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Korean Football Round-up 18th Nov.

From the K League internationals, to an eighth consecutive WK League title win, a COVID-19 outbreak, and 'Wookie Watch', the latest Korean football news by Paul Neat.

#KLUPod: The Weekend Preview 20th Nov. & Connor Chapman Interview

500th full international win

Korea picked up their 500th win in a full international on Tuesday night after out-edging 2022 World Cup hosts, Qatar. The Taeguk Warriors broke the deadlock inside the first minute with what was Korea's fastest ever goal, Hwang Ui-jo feeding Hwang Hee-chan after a defensive error. Qatar pulled one back just eight minutes later but Hwang Ui-jo found what proved to be the winner in the 36th minute, Son Heung-min with the assist. 

Paulo Bento made just a few changes to his starting lineup: Nam Tae-hee was preferred in attacking midfield while Hwang Hee-chan was given the nod in attack and there was a first full cap for FC Seoul's Yoon Jong-gyu at full back.

K League Internationals

The K League was well represented among the Korean National Team squad, but some of the league's foreign stars were also in action. Incheon United's Stefan Mugoša scored the fourth in a 4-0 Montenegro win to move the Brave Falcons three points clear at the top of their UEFA Nations League group and enough to earn promotion to Group B. Elsewhere, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors winger Modou Barrow was on the scoresheet in Gambia's Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match with Gabon, scoring the second in a 2-1 win and earning the man of the match award.

Shrinking Violets, Purples push for playoffs

A comprehensive 3-0 win over FC Anyang moved Daejeon Hana Citizen up to third and in the driving seat for a playoff place. Brazilian attacking midfielder Edinho with a brace and Kim Seung-seop getting on the end of one of two Bruno Baio assists enough to seal the points. A draw away to Gyeongnam on Saturday will be enough to secure a playoff spot for the Purples. 

[READ: Column: Why it's gone wrong for Daejeon]

Steely determination

Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels secured an eighth consecutive WK League title on Monday night, overcoming Gyeongju KHNP 2-0 in the second leg of the Championship Final. Following on from a 0-0 first leg, Spanish forward Eli del Estal teed up Jeong Seol-bi on 77 minutes before Eli made it two in stoppage time. The Red Angels are the WK League's most successful club with eight title wins over the last eight years. A goal and an assist earned Eli the match MVP award.

Suwon to CSL

Jiangsu Suning, lead by former Suwon Bluewings favourite, Cosmin Olăroiu, on Thursday 12th November lifted the Chinese Super League title for the first time. Jiangsu beat Guangzhou Evergrande 2-1 in the final thanks to goals from Eder Martins and Alex Teixeira. Former defender Olăroiu turned out for Suwon Bluewings between 1997 and 2000, featuring nearly 100 times.

Guangzhou to Gimcheon

Korean international defender Park Ji-soo started the match for Guangzhou Evergrande but looks set to return to Korea to embark on his mandatory military service. Park had hoped to earn an Olympic medal and the subsequent military exemption but due to the one-year delay to the games, plans have changed according to a report in Best Eleven. From 2021 the army side will be located in Gimcheon and will begin the new season in K League 2.

The Magnificent Seven

Guangzhou Evergrande have been at loggerheads with the AFC over the number of foreign players the CSL runners up have in their squad. Guangzhou have seven overseas players including those who have become naturalized Chinese citizens: Elkesen, Tyias Browning, and Fernando Henrique. According to a report in the Chinese press (via Best Eleven), the AFC will not recognise Tyias Browning as a domestic player, despite the Chinese Football Association sending an official letter to FIFA last October to inform them of him obtaining Chinese citizenship under the name Jiang Guangtai.

Fernando, a Brazilian striker who acquired Chinese nationality, was registered as an overseas player in January but gained Chinese citizenship in June. As a result, he has been treated as a Chinese player in the CSL, and is registered as such in the AFC Champions League. Guangzhou's foreign player quota for the ACL is: Park Ji-soo, Jiang Guangtai (Tyias Browning), Paulinho, and Anderson Talisca while Fei Nanduo (Fernando), Alan, and Luo Guofu (Aloisio) have been registered as Chinese players.

