SPORTS

Korean pro football All-Stars to face Vietnamese natl. team on weekend

By Alex Park
  • Published : Jul 24, 2017 - 17:37
  • Updated : Jul 24, 2017 - 17:37

The South Korean professional football All-Stars will take on the Vietnamese national team for a friendly match this weekend as the Korean league hopes the event will expand its fan base in Southeast Asia.

The All-Star team of the top-flight K League Classic will face Team Vietnam comprised of under-22 players at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Saturday. This is the first time since 2008 in Japan that the K League decided to hold the All-Star Game outside home turf.

The K League, operator of the national pro competition, confirmed in May that its All-Star Game for the 2017 season will be held in Hanoi, since this year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and South Korea.

The league, however, said it also wanted to explore the Vietnamese market with the All-Star Game, as the popularity of South Korean football has been growing there since young Vietnamese football star Luong Xuan Truong began playing in South Korea in 2016. Truong, who is with Gangwon FC, will play for the Vietnamese team in this All-Star Game.

A logo for the 2017 K League All-Star Game between the K League All-Stars and the Vietnamese national football team. (Yonhap)
"In 2015, Vietnam broadcast 10 K League matches and the viewership of those matches was solid," the league said in a release on Monday. "For this All-Star Game, VTV, the largest national television broadcaster in Vietnam, will show the match live."

The K League last month selected an all-South Korean squad coached by Hwang Sun-hong, bench boss for the reigning league champions FC Seoul. The K League said the 18 players were chosen based on data analysis of their performances this year, and that it made sure all 12 K League Classic teams would have representation.

Pohang Steelers' Yang Dong-hyeon, currently No. 3 in the top division with 14 goals, is one of three forwards on the All-Star team. He's joined by Kim Shin-wook of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, currently No. 5 in scoring, and Lee Keun-ho of Gangwon FC, the 2012 Asian Footballer of the Year.

In midfield, veteran playmaker Yeom Ki-hun of Suwon Samsung Bluewings will start. The 34-year-old is the all-time leader in assists and was the league's top helper for the last two seasons. Five other midfielders, including Ahn Hyeon-beom of Jeju United and Son Jun-ho of Pohang, will also show off their skills in Hanoi.

Former Hoffenheim left back Kim Jin-su will headline the defensive line for the All-Stars. He will be accompanied by veterans Kwak Tae-hwi of FC Seoul and Oh Beom-seok of Gangwon FC.

Kim Yong-dae, who has 21 caps with South Korea, will serve as goalkeeper, along with Jo Hyeon-woo, a rising star from Daegu FC.
In this file photo taken on March 12, 2017, Pohang Steelers striker Yang Dong-hyeon celebrates after scoring a goal during the K League Classic match between Pohang Steelers and Gwangju FC at Steel Yard in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province. (Yonhap)
The Vietnamese national team will send young players who will represent their country at the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur. The Vietnamese U-22 squad lost to their South Korean counterparts 2-1 in the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship qualification match on Sunday.

The K League All-Star team will assemble on Thursday and depart for Hanoi the following day. (Yonhap)