‘Super Match’ pits Suwon against Seoul
“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 [email@example.com]