2012.2.24 Weekend PicksFootball
* Korea vs. Uzbekistan
* Jeonju World Cup Stadium, North Jeolla
* Saturday, 2 p.m.
This is the debut match for coach Choi Kang-hee and his revamped national football team.
Choi has said he will use this friendly to test players and tactics for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifier against Kuwait. The match should offer a glimpse of how the national team will look next Wednesday.
Of the 25 players on the national team roster, Europe-based footballers such as striker Park Chu-young of Arsenal and midfielder Ki Sung-yueng of Celtic will be absent from this game. Veteran K-League players are expected to fill the void.
Last season’s K-League MVP Lee Dong-gook will lead the team’s attack, supported by wingers Lee Keun-ho and Han Sang-wun. Newly appointed team captain, Kwak Tae-hwi, will secure the back line with Lee Jung-soo, while 36-year-old Kim Sang-sik is expected to play in the middle.
Uzbekistan has already advanced to the final round of the Asian qualifiers. The team has set a 19-man roster for its match on Wednesday, but top-class players such as Server Djeparov, last year’s Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year, and forward Alexander Geynrikh are missing.
Korea has a better head-to-head record against Uzbekistan with six wins, one draw and only one loss.
* Suwon Kepco 45 (17-12) at Daejeon Samsung Fire Bluefangs (25-4)
* Chungmu Gymnasium, Daejeon
* Saturday, 2 p.m.
Kepco 45 has lost four active players in an ongoing match-fixing scandal and it looks as though the team will not find solace on the court against the league’s No. 1 team.
With two starting setters out, Kepco hopes Kim Chun-jae, a sophomore setter who got his first V-League start on Sunday, will step up his game, helping Croatian attacker Andjelko Cuk.
Rookie attacker Cho Hyun-wook is successfully filling the void left by Seo Jae-duk, who is currently out of the squad because of a knee injury.
So far, Kepco has only one win from the four matches since the match-fixing scandal swept through the league earlier this month.
The Bluefangs also lost one player for the match-rigging investigation, but since the alleged member is not a star player, the team is still cruising through the V-League, winning its last three games.
Canadian international Gavin Schmitt, the top scorer in the V-League this season, is still dominating the court with his power, while attacker Park Chul-woo is also starting to show his top form on the Bluefangs attack.
The Bluefangs have not lost to Kepco this season, winning all four of their previous matches.