K League announces 24-man squad that will take on Tottenham
The K League on Wednesday announced the 24 players that have been chosen to represent the league in an exhibition game against Tottenham Hotspur at Seoul World Cup Stadium in western Seoul on July 13.
Under the management of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors manager Kim Sang-sik assisted by Suwon FC manager Kim Do-kyun, the chosen 24 will form Team K League, a squad formed of the very best the domestic league has to offer, to take on Spurs next week.
The K League decided early on that in order to truly represent the league and ensure that all fans have something to get excited about, two players from each of the 12 top tier clubs will be called up to join the team. Despite the restriction, Kim Sang-sik and Kim Do-kyun were still able to pull together a robust lineup filled with some of the league's biggest stars.
Eleven of the chosen 24 have previously been called up to the Korean national team, with three regular starters on the squad. Five of the league's international players also made the squad, and three of the current top 5 on the K League goal ranking.
K League leaders Ulsan Hyundai provide veteran goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo, who regularly takes the back up goalie spot on the national team, and Um Won-sang, a U-23 regular who recently has been spending more time with the senior Korean squad. As of press time, Um is the No. 4 goal scorer in the K League, with nine goals this season.
From his own side, Kim Sang-sik chose two Jeonbuk defenders: Kim Jin-su and Hong Jeong-ho. At 30 years old, Kim Jin-su, one of the most established defenders on the Korean national team, returned to the K League last year on loan from Saudi club Al Nassr. An explosive left back, Kim Jin-su often plays the length of the pitch on the wing. Hong Jeong-ho is another veteran defender and Korean regular with international experience playing in Germany.
Third-place Pohang Steelers donate defender Park Seung-wook and midfielder Shin Jin-ho. While Park Seung-wook is fairly new to the top tier, Shin has spent the best part of a decade in the league with Pohang, Ulsan, FC Seoul and Jeju United. The 33-year-old also has also spent a number of years in the Middle East on loan.
From fourth-place Jeju comes two big additions to the attacking line-up: K League No. 2 scorer Joo Min-kyu and Portuguese midfielder Gerso Fernandes. Veteran striker Joo has proved to be an offensive powerhouse this year, scoring 12 goals and picking up five assists.
Incheon United provide defender Kim Dong-min and midfielder Lee Myung-joo, who returned from playing in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year.
From Suwon FC come two of the biggest names on the roster, midfielder Lee Seung-woo and forward Lars Veldwijk. Lee Seung-woo, a former top prospect who spent most of his career in Europe, is currently reinventing himself in the Korean league after his career overseas ground to a halt last year. So far he has found success, scoring eight goals this season. Dutch-born Veldwijk is the only foreign player on the list with international experience, having previously represented South Africa.
Sixth-place Daegu and seventh-place Seoul further bolster the attacking line-up, with Brazilian attacker Cesinha from Daegu joined by Seoul midfielders Aleksandar Palocevic and Cho Young-wook. Cesinha and Palocevic are two of the most popular foreign players in the K League and regular goalscorers, while 23-year-old Cho Young-wook is a Korean U-23 regular. Defender Jeong Tae-wook also joins from Daegu.
Military team Gimcheon Sangmu provide two national team regulars, Kwon Chang-hoon and Cho Gue-sung. Not only are the pair increasingly common additions to the Korean side, but both scored in the Taeguk Warriors last match, against Egypt on June 14. Both of those goals were also assisted by other players that have made Team K League — Kim Jin-su and Um Won-sang.
The bottom three teams on the K League table offer mainly defensive support. From ninth-place Gangwon come midfielders Kim Dae-won and Yang Hyun-jun, while the No. 10 Suwon Samsung Bluewings provide defenders Lee Ki-je and Dave Bulthuis. Last-place Seongnam FC donate goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang and defender Kim Ji-su.
Team K League will take on what is likely to be a complete Spurs squad in an exhibition game on July 13 at 8 p.m. at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Tottenham, including Korean star Son Heung-min, will then play one more game during their Korea tour, against Spanish side Sevilla at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi on July 16.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]