Amateur team of foreigners take on Korea’s bestHyochang Stadium was the venue on Sunday for the first preliminary match of the national soccer competition for the Korea Football Association Cup.
The tournament’s makeup differs slightly this year from others. Seoul United FC’s inclusion marks the first time an amateur team consisting of foreign players has participated in the tournament since it was made open to amateur clubs three years ago.
Seoul United FC was founded by a group of foreigners in 2001. Except for Ju Mu-gwak, a 27-year-old graduate student, all players are from overseas.
Team director David Dillin, 39, is an American, while the coach, who wishes only to be identified as Obi, hails from Nigeria. The nationalities of players on the team read like an United Nations roll call. The People’s Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Morocco, Britain, France, Turkey, the United States and Canada all get a mention. Their jobs include employee of a foreign trading company, teacher, factory worker and an entrepreneur.
The team has won an informal league of foreign amateur players, the Super Sunday League, the last three years running. The team has now come to challenge local amateur clubs.
The most prominent player in the team is Sinan Ozturk, 31, from Turkey, and a former member of the Turkish Olympic soccer squad. Mr. Sinan used to play side by side with Okan Buruk, a current member of the Turkish national team, who now plays his club football with the world-famous side Inter Milan. Mr. Sinan volunteered as an interpreter for the Turkish team that recently came to Korea for a friendly match.
Seoul United FC scored 24 minutes into their first game against Ono FC, but gave up two goals in the second half and lost the game.
United’s players were understandably disappointed at opening the tournament with a loss. Next up is Paju NFC on Sunday.
by Chang Hye-soo