Wookie Watch

Kim Shin-wook has been registered in Shanghai Shenhua's AFC Champions League squad. The former Jeonbuk striker has missed the last three months due to injury but is said to be nearing full fitness. Shanghai Shenhua, led by Choi Kang-hee, will take on former side K League and FA Cup runners up Ulsan Hyundai in Group F on Saturday 21st November.

KNT COVID-19 outbreak

On the morning of Saturday 14th November, less than 24 hours before Korea were due to take on Mexico in a friendly, a statement from the KFA said that four players and one member of staff was found to have tested positive for COVID-19. The players, Jo Hyeon-woo, Hwang In-beom, Lee Dong-jun, and Kwon Chang-hoon were placed in self isolation and missed the match. It was then reported by SBS that two more players had tested positive, leaving Paulo Bento with just 19 players to choose from.

The COVID-19-positive players, Kwon Chang-hoon returned to Germany in a private vehicle but the five others and three members of staff are to return to Korea on a chartered flight. The KFA have been in touch with Rubin Kazan to arrange travel back to Korea instead of Russia for Hwang In-beom.

South Korea's collapse

Despite taking the lead, Korea suffered a 3-2 defeat to the side that effectively knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup, Mexico. Hwang Ui-jo latched on the end of a Son Heung-min cross to give Korea the advantage in 20th minute lead but goals from Raúl Jiménez of Premier League outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers, Carlos Antuna, and Carlos Salcedo made it 3-1 to Gerardo Martino's side. Kwon Kyung-won of Sangju Sangmu pulled one back late on to narrow the deficit to just one goal but the Taeguk Warriors were unable to find another.

Paulo Bento lamented his side's defending: "It was a good game. Going forward we made a lot of chances but defensively we allowed too many too. Even when defending, the ball was taken away from us too many times. And there were times when we lost the ball in transition and gave it to the opposition in dangerous areas. It was all of our own making."


Eulji Lewis

Jo Hyeon-woo ACL doubt

The COVID-19 outbreak among the Korean National Team is having an affect on the AFC Champions League too. Ulsan Hyundai goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo may not be able to compete. Speaking to Sports Kyunghyang, an unnamed Ulsan representative said: "We are not sure if Jo Hyeon-woo will be able to join up with the rest of the squad for the AFC Champions League. We are making preparations in case we have to carry on without him."

Ulsan take on Shanghai Shenhua this Saturday in what will be their first match of the centralised ACL group stage. Jo Su-huk is expected to deputise in Jo Hyeon-woo's absence. Goal.com reported on Tuesday 17th November that Jo's attendance in Qatar would depend on the results of another coronavirus test. 

"Result didn't matter" - Kim Hak-bum

Kim Hak-bum's Korea U23 side drew 0-0 with Egypt before losing 3-1 to Brazil over the weekend. But, the former Seongnam and Gwangju gaffer said that the result didn't matter: "This time around, because we were able to get a good look at a lot of players, the results weren't that important. They were matches for us to understand more about what the players are capable of."

However, much like Bento did for the senior side, Kim Hak-bum wasn't too pleased with his side's defending: "There's not much you can do about the defending. For example, in the centre back positions, we didn't get back into position [quick enough]. We brought different defenders here to have a look at but there were a few problems. It's a process, we will keep working and become more stable at the back."

Ulsan Hyundai's Lee Dong-gyeong scored Korea's only goal, finding the bottom corner with aplomb in the seventh minute.


The caretaker's caretaker's caretaker

FC Seoul named a third caretaker manager of the season. Scout Lee Won-jun, who had been working as a coach in the club's U18 set up, Osan High School, has been tasked with leading FC Seoul to the AFC Champions League. Lee is the only coach on staff who has the relevant qualifications. Kim Ho-young had been placed in caretaker charge following the departure of Choi Yong-soo but resigned. Park Hyuk-soon has led the team since. The capital club take on their Chinese counterparts, Beijing Guoan, on Saturday 21st November.

...And then there were three

Following on from last week's news that JDT have withdrawn from the ACL, Group G will now comprise of just three teams - Suwon Bluewings, Guangzhou Evergrande and Vissel Kobe. All of JDT's results are null and void, meaning that Suwon have only lost one match. Two teams will qualify from the group.

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