I was worried from the beginning of the meeting with China. It’s hard to see what the point of an exhibition match is when it’s so much more than what you expect.
Hwang Sun-hong’s Korean U-24 national soccer team failed to avoid a major hemorrhage in a two-game friendly series against the Chinese Asian Games team. The sub-par performance, which resulted in a 1-1 draw, is a worrying sign for the Hangzhou Asian Games, which are just three months away.
More than anything, it’s the injuries to the players that are hurting. Outgunned on objective power, China responded by playing defensively and shoving Huang Sunhong hard. Hitting in aerial ball contests was the norm, and tackles that had nothing to do with the ball were rampant. The Chinese players’ high-footed behavior caused the Korean players to frequently complain of pain on the ground.
The referee’s whistle was not blown to control this. The presence of home referees did little to curb China’s foul play. The Korean bench also didn’t protest much against China’s blatant fouls. Coach Hwang Sun-hong described the opponent’s fouls as “something that could happen at the Asian Games.” If so, the bench, as well as the players, would have to figure out how to respond to the calls and rough play, but it was quiet throughout the second game.
Meanwhile, Hwang’s injury list had grown to three. It’s a good thing there weren’t more injuries. The injury to Uhm Won-sang (Ulsan Hyundai) in Game 1 and his early return home didn’t change China’s approach in Game 2. Cho Young-wook (Gimcheon Sangmu) injured his shoulder and had to be substituted in the first half, while Ko Young-joon (Pohang Steelers) had to be helped off the field in the second half as the weight of the Chinese players fell on his knee.
The injuries don’t look light. Uhm Won-sang, who wore a half-cast on his return home, was re-examined at the team’s designated hospital and confirmed a ruptured right ankle triangular ligament. An official from the Korea Football Association explained, “He will be in a cast for about two weeks to stabilize and then proceed with treatment and rehabilitation.” It is expected to take quite a while for him to regain his form.
Ko Young-joon is also expected to suffer a medial knee sprain. He is scheduled to see a doctor this morning. Cho Young-wook, who was substituted due to a dislocated shoulder, seemed to be in less pain, saying, “I’m injured, but I’ll be fine if I recover well.”
In an interview upon his return home, Hwang Sun-hong said, “It hurts as a coach to have so many injuries. I also feel sorry for the team officials and managers,” he said, adding, “I hope they will recover quickly and join us.”
China’s rough play overshadowed the significance of the tournament. “We prepared to share various situations from the Asian Games, but we didn’t expect China to be so rough,” said Hwang Sun-hong. “We were hoping that there would be more injuries in the second game. I’m a little disappointed.”
Since Hwang’s departure, the team has lost to China and Japan and is worried about losing its third straight Asian Games. Coach Hwang Sun-hong responded to the public opinion by saying, “There are a lot of concerns from the fans,” and “We will prepare well during the given time and reward them with a good performance.” 메이저놀이터
Hwang will only have two weeks to prepare for the Asian Games. By then, the overseas teams and wildcards have to be finalized and strategies put in place. “For the overseas teams, we are in constant communication with them. For the wild cards, we plan to use all three,” he said. “The bottom line is the combination. We have identified the individual abilities of the players, but how to combine them to be competitive is the problem we need to solve.”