J. League & K-League are over. What’s else to watch?

Dad's happy he bought that bargain Hitachi LCD over the more expensive Viera.

JAPAN

Okay, Kashiwa get the title they deserve. Kashiwa teach us that lemon yellow (well, it’s ain’t as cool as Brazil’s canary yellow) deserves some respect besides the boring blue and red. Even the boring orange. The good news is Urawa, still the most watched team in Japan, survive the year (apparently I did some horrific miscalculation last week) despite Nobuhiro Kato’s terrible terrible mishaps. I wouldn’t be surprised if yesterday morning he had to carry around the execs’ golf kits on his shoulders and back. Certainly this has been a bad year for both Tatsuya Tanaka and Genki Haraguchi.

Can Kashiwa outdo Auckland City? Yes they can, all despite Auckland’s Spanish quartet. What about Monterrey? That’s when the test comes from. That’s when we would see if Sakai, Dong-Hyuk, Kitajima, Junya, and even Young-Hak (*I* consider him to be a Japanese) are really better than Kennedy, Tamada, Keun-Ho, and Endo. If they can bet Monterrey, they can go a long way in 2012 ACL.

The Emperor’s Cup is still on the roll this month. Sadly it’s not covered by my satellite network that covers J.League (thanks!) so I can only follow the news online and from Singaporean wrap-up programs. Nagoya v Kashiwa is certainly the one to watch (bit harsh for Kashiwa just week after their campaign to represent Japan, eh?), there are still Corinthians around like Matsumoto Yamaga, and personally I want to see Masashi Oguro & Shunsuke Nakamura playing in the ACL for once.

KOREA

Jeonbuk’s Eninho & Luiz Henrique’s performances against Al-Sadd have certainly made the Club World Cup less exciting that it should be. Yes, I’m still blaming them. Especially after seeing how excellent was Eninho performing during the finals of the Championship against the lesser Hyundai. And remembering how bad did Luiz play during the ACL final rounds. Ulsan have been impressive and it’s worth a wait to see how Seol Ki-Hyeon, Lee Ho, Kang Min-Soo, and Kwak Tae-Hwi (which have been a true tiger during  the play-offs) fare next year.

 

The next things to watch without J. League and K-League (and even S-League. And even more CSL) are certainly the A-League, the two Indonesian leagues, and of course Asian players in Europe. The latter is an agony lately. Park Ji-Sung played full-time in Manchester United’s unexpected, unplanned loss to Crystal Palace (my friend never heard of it and she thought it sounds like a Chinese restaurant); Ji Dong-Won, Ko Ja-Cheol, and Son Heung-Min played from the start and were subbed out halfway, Makoto Hasebe was red-carded, Park Chu-Young and  Takashi Usami weren’t even on the bench throughout the week, and Shinji Kagawa didn’t score again. (My god, that litany took four lines to write).

Again, is it genetics? Physical skills? Mentality? Or is it easier to spot a non-performing Asian than a non-performing Argentine, Swede, or Nigerian? Or in the end they actually played well but it was me who got too obsessed with my quest for Asian Goalscoring Superstar Hero so I spend Mondays worrying that they wouldn’t start the game next weekend? Like what’s happening to Park Chu-Young?

Advertisements

Who will represent Japan and Korea?

Crest for Nagoya Grampus

I'm impartial

Ah, the final week. Everyone in teams contesting J. League and K-League championships have to be sure they are healthy up to the kick off time. That’s including minding where is the aftershave bottle and make sure that the meals they were eating have positive agreement with their bowels.

Start with the easier, Korea. Jeonbuk, Pohang, and Seongnam have got the tickets to next year’s ACL. Just like a good K-League season should be: leave nothing to Suwon & Seoul. Meanwhile, Ulsan…well, Ulsan have beaten both aforementioned team, plus Pohang for good measure, and will face Jeonbuk this Sunday in the K-League Championship. So it’s decided: Lee Dong-Gook, Kim Jung-Woo (welcome back, soldier), Mota, Kim Dong-Chan, Eninho, and Seol Ki-Hyeon will fight for the Korean revival (this year’s loss to Al-Sadd is too much) in 2012. Unless they are transferred out. Except if they are transferred out to another ACL competitor from Japan or Saudi Arabia. Or Qatar.

