Some Korean stuff

First, Naohiro Takahara joins troubled Samsung team Suwon Bluewings. Although South Korean clubs dominate AFC Champions League, so few Japanese play there – and like Takahara, they are seen as have-been. This is the opposite to J. League, where famous Korean players like Lee Jung-Soo and Cho Jae-Jin flourish. Perhaps it’s the salary or the market.

Suwon continues to struggle in the lower mid table with 1-1 draw against Asian champion Pohang yesterday. It is worse for Pohang, however, now that they are in the 12th place.

Cho Kwang-Rae, the new Korean (I’m sorry, despite they are in the World Cup I can’t see myself speaking much about North Korea) coach is already unsettling with his comment that ‘Korea has to be more like Spain’. This is a typical Asian bad habit – saying we have to be like this or that Western country (or a more developed Asian nation) and then don’t really understand their essence.  Spain is Spain. If he wants short pass, personal skill, tight defense, good goalkeeping, than that’s generally what’s a good team about, Spain or not.

Lee CY prefers to stay with Bolton rather than moving to Liverpool. Not just loyalty, but certainly he’s worried Liverpool can damage his career like it has done to numerous Italians, Argentinians, and Spaniards.

To other news:

Australian Danny Allsopp scores a hattrick in DC United’s destruction of Portsmouth. It completed Portsmouth’s nightmare of having their kits missing and traveling from Edmonton, Canada, to Washington DC for 28 hours.

The big fours of Indonesian League – Persipura, Persik, Arema Malang, and Sriwijaya FC are in the 2009-10 Indonesian Cup Semi-Finals.

Asia’s tops of the tables for this week:

China: Shanghai Shenghua. Top scorer Dubier Riascos from Colombia scored a goal in their 2-0 victory against Qingdao.

Japan: Kashima Antlers. After the World Cup the defending champions have returned, overtaken Josh Kennedy’s Nagoya Grampus & Shinji Okazaki’s Shimizu.

Korea: Jeju United. The Cinderella fairy tale continues for the island team after coming from behind against Incheon Utd. and won 3-2.

Singapore: Tampines Rovers. 1-0 victory against Albirex Niigata S last Wednesday, goal by Alex Duric. Tampines have three players in the top ten scorers (the two others are Qiu Li and Khairul Amri).

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Whoops, sorry….

I haven’t updated this blog for a while. And to think that The Economist said that Indonesia is a world leader in terms of dead blogs…

Some old transfer news: Cerezo Osaka’s top scorer Shinji Kagawa moved to Borussia Dortmund while it is said that Mark Schwarzer received player-coach offer from Arsenal.

So J & K leagues have returned, with Kashima overtaken Shimizu after victories against Kawasaki Frontale and recently against Jubilo Iwata (3-2, Gilton, Koji Nakata, and Marquinhos against Nasu and Naruoka). The highlight of the week, however, is 3-3 slugfest between Shimizu & Nagoya. Tamada scores 2 while Okazaki strikes one.

In Korea, Jeju Utd. maintains its sensation (and league table lead) with away victory against Incheon United (2-1, Kim Eun-Jun and Santos Jr. against Song Yoo-Geol). Seongnam & Seoul are trailing one point behind Jeju with their respective wins against Daejeon and Gwangju.

Small improvement: blogrolls. :p.

Little S. League update

It’s one league that keeps running on during the World Cup – because there’s no such thing as a holiday in Singapore*. Tampines Rovers are drawing closer to league leader Etoile after 3-0 victory against vic Sengkal Punggol. They are two points behind the French outfit which lost for the second time against the Japanese Albirex Niigata on Tuesday.

Tampines’ midfielder (and one of the few Chinese in the national team, because he’s from China) Qiu Li is also now only two goals behind top scorer Frederic Mendy (guess from which club).

*so does Thai League but I’m still on learning curve hey.

Transfer Flash – Mark Bresciano to Lazio

Australian midfielder Mark Bresciano continues to play in Italy for his eleventh year, moving away from Palermo to the capital club of Lazio.

Another option that he had before Lazio was Saudi club Al-Nassr, recently vacanted by problematic Korean winger Lee Chun-Soo, and where fellow Aussie Jonathan McKain plays.

The Short Future for Asian Football

As the 2010 World Cup is nearly over, the Asian joy – and world’s surprise – on what had South Korea and Japan achieved has worn off. It ended happily for both nations, especially Japan, when both the Japanese public and Asian media applauded them on their return home.

