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K League Classic 2015 Round 9 and K League Challenge Round 7 - Previews / Predictions (May 1st-2nd + Children's Day)

#KLeague Classic 2015 Round 9 and K League Challenge Round 7 - Previews / Predictions (May 1st-2nd + Children’s Day)

The K League Classic moves into round 9 this weekend and includes 2 games on Tuesday which is Children’s Day here in South Korea. The highlight in our opinion is the top of the table clash between leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai and second placed Suwon Bluewings.

Updated K League Classic League Table

The league table is still developing as only 8 games have been played, also as 4 of last weeks 6 games…

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EXO reaction on them finding out that their gf playes lol (league of legends) requested by anon

Xiumin : Why playing that game when real legend is here. 

Luhan : I knew I should learn it.. Stop playing it with others I will be your rival.

Kris : Wanna play together ?

Suho : That explains that weird voices I heard last night.. 

Lay : Mind to explain what kind of game it is ?

Baekhyun : Ohh that’s my girl * grins *

Chen : So what is special about this game to make you forget me ? 

Chanyeol : Wait … you are .. your level is above mine.. how..

D.O : Was it Baekhyun ? Did he teach you that game ? You never played that kind of games before. 

Tao : So you are the one who beat me last day ?

Kai : Let me give you a hug to be that awesome . * is proud *

Sehun : No you can’t play it. Only I can be legend in this relationship. 

KFA Korean FA Cup 2015 4th Round (April 29th - Previews and Results)

KFA Korean #FACup 2015 4th Round (April 29th - Previews and Results)

The big guns from the K League Classic are entering this seasons Korean FA (KFA) Cup. South Korea like any footballing nation has an exciting cup, the FA Cup of Korea has been running since 1970 and has a proud history. Although most K League sides focus on the league and sadly cup games are renowned for their low attendances, they can produce some shocks and the interest is building and the…

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Korean Expertise: Why Japanese Teams Struggle in the ACL

Text by “Eijinho” Yoshizaki

This debate seems to rear its head every year.

The Japanese football scene comes to life in February, with teams preparing for the looming Asian Champions League (ACL) and the start of the J League on 7 March. This year’s inaugural ACL match will be between Kashiwa Reysol and Chonburi FC (Thailand). Kashiwa managed a fourth-placed finish in the league last season and will play Chonburi at home, with things getting even more serious from the 24th and 25th of the following week.

Last season’s third-placed team: Kashima Antlers will face reigning ACL champions Western Sidney (Australia). A match so important that Kashima won’t be able to rely on the excuse of it still being Japanese pre-season.

It also looks likely that we’ll have a few Japan vs Korea matches before the J League has even kicked off. Two of Japan and Korea’s titans—Urawa Reds (second place last season) and Suwon Samsung Bluewings will come head to head in Suwon. Then J League-champions Gamba Osaka will face Seongnam FC away from home.

Assuming all goes well for Japan’s teams, they’ll face two more play-off matches with Korean opponents. Kashiwa Reysol would play last season’s K League-champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors away, with Kashima Antlers going up against FC Seoul also in Korea.

Now I’d like to move onto a slightly meatier topic.

How does Korea view J League teams?

This an issue that I feel needs addressing.

We’re always confident of beating J League sides.

When we asked head journalist at Sportal Korea—a Korean football-focused news site—what he thought of the Japanese teams in this year’s ACL, he had this to say:

“Gamba are seen as tough to beat, the Reds are known for their hardcore fans, the Antlers are experienced veterans and Reysol are the “Korea killers” (they beat Jeonbuk 5-1 at home in 2012 and Suwon 6-2 away in 2013, both group-stage matches).

Overall, J League teams don’t seem to be viewed as much of a threat. After all, unlike the past, there are very few well-known Koreans plying their trade in Japan which naturally means that news related to the league is much sparser.

However, while the media are entitled to their opinion, what do the players think? We quizzed Jeonbuk’s star-striker Lee Dong-gook (appeared in the 2010 South Africa World Cup) on the matter before a group-league ACL match in April 2013.

He boldly stated “We play with an unshakable confidence. Everyone’s sure they can beat any J League team.”

J League teams never make the final.

Of course teams are wary of Japanese clubs, but it would be tough to say that they feel anything resembling fear.

There’s a simple truth here that you can’t dance around. It’s been a long time since Urawa Reds and Gamba Osaka consecutively won the ACL in ’07 and ’08. In 5 out of 6 years since then, K League teams have made the finals, with three of those five resulting in Korean wins. By stark comparison, Japan’s achievements in recent years only amount to Nagoya Grampus making the last four in ’09 and Kashiwa in ’13. Last year, Kawasaki Frontale fell to FC Seoul in the first knock-out round、with the loss at home on 17 May coming as an especially hard blow. One of FC Seoul’s central defenders had this to say:

“We anticipated that they would eventually fatigue after constantly attacking us in the first half. That’s why we waited until the final 45 minutes to bring the fight to them.”

