Korean football All-Stars lose to Vietnam
The K League All-Star game is an annual tradition, although this year it was a little different because the action took place in Vietnam.
The best players as voted on by the fans in the league so far this season, lost 1-0 to Vietnam’s Under-23 national team at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on Saturday.
The All-Star concept changes from time to time. Sometimes it is a game between players from teams from the northern part of the country taking on their southern-based counterparts.
There have been games against a Japanese equivalent, and, in 2010, a game against mighty Barcelona with Lionel Messi causing havoc in a first-half cameo.
When the games are all-Korean, they are lots of fun. The goal-scoring ceremonies are extremely well executed and worth the entrance fee alone.
When the games are against foreign opposition, they are a little more serious. This is partly because it is difficult to know how much the teams from overseas would be amused by some of the usual all-star antics and sometimes because national pride can come into play.
In the case of Vietnam, the host team is preparing for the Southeast Asian Games in August, a very big deal in that part of the world. The chance to play some of the biggest talent from the K League was a welcome opportunity indeed. It was a fine part of preparations for the upcoming tournament. The reason Vietnam was chosen was all down to one man: Luong Xuan Truong. The Vietnamese international midfielder plays for Gangwon FC. He is actually an official ambassador for Korea to his homeland. Given the number of Koreans who travel to Vietnam these days, he is doing a fine job.
The K League is also trying to increase its profile and fan base in Vietnam in hopes that more fans there will watch Korean football. Viewing figures in Vietnam for K League games have been encouraging but they would be higher if Xuan Truong played more.
He arrived at Incheon United last year, but was rarely featured. His loan transfer to Gangwon FC hinted that more games may be coming his way with two appearances in July. It remains to be seen if the 22-year-old will get more money. He is talented enough, but there is a certain skepticism among K League coaches, a conservative bunch, that Southeast Asians are not good, strong or hard-working enough.
That notion should have been dispelled on Saturday because the Korean All-Stars lost 1-0 and deservedly so. The only goal came in the second half. With 20 minutes remaining, Nguyen Van Toan’s shot deflected off Kim Jin-su into the net.
It was a tough and competitive match, which was what the Vietnamese wanted. The Korean team had chances, but was constantly forced back by the fast-running, hard-working and talented hosts.
The Koreans may well return to Southeast Asia as they seek new fans and markets.
Korean footballer Kim Shin-uk, behind, fights for the ball with a Vietnamese player during a game against the Southeast Asian country’s Under-23 national team at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on Saturday.