What matters most for me in this year’s FIFA World is for the Japanese champions to reach semi-final match against Santos and to win the Third Place match against Al-Sadd  ES Tunis. Who are the most fitting firm to pounce Auckland City 5-0 before handing down a devastating 2-1 defeat to Monterey and to prove that CONCACAF is ALWAYS below AFC?

Three clubs answer the call and they are only one point separated between them. Kashiwa Reysol have 68. Nagoya Grampus have 67. Gamba Osaka have 66. Marinos, having a good year, are 12 points below Gamba. So three out of Japanese representatives for ACL 12 are already determined. Fourth place goes to Emperor Cup’s winners, which will have its fourth round next month after Club World Cup 11 is over.

Kashiwa have it tough – they will face Urawa, the former Asian Champions now in the danger of going down to J. League Division 2. Which means that the good people of Chiba will be happy to ensure that the good people of Saitama will see  Tatsuya Tanaka becoming the top scorer of D2 in 2012.

Nagoya will also face Albirex Niigata in the northern country. Bruno Lopes is not Josh Kennedy nor Keiji Tamada, so Nagoya will also be victorious.

What about Gamba? They have the toughest matches of all the championship hopefuls – away trip to Shimizu. Even as Korean Lee Keun-Ho can save the day, both Gamba and Nagoya have to rely on a simple fact: That Urawa will defeat Kashiwa. Urawa will do it for sure so that they will survive in the Division One.

Which team has the right to represent Japan in the Club World Cup? I choose Nagoya. I want to see all the hottest Japanese representatives in Toyota and Yokohama: Fujimoto, Tamada, and Nagai. And of course, one of the best striker in Asia this year: Josh Kennedy. Or maybe that I always had soft spot for Nagoya, the city often forgotten behind the Kanto-Kansai duopoly.

 

Anyway, India just got pummeled 0-5 by Zambia in Goa.

Why I shouldn’t take Asian football seriously

When he was with FC Seoul
You make FC Seoul proud

 

Because AFC still doesn’t take Asian football seriously. Server Djeparov is again the best male footballer in Asia because he can come to the award night in Kuala Lumpur on a Thursday night in November. Nevermind that Shinji Kagawa just scored against Arsenal on the same night – despite a tooth injury. Nevermind that South Korea prove that they cannot live without Park Chu-Young, who wasn’t even on the bench for Arsenal last night. The point is, Djeparov earned 110 points while Keisuke Honda had 87 points.

The justice was that Aya Miyama wins the best women footballer award ahead of Homare Sawa and Ayumi Kaihori. Miyama scored in the 2011 World Cup Final (big apologies for not blogging that great tournament) and hugged Hope Solo afterward. Then the availability of Japanese players in the ceremonies, instead of competing in United States, brought in a sad fact – even United States cannot organize a decent women football league, and women football is still not properly appreciated worldwide.

In Southeast Asia, the Southeast Asian Games (Jesus people, it wasn’t even AFF Cup. How long you do you think Argentina and Nigeria will dwell over Olympics football?) left several nasty impressions for Indonesian and Malaysian football. For Indonesia, mixture of admiration for the successful Young Garudas and the bitter sadness of going down to Malaysia twice. For Malaysia, big relief of defending the title from the previous SEA Games, following the footsteps of the seniors, and the distress on how do the Indonesian supporters express their hatred and anger for Malaysian flag, Malaysian national anthem, Malaysian athletes, and the existence of Malaysia itself.

Malaysia were happy to win twice against Indonesia, going home with coach Ong Kim Swee as a hero, and moving on to the next business for pre-Olympics tournament. Indonesians coped with the loss with various reactions. Some blamed referee Toru Minoru for disallowing two Indonesian goals (nobody pointed out that he also disallowed one Malaysian goal), some did the right thing and applauded the young footballers and the manager, and some even said that the players are not real Indonesians since many of them are Christians.

PSSI, the Indonesian FA, has taken two worse decisions. First, it says no more naturalization. Because it fell out with golden boy Irfan Bachdim (born in Netherlands), it is disappointed with Cristian Gonzalez (spent most of life as an Uruguayan) although he had scored twice against Qatar, it doesn’t need Kim J. Kurniawan (Chinese-Indonesian father, German mother, sister is pregnant with Bachdim’s baby), and is angry with dashing U-23 defender Diego Michiel (born in Netherlands). But most importantly, it is angry with two Nigerians, Greg Nkwolo and Victor Igbonefo. First, they are playing for the wrong club, one of clubs that refuse to play in PSSI’s proposed 24-clubs league. Second, because the Nigerian football association is said to fail to reply on the inquiry if both players had played for Nigeria. So, for PSSI, naturalization gives no quick benefit.