It felt like they’d seen right through the Japanese tactics and there are a few reasons as to why Korean teams tend to think this way.

Japanese teams don’t concentrate on defending.

It’s well documented that those in the Korean football world see their teams as superior when it comes to club football. However, people are aware that, in recent years, the national teams have enjoyed similar success and that the J League is better managed than Korea’s domestic league.

Wth that said, ever since Ang Jung-hwan left Yokohama F. Marinos in June of ’05, there hasn’t been a star Korean National Team player in the J League. Conversely, the number of young Koreans and those with low wage demands have increased.

Recently, the following kind of interaction has become increasingly common between Japanese and Korean agents:

“This player fits the Japanese style to a tee. What do you think?”

This is the stereotypical Korean sales pitch when selling technical players, to which the Japanese agents always respond:

“If he were truly a Japan-style player then he’d already be playing here.”

The thought process behind this seems to be: “If I a technical player can’t make it in Korea, they’d do better in Japan where teams don’t defend as much.”

The Real Reason Why Park Ji-sung Came to Japan

Let’s look at Park Ji-sung’s transfer from Myongji University to Kyoto Sanga in 2000. His university manager publicly stated that he worried that “Park will be crushed unless he goes to play in Japan.”

At the time, Park had been selected for the Korean Olympic team, in spite of his small frame. This led to much jealousy from older players on other teams who would take out their frustration on the pitch—hence the worry that he would be “crushed”. However, in Japan, there would be no such animosity.

Even now that we’re in the 2010s, the common opinion that the K League is “much more aggressive” than its Japanese counterpart remains unchanged. Sergio Escudero (former U-23 Japan international) who plays as a lone striker for FC Seoul says “After a K League match I always have at least five or six spots on my body which ache. You really get a battering unlike anything I ever experienced while playing for Urawa in the J League.”

There are no longer any top-class foreign players in the J League.

“I remember J League teams used to have a lot of skilled Brazilian strikers, which made them tough to play against.”

These were comments from Choi Kang-hee, manager of 2011 ACL runners-up Jeonbuk. It’s hard to argue with him as in 2007 when Urawa won the ACL they had both Washington and Robson Ponte. At the core of Gamba Osaka’s 2008 winning team you would find Lucas, a player in his heyday, and while he transferred to a Middle Eastern club mid-season, Gamba also had Baré. What’s more, it was another Brazilian Gamba player named Leandro who took the Golden Boot at the 2009 tournament. There’s an increasing amount of support growing for the opinion that J League teams were only able to win the Champions League thanks to the impact of foreign players. But now that Japanese teams are no longer capable of that skillful play, Korean teams can suppress them with their speedy, powerful style of playing.

Korean teams have a strong self-belief that they do well in tournaments.

We talked with Choi Kang-hee, now in charge of Jeonbuk once more.

“Koreans are very confident when it comes to knock-out matches. We might fall behind when placed in a season-long league setting with other Japanese teams, but we have confidence in our ability to concentrate on the challenge at hand and win.”

Choi was referring to the knock-out stages of the ACL which begin after the group stages. It’s likely that this confidence comes from the national team’s successes. While Japan have caught up to Korea in recent years with their performances at major tournaments, Korea are always confident of winning when they play Japan head-to-head.

Korea’s record against Japan: 38 wins, 22 draws and 13 losses.

In the build up to this year’s Asian Cup, I posted an article in Korean on Korea’s largest website: Naver. I got many responses stating that Japan would be wrong to consider itself better than Korea at football. I then mentioned how Japan managed to qualify from its group with relative ease and hoped we would have a Japan vs Korea final. This prompted a string of comments asking me “Do you even know the stats on Korea vs Japan matches?”

The fans were certain that, when it comes to knock-out matches in tournaments, South Korea would always be victorious. While it is true that South Korea’s record stands at 38 wins, 22 draws and 13 losses, if you look at the statistics for matches played after the J League’s inception it’s 8 wins, 6 draws and 9 losses.

Victory hinges on breaking down the other team in key areas!

So, what should you be on the look out for when watching a J League team play one from the K League? We spoke to an attacking player who has playing experience in both leagues and he had this to say:

“In Korea, there would be times where I was wide open in key areas in the opponent’s half, but the ball just wouldn’t come. That was rarely the case in the J League. That’s why I feel that breaking down the opponent in key areas is one of the Japanese league’s main strengths.” Shin Tae-yong (current coach of the Korean National Team), former coach of 2010 ACL-winning team Seongnam FC is of the opinion that “One of South Korea’s strengths is being able to completely immerse themselves in the fight at hand and bypass the midfield if necessary. I’ve always felt that Japanese teams are a little too obsessed with breaking down their opponent from midfield.”

