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A guide to Team K League for Tottenham Hotspur fans

 

Tottenham Hotspur fans, looking to find out more about Team K League? Well, you're in luck because K League United has put together a guide for you.
(image via Team12)

Who normally uses these stadiums?

The Tottenham players will see four stadiums throughout their stay in Korea. The first came on the very day the team arrived - Goyang Stadium located in the satellite city of Goyang just outside Seoul. Goyang Stadium used to be the home of the K League 2 team Goyang Zaicro but the team disbanded in 2016. The stadium is largely unused for most of the year apart from the odd national team friendly. In fact, the Paulo Bento era began at this stadium, a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in a match which saw Son Heung-min captain Korea for the first time. Goyang's close proximity to the airport in Incheon just 30 miles to the west means it is an easy in and out for the visiting teams from overseas. For Spurs, it is on the way into Seoul and was probably seen as an ideal place to stop off and train after the long flight.

Next is Seoul World Cup Stadium, the venue for the Team K League friendly match on Wednesday. This is the home stadium of K League 1 team FC Seoul and has been since 2004. It has a capacity of around 66,000 and gets the biggest attendances in K League. It is also the venue for most World Cup qualifiers for the national team and was, as the name suggests, one of the 10 stadiums in Korea used during the 2002 World Cup. The last Premier League team to play there was Manchester United who came over in 2009 for a friendly with FC Seoul. FC Seoul are in fact at home this Saturday and so it will be a quick turnaround to get the stadium K League-ready again in time. The south stand behind the goal to the left of where the cameras will be pointing is where the FC Seoul diehards usually congregate. 

Son Heung-min waves to fans at Seoul World Cup Stadium (image via Team12)

Up next is Mokdong Stadium located in west Seoul, just across the River Han to the south from World Cup Stadium. That's where Spurs will train on Friday before the friendly with Sevilla. The stadium is the current, temporary home of K League 2 team Seoul E-Land who normally play at the Olympic Stadium but renovation work has meant they have to play elsewhere. A team called Bucheon SK used to play at Mokdong between 1996 and the year 2000 but when the team moved to Jeju Island to become Jeju United, it became vacant. After that, Anyang LG Cheetahs also used the stadium for a while in 2001 before becoming FC Seoul and moving to Seoul World Cup Stadium. Ahead of Seoul E-Land's three-year stay, the astroturf surface was ripped up and a new grass pitch was re-installed.

Finally, Suwon World Cup Stadium is where the match against Sevilla will take place on Saturday. It's the home of Suwon Samsung Bluewings, historically one of the K League's biggest and well-supported clubs. The stadium's nickname is "Big Bird" due to the bird-like structure that covers the main stand. Former Tottenham striker Robbie Keane scored a penalty at Suwon World Cup Stadium, a 90th-minute equaliser to force extra time against Spain in the 2002 World Cup Round of 16. Capacity is around 44,000 and the north stand to the left of where the cameras will be pointing is where the Suwon ultras usually stand. 

Who are the standout players from Team K League?

Trying to shoehorn two players from each K League 1 team means that this so-called "all-star" team isn't exactly the absolute best the league has to offer. Injuries also mean that some big players have been forced to withdraw, such as Cesinha of Daegu FC who is a bit like Rafael van der Vaart in terms of playing style; Hong Jeong-ho who is a bit of Ledley King-type centre half,  good on the ball and can tackle; and Um Won-sang a winger who is a rising star in the K League and seems destined for a move abroad.

Lee Seung-woo in action for Suwon FC


Ones to watch would be Lee Seung-woo and Paik Seung-ho, both used to be in Barcelona's academy and have returned to K League to try and get their careers back on track. Lee, in particular, is in fine form this season, scoring nine and two assists. Aleskander Paločević is another. He's an attacking midfielder from Serbia who has experience in the Portuguese top flight. Currently, at FC Seoul, he hasn't quite recaptured his form from his previous K League club, Pohang Steelers, where he scored 14 and assisted six in 2020, but is a bit of a Deli Alli type who has the ability to arrive in the box late from midfield and score goals. 

Striker Joo Min-kyu has a bit of the Jermain Defoes about him in that he is a great finisher but doesn't really get involved in the build-up play. He was the K League's golden boot winner last year with 22 goals. 

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Which players are the most decorated?

Left-back Kim Jin-su has the most medals among the Team K League squad with five K League title wins and one Korean FA Cup. Kim Young-kwang, one of the two goalkeepers, has amassed well over 500 K League appearances and has won the AFC Champions League.

Any other players who have played in Europe?