Second, because of the league dispute, PSSI just declared that they will not pick U-23 players who are with the dissenting clubs (well, the majority of top-tier clubs are dissenting), many of them are playing in high-performance club Persipura which reached the 2011 AFC Cup quarter finals. So if Indonesians loved those dashing Papuans in the SEA Games, they won’t be seen again in the already doomed AFC Asian Cup 2015 qualifications.

One thing about naturalization. Yes, Indonesia is much populous than Singapore and football is a sport that everyone follows, unlike Philippines. So naturalization was unnecessary in the first place. I understand that several European players with Indonesian heritage are not that gifted as Nigel de Jong, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, and Johnny Heitinga. They were stuck in the 3rd division and so before Indonesia offers them hope of wearing the national jersey. Sergio van Dijk leads a good life in Australia but he knows he won’t be called by the Oranges. Others fall in love in and with Indonesia and have built their families here.

The naturalization scheme of 2010 was a quick-rich scheme, exploiting Gonzalez’s desire to become the best striker and to make the local football sexier with youth like Irfan. Philippines called in the Younghusband brothers and hired the 30s something McEnemy for the same reason. When the scheme failed in the last moment, everyone, both PSSI and the press blame the players. It’s not they demand excellence. It’s more like they were really suckered by that quick-rich scheme.

Matches of interest lately: Suwon – Ulsan 1-3 p (both Seoul and Suwon are out of the 2011 K-League Championship. I know I made a wrong decision by supporting Seoul while I should choose Jeonbuk). Arsenal – Dortmund 2-1 (Kagawa was mercifully not subbed to the end so he could score). Tampines – Home United 1-0 (all the good Etoile 2010 players are now in Tampines). Bahrain U-23 – Japan U-23 0-2 (yeah Higashi & Otsu).

Recess

This morning, at least two Asian-American footballers have been playing for their clubs in the MLS Cup Conference Final. Chinese-American Brian Ching led the strike for Houston (failed to score, while his Honduran sub Costly did) and as I’m writing Filipino-American Nick Rimando is tending (heh, classic American term) Real Salt Lake’s net. Hope they’d meet in the final, where somebody has to lose.

O yeah, the ACL Final. Jeonbuk got the home advantage. More than 40 thousands were actually care. Lee Dong-Gook was fit enough to play and there was a chance he didn’t have to intervene. AND YET THEY STILL LOST.

I don’t know what really bugs me. The poor finishes, or that Al-Sadd have the knack to beat Korean teams in their turfs, or Lee Jung-Soo is that good, and what makes him good is that he doesn’t play in the K-League (one reason for the racket scandal is that K-League players are underpaid), or Jeonbuk is neither The Losers or the A-Team (only Seo Jung-Jin is called for next week’s World Cup Qs), or that I have to root for any team against Al-Sadd next week and hoping them to do better against the perfidious African trio.

Or the worst case: The ACL is not worth it. Japanese teams (and probably fans) are once more ignoring the League some years after winning them back to back, and Korean teams and fans are probably too. Suwon didn’t chase their case against referee Malik Abdul Bashir for allowing a goal condemned worldwide (except in Qatar, the Middle East, and probably Senegal. Not really sure about Japan). Certainly non-Mad Green Boys fans of Motors showed up and showed their supports, but it didn’t happen before the finals (was it simply because the final was on the weekend?).

I’m still pondering if an Asian outfit are the elite, the all-stars, the great team of Asia. Certainly that’s not happening. Not Gamba Osaka or Kashima, not Jeonbuk or Seongnam (which is too creepy to be liked, anyway), not Adelaide United, not various teams in Saudi Arabia. I know this is not only the case in Asia – same stories are happening in South America, Africa, and CONCACAF (well MLS have attracted better names, but in the Champions League they are still struggling).

Better leave it right there. Congrats to Lee Jung-Soo and best of effort for Jeonbuk in the K-League Championship.

