National anthems Korea-Holland in Seoul
Games against the Netherlands are often ones to remember and last Saturday night in Seoul was no different for hosts South Korea.
The game was arranged to mark the five-year anniversary of the start of the 2002 World Cup, which was of course, hosted by Korea and Japan.
The Netherlands didn’t even qualify for that competition while South Korea, coached by Guus Hiddink and assistant Pim Verbeek, reached the semi-finals.
Dutch coach Marco van Basten
Despite that non-appearance, Holland are still part of the footballing elite and were expected to defeat the Asians. They did just that with a 2-0 victory. The Dutch may have been without the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Arjen Van Robben and Edwin van der Sar but the squad that traveled east was still a skilful one.
Korea were missing their Premier League quarter of Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo (sitting in the commentary box instead), Seol Ki-hyeon and Lee Dong-gook. The strength in depth of the Taeguk Warriors doesn’t, unfortunately, match that of the Europeans.
Lee Young-pyo in an unfamiliar pose
Rafael van der Vaart got a goal in each half, the first a penalty, to silence the home fans. The second came with 18 minutes remaining and Korea’s subsequent lack of fight and energy annoyed their Dutch coach Pim Verbeek who launched a scathing attack on the administrators of the K-League.
“I can’t believe the K-League organized a cup semi-final three days before a national team game,” said Verbeek after the game.
“If that’s how they want to treat the national team then we need to have serious discussions. It is stupid, disrespectful and bad for Korean football.”
“It’s the first time in my life that I have seen a Korean agen slot team lose so much energy at the end of the game. They have played 22 games in less than three months. The players were tired and after it became 2-0, they were finished.”
Verbeek was not finished there and when asked why he didn’t bring on substitute midfielder Kim Doo-hyun before the last 15 minutes, the coach launched an uncharacteristic attack on the Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma midfielder.
“I really regret bringing him on. He was terrible. I told him that if he wants to play that way then I will kick him off the national team. He can stay in Seongnam.”
Naturally, Seongnam coach Kim Hak-bom was not best pleased at the criticism of his star midfielder.
“I didn’t hear what Verbeek said but if it true then it shows a problem of leadership,” Kim replied.
“As far as I could see the team balance improved when Kim Doo-hyun came on. One player can’t change the situation of the whole team. Managing the game with that intention is a stupid way.”
“Verbeek said that the Netherlands game was a rehearsal for the Asian Cup,” Kim added. “but the team was playing not to lose and packed midfield with three defensive midfielders. That won’t be the case at the Asian Cup so I don’t know what is going on.”
Korea have two more friendly games before leaving for Jakarta and the Asian Cup. The first is against Iraq in Seogwipo on Jeju Island on June 29 and the second is back in Seoul against Uzbekistan on July 5.
More of the same in K-League
Back in the K-League,little has changed. Seongnam show no sign of stopping. The champions are still six points clear and still undefeated. Last season’s runners- up Suwon Samsung Bluewings stay second, just a point ahead of the impressive Gyeongnam FC and their goalscoring duo of Popo and Cabore.
Apart from the two ‘nams’ Gyeong and Seong, the other form team is Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i. The Tigers have won their last three with Premier League target Lee Chun-soo in the middle of most good things the Tigers are doing.
FC Seoul are still struggling for goals as the nightmarish statistic of five in 13 games clearly shows and further down the table Andy Egli and Busan I’Park are struggling.
At least they are doing better than Gwangju Sangmu who are still looking for a first win in 2007.