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Sunday, June 13, 2010

World Cup Street Cheering Event in Kuala Lumpur.

 After watching yesterday’s World Cup match between Korea and Greece, I have to post something about it today while it's still fresh in my mind. As I told you in my previous post, I was going to the World Cup Street Cheering Event organized by the Saranghaeyo Korea Club, am I glad I went because I had the opportunity to witness South Korea beating Greece by 2 goals to nil, with hundreds of other Korean team supporters..


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Although the event was supposed to start at 18.30 Malaysian time, a few of us from the Bae Yong Joon Malaysia Fan-club who are also members of the Saranghaeyo Korea Club went there much earlier as we had planned on having an early dinner before the match began. What did we eat? Korean food of course!


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Another reason why we went early was because there was only a limited supply of free t-shirts to be given out to supporters of the South Korea Team. We made it well ahead of opening time, and were among the first few in the queue. Not only did we get the red t-shirts, we even got the devils’ horns to wear on the head complete with battery-operated lights.


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There we were, looking at the wide screen with the live telecast of the match, all aglow in the dark with our devils’ horns. It was such a sight!
What a nice introduction I had, to Korean Street Cheering. Everything was done very orderly and peacefully, nothing riotous like what the British are famous for. There was an emcee at the front with a mike who would prompt and lead the crowd in cheering, clapping hands or singing the world cup song when the occasion asked for it. Of course the crowd needed no prompting whenever a goal was scored. Everyone would shout and jump with joy automatically.


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There were also drummers who helped to keep the tempo moving. We were treated to refreshments and Korean Rice Cakes (tteok.) It was so much fun,we were just like one big family gathered together for a social evening, cheering for the national Korean team.


And with South Korea winning this match it just needs another win to move into the next 16, which I have every confidence, that they will do it. Yes, they can!


Now I'm looking forward to the clash between Argentina and South Korea. Some of you may remember, the present coach of South Korea, Huh Jung-moo, as the player who was Diego Maradona's marker at the1986 World Cup, when the Koreans were beaten 3 - 1 by Argentina. They meet again this time, not as players but coaches for their respective teams. It should be fun to see how they are going to pit their wits against each other in a different capacity this time.


Well, this is just a short post for today on the Street Cheering Event. So see you around.









Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Que sera sera…..

Before I start on today’s post here’s a bit of news on the results we were waiting for – the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.( See my post Winner Takes All) Well the results are out and Rain has done it like I expected. Here’s something sourced from Korea Net.

Rain

“Singer-cum-actor Rain (real name Jung Ji-hoon) became the first Korean to win an award at the MTV Movie Awards last Sunday (Jun. 6). Rain won the Biggest Badass Star award, given to the best action star of the year. He competed with some top Hollywood celebrities: Angelina Jolie, Chris Pine, Sam Worthington and Channing Tatum.

“Wow it's amazing. And I appreciate it,” said Rain, keeping his speech short at the awards ceremony. He later said through his company J. Tune Entertainment that his efforts filming “Ninja Assassin” seem to have paid off finally and he expressed gratitude to all his fans.
Rain became the first Korean to take a lead role in a major Hollywood movie, namely “Ninja Assassin” by the Wachowski brothers. Rain had previously played a role in another one of the Wachowski brothers’ films, “Speed Racer.”

Rain is the fifth Asian actor to receive an MTV Movie award, following in the footsteps of others like Jackie Chan, Zhang Ziyi and Lucy Liu.

At the Green Planet Movie Awards last March Rain was included in the 10 Outstanding Asians in Hollywood. He was further selected as Asian Cultural Ambassador of the Year and the Best International Entertainer (Asia) at the same time.”

And still on the trail of winners, the Koreans’ prowess in the football arena will be put to the test in the coming 2010 World Cup. In a few days’ time, we shall all be glued to our television sets watching the World Cup matches in South Africa in which South Korea is one of the participants. There are two Korean teams, and not one, playing in the 2010 World Cup, yes, North Korea also qualified, first time in history. And for one month starting June 11 – July 11 2010, the whole world will be caught in frenzy with world cup football mania. To qualify for the World Cup is already an  achievement in itself, the world’s 32 best teams.