 

Big break for Japanese and Korean leagues. Their final rounds will resume after matchday five of WCQ, including Japanese big match against North Korea. The A-League, tho, will still be in play next weekend, since only three A-League players are on duty against Oman & Thailand: Kewell (Victory), Nichols (Brisbane), and Emerton (Sydney). Australia also have same amount of players coming from J. League – Kennedy, Brosque, and Spiranovic.

In Europe, Park Ji-Sung and Ji Dong-Won faced each other (not many times since they were both attacking) as Ji came in as early substitute to replace injured Connor Wickham. Kagawa played great part in Dortmund big 5-1 against Wolfsburg (both Koo and Hasebe were on bench) and Hajime Hosogai scored in Augsburg 1-2 defeat to Bayern Munich (Usami was again not used).

This is What Happened

The last time I posted was in St. Valentine’s Day. That’s clue #1. Between that night and tonight, there have been lot of things going on. The first was the tragedy that hit Japan. It froze Japanese football for a while, but overall it’s been a meaningful and fruitful year for Japanese football. J. League legends returned for charity match against the national team, where Shinji Okazaki met Kazu Miura.

Summer…my, what a summer. Japan won the FIFA Women’s World Cup. I stayed on ESPN SportCenter every night just to see glimpses of how did the Nadeshiko go. Nobody outside Japan really paid attention, but well, even in Europe women football is also seen with a chuckle.  So the men won the Asian Cup against a re-surging Australia, and the women won against heavy favorites such as Germany and United States (unfortunately Eurosport Asia didn’t broadcast the tournament and the only match I followed through Guardian Football was Japan v England :p.

Australia unfortunately didn’t get to replace Japan in Copa America. Well, they share longitudes and DVD region, Australia sees its football team as rival to Uruguay, and I really want to see how do Australia fare in South America (this calls for a FIFA 12 tournament).

Highlight for this year is the 2014 World Cup Qualifications. I was happy that three Southeast Asian teams made it to the group stage, including Singapore and Indonesia :). Yeah they will last at the bottom, where their current strengths are, compared to Middle Eastern sides (but wehey, here’s Thailand at second place! Being in a group with Saudi Arabia is a true blessing!). The next two games are coming soon.

The bad side of missing out for 9 months (really, a friend has given birth during that gap) is that I’ve missed out most of J. League. The report and review, that is. My cable provides two live matches every weekend with a Singaporean highlight program in mid-week. So I know my Havenaar and tidy-cut Kennedy. Unfortunately KBS World doesn’t broadcast K-League, which is now in the championship phase. Jeonbuk Motors really earn my respect this year.

As for ACL…nobody really watches it, isn’t it? Another forgettable year for Japan, and since THAT incident in Suwon, now I’m really hating West Asian football. Good call for Lee Young-Pyo to leave the Saudi League. As for Lee Jung-Soo, well, he has to work somewhere and he’s good.

As for Asian players in Europe…well, not a big breakthrough as last year was. Kagawa still does great jobs with assists but not scoring, Honda and Lee Chung-Yong are sidelined for months. Okazaki is still finding form. Park Chu-Young should have stayed with Lille.  Morimoto starts to fall out with Novara (which is much better town than Catania). Even Tim Cahill doesn’t score anymore.  In short, no Asian player yet to make into the top scorers roll in various European leagues. On the good sides, many of them are now regular starters – Koo, Ki, Kawashima, Yoshida, and Hasebe to name a few.

So, I’m back to blog. The pleasure of seeing Asian players contributing to victories, the pleasure of seeing Japan and South Korea being victorious, the pleasure of reporting their matches, and the pleasure of seeing passionate and orderly Asian female fans (n/a in West Asia) keep me coming back.

Coming up: J. League final rounds, AFC Champions League final, K-League Championship round, the A-League, FIFA World Cup Qualifications, Olympics qualifications, Southeast Asian Games (no women football, bummer), and the FIFA Club World Cup. And the Indonesian League that will eventually come.

Asia Football Update – 2010 almost done!

League wise. The J. League 2010 season has been over.  In Division 1, Nagoya Grampus are the deserving champions due to great Joshua Kennedy and Keiji Tamada partnership. Kennedy shares his top scoring honor with Ryoichi Maeda of Jubilo and Edmilson of Urawa Reds. At least Japan now has developed promising strikers – Shinji Okazaki, Shoki Hirai (yet to be proved), Tamada (which unfortunately still shares the traits of Portuguese forwards), and Maeda (already has some trials with the national team, but is still far from being comfortable). Korea also has a young promise, Cho Young-Cheol.

