dizzy heights of 2002. In 2014 it was the abysmal World Cup campaign in Brazil which led to Hong Myung Bo resigning and candy stores the length and breadth of the country selling out. In 2015 it was a ‘hard luck’ story in Australia as Korea lost in the final of the Asian Cup to the hosts after snatching a last-gasp equalizer to take it to extra-time. 2016 would see the “rising stars” given their chance to shine and show that they could be a generation capable of living up to the lofty expectations of a country which only ever really seems interested in their national team the moment just before they falter and fail.

Group Stages

Korea were drawn in Group C along with Iraq, Uzbekistan and Yemen and were hotly tipped to emerge unscathed from the group. A 2-1 victory in the opening game against Uzbekistan in which Pohang’s Moon Chang Jin would bag himself a brace was followed by a 5-0 mauling of Yemen. That match would see Kwon Chang Hoon continue his good form of last season with Suwon Bluewings as he fired Korea into a 3-0 lead by half-time. Second half goals form Ryu Seung Woo (Bayer Leverkusen) and Kim Seung Jin (Ulsan) would be the icing on the cake. Korea at this point were living up to their pre-tournament billing as one of the favourites and in Moon and Kwon had two players who looked hungry. The final match of Group C would be against Iraq to decide who topped the table. Korea led for most of the match through a Kim Hyun (Jeju United) strike but as has been all too common of late that result would be snatched from them at the death as Iraq grabbed an equalizer. It wouldn’t alter the final standings in any way as that Yemen result had made sure that Korea would have the better goal difference but it did cast some doubt on the young team’s ability to see out a result.

Kwon Chang Yoon celebrates his hat-trick.
Kwon Chang Yoon celebrates his hat-trick.

The Quarter-Final

A rather surprising goalless draw with Jordan had seen the Olyroos (I really hate the names Australians give to all their sporting teams) eliminated and Korea would instead face Jordan in the Quarter-finals who on paper really seemed the easiest of the two opponents. And for 45 mins is looked exactly like the pundits had called this one correct. Korea bossed the midfield and held a quite incredible 62% of possession to match their 1-0 lead when the HT whistle sounded, that first half goal coming courtesy off Moon Chang Jin again. The second half started much as how the previous 45 had gone and Korea really should have wrapped the game up easily. Unfortunately Jordan had other ideas and quite like the drunk who wakes up on the subway only to be spurred into a second wind they suddenly realized the match wasn’t over. This may have had something to do with the increasingly unstable display of Gu Sung Yun who was beginning to resemble said subway drunk the more the match went on. Suddenly where there had been steel in the middle of the park there were gaps, where passes had been sprayed across the pitch now they couldn’t find a teammate with a satnav. It was becoming all too familiar a scene as the match had a draw and extra time written all over it. It’s in games like this that you need a hero and Korea soon found one in the shape of the Iranian referee. A rather speculative overhead kick had fallen to a Jordanian teammate 6 yards out and he was left with the simplest of finishes. As the players turned away in celebration and we headed for another 30 mins the referee blew his whistle and ruled offside. On first viewing it was a poor call on replays it was criminal. There was no doubt the goal should have stood and the decision seemed to knock the stuffing out of Jordan. The match was played out and Korea finished the victors and booked a place in the semi-final against hosts Qatar but again as with the Iraq match chinks were beginning to show in their armour.

The Jordan players protest the offside call.
The Jordan players protest the offside call.

The Semi-Final

The victory over Jordan had set up a match against Qatar who had sent North Korea packing at the QF stage. As the AFC had decided to introduce Olympic qualification for the top 3 finishing teams it added an extra dimension as victory would ensure the chance to represent your country in Rio and that all important (and often more important) chance to gain exemption from military service. By the time the game kicked off both teams knew that Japan awaited them in the final and is there really any other motivation that a Korean team needs. The match would finish 3-1 to Korea and “haniljeon” (Korea v Japan) would indeed be on the menu. That scoreline would suggest that Korea had steadied the ship and were back on course to lift the trophy but that really wasn’t quite the case. Once again they would take the lead, Ryu Seung Woo with the opener, only to throw it away. 1-1 with only a few minutes plus injury time left on the clock it looked like both teams were heading towards extra time and ultimately the lottery of a penalty shootout but Kwon Chang Hoon and Moon Chang Jin had other ideas as first Kwon (89) and then Moon (90+2) scored to put Korea in the final and ultimately on ‘The Road To Rio”. It was a crazy final few minutes and the scenes at FT summed up just how much it meant to the players. They were in the final, they were on their way to Rio and they had the chance to beat Japan to win the tournament.