So my topic for today will showcase on South Korea in the 2010 World Cup. Can history repeat itself? Can South Korea, surprise semi-finalists on home soil in 2002, reach the semi-finals again this time, but re-write history by becoming the champion instead in 2010? For the record no European team has ever won outside Europe. That should be enough food for thought! I have every confidence in the South Korean team. The fact that South Korea breezed through the Asian qualifying rounds with an unblemished record will give them the added confidence at this year’s world cup and knowing the great fighting spirit of the Koreans anything is POSSIBLE! Some of the players of the South Korean team are attached to English and European Football Clubs so they are experienced in the style of play of European football.

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Skipper Park Ji-sung, the dynamic Manchester United midfielder, remains the beating heart of the team and together with a supportive team should help South Korea advance from Group B and reach the last 16. Then there’s Park Chu-young, the foal-like striker once thought too frail to make the grade, is banging in goals with AS Monaco. Lee Chung-yong and Ki Sung-yong's partnership at FC Seoul earned them lucrative transfers to Bolton and Glasgow Celtic. Moreover, there is optimism for this year. The 2002 Cup was a turning point in the history of Korean football, and the team seems to have gained valuable experience and skills to challenge world-class teams.

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Here are some facts about the South Korean Team:-

  • Colours: Red shirts, blue shorts, red socks.
  • Nickname: Taeguk Chunsa (Korean Warriors)
  • Their first appearance at the World Cup was in 1954. They missed out on the next 7 world cup to re-enter the scene again in 1986 and since then have appeared in every world cup following - 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and currently 2010. Their best performance so far has been in 2002 when they came in fourth.
  • Coach: Huh Jung-moo
  • Most capped player: Hong Myung-bo (136)
  • Top goalscorer: Cha Bum-keun (55)

Talking points:

Park Ji-sung has been the focal point of South Korean soccer since his breakthrough at the 2002 World Cup, but he finally has strong team mates to share the load.

The burgeoning potential of Lee Chung-yong, Ki Sung-yong and Park Chu-young has blossomed in Europe and given the South Koreans the cutting edge they have lacked for years. Whether coach Huh Jung-moo will boldly play to his side's attacking strengths remains to be seen.

Player to watch:

Park Ji-sung. The South Korean skipper burst on to the world stage in 2002 and has gone from strength to strength since joining Manchester United from PSV Eindhoven in 2005. Nicknamed "Three-lunged Park", his boundless energy and terrier-like tenacity have endeared him to Alex Ferguson and the Old Trafford faithful.

South Korea is in Group B, and will face Greece on June 12, Argentina on June 17, and Nigeria on June 23. The crucial match will be against Greece, which is likely to determine whether Korea will advance to the second round or not.

I wonder how many of you may remember the player Huh Jung-moo who was Diego Maradona's marker at the 1986 World Cup, when the Koreans were beaten 3 – 1 by Argentina, a game Maradona remembers as being more like taekwondo than football thanks to the heavy-handed tactics employed by the Asian side.

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Well that same player is now South Korea’s Coach Huh Jung-moo who has hinted that “Lionel Messi and his team mates could be in for a rough ride when they meet in Johannesburg on June 17.”

“If I am asked to play Maradona and Argentina again, I will do the same thing," the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) website (www.the-afc.com) quoted Huh as saying.

"I don't want to give them an easy win. I will stop them. I will fight them.

"We will try to cut down their speed and reduce their tempo. Counter-attacks are crucial. They will be the key."

News has it that Lee Dong-gook looks set to play a part in their opener against Greece on Saturday.

"Lee has improved a lot,” coach Huh Jung-moo told the-afc.com. “He may even play a little during the group opener with Greece.”
The former Middleborough and Werder Bremen striker has been struggling with a hamstring injury
and reports from inside the South Korean camp suggested he would play no part this weekend.
The 32-year-old enjoyed a return to form last year with new club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. He comes into the World Cup high on confidence after smashing in 21 K-league goals last season to become the competition’s top scorer and help the Greens to the league title.
There was a further boost for Huh today with news that Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung had also overcome injury to make the Taeguk Warriors’ curtain-raiser.