Despite a winless campaign for Australia and 90 minutes of shame for North Korea in the hands of Portugal, this has been the second best World Cup performance for the Taegeuk Warriors and the Samurai Blue, widely predicted to make no impact in South Africa. South Korea’s best achievement in 2002, however, was marred by controversies of disallowed goals for Italy and Spain and they ended the show as the recipients of Hakan Sukur’s 11 seconds goal. Since then – and despite South Korea’s victory against Togo and draw against France in 2006 – no pundits or fans outside the country confidently believed that they would do well.

And yet no world-famous player could match Japanese midfielders’ free-kick abilities (this offer still good until Sunday), no opposing player could break through Uruguay’s defence before Lee Chung-Yong, and no other forward other than Park Chu-Young has scored goals both for and against his team (again, this contest is closed on Sunday). The memories will enter the annals of South Korean and Japanese footballs – Park Chu-Young’s free-kick against Nigeria in par with Ahn Jung-Hwan’s header against Italy in 2002, and Japan’s 3-1 dismantling of Denmark to be as legendary as Australia’s 3-1 dismantling of Japan in 2006.

Sadly, less could be said about the rest of Asia and the world. In Indonesia, where I live, Germany is still not a strong favorite because none of its player trades in the EPL, La Liga, or Serie A. As my fellow Fans’ Networker Sean Carroll points out, he’s not sure Pringles (or any comparable global brand, with the happy exclusion of Gillette) will think marketing Keisuke Honda outside Japan will sell compared to synergizing with global brands such as Torres Villa, Sneijder, or newfound stars such as German bomber Mueller and Uruguayan goalkeeper Suarez.

While Western fans (the less enlightened ones) will keep comment that Park Ji-Sung is in United to sell shirts in Asia and that Cha Du-Ri is a diminutive man, general Asian fans will still think that any Brazilian, English, or Nigerian plays football better than a Korean. The stereotype would stay on for the short future. While a surge of interest for Japanese and Korean players from European clubs is guaranteed, hopefully most of them will not flop as it happened after the 2002 World Cup with Takayuki Suzuki (Racing Genk & Red Star Belgrade) or Lee Chun-Soo (Real Sociedad & Feyenoord). Unless AFC members can assure an encore (and improvement) in 2014.

The next stop for national teams and their new managers would be the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar. Located nearby Europe, hopefully European based players like Cahill, Ki Sung-Young, and Honda would participate. As usual, the Cup is still prefers ‘harmony’ over competition – the previous champion, runner-up, and third place qualified automatically, and India and North Korea qualified as the champions of the ‘Challenge Cup’ contested by countries with the lowest ranks – sparing them from the qualification pains of being in one group with Thailand or Japan.

Nevertheless, it’s still a championship full of stake. Saudi Arabia and Iran will want revenge for their absences in the World Cup. Australia wants redemption for a failed World Cup and a failed 2007 Asian Cup. North Korea wants to literally get out of the pit. The most important thing is Japan and South Korea need to test how good they are post-South Africa. It’s promised to be a hot start – Saudi Arabia is in one group with Japan and Australia will face South Korea early. And this time, there is no Southeast Asian representative. The quest for power is still far away for Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Welcome to Asia Football

Hello reader,

I hope you enjoy the current World Cup and share my fascination with the performance of Japan and South Korea. I followed the tournament as a member of Guardian Football Fans Network and had so much fun supporting South Korea and Japan.

The problem was, I was the only East Asian in the group, and specifically the only Chinese. I’ve had this situation many times before – in university, courses, writers festival, etc. And I felt ashamed that I could see Australians, British, and Americans heartily supporting Japan and South Korea (or at least praising their performances), still not many Indonesians feel the same way.

Many Asians still much interested in the gambling (not betting) aspect of watching football, and have little faith in Asian footballers compared to say, Brazilians or Africans. Such a pity because even in contemporary FIFA Club World Cup editions, AFC clubs from Japan and South Korea consistently are in the third place. And every year, pundits across the world are easily awed by African and CONCACAF clubs and have no second thought on the Asian club.

So this blog is about that. It’s about news, opinion, and comments on Asian Football, with focus on the East – Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and Australia.  Second, this blog is about Asian footballers playing outside their home leagues – in Scotland, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, U.S., and Australia.

So, this is the first step walked. With the 2010/2011 seasons in Europe and Australia kicked off, and J. League and K-League will resume, you should have plenty of materials to read. Cheers.