The Alternative View – The Republic of Son Heung-min

I really shouldn’t be upset given Suwon FC are finally in the playoff places having taken 13 points from the last 15 available and have kept 5 clean sheets in a row (more of that later) but watching the Republic of Korea, or should that be the Republic of Son Heung-min, at the Asian Games is grinding my gears.

So, on Wednesday past Korea qualified for the final of the Asian games where they’ll face Japan on Saturday in a match that could decide the future of 23 young men. Yes, 23 young men, not just Son Heung-min!!! Not that you’d know that watching coverage on Korean TV.  The focus on Son and his possible military exemption is almost unbearable.  I wish they’d realize he’s only one of a squad and, in this writer’s opinion; an under-performing and rather self-centred one.  I’m almost at the stage where I wouldn’t care if they didn’t win the thing.  Don’t tell the wife and kids though!

As the K-League Kilt pointed out, his behaviour when Hwang Chan-hee was taking the penalty in extra time of the match against Uzbekistan was nothing short of scandalous.  How can you justify your “star player” not being involved in play?  What if the keeper had pushed it out back into play?   Son, with his back to the play and praying for an exemption, sorry a goal, would have been nowhere near the rebound?  It was shocking “look at me” behaviour.  In fact, as captain and star player, he should have taken the penalty himself.  But no, he passed the buck in the knowledge that Hwang Hee-chan would take the fall if he, Son, ended up having to do his military service.  Can you imagine the backlash Hwang would have received by the ever so stable netizens if the Uzbek goalkeeper had gotten a stronger hand to Hwang’s penalty and Korea had gone out on penalties to Uzbekistan?

Son “can’t” watch

In truth, I’d love to see Suwon FC’s Cho Yumin get military exemption and commit to Suwon FC long-term with us in K1 next year (see what I did there?) and I feel a bit for Hwang In-beom who planned ahead and has already started his spell with Asan. Similarly, I’d like to see many of the young boys giving their all, succeed.  As for the “big boys”, let’s be honest, not one of three wildcards would be in Indonesia right now if there wasn’t the possibility of an exemption.  Love of country or a desire to win an Asian Games gold medal does not enter into their thoughts in this instance.

In fairness, no-one has done anything wrong.  The system employed by the Korean authorities is what it is.  And it’s mightily flawed in my opinion. I also find the wildcard system questionable.  Clearly it is there for everyone to use but how many countries are bringing in full internationals with the level of experience of Son heung-min, Jo Hyun-woo and Hwang Ui-jo? (Hwang has been exceptional)  What about the guys who would have been in the squad but for those three?  Or the guy who will have to serve because he got an untimely injury?  Tough shit, basically.

Hwang Uijo is on ‘Operation Save Private Son’ duties

If the wildcard system stays for future tournaments, I propose it should be narrowed to players playing in their domestic leagues.  In fact maybe military exemption should only be granted to those who commit to spending two years in the K League – at whatever team they like.

I will admit that there’s a part of me that is hoping for the worst on Saturday night just to see how the KFA, Son and Spurs would handle failure and a military call up.  Extra spice added by the fact he never finished high school here and my understanding (I admit I’m not 100% on top of this) is they’d probably need to bend the rules to let him play football for the duration of his service.  It really would be intriguing.

Anyway, that’s enough of the negativity and controversy.  Are we entering a bright, new period for football in Suwon?  Things are on the up over at Suwon Samsung as Seo finally takes the hint after the protests at the Gyeongnam match and lo and behold they go and scud Jeonbuk in Jeonju in their ACL match.  While over at Suwon FC, four wins and a draw in the last five matches has seen our heroes climb up to the heady heights of 4th and into the final playoff place.  In those five games, Ansan, Seongnam, Bucheon, Anyang and Busan have failed to get the ball past Kim Da-sol.  Summer signing Fernando Viana has made a difference to the attack and is already our top scorer. At the other end, veteran defender Cho Byung-guk and loanee, Hwang Do-yeon have performed superbly at the heart of the defence in the absence of Cho Yumin and Adrian Leijer.  They creaked a bit away to Busan and we rode our luck at times in the second half but ultimately came back up the rode with three invaluable points.

Summer capture Fernando Viana

K2 is where the action is.  Asan and Seongnam are managing to stay ahead of the pack and in a ding-dong battle for automatic promotion on 48 and 47 points respectively.  From third to sixth we have Busan (40 points), Suwon FC (36), Gwangju (35) and Daejeon (33) fighting it out for the final two playoff places with the four meeting this coming weekend.  Gwangju host Busan on Saturday and Daejeon host Suwon FC on Monday night.  By Monday night, the playoff picture could look much clearer.  Or even murkier!!

The K2 table going into the weekend

And with that, in true Alternative View fashion, it’s back to the negativity.  Monday night football!!!  This will be the second time Suwon has travelled to Daejeon on a Monday this season.  Once is bad enough, but twice in the same season???  Some may say the journey isn’t too far (about one and a half hours for yours truly) but surely this could be arranged for a Saturday or Sunday.  I’m sure it would increase the attendance.  I’m hoping to make it but with work and family commitments it’s not likely.  Seongnam v Bucheon on Monday was relatively poorly attended.  Admittedly a victim of circumstance – up against Korea-Uzbekistan and terrible weather – but was there any reason to schedule it for Monday night?

Sort it out K-League.  You are only arranging 11 matches a weekend.  No need to constantly have two or three of them on a Monday night.

Enjoy your footballing weekend folks.  Unless you’re a Daejeon fan of course!!

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