Kashima, far from the danger of being overtaken at the final day, ended the season ahead of Gamba Osaka, after defeating Kyoto 2-1, while Gamba were surprisingly defeated at home by Yokohama Marinos. Shunsuke Nakamura’s stab and free kick assist spoiled Gamba’s season’s end party.

In Division 2, Kashiwa Reysol win the league comfortably with 77 points, nine above competitors Ventforet Kofu. Kofu’s Half-Dutch Mike Havenaar win the top scorer award with 20 goals. Actually there’s still one match left for J2, but all’s in the bag. With six points behind Avispa Fukuoka, JEF United must spend 2011 in Division 2. Good news for bottom of the ladder Kitakyushu, Toyama, and Okayama – they will not be relegated to the Japan Football League.

——–

K-League Championship is like what it should – between the champions and the runner-ups of the regular season. After Jeonbuk worked hard to overcome Asian Champions Seongnam, they fell to new sensation Jeju United 0-1 (Danilo Neco). Jeju will host the first final match against Seoul on Wednesday, while the day of decision will be on Sunday. Jeonbuk, however, have earned a Champions League ticket.

Park Ji-Sung and Shinji Kagawa have developed knacks to score goals in Europe. Park scored a goal in Manchester United’s massacre of Blackburn Rovers, while Kagawa scored his seventh goal with Dortmund in 4-1 rout against Monchengladbach. Park Chu-Young also follows this trend. Fresh from the grueling fight in Asian Games, he scored from penalty kick in Monaco’s 1-1 tie against Nice. He has scored five goals. Now if Takayuki Morimoto would kindly like to follow suit…

2010 AFF Suzuki Cup starts on Wednesday, featuring eight Southeast Asian nations.  Looking from FIFA’s ranking, Thailand is still the top SE Asian nation, while Indonesia comes second and will feature its foreign-born strikers Cristian Gonzales and Irfan Bachdim, while Papuan star Boaz Solossa is omitted for disciplinary problem. Melbourne Victory’s Surat Sukha join the Thai team under Bryan Robson, while almost half of Singaporean players play in the Indonesian Super League, including stars Agu Casmir, Precious, Shahril Ishak, and Noor Alam Shah.

Nicky Butt, a former Red Devil who fought alongside Scholes, Beckham, and Keane, is playing for Hong Kong’s South China AA.

K-League update

A full Wednesday for the K-League, and the result has added some spice in the play-off round run-up. Even with five teams guaranteed places for the final phase, how they are seeded and who are their opponents still may change. Seongnam, which have the knack of turning deadly in the Championship, definitely are the ones other teams wish to avoid in their first match.

Seoul, however, have passed this Seongnam’s test by beating the Pegasus in their home turf 2-1, through Taegeuk Warriors Lee Seung-Ryul and Jung Ju-Gook, against rising Korean striker Cho Dung-Gun’s goal. As Jeju United had a rest week, Seoul have overtaken their lead with one point margin.

Jeonbuk Hyundai fail to pass the 50 points mark after surprising defeat to Busan I’Park, the perpetual mid-level team in the league. Jeong Shung-Hoon’s goal in the 53th minute ensure another decent year for Busan – no chance of qualifying for the play-offs, but still in respectable rank.

Finally, Ulsan Hyundai solidify their qualification ticket after destroying the serial victim Daegu 5-0. Paraguayan star Jose Maria Ortigoza score a double, with additions from Ko Chang-Hyeon, Kim Shin-Wook, and Carmelo Valencia. Former league leaders Gyeongnam were beaten up soundly by Pohang Steelers as former Korean export Seol Ki-Hyeon scored two goals to add up Mota’s goal.

Here’s how the league stands up:

1. Seoul (59), 2. Jeju (58), 3. Jeonbuk (48), 4. Seongnam (47), 5. Ulsan (47), 6. Gyeongnam (47)

Final league day: Seoul – Daejeon, Jeju – Incheon, Jeonbuk – Suwon, Gyeongnam – Seongnam, Gwangju – Ulsan

 

Extra: In Australia, Brisbane destroyed Wellington 4-1 through Costa Barbarouses, Thomas Broich, Massimo Murdocca, and Mitchell Nichols. Wellington’s resistance came through Tim Brown. Mid-tablers Perth & Melbourne Heart added another 0-0 result to the league’s record.

