World Cup Star Ki Sung-Young debuts
Bostonkorea  2010-07-26, 15:59:47 
MyongSool Chang
Translated by SoYeon Lee

Fenway Park, Scotland Celtic FC and Portugal Sporting for the European Pre-season Tour

 Celtic FCsoccer player Ki Sung-Young had his first game at the Fenway Baseball Park for the game on Wednesday. Ki played full 90 minutes of the game as the starting player at the friendly game against Portugal Sporting Lisbon and led the Scottish team to the victory.

But many Korean-American fans were disappointed when player Cha Du-Ri, who has recently transferred to Celtic FC, did not show up for the game. He could not join the team on Wednesday night due to a Visa issue.

Ki, who has just joined the Celtic team after the World Cup,took the position of Mid Fielder on Wednesday.
Celticpushed for 4-4-2 system and Ki seemed to put more weight on the defense for the first half of the game.Ki mostly played more of passing game than dribbling.

Ki’s best play during the first half came at the 13 minute mark when he took the ball away from two Sporting players and passed it onto his teammate.

Ki became more aggressive offensively at the second half. He pressured a Sporting player from the mid field and endlessly chased the ball. At the 55 minute mark, the ball was bounced on Ki and led to a Celtic striker but did not lead to a goal.

But Ki did not show his usual explosive dribbles and seemed to avoid physical contacts.

After the game, Ki stated that “I am working on getting in shape after the World Cup. Foremost, avoiding injury is the most important thing right now. (Because it was pre-season game) I did not actively get myself involved in this game. I am more focused on getting ready for the regular season.”

The Fenway Park seemed very much like a soccer stadium after the pitcher’s mound and the infield were covered with grass.  With over 32,000 fans cheering for the both teams, the atmosphere was as exciting as the Red Sox game. It was amazing to see so many soccer fans in Boston. Because of large Irish population in Boston, Celtic fans dominated the stadium.

 “It was not as playable as a soccer stadium, but I did not have much problem.” said Ki about the Fenway Park that has been reconstructed for the soccer game. “I knew it was a baseball stadium but didn’t know it was the oldest baseball stadium in America.”Ki replied. He also said that he was surprised by so many Celtic fans that came to watch the Scottish team play.

Although it was a pre-season game, the Wednesday game was full of excitement and intensity. After 25 minutes of equally talented play at the second half, Celtic’s player Samaras gave the Scottish team the lead after awarded a penalty kick after being tripped by one of the Sporting players. But Sporting caught up with Celtic at the 25 minute mark when Sporting’s HelderPostiga when teammate DiagoSalomao’sheading shoot bounced back to Postiga for the heading shoot for the tie. 

Celtic won on 6-5 penalty kick after 1-1 tie.  Ki Sung-Young came out as a third kicker for the Celtic and easily made the goal.  Boston Globe mentioned Ki’s kick was very important for the Celtic’s win.

Some of the Korean students showed enthusiasm by visiting the hotel that Ki was staying. They had a chance to talk to Ki until late night. “I am really thankful for those fans that came to see me” said Ki. 

Cha Du-Ri who was scheduled to play Wednesday’s gamewas visiting Korea for a Visa issue.
The Wednesday’s game was sponsored by the Sports Venture of New England NESV’s Sports group and the City of Boston.

One-on-One with Ki Sung-Young
Next day after the game on Wednesday, Ki Sung-Young showed up at his hotel lobby. Before the team’s bus arrived, Ki accepteda request for a short interview. Even though the interview was sudden, he did not mind answering some of the questions.

How was it playing soccer at a baseball stadium?
It was not as playable as a soccer stadium but that was not a problem playing the game.

Did you know that the Fenway Park is the oldest baseball stadium in America?
 (Taken back) Really, I didn’t know.

How were fans’ reactions?
I didn’t know that there were that many fans in America. I was surprised by the number of Celtic fans (about 32,000 fans visited the Fenway Park last night and because of many Irish affiliated fans, Celtic fans dominated the stadium. They cheered for the each Celtic player and did not hesitate to jeer Sporting players). 

How was last night’s play?
I am working on getting in shape after the World Cup. Foremost, avoiding injury is the most important thing right now. (Because it was pre-season game) I did not think too much about the game. Since the beginning of the regular season is near, I am more focused on gearing up for the regular season.

Why wasn’t Cha Du-Ri at the stadium?
He is in Korea for the Visa.

Is it helpful having Cha Du-Ri as a teammate?
It definitely helps. It is also an honor playing with one of the great players.

Some of the fans met you at the hotel last night, how was the meeting?
I am very thankful. They have a lot of support and I want to thank them for coming this far to see me.
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