Want to know how the South Korean team is preparing for the world cup?

Here’s what the English Chosun has to say about it:-
“After a stint of training in Austria, the South Korean team landed in South Africa on Saturday for a final week of practice before the World Cup kicks off. Led by coach Huh Jung-moo, it is regarded as Korea's strongest team ever, and has its eyes set on advancing to the second round for the first time on foreign soil. Of the 23 athletes on the final squad, 10 play in overseas leagues, which is precisely why the hopes of advancing beyond the group stage are high.

Training for the South Korean team at Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa

The squad began training as soon as it arrived at its training camp in Rustenburg, some two and a half hours drive from Johannesburg. "Our focus at first will be on the match against Greece," Huh said. Scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, the match is a must win in order to keep the hope alive. 
Huh revealed the training plan until the team moves to Port Elizabeth on Thursday for the Greece match. Sunday's training focused on increasing physical strength, Monday's will be on game strategies, then back to physical strength again on Tuesday, with no practice on Wednesday. 
Huh apparently views cardiovascular stamina as the key to enhancing the team's overall performance. Rustenburg is located 1,200 m above sea level, similar to the altitude of the previous training base in Austria, while Port Elizabeth is just 20 m above sea level. If the players get used to playing at the higher altitude where the air pressure and oxygen levels are low, they should be able to play even better at lower altitudes. 
"Most of the players played in the Port Elizabeth stadium during the overseas training in January, so there won't be any problems getting used to it," Huh said. "And Park Ji-sung and Park Chu-young are both in great condition.

Jersey Numbers

What’s your favorite jersey number? Take a look.

Lee Woon-jae again proved himself to be the number one goalkeeper on the Korean national football team, taking the No.1 jersey number.

Captain Park Ji-sung’s No.7 came as no surprise, as the number is usually given to a leading midfielder who can dribble fast and kick well. Park has been wearing the number in most of the World Cup preliminaries.

Ahn Jung-hwan will wear No.9, a typical number for goal-scoring forwards, while AS Monaco’s Park Chu-young's No.10 is normally given to the team's ace striker.

Lee Seung-yeoul, the youngest player on the team at 21, was lucky enough to get No.11, which normally represents the fastest player with great technical skills.

In a break with the tradition of defenders getting numbers under 10, Cha Du-ri received No.22 as he wished, as his name Du-ri associates with the number two in Korean.

Midfielder Kim Jae-sung did not seem to mind getting No.13, which is considered unlucky in the West. On the contrary, he was delighted as it is the number his high school senior Park Ji-sung wears for Manchester United. Kim is a back-up for Park's position of left wing in the midfield.

Lee Chung-yong of Bolton Wanderers will don No.17, the same number that coach Huh wore as a player when he scored against Italy in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Defender Kang Min-soo, a late addition to the team replacing injured Kwak Tae-hwi, was given Kwak's No.23.

No.6, which had been worn by Shin Hyung-min who did not make it on the final squad, was taken by midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung.

Sports Illustrated has predicted that South Korea is the likeliest team alongside Argentina to advance to the best of 16 in Group B in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. "All the stamina, pace and determination of old seems to be in place, but this time it has a goal-scoring edge, with Park Chu-young providing a useful link between midfield and the striker Lee Dong-gook," the magazine said.
However, it pointed to Korea's relatively weak defense. "The retirement of the 'Eternal Libero,' Hong Myong-bo in 2002, though, left a hole that is yet to be filled, and coach Huh Jung-Moo's side look uncharacteristically vulnerable." 
The magazine also picked the "Fab Four" in the Korean team -- captain Park Ji-sung of the Manchester United, Park Chu-young of AC Monaco, Ki Sung-yong of Celtic, and Lee Chung-yong of Bolton Wanderers

From what I can see, the strength of the Koreans lie in their motivation and determination, which is the key to their success in everything they do. I salute them

This was what former Holland star Ronald de Boer, (now an Asia-based football commentator) who agonizingly missed a penalty during the shootout in the 1998 World Cup semi-final against Brazil, has to say about the South Korean Team.

