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K-league goalkeepers lead football popularity in Korea

Posted August. 10, 2019 07:00,   

Updated August. 10, 2019 07:00


Goalkeepers have been particularly outstanding in the K League this season. Some goalkeepers enjoy as much popularity as strikers. Kim Seung-kyu of Ulsan Hyundai and Cho Hyun-woo of Daegu FC are leading the heyday of goalkeepers. Kim made his debut in the K League in 2008 and played for Ulsan Hyundai for eight seasons before moving to Japanese top-flight club Vissel Kobe in 2016. He is recently showing great performance in Hyundai again.

Paulo Bento, manager of the South Korean national football team, praised Kim’s ability to build up through his kicks. Kim is recognized as the best goalkeeper in the league who can organize the defense and beat lines of defenders with accurate long passes. Ulsan Hyundai scored an average of 1.7 goals while Kim was gone but made a total of eight goals in two matches since Kim joined the team. In its 24th round match with Jeju United FC, Ulsan beat Jeju 5-0, tying this season’s record for most goals.

Cho Hyun-woo, who rose to stardom during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, is maintaining his status as K League’s representative goalkeeper. He lived up to his name in a friendly match with Juventus F.C. on July 26, successfully blocking unexpected shootings from world-class footballers, such as Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain. Cho is currently the No.1 goalkeeper in the league. He has conceded only 22 goals in 24 matches this season, allowing less than a goal per game. He has not allowed a goal in 10 matches, becoming the current leader in the category.

Kim and Cho will play against each other in the 25th round match between Ulsan and Daegu in Ulsan on August 11. This is the first time that the two goalkeepers will meet in a game. The competition between the two is expected to be fiercer than ever since the national football team manager is scheduled to visit the stadium ahead of the second round of qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.

Won-Joo Lee takeoff@donga.com