World Cup worries as Park off the field again

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World Cup worries as Park off the field again

Striker Park Chu-young was once again absent from the Arsenal roster on the weekend, adding to concern about his performance with the national team in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

In the match against Sunderland, Park, 26, was not on the field, missing a chance to play his second EPL match. His absence also meant the loss of a match-up with Sunderland’s Ji Dong-won, who was a late second-half substitution on Saturday.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger started Robin van Persie up front and put English duo Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the flanks in the match. For substitutes, he used Andrei Arshavin and Thierry Henry, who is on loan from Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. Henry scored the winning goal in injury time in the second half to lift the Gunners to a 2-1 victory.

Since moving from French club AS Monaco last summer, Park has played five matches: three Carling Cup matches, one EPL match and one in the UEFA Champions League. But he will still be on the national team for the third round of Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup against Kuwait on Feb. 29.

Choi Kang-hee, who makes his debut as national team coach in the Kuwait match, said he included Park because he is still a key player.

Park has bagged eight goals in his last five international matches for Korea. But because he has not played the last four matches with Arsenal, there is concern his skills will deteriorate. Despite leading Group B with 10 points, Korea could be eliminated if it loses to Kuwait and if Lebanon, which is only trailing Korea by goal differences, defeats or draws the winless United Arab Emirates in the final group contests.

By Joo Kyung-don []

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