Roundup for August 2010 first week

Happy news:

South Korea win the 3rd match playoff for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, defeating Colombia 1-0 through fantastic-sista Ji So-Yun. During the tournament in Germany, the Republic has defeated Switzerland 4-0, Ghana 4-2, and lost to United States 0-1. In the playoff rounds they won over Mexico 3-1 before going down to Germany 1-5 in the Semi.

If there had been an all-star team, 8-goals scoring Ji would have been there to support German bomber Alexandra Popp, who scored ten goals including one in the 2-0 final victory against Nigeria. Add that with Yani Tseng’s perseverance to win the British Open and it was a good weekend for Asian sports.

Bittersweet news:

Sriwijaya FC of Palembang, South Sumatera, win the Indonesian Cup three years in a row, defeating league champions Arema Indonesia (from Malang, East Java) 2-1 in Solo, Central Java. The match was disturbed by the intervention from the Central Java’s police chief who stepped in and asked the referee to be replaced.

The reason was red card for Singaporean Noh Alam Shah (Arema) for kicking his compatriot Precious Emuejeraye (Sriwijaya) on the head. Arema supporters who crowded the stadium began to create trouble and the cop thought that it was the ref’s fault – he should have left Alam Shah alone. He was quoted to say “The FA guys can go home to Jakarta after this match. But the city’s security is up to me,”

In the end, referee Jimmy Napitapulu led the game until the end and both managers think that the chief was an ass (I use Commonwealth English here. Honestly). There was no riot in Solo, only Arema supporters throwing rocks randomly along the tracks on their train ride home.

Depends-how-you-see-it news:

Barcelona will face K-League All Stars on Wednesday’s late night in Seoul (10 pm local time, 1 pm in Barcelona). The iPod of Football will feature Messi, Ibrahimovic, Alex Hleb, and Kader Keita. The Spaniards Xavi and Iniesta are on holiday somewhere else. Facing them are Kim Dong-Jin (Ulsan), Ku Ja-Cheol (Jeju), Eninho (Jeonbuk), and Molina (Seongnam).

Bad news no matter how you see it:

The Sun says that North Korean coach Kim Jong-Hun is expelled from Communist/Workers’/Socialist/Whatever Party and is sentenced to 14 hours-a-day labor work for betraying the trust of Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il Kim Jong-Un. Nobody punished Papa Kim for the idiocy of letting Portugal vs Korea DPR match be broadcasted live on TV. Jong Tae-Se has the good chance, everyday, to slip to the nearest Japanese or South Korean consulate from Bochum.

Footballers in UAE (for examples Lee Ho, David O’Leary, and of course Cannavaro) can kiss their BlackBerry goodbye since the country bans BB for its ‘capability to communicate directly with overseas servers’. There is, however, no such ban on iPhone or Samsung.

Leagues leaders:

Japan – Kashima Antlers defeats Vissel Kobe decisively with a double from midfielder Takuya Nozawa. On Sunday Shimizu slugged it out 6-3 with Shonan Bellmare. Frode Johnsen scored a hattrick for Shimizu, putting him at the third on the top scorers list. Josh Kennedy maintained the lead with a goal in Nagoya 2-0 victory over Yokohama.

Korea – The second semester is getting trickier for Jeju United, as mainland powerhouses FC Seoul and Jeonbuk have overtaken them. Dejan Damjanovic of Seoul hit them with two goals on Saturday and Jeju suffered its second lost for the season. Jeonbuk defeated Busan 2-1 at the cost of red card for Lee Dong-Gook. Top scorer Yoo Byung-Soo (Incheon) got another goal despite his team’s 2-3 loss against Gyeongnam.

China – Shanghai gets closer to table leader Shandong, which were defeated by Hangzhou 1-2. Colombian Dubier Riascos maintains his top scorer lead by hitting all the goals in Shanghai 2-1 win over Changsha.

Singapore – Tampines speeds ahead of Etoile with 2-0 win over the Armed Forces (Alex Duric and Khairul Amri). Now they are nine points apart, but the French will face Woodlands Wellingtons on Wednesday.

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).

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.