Following my own expert advice, I visited the local supermarket on my way home from work after South Korea’s 4-2 defeat to Algeria in their second game of the tournament and, sure enough, with the Taeguk Warriors needing a minor miracle to make it into the knock-out stages, I was able to avail myself of some excellent Korea Football Association-endorsed goodies. For 10,000 South Korean Won (about 6 GBP) I got a very fine South Korean supporter’s jersey. To sweeten the deal, these shirts were buy one get one free (known as 1+1 in these parts) so my girlfriend who is also teaching out here received one as a lovely present. And who says romance is dead?
So, to the final round of games in Group H: these games were played at 5AM Korean time and, unfortunately, South Korea were unable to conjure up the aforementioned miracle against a Belgium side that despite leaving the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Edin Hazard on the bench still boasted messrs van Buyten, Fellaini, Mirallas and Januzaj. Despite some early pressure from South Korea, their lack of cutting edge was shown again as they struggled to create chances and looked in danger of conceding on several occasions.
Their cause was helped, however, when Steven Defour was sent off for Belgium following a dangerous challenge on 44 minutes. This encouraged the Koreans and they pressed forward in greater numbers in search of a goal, with forward Son Heung-min seeing his effort rebound off the crossbar. This forward pressing inevitably left South Korea exposed in defence, however, and, when Divock Origi’s shot was parried by South Korean ‘keeper Kim Seung-gyu, Jan Vertonghen reacted quickest to net the game’s only goal.
The group’s other game finished in a 1-1 draw between Algeria and Russia, meaning the two teams to progress are Belgium with 9 points and Algeria with 4 points while Russia and South Korea are eliminated with 2 points and 1 point respectively. Ultimately, the South Korean side showed spirit, energy and endeavor but, in truth, never looked to have the fire-power necessary to get beyond the group stage. There’s always next time.
Moving on from the South Korean aspect of things, I’d like to use the rest of this blog to weigh in with my thoughts on what has surely been the most controversial incident at the tournament so far: Luis Suarez’s bite at Italian defender Chiellini’s shoulder. Suarez has received a 4 month suspension from all football-related activity and, for me, that’s not long enough. When you cast an eye over this bloke’s previous indiscretions, it makes for a pretty hefty charge sheet:
l During the World Cup of 2010 in South Africa, Suarez was sent off for deliberate hand-ball on the goal-line in Uruguay’s quarter final match with Ghana in the last minute of extra time. The resultant penalty kick was missed by former mackem Asamoah Gyan and Uruguay won the subsequent penalty shoot-out to progress to the semi-finals;
l Suarez was given a seven-match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal on the shoulder in November 2010;
l Suarez was given an eight-match ban and a 40,000 GBP fine for racially abusing Man United’s Patrice Evra in December 2011;
l Suarez was given a ten-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013.
This most recent crime brings Suarez’s total up to 5. That’s 5 times he has made newspaper headlines for the wrong reasons, thereby bringing his club, his country and the game as a whole into disrepute. Football’s governing bodies as well as the Uruguayan FA and Liverpool FC should make it plain they will have nothing to do with such a player as these incidents do nothing but harm their reputations. The bans keep getting longer, but the message does not appear to sink in and, from the evidence, it may well never do so. As Kent Brockman would say ‘that’s my two cents.’
To round up, with South Korea now out of the tournament, these blogs will become slightly less regular as the country once again places sports like baseball and basketball higher on their priorities list. Do not lost heart though, dear reader, I still intend to post at least one or two per month!
So until next time, blog on!
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