It turns out that ‘Koreaphobia’ is a condition not easily cured. For South Korea and China, this week is the ‘decider’. The two neighbours have crossed swords twice this year already with the score resting at 1-1. Events over the next 48 hours will determine which nation emerges as the winner.
The Koreans have long had the upper hand when it comes to the beautiful game. In 32 meetings between the two national teams, China had never won. Such a Data HK woeful record gave rise to the pseudo-psychological condition that described the fear of playing Korea. It was a term coined in the Middle Kingdom but taken up with gusto in the Land of the Morning Calm.
That all changed on a February evening in Tokyo when China shocked the Asian Tigers with a 3-0 win. The result wasn’t flattering in the least and it could easily have been more.
The victory was the best moment for Chinese football since they reached the 2004 Asian Cup final. It was greeted with a hail of happy headlines on the west side of the Yellow Sea and provoked gloom, doom and much soul-searching over on the east. Only a 2-0 win over Ivory Coast a month later lightened the mood ahead of the World Cup – that and last week’s results.
The Asian Champions League reached the halfway stage and as it did so, Korea’s four representatives in the competition met China’s quartet. Each of the eight groups contains four teams with the top two progressing to the second round. It was a clean sweep for Korea as all four K-League teams triumphed against Chinese Super league opposition.
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma started the week coming back from a goal down at home against the …