Football eyes have been fixed on the K-league in recent weeks but Wednesday’s 2010 World Cup qualifier in Saudi Arabia has been casting a large shadow over the domestic scene for weeks. Wednesday’s game in Riyadh is the first big test in South Korea’s bid to qualify for South Africa.
Until now, the obstacles on that road have been provided by the likes of Turkmenistan, Jordan, North Korea and UAE. Coaches are fond of saying Qq Poker these days that there are no easy games any more in international football. If that is the case, it is still true to say that some opponents are easier than others.
Saudi Arabia is a traditional powerhouse of the continental scene, has appeared at the last four World Cups and fully expects to be busy in the summer of 2010. When you add the fact that South Korea has tied two and lost three of the last five meetings with the West Asians then you get an idea of the task at hand at the imposing King Fahd International Stadium.
Two of those defeats came during qualification for the 2006 World Cup. The first was a 2-0 reverse in the eastern city of Damman, a result that became known as the ‘Damman Shock’ in the Seoul media. The return game in Seoul also went the way of the Saudis and ostensibly cost then coach Jo Bonfrere his job though he told me just before he departed that the first loss was the beginning of the end.
A similar result in Riyadh may not have that effect on Huh Jung-moo but then again, it might as Group Two of qualification couldn’t be tighter. Both teams have collected four points from two games in the final round of qualification. …