Peace Cup could become a real battleWith the end of the Confederations Cup, soccer fans around the world may look to the Peace Cup for their fix. The tournament opens on July 15 at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Sangam-dong.
After SARS hit Asia, two teams, Bayern Leverkusen of Germany and AS Roma of Italy, canceled their participation in the cup. The Brazilian team Sao Paulo was supposed to join the tournament as well, but in the end chose not to attend.
With three new teams coming into this event I thought I’d make a new prediction for the event.
The eight teams are divided into two groups, and the top teams of each group will face each other in the final match in Seoul.
Group A consists of Seongnam Cheonma representing Korea, Kaizer Chiefs from the South African Premier Soccer League, Olympique Lyon of the French First Division and Besiktas from the Turkish Super League.
Seongnam has five K-league titles under its belt since entering the league in 1988; it won back-to-back league titles in 2001 and 2002.
The team has two potent scoring threats in forwards Drakulic Sasa and Kim Do-hun. Currently, Kim is fourth in the K-league with eight goals.
Besiktas is currently at the top of the Turkish league. Ilhan Mansis, who scored a goal in Turkey’s win over Korea in last year’s World Cup, is the team’s top scorer.
Olympique Lyon took the French First Division title in the 2001-2002 season. The Brazilian Edmilson anchors the team’s defense.
The Kaizer Chiefs won the 2001 African Cup Winners Cup, and since joining the South African league in 1970 have finished first nine times. Impressive, but the South African league is at least one rung below the other leagues represented.
Group B has PSV Eindhoven from the Dutch First Division, L.A. Galaxy from U.S. Major League Soccer, 1860 Muenchen from the German Bundesliga, and Club Nacional de Football from Uruguay.
Eindhoven is well known here for its coach, Guus Hiddink, and Korean players Lee Young-pyo and Park Ji-sung. Its main weapon is Majeta Kazman, the leading scorer of the Dutch league this season with 32 goals. The team won the Dutch First Division crown this year.
Nacional has on its roster five players from Uruguay’s national team. It has also won its domestic league the last three seasons and is likely to pull off the four-peat this season.
The Galaxy won the Major League Soccer championship last season and has Korean Hong Myung-bo anchoring its defense. American Cobi Jones is a stalwart in the Galaxy midfield.
A team with a rich history is 1860 Muenchen, as its name suggests. Leading its attack is Benjamin Lauth, who is among the Bundesliga’s leading scorers.
I’m picking Besiktas to lead Group A, while Eindhoven seems a cinch to take Group B. Seongnam, with the home ground advantage, and Nacional, with balanced talent on both sides of the ball, could challenge for a shot at the championship.
To take it all, I’m predicting Besiktas will upset Eindhoven in the final in Sangam-dong. It’s a relatively short tournament, and Besiktas has the momentum at the moment.
by Brian Lee