After a 4-1 defeat to Wellington Phoenix on Friday, Central Coast Mariners’ attention for the next five days shifts from the Club’s Hyundai A-League 2013/14 campaign to its 2014 AFC Champions League assault.
After a 4-1 defeat to Wellington Phoenix on Friday, Central Coast Mariners- attention for the next five days shifts from the Club-s Hyundai A-League 2013/14 campaign to its 2014 AFC Champions League assault.
Indeed, shortly after last night-s loss the squad boarded a bus to Sydney to get the best possible preparation ahead of their flight to Seoul this morning.
On Tuesday, the Mariners will take on one of Korea Republic-s biggest, most successful, and ambitious Clubs, FC Seoul, in their first match of the 2014 AFC Champions League Group Stage.
Phil Moss and the Mariners- coaching staff have been working overtime to scout Choi Yong-soo-s side, so we thought we-d share some insights regarding the men from the Seoul World Cup Stadium with our fans ahead of our fourth foray into Asia-s premier club competition.
WHO ARE FC SEOUL?
Coach: Choi Yong-soo
Stadium: Seoul World Cup Stadium (capacity: 66,806)
Colours: Red & Black
K-League Classic Titles: 5 (1985, 1990, 2000, 2010, 2012)
FC Seoul are one of the dominant outfits in K-League Classic, and in 2013 came fourth in Korea Republic-s top flight. Though Choi Yong-soo-s men may have liked a higher finish in the K-League, they did manage to make it all the way through to the Final of the 2013 AFC Champions League.
Based in the capital of Korea Republic, FC Seoul bring great pedigree to the tournament having won their domestic title on five occasions — the most recent being in 2012. Despite just missing out on the AFC Champions League glory last time round, FC Seoul-s head coach Choi Yong-soo was named the top coach in Asia in this year — to win this award the coach must be of Asian descent, which ruled out Guangzhou-s main man, Marcello Lippi.
FC Seoul-s mascot is named SSID. SSID is an extra-terrestrial being, whose name stands for Seoul & Sun In Dream. It is said that SSID was beamed down to Seoul World Cup Stadium by his intergalactic spaceship in April 2004.
FC Seoul was originally founded as Lucky-Goldstar FC, and were known was also been known as Anyang LG Cheetahs from 1996 to 2004.
THE COACH: Choi Yong-soo
40-year-old manager Choi Yong-soo is a South Korean football legend who enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a player before turning his attention to coaching. Between 1994 and 2000, Choi — a centre forward during his playing days — made well over 100 appearances for Anyang LG Cheetahs (FC Seoul). Choi enjoyed spells with three prominent J-League clubs between 2001 and 2006, before ending his glittering and successful playing career — which also included appearances at the Summer Olympics (1996) and FIFA World Cup (1998 & 2002) — in 2006 back with FC Seoul. Choi was appointed as an assistant coach at FC Seoul in 2006, and was promoted to the Head Coaching position in 2011. Choi won the K-League-s Manager of the Year in 2012, and guided FC Seoul to second place in the AFC Champions League last year.
THE STAR PLAYERS:
Osmar Barba Ibáñez
Date of Birth: 5/6/1988
Place of Birth: Santoña, Spain
Position: Centre back
Bio: Osmar Barba Ibáñez, often known simply as Osmar, is a 25-year-old defender with experience in Spain-s top flight, La Liga, with Racing Santander. In 2012 he joined Thai heavyweights Buriram United, where he excelled, winning two Thai League Cups, two Thai FA Cups, and one Thai Premier League title, in just one and a half seasons with the Club. Osmar was a key player for Buriram in last season-s AFC Champions League — he scored three goals in the competition as the men from the Thunder Castle advanced all the way to the quarterfinals. Osmar played against FC Seoul in the Group Stages of last season-s AFC Champions League, with his performances evidently impressing Choi Yong-soo and his staff. FC Seoul signed Osmar on a three-year contract at the end of December 2013, making him the first ever Spaniard to play with a K-League Club.
Nationality: South Korean
Date of Birth: 25/7/1980
Place of Birth: Frankfurt, Germany
Position: Right back
Bio: 33-year-old right back Cha Du-Ri may be familiar to many Australian fans of European football, with the experienced defender having played for the likes of Bundesliga sides Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz 05 and Glasgow Celtic during his established career. Born in Germany, Cha-s father, Cha Bum-Kun, is regarded as one of the finest players ever to lace up a boot for the Taeguk Warriors — South Korea-s National Team. Cha Du-Ri was a regular at right back for FC Seoul last season, and with appearances at two FIFA World Cups and two AFC Asian Cups to his credit, he will be one to look out for as the Mariners go for glory.
Date of Birth: 1/9/1988
Place of Birth: Granada, Spain
Position: Attacking midfield / striker
Bio: Cultured 25-year-old attacker Sergio Escudero will be one player the Mariners must keep an eye on in Korea next week. Born in Spain to Argentinean parents, Escudero moved to Japan when he was three, before moving to Argentina when he was nine. After time with Velez Sarsfield-s youth team, Escudero ventured back to Japan where he learnt his trade in the youth systems of Kashiwa Reysol and Urawa Red Diamonds. His first professional contract came with Urawa and in 2005, before he shifted to FC Seoul on loan midway through 2012. Impressing in his initial spells with the Club, Choi Yong-soo made Escudero-s deal with the red and blacks permanent in December 2012. While Escudero is yet to feature for Samurai Blue, he has represented Japan at U23 level.
Date of Birth: 30/4/1980
Place of Birth: Medellin, Colombia
Position: Attacking midfield
Bio: Experienced 33-year-old attacking midfielder Mauricio Molina has been key member of FC Seoul-s squad over the past three seasons. Indeed, the former Santos, Red Star Belgrade and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma man has scored an impressive 43 goals and made 44 assists in his 131 appearances for FC Seoul since 2011. Molina won the AFC Champions League with Seongnam in 2010, and went on to become top scorer at the FIFA Club World Cup the same year, netting three goals. Molina usually operates on the right side of Seoul-s attack, or as a number ten, and proved to be a handful for many sides in last season-s AFC Champions League.
THE MATCH DETAILS:
The Game: 2014 AFC Champions League Matchday 1 (Group F) – FC Seoul vs. Central Coast Mariners FC
The Date: Tuesday 25 February 2014
The Venue: Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, Korea Republic
The Kick-Off Time: 7:30pm (local); 9:30pm (AEST)
The Station: Live on FOX SPORTS
The Hashtag: Join the match conversation on Twitter! We-ll be using #FCSvCCM!
The Coverage: Visit www.ccmariners.com.au for coverage of the team in Seoul from Sunday through Wednesday next week!