The next few months are vital for players hoping to go to the World Cup and this is a big week for South Koreans with dreams of making the final 23 that makes the plane in June. Not only does the European transfer window open for a month, meaning that players could be heading to Europe or those already there could move around, but Data HK coach Huh Jung-moo is taking 25 players to South Africa, the host country of the 2010 tournament, for some acclimatization, training and friendlies.
There are a number of absentees however. Players based in Europe will not be heading south as the European season is still ongoing. So instead of games in Johannesburg and Durban, the overseas stars will be busy with their domestic commitments in England, Scotland, Germany and France.
The problem is that not all of them are busy. The likes of midfielder Cho Won-hee have been in the worst of both worlds. They left Korea for European experience and so miss a number of training camps and exhibition games that take place at home and remove themselves from the watchful eye of the coaching staff. That is not a big deal if you are in the big leagues and testing yourself against some of the best players in the world week in and week out. Coach Huh would love to spend time with the overseas players more often but is quite happy to let them go in the knowledge that when they do return, they return as better players.
But when those players are not playing regularly, it becomes a problem. Cho joined Wigan Athletic of the English Premier League in early 2009 and has barely featured – just making four appearances in that time. He has …