Park Ji-sung, QPR set to play in Korea

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Park Ji-sung, QPR set to play in Korea

Park Ji-sung and his English Premier League club Queens Park Rangers will come to Korea in July for a friendly match with Gyeongnam FC, according to the K-League Classic club?.

The Gyeongnam FC president, Ahn Jong-bok, ?said yesterday at the club’s headquarters, Changwon Football Center in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, that ?the match will take place in the province on July 19.

QPR was planning an Asian tour in the summer and accepted an offer by Gyeongnam to add ?a match in Korea, Ahn said. The west-London club has never played in Korea.

Ahn said the deal stipulates that QPR bring Park and another Korean member, Yun Suk-young, for the match. It will be ?the former Manchester United midfielder’s first match ?in Korea since he attended an exhibition match in Seoul in July ?marking the 10th anniversary of Korea’s semifinalist finish at the 2002 ?World Cup. Park, 32, retired from the national team in January 2011.

Park’s future with QPR is uncertain, with some media speculating that he will leave the team once it is relegated to the League Championship next year. QPR is almost certain to face relegation, trailing the 17th-place Aston Villa by 10 points with only four games left.

Ahn, however, said that Park will come to play regardless of his prospects with the team. “Even if his transfer is decided [before the friendly match], he will attend the QPR’s Korean tour under the agreement,” Ahn said, adding ?that if an injury renders Park unfit to play, he still will make an appearance with the team.

“To Korean football fans, Park Ji-sung weighs differently. It is not important whether his club, QPR, is in the first division or the second division,” Ahn said. The friendly match with QPR is part of a global promotion of the Korean club.

In a statement, Gyeongnam said it is planning to attend an international friendly tournament to be held in Shanghai in June that will feature clubs from six countries.? It is also planning to hold a friendly match with foreign clubs, such as Olympiakos FC of Greece.

“From now on, Gyeongnam will put fans ahead of anything else and do its best to lift the club’s status to a world-class one,” Ahn said.

In another effort to raise its global status, Ahn said that Gyeongnam aims to play in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League (ACL) within three years. Each season, the top three K-League Classic teams and the K-League FA Cup winner ?receive a berth to the ACL the next year.

Founded in 2006, Gyeongnam has never reached the ACL. Its best result at the K-League is fourth place in 2008, when it was FA Cup runner-up to the Pohang Steelers.

“Incheon, that I led, has grown to a team that every club in Europe knows,” said Ahn, who was Incheon United president from 2003 to 2011. “As much as owner Hong Joon-pyo [South Gyeongsang governor] sends a full-fledged support, I am sure that Gyeongnam will grow further.”


By Song Ji-hoon, Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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