Sunderland striker Ji Dong-won has yet to impress his new boss Martin O’Neill, being limited to a substitute role. / Korea Times file
By Kang Seung-woo
Korea’s vaunted football exports to Europe, called “European league players” here, have failed to live up to their title, as they are knocked down the pecking order at their clubs.
There are six Korean footballers playing in England, Scotland and France. But other than Park Ji-sung of Manchester United, who recently made his 200th appearance for Alex Ferguson’s side, the rest have little reason to hold their heads high, failing to make their respective starting lineups last week. Struggling are Park Chu-young of Arsenal, Ji Dong-won at Sunderland, Celtic’s Cha Du-ri and Ki Sung-yueng and Jung Jo-gook of Nancy.
Park Chu-young failed to even make the first-team squad against Sunderland on Sunday, being pushed down the pecking order by the on-loan French forward Thierry Henry who took a substitute spot behind starting forwards Robin van Persie and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. To make his situation worse, the 26-year-old did not make the trip to Italy for the first leg of the round of 16 match against AC Milan in the Champions League, where the London-based team were pummeled 4-0 on Thursday (KST).
Although Henry will return to Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls after finishing a two-month loan spell, Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho will come back from the Africa Cup of Nations to further weaken the Korean striker’s standing in Arsene Wenger’s side.
This season, Sunderland forward Ji, has scored against both Chelsea and Manchester City but the 20-year-old has been limited to a reserve role, failing to impress new boss Martin O’Neill, who took over in December.
He took the field three minutes from time against Arsenal and had a chance in the box but blew it, pulling his shot wide. In the last seven matches he has featured in, Ji has played for just 22 minutes.
Celtic’s Korean duo Ki and Cha were regulars in last season’s starting lineup but have seen their roles diminish.
Ki has started once in the past six league matches in the team’s 14-game winning streak, although he has been trying to shake off an injury. Cha has yielded the right-back position to Welshman Adam Matthews, with just one starting appearance this campaign.
In the French league, Nancy’s Jung came off the bench against Valenciennes and played for 14 minutes in the team’s 1-0 loss on Saturday. The former FC Seoul attacker has not been on the field for more than 20 minutes in any league match in the past three months.