Park ready for Vietnam charity match

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Park ready for Vietnam charity match


Park Ji-sung speaks during a press conference at Incheon International Airport on Monday. [YONHAP]

Korean football star Park Ji-sung is set to participate in a charity football match in Vietnam tonight to help boost the development of the sport in Asia.

The 30-year-old Manchester United midfielder will join 15 other footballers in an “Asian Dream Cup” football match against Vietnamese club Navibank Saigon at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City tonight.

The match is sponsored by Korean company Doosan Heavy Industries and is the first project of JS Foundation, a charity foundation Park established in February. The foundation previously announced plans to hold annual charity football matches around Asia.

Park said he chose Vietnam to be the foundation’s first destination because many people told him that football is really popular there.

The former Korean national team captain also added that the Southeast Asian nation caught his eye because it used to be divided, like Korea is today.

“I want to give hope to young kids in Vietnam who love football,” Park said on Monday at Incheon International Airport before departing to Vietnam. “Asian football is growing fast and the gap between the football powerhouses [and less-developed football nations] is getting closer. If I can give Asian players some kind of motivation, I think they will have the desire to become great football players.”

Meanwhile, Park’s JS Foundation said that all revenue from the charity football match will be donated to help youth players in Vietnam. The foundation also said it will expand its youth football development program and support cultural exchanges for football players around Asia.

Prior to the charity match, JS Foundation held a youth football clinic yesterday, with more than a thousand people gathered to watch Park and other football players teach some skills to 60 youth players. The foundation also invited Korean idol group JYJ and actress Han Hye-jin to promote the match in Vietnam.

Park will play with several Korea national team members - such as AS Monaco striker Park Chu-young, Bolton Wanders winger Lee Chung-yong, Celtic FC midfielder Ki Sung-yueng and national-team retiree Lee Young-pyo - as well as some of his Japanese football friends. They include former Japanese international Kazuyoshi Miura, Hidetoshi Nakata, a 34-year-old retired two-time AFC Player of the Year winner and Grenoble FC midfielder Daisuke Matsui, who once played with Park on the Kyoto Purple Sanga of the J-League.

Miura is considered the face of Japanese football after scoring 55 goals for his country in international competitions. He still plays for Yokohama FC at 44-years-old.

Park said he also contacted Korean football player Koo Ja-cheol to join him in Vietnam, but Koo’s German club, Wolfsburg, denied his request to go.

In addition, Park’s closest Manchester United teammate, Patrice Evra, said he will not be able to join Park due to commitments with the French national team. The 30-year-old left back was invited but promised Park he would play in next year’s charity match.

Korean-Japanese Jong Tae-se, who plays for German club Vfl Bochum - internationally for North Korea - was also invited by Park but is not expected to play in the game due to a right knee injury. He will, however, travel with the charity squad.

Park said he personally contacted the players via phone and e-mail and asked them to participate. He added that he hopes the star-studded charity football match will be a catalyst for Asian football development.

By Joo Kyung-don []

한글 관련 기사 [연합]

박지성 “베트남 축구 꿈나무에 희망 주겠다”

아시아 축구 스타들 15일 베트남서 자선경기

박지성(30·맨체스터 유나이티드)은 13일 "축구선수가 되고 싶어하는 베트남 어린이들에게 좋은 선수로 성장할 수 있다는 희망을 주고 싶다"고 말했다.

박지성은 이날 오후 인천국제공항에서 베트남 자선경기 출정식을 갖고 "베트남 어린이들은 유럽 클럽에서 뛰는 선수들을 직접 보면서 도전 의식을 갖게 될 것"이라며 대회를 앞둔 소감을 밝혔다.

박지성은 JS파운데이션(박지성재단)의 첫 자선행사 지역으로 베트남을 고른 이유에 대해서는 베트남의 축구 열기가 어느 곳보다 뜨겁다는 주변의 추천이 많았다고 설명했다.

또 한국처럼 남북 분단의 경험이 있는 곳이라 특별한 관심을 갖게 됐다고 덧붙였다.

이어 아시아 선수들 간 자선경기를 통해 아시아축구가 세계 수준에 근접했음을 보여줄 것이라고 전했다.

박지성이 이사장으로 있는 JS파운데이션은 15일 베트남 호찌민의 통낫 스타디움에서 한국과 일본 올스타팀 간의 자선 축구경기를 연다.

박지성을 비롯해 박주영(AS모나코), 기성용(셀틱) 등 해외파 선수들이 한국팀(JS프렌즈) 대표로 참가하고, 일본팀(나비뱅크) 대표로는 나카타 히데토시, 마쓰이 다이스케(그르노블) 등이 나선다.

그러나 박지성의 맨체스터 유나이티드 팀 동료인 파트리스 에브라는 애초 자선경기에 동참할 계획이었으나 프랑스 대표팀 A매치를 치르면서 쌓인 피로를 이유로 불참하는 쪽으로 결정했다.

2002 한·일 월드컵의 주역이었던 유상철은 한국팀 감독으로 이번 베트남 행사에 참가한다.

유상철 JS프렌즈 감독은 "고참과 막내로 대표팀에서 지낼 때부터 박지성은 훗날 대성할 것이라고 예상했다"며 "이런 좋은 자리에 함께할 수 있어서 자랑스럽다"고 말했다.

한편, 박지성은 훗날 K리그에서 뛸 생각이 없느냐는 질문에 "한두 명의 스타 선수가 K리그에서 뛴다고 흥행이 좌지우지되는 시기는 이미 지났다"는 말로 'K리그 데뷔'에 관심이 없다고 못박았다.

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