“Moving on to the preparations of the South Korean team, whose coach Huh Jung-Moo will be looking for a measure of revenge after being outdone by Diego Maradona in a classic 1986 World Cup encounter as a player. Now the two face-off again in management, with claims that this is the best South Korean team yet - better even than that home side which was propelled by a wave of euphoria to the semi-finals in 2002.

Indeed, many experts see the South Koreans as the Asian team most likely to spring a surprise in South Africa. South Korea appear capable of emerging from their group, which also contains Argentina, Greece and Nigeria.

Again, the opening encounter against Greece on the second day of the World Cup looks a key clash for the Asian favorites; win it and they will ride a wave of confidence through the group stages and into potentially a somewhat manageable date with a team from Group A in the Second Round.

A quarter-final berth thus seems a realistic option for the South Koreans, especially given their pre-tournament form and the compact squad they have at their disposal. This year's midfield contains plenty of British-based steel; captain Park Ji-Sung, of Manchester United fame, as well as Bolton's Lee Chung-Yong and Celtic's Ki Sung-Yong, making for a tough central axis which will take some breaking down by Lionel Messi and co.

South Korea have twice beaten Japan this year already in warm-up games, and I saw them going down to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Euro 2008 Champions Spain last week in Innsbruck. In that match, Huh's men were missing Park, but certainly had their chances. Perhaps just that little bit of self-belief was missing, the belief that they could beat the European Champions.”

But there are some quarters who disagree.

Group B is not an easy group. "It is a difficult group and Argentina and Nigeria may be just too strong for South Korea," Dick Advocaat, who headed the South Korean team during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, told Goal.com. "Korea fights hard always and will give it their best but it may not be enough."
The Times of London and the website of football governing body FIFA also predicted that it will be Argentina and Nigeria who are most likely to advance to the best of 16. Argentina is undoubtedly the strongest team in the group, and Nigeria might benefit from the fact that the World Cup is held in Africa.
Greece, the first opponent Team Korea will face, is generally regarded as one of the weaker ones in Europe. However, it is still ranked 12th in the world, whereas South Korea lags way behind at 52nd. Greece has a history of defeating strong teams to claim the 2004 UEFA European Football Championship. South Korea must collect a win against Greece for any hope to make it to the next round because the two other teams are tougher. Argentina is a two-time World Cup champion and is one of the strongest teams in Latin America. Nigeria has appeared in the World Cup four times, and advanced to the next round on two occasions. It is also one of the strongest teams in Africa.
South Korean coach Huh Jung-Moo said after the draw, "There are no easy groups, and I didn't think it would be easy in the first place. We need one win and two draws, or two wins and one loss at least [to advance to the next round], but I think we have chance."

Well we shall see who is right and who is wrong!

Word has it that Korea, Australia, Japan and the United States are in competition to host the 2022 event.

To end , here’s a bit of the local news here in Kuala Lumpur….. This Saturday June 12, we, the members of the Saranghaeyo Korea Club will be participating in the Saranghaeyo Korea Club World Cup Street Cheering Event in the Ampang area of Kuala Lumpur. Am I looking forward to it!!!!!

Special thanks and appreciation to the following:
Photos and articles © courtesy

Yonhap News

GettyImages

http://www.korea.net/news.do?mode=detail&guid=47391

http://g.malaysia.sports.yahoo.com/football/world-cup/news/world-factbox-on-south-korea

http://g.malaysia.sports.yahoo.com/football/world-cup/news/world-penpix-of-south-korea-squad--fbintl_reu-worldskoreapenpix.html

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/columns/story?id=793248&cc=4716&ver=global

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/06/07/2010060700613.html

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/06/03/2010060301980.html

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/12/07/2009120700503.html