However, these comments make me inclined to think that Japan may be best served by doubling down on their strong points. Although I say that with the caveat that they must first be fully prepared to throw away their original style of play if necessary. It’s hard to watch Japanese teams continuously sticking to their tactics, even at the cost of defeat.

It would certainly be nice to see who would emerge victorious if a Japanese team took on a Korean one in a purely physical contest from the get go. Either way, I believe that coming up against a K League club is the perfect opportunity for Japanese teams to consider in what manner they want to win.

As a keen observer of both the Korean and Japanese football scenes, I always feel slightly lonely when autumn rolls around and the ACL advances into its knockout stages. It’s certainly going to be fascinating to see how Gamba Osaka do this year after completing a domestic treble last season. All that’s left for them to conquer is Asia and I think they really ought to kick things into full gear from February onwards!

(This is a translation of the following article: http://number.bunshun.jp/articles/-/822705 which was posted on Number’s website on 17 February 2015.)

K League Classic 2015 Round 6 and K League Challenge Round 4 - Previews / Predictions (April 15th)

#KLeague Classic 2015 Round 6 and Challenge Round 4 - Previews / Predictions (April 15th)

This is the first midweek round of fixtures for 2015 K League Classic season and also the 6th round of games. The K League Classic is slowly building steam and should be an enjoyable season.

Updated K League Classic League Table

The league table is still developing as only 5 games have been played so far. Jeonbuk Hyundai current lead the way, with Ulsan and Suwon following close behind. With…

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I think I might start writing about South Korean football. It’s become a slight obsession of mine, the increase of Japanese and South Korean players moving to Europe and impressing. Mainly because I remember a Keisuke Honda interview in which he said that Asian players are often almost racially profiled by their own people in that managers would tell them to play safe football, not take risks and just run a lot. If you watch Park Ji-Sung during his spell at Manchester United, he was constantly described by English commentators as a “workhorse” who “chases everything all game” without recognition  that he was a technically superb player.

The managers would tell players this because they felt that European teams would WANT South Korean or Japanese (and slowly, I should add, other Asian nations like Indonesia, China, Malaysia) if those players had excellent stamina and were reliable and consistent. This was until Hidetoshi Nakata became a posterboy for Japanese football due to his more technical, risk-taking style of football. After Nakata, players like Honda and Shinji Kagawa stepped forward to take more risks. Park Ji-Sung, despite his reputation at Manchester United, was a gloriously technical player at PSV in the Netherlands.

It’s nice to see two nations visibly grow in stature footballing wise within my lifetime. I rememeber the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, which arguably kickstarted this real European push. Now you have wonderful young Japanese and South Korean players littered across Europe. Some of the best young players in the German Bundesliga are Japanese or South Korean, such as Takashi Inui, Atsuto Uchida or Son Heung-Min.

I already write about the J League and it makes sense to broaden my viewing and writing to the K League too. It’s nice to witness players before they move to Europe, not only from my personal standpoint as a guy who wants to be a football scout but also to hopefully help break down stereotypes in football.

In truth, football is still rather bizarre in that casual racism is accepted as normal. Not only from fans either, but the media, from respected broadsheet journalists educated in the world’s best universities, to idiot ex-footballers throwing their two pence in every weekend on Sky Sports you will see casual racism. African footballers are “big lads, strong” “defensively naive” “athletes” “physical specimens”. Asian footballers are “workhorses” who “never stop running”. It’s stereotyping to the extreme and blatantly ignores what African or Asian players can offer besides these lazy clichés. No one cared about how good Nwankwo Kanu was with the ball at his feet because, due to him being Nigerian, everyone just wanted to point to how tall and strong he was.

It’ll be interesting to see, I guess. Football in both Japan and South Korea is becoming more and more exposed to European audiences and I just cross my fingers and hope that this is a positive. Who knows, maybe Japan could be the first nation from outside of Europe or South America to lift a World Cup?

On a slightly related note, I think I’m going to do some writing about North Korea at the 2010 World Cup. Stuff like how the western media mocked them. When Jong Tae-Se cried at the national anthem while captaining his team, the biggest game of his career, jokes about how the leader wouldn’t be happy with that and horrible stuff like “he realises if he loses this he’ll be killed” were disgustingly common comments.

Apologies, that got long and boring.

big game tonight in seongnam. seongnam fc v samsung blue wings (trash). sneaking away from school after classes to make the long trip to the south. ninety minutes on the subways. fortunately found a bus back to our side of seoul near tancheon stadium, so coming home should be easy.

prolly have fun. 

K League Classic 2015 Round 5 April 11th - 12th (Previews, Predictions and Results)

#KLeague Classic 2015 Round 5 April 11th - 12th (Previews, Predictions and Results)

This weekend the K League Classic moves onto it’s fifth round of the 2015 season. A few sides have started the season well whilst others haven’t done quite so well. The weather is also getting warmer so it’s a great time to enjoy some live K League action.

K League Classic League Table

The league table is still developing as only 4 games have been played so far. Ulsan lead the away on goal…

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