K-League Stars Outshone by Vietnamese Up-and-Comers

  • By Seok Nam-jun

    July 31, 2017 11:15

    Korea lost 1-0 to Vietnam in the K-League's All-Star Game held in Hanoi on Saturday.

    The match was supposed to be an opportunity to boost the sport's waning popularity here by letting the top players forget about winning and showcase their skills for the fans. But things didn't go as scripted at this year's event, which turned out to be a bit of an embarrassment, with the players putting in a poor performance.

    The K-League stars played Vietnam's national U-22 team to celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Vietnam. The Korean squad included top players such as Kim Shin-wook, Lee Keun-ho, Yeom Ki-hun, Kim Jin-su, and Kwak Tae-hwi, but they put on a lethargic display en route to a 1-0 loss to the Vietnamese youngsters.

    Vietnamese players (in red jerseys) react after scoring in a match against K-League players in Hanoi on Saturday. /Yonhap

    Some 25,000 Vietnamese football fans turned out for the match, which was aired live by Hanoi's state TV broadcaster. There is no disgrace in losing a well-fought match, but the K-League players left its reputation looking like hype.

    Korea is 51st in the world in FIFA's rankings, while Vietnam is at No. 133. Vietnam controlled the match from start to finish. It was a humiliating loss for Korean fans, though it could be partially excused by the fact that the Korean players had just a single, one-hour training session before the match.

    Saturday's loss was hardly a good omen for Korea, as it faces a difficult final stretch to secure a berth for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with just two matches remaining in the final qualifying round.

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