Quite a few, actually. Left-back Kim Jin-su is a former teammate of Liverpool's Firmino when the pair were at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga. Centre back Dave Bulthuis spent most of his career in his native Netherlands as well as Germany and is, actually, the first Dutchman to win the Asian Champions League. 

Left-back Kim Jin-su (left) in action for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Attacking midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon was at Freiburg recently and also spent time in Dijon in France but had to return to Korea to complete his military service. Whereas Sonny was able to earn exemption, others haven't been quite so fortunate. 

Lars Veldwijk is a Dutch-born South African international who was on the books of Nottingham Forest, Utrecht, PEC Zwolle, and Sparta Rotterdam among others. Jeju United forward Gerso Fernandes has played in Portugal and had spells with Coimbra, Estoril Praia, GD Tourizense, Moreirense, and Belenenses before moving to MLS with Kansas City.

Which players play with Sonny for Korea?

Yes, a few. Goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo played all three of Korea's 2018 World Cup games and impressed with a series of acrobatic saves against Germany in that famous 2-0 win. He has lost his place these days to a goalkeeper who is seen as being better with the ball at his feet, but Jo is an excellent shot-stopper and likes the big occasion. 

The aforementioned Kim Jin-su would probably be a good pub quiz question answer as he has managed to rack up 55 caps for Korea none have come in a World Cup - injuries have always popped up at the wrong time for him.

Kwon Chang-hoon is another regular but, like Kim Jin-su, missed the 2018 World Cup due to injury. He has 35 caps. 

Then there are a few players who are breaking through like versatile forward Cho Young-wook (FC Seoul) who has earned a few full national team caps this year. At 22 he is seen as one for the future. 

Cho Gue-sung (Gimcheon Sangmu, on loan from Jeonbuk) is emerging as a real prospect and has risen from K League 2 to the national team in just about three years. He is seen as the ideal type of striker for Korea manager Paulo Bento who has good movement in the half spaces, can hold the ball up, and is a decent finisher. He'll almost certainly go to the World Cup this November.

Any young players worth keeping an eye on?


Yes, Cho Young-wook and Cho Gue-sung in particular. Cho Young-wook has great balance, is a good finisher and can play anywhere across a front three. At FC Seoul, he has been tried in a number of positions since he made his debut in 2018 but had a good year in front of goal last year playing as a nine. 


As mentioned above, Cho Gue-sung looks like a dead cert to be part of Korea's World Cup squad, especially now that managers can call up 26 players. He has shown himself to be a clinical finisher and has a good physical presence which is essential for the Korea team which, under Paulo Bento, likes to play one out-and-out striker with the likes of Sonny and Wolves' Hwang Hee-chan as the two wide forwards. 

Team K League Squad Numbers


To help you keep track of who's who in the Team K League squad...

3 Kim Jin-su (left back, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
4 Jeong Tae-wook (centre back, Daegu FC)
5 Lee Myung-joo (central midfield, Incheon United)
6 Shin Jin-ho (central midfield, Pohang Steelers)
7 Kim Jin-hyuk (centre back & centre forward, Daegu FC)
8 Paik Seung-ho (central midfield, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
9 Cho Gue-sung (striker, Gimcheon Sangmu)
10 Lee Seung-woo (attacking midfield, Suwon FC)
11 Amano Jun (attacking midfield, Ulsan Hyundai)
12 Gerso Fernandes (forward, Jeju United)
13 Cho Young-wook (forward, FC Seoul)
14 Park Seung-wook (right back & defensive midfield, Pohang Steelers)
17 Kim Dae-won (winger, Gangwon FC)
18 Joo Min-kyu (striker, Jeju United)
19 Lars Veldwijk (striker, Suwon FC)
21 Jo Hyeon-woo (goalkeeper, Ulsan Hyundai)
22 Kwon Chang-hoon (attacking midfielder & second striker, Gimcheon Sangmu)
23 Lee Ki-je (left back, Suwon Bluewings)
26 Aleksander Paločević (attacking midfield, FC Seoul)
27 Yang Hyun-jun (right or left wing back, Gangwon FC)
36 Kim Ji-su (centre back, Seongnam FC)
41 Kim Young-kwang (goalkeeper, Seongnam FC)
44 Dave Bulthuis (centre back, Suwon Bluewings)
47 Kim Dong-min (right back & centre back, Incheon United)

How can I watch K League?

You're in luck because if you would like to watch some of Sonny's national team teammates then you can do so for FREE on TV.KLeague.com

All you need to do is make a log-in and you can stream any game you like. Matches kick off late in the summer and warmer months meaning that kick offs are usually around 11:30 am GMT.

Further Reading & Listening

Interview with Dave Bulthuis on whether Sonny is "world class" and what it will be like to face Tottenham.


Match Preview: here

FNR

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