The Final

Both teams had already achieved their minimum goal which was to qualify for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio and as important as that was the fact that it was your greatest rivals that stood in your way of being named Champions of Asia gave the match more than just a little spice. Back when I was growing up watching football in Glasgow a common catchphrase of the time was “football is a game of two halves” and the 2016 AFC U23 final was exactly that and then some. I managed to secure one of those unlikeliest of items, a free-pass to watch football on a Saturday night. And so it was with a few cold ones that I sat down to watch what I hoped would be an epic match or least just a Korea win. The first point of note was that Japan weren’t wearing their traditional blue shirts and had opted for their second colours. It might have been this very decision which led to them looking like a pale shadow of the team that had won all five of their matches in the tournament conceding only 2 goals in the process. Again, like the Jordan match, Korea looked the hungrier of the two sides and it was no real surprise when they took the lead and no surprise that it was than man Kwon again. Sure the goal was a tad fortuitous as the ball took a deflection on its way passed the keeper but they were the better team. HT came and went, as did the Merrydown Cider I had purchased, and as I was choosing between terrible Korean beer or worse Korean beer the second half started. It took all of two minutes for Korea to double their lead as Jin Seong Uk looked to have put the match beyond Japan with a quite simply beautiful turn and shot in the box which left the Japanese keeper flat-footed.  Korea continued to attack sensing that Japan were there for the taking but somehow passed up chance after chance with Kwon missing an easy header among them.

Moon Chang Jin
Moon Chang Jin

It was all going according to plan for Shin Tae Yong and his team but as is often the case in football that is when the carpet is pulled from under your feet. It all started with a substitution as Sanfreece Hiroshima starlet Takuma Asano was brought on with half an hour left on the clock. To say the switch was a pivotal moment is an understatement. Within six minutes of him coming on he had pulled a goal back with a clinical finish, chipping over the keeper after being put through 1-on-1. If that was the beginning of a crack then what came next truly shattered the team. Straight from kick-off Japan won the ball and raced down the left, and with one flash of a head from an inch-perfect cross and it was 2-2. It had taken Japan all of 90 secs to not just claw the match back but put themselves firmly in the driving seat.

That second goal seemed to suck all the confidence out of Korea and it didn’t really come as a surprise when Japan took the lead with ten minutes to go. And of course who else would it be but Asano again. Korea had been on the attack when they lost the ball which was worked through to Asano on the edge of the box and, again, 1-on-1 with the keeper he made no mistake. 3-2 Japan and it was all over and ultimately the age-old problem of Korea being unable to kill teams off would yet again lead them to defeat and disappointment.

Takuma Asano Sinks Korea.
Takuma Asano Sinks Korea.

And so the tournament ended with an apologetic bow and now thoughts turn to the summer and to Rio. Losing to your rivals is never good, being Scottish I know the feeling only too well, but the manner in which this latest defeat was delivered was extra tough to take. But it shouldn’t all be doom and gloom.  The performances of Kwon Chang Hoon and Moon Chang Jin were highlights and given that Son Heung Min will almost certainly be added to the squad for Rio they might just be in with a chance of coming home with a medal.

By @kleague_kilt for 48 Shades of Football

Episode 48 – Best XI, Best Vacation, Worst Offside Call!

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Episode 48:

The one with the Best XI, the best training camp and the worst offside call ever!!!


 

music_double_note_song_melody-512 It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight. music_double_note_song_melody-512

The results are in, the votes have been cast and the tears have been shed. No it’s not the Oscars I’m talking about but the altogether more important result of the 2015 K-League Best XI. It had all the hallmarks of an epic battle much like the Rocky movies before Stallone thought he could act. But would it be the epic slugfest of Rocky I or more like the ridiculous match-up with Hulk Hogan of Rocky III.

As previously blogged it was a complex process to decide the ultimate winner. After avid podcast listener Ally have rather unsurprisingly refused to bite the hand that feeds him and therefore threw his weight behind fellow Diablos member Paul (Diablos are FC Seoul’s foreign fan group) all eyes turned to @FRsoccerMiro, the modern day equivalent of Fantasy Football League’s ‘Statto’. Would he also be swayed by the glitz and glamour of Adriano and The Wookie upfront or would he be dazzled by the flair of Mark’s Yeom Ki Hun and Orsic on the wings. Using a point scoring system based on the importance of each player to their team Miroslav gave the victory to Mark’s team with both his midfield and attack proving too much for Paul’s 5-man defence.

You can listen to the reasoning behind both Ally and Miroslav’s decisions in Episode 46

With the result tied at 1-1 it meant the deciding ‘vote’ would rest on the shoulders of Football Manager 2015. Much faffing around ensued and after almost pulling out what remains of his once flowing black locks Mark was eventually able to get the teams assembled, the beers chilled in the fridge and the pizza occupying center row in front of the Mac.  In the interest of fairness we decided to play the match ‘the best out of three’. The first game finished a 1-0 victory to Mark’s Makgeolli Marvels, an Orsic wonder-strike separating the teams. Match two leveled affairs with Paul’s Seoulfield Wednesday running out convincing 2-0 winners as first Adriano then Yeom found their way past a rather unsteady looking Shin Hwa Young in goals.

Tune in to Episode 48 to see how it all turns out as the boys give a rundown of the enthralling final and deciding match.  We also talk training camps, the AFC Under 23s in Qatar and especially that offside call and maybe just maybe Mark will get time for his long overdue rant on referees.

By 48shadesoffootball for @Kleague_Podcast