Tuesday, December 28, 2010

4 South Koreans who are ready to make their mark in European football

South Korea had a decent World Cup playing a refreshing brand of fast, attacking football, and were somewhat unlucky to go out in the knockout stages to Uruguay.

South Korean football has come on in leaps and bounds since - with the help of Guus Hiddink and the 2002 World Cup - mass euphoria in the country over its national team began in earnest, and several of the country's stars have impressed in Europe.

Park Ji-Sung has performed admirably for Manchester United after bursting onto the scene during PSV Eindhoven's successful 2005 Champions League campaign with Lee Young-Pyo, who later joined Tottenham. And Germany-born Cha Doo-ri is now playing his trade at Celtic after hopping around the Bundesliga.

And things look to be getting even better for the Asian country.

Here are some South Korea stars of the future, some of whom we caught a glimpse of in South Africa in the summer.

Gary Megson may have been fired by Bolton, but Wanderers will thank him for snapping up this starlet for €2.5 million from FC Seoul in 2009.

Lee Chung-Yong scored four times and chipped in with five assists last season, and has so far scored two goals and set up three this campaign.

He had a pretty good summer, too, scoring against Argentina in the World Cup group stage, and again in the knockout phase against Uruguay.

The 22-year-old is a tricky clever right winger, with excellent technical ability and, as most South Korean players are, he is super fit.

He is one of the top youngsters to emerge from South Korean football and was named by Sports Illustrated in the top 10 rising stars of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Cho is an extremely bright prospect who has just won his first two caps for the national team in the recent friendly internationals against Nigeria and Iran.

He was tipped to be a top Korean goal-scorer very early on in his career, and hit an astonishing 10 goals against Guam Under 18s at an AFC Youth Championship 2008 qualifier in 2007. He went on to play for the Olympic team in 2008 and in the FIFA U-20 World Cup the following year.

Cheol Cho progressed to the Japanese top flight last year after making over 30 appearances in J2 for Yokohama.

Although with just five games for Ajax under his belt since joining the Amsterdam outfit last January after impressing in a trial, the first Asian player in the club's history is a huge prospect.

Suk has great technique, pace and fantastic work rate.

His mentality and motivation and have already won over the Ajax faithful.

The 19-year-old made his Ajax debut in the 4–0 home win against Roda JC last season, and scored his first goal for the club in a friendly match against Chelsea in July.

And after playing for the South Korea Under 19 and Under 20 sides, Suk made his senior national team debut in September against Iran.

At 27 years of age and with 37 international caps under his belt, Yong-Hyung is fully developed and ready to make the step out of Qatar and into a top European league.

He is a fast and smart defender with excellent positional sense and anticipation. He is comfortable on the ball, which along with his good vision, makes him adept at starting attacks from the back.

Aston Villa, Newcastle and Fulham have all expressed interest in his services.

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