▲ Jeju United striker Shin Young Rok after colliding with an opposing player and collapsing onto the pitch. Photo by Douglas MacDonald
Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager once said “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
I can’t imagine a starker reminder of how untrue that tongue in cheek remark is than watching medics performing CPR on motionless Jeju striker Shin Young Rok at the end of last Sunday’s (May 8) game against Daegu. Shin collapsed after colliding with an opposing player and at the time of this writing he is alive but unconscious and his vital signs are normal. This obviously puts into perspective the griping about bad defending and arguments about offside decisions in which we as football fans regularly indulge.
That being said, Jeju have already played nine league games this season, the beginning of which heralds the end of those desolate, lonely and cold Jeju winter Saturdays and Sundays.
After last year’s joy, heartbreak, suspense, drama, etc..., January and February weekends were rendered all the more meaningless without the comfort of nerve-wracking soju-soaked one-nil wins. Don’t despair though, Park Kyung Hoon’s orange-and-white army are back in action and already nine games into the new league campaign. Here’s a round up of what you’ve missed so far.
Jeju opened the season with a hard fought 2-1 win over Busan, who opened scoring in the 12th minute. Jeju, however, overcame their rocky start, equalizing through Santos Junior (who, excitingly, has decided to stay with Jeju for another year) midway through the first half. Kim Jong Bae then grabbed the winner in the 62nd minute to complete a comeback marred only by the sending off of Jeong Ho Hong in the last minute. Jeju followed this up with a less than inspiring nil-nil away draw to Incheon and a useful, if workmanlike, 1-0 win over Gangwon.
Jeju’s fourth game of the season was a cracker. If you weren’t there I feel genuinely sorry for you, as I’ll be telling my grandchildren where I was on the day that Jeju scored a 90th minute equalizer to secure a 3-3 draw against Sangju Sangmu. Jeju then drew with Daejon, lost to Pohang and beat Seongnam before a rematch of last year’s playoff final in which they lost to Seoul (again) by two goals to one (again). Their most recent match on Sunday was a comfortable 3-0 victory over Daegu that was of course completely overshadowed by the situation involving Shin Young Rok.
After nine games Jeju is sitting in fifth position with 4 wins, 3 draws, and 2 defeats and only 4 points off first. Which is pretty good considering that, A. they aren’t playing nearly as well as last season (yet), B. they lost the talismanic Koo Ja Cheol during the winter, and C. they have been simultaneously competing in The Asian Champions League (more on that in the next issue), which has definitely put extra strain on a relatively small and inexperienced squad.
In reality, emulating last year’s second place finish would be an outstanding achievement, and surpassing it would be a miracle. Any top six position would be great and would help establish Jeju as one of the better sides in Korea, which must be Park Kyung Hoon’s number one mid to long-term objective. This has been a solid though not a spectacular start to Jeju’s season, and hopefully the best is yet to come.
Obviously our thoughts are with Shin Younk Rok, his family and friends. For updates on his situation check www.jejuweekly.com.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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