‘Super Match’ pits Suwon against Seoul

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‘Super Match’ pits Suwon against Seoul


Choi Yong-soo and Seo Jung-won

Suwon Bluewings coach Seo Jung-won said yesterday that he is confident of carrying the momentum against FC Seoul during the season’s first “Super Match” between the two clubs tomorrow.

“I have experienced many Super Matches since I was a player, so I am not nervous at all,” said the 42-year-old coach, who played for both teams in his 16-year athletic career. Seo was a striker for the Anyang Cheetahs, the predecessors of FC Seoul, in 1996-97. He played for the Bluewings in 1999-2004.

“It will be a game to be determined by small things, so we will get prepared for it thoroughly,” Seo said.

Dubbed by FIFA as Asia’s top derby, K-League Classic matches between the two metropolitan clubs averaged 44,960 spectators last year. Their first encounter of the season will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Suwon World Cup Stadium. Kim Yu-na, the 2010 Vancouver Olympic figure skating gold medalist and one of Korea’s most popular sports stars, will start the game with a ceremonial kick.

Suwon enters the latest cross-town derby with confidence, having won seven of its past eight games with Seoul. The most previous match, held in November, ended in a 1-1 draw. Suwon’s all-time record in the series is 29-20-15.

The only K-League Classic team that Seoul hasn’t beaten under Choi’s reign is Suwon.

Seoul’s chances of turning the tables appear dubious. The defending champion remains winless five rounds into the 2013 K-League Classic season. On the other hand, Suwon is leading the league with 12 points from five games.

Seoul is coming off a 1-0 loss to the Vegalta Sendai? during an Asian Football Confederation Champions League match in Japan on Wednesday. Suwon drew a goalless tie with the Kashiwa Reysol on Tuesday and will have one more day for rest or training before Saturday’s match.

Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo’s biggest concern is his backline, which allowed 10 goals during the five K-League Classic games, the most goals allowed in the league. It scored only eight goals in those games. The defense has gotten weaker as center-back Kim Joo-young is prevented from playing in the Suwon match due to a cumulated foul penalty.

What could add fun to the game is a matchup between North Korean striker Jong Tae-se and World Cup star Cha Du-ri.

Cha, who recently joined FC Seoul, is awaiting his debut in K-League Classic. The 32-year-old defender, who helped Korea reach the semifinals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, had played professionally only in Europe, mostly in his birth country, Germany.

He developed a friendship with Jong after the Japan-born player moved to Germany from the J-League in 2010. When Jong joined the Bluewings in January, he said that his interest in the Bluewings was piqued by Cha’s suggestion. Cha’s father, Cha Bum-kun, was a former manager of the Bluewings. Cha also negotiated with the Bluewings for his possible move, but the talks ended and Seoul signed him last month.

Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo said recently that Cha’s condition is quickly improving and he could make his debut soon.

Yesterday, Jong, 28, said that he will outperform Cha.

“If I encounter Du-ri during the match, I will challenge him harder,” Jong said.

Jong said that while he was in Germany, he often heard from Cha about the Seoul-Suwon rivalry.

“It will be really good to be able to play in this rival match,” Jong said. “I will shake hands with Cha as a goal celebration after I score.”

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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