Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time for Park to be given some credit

In a World Cup year, it's little surprise that the English language media around the globe is being dominated by tales of daring-do by Wayne Rooney.

The media in England - whether the rest of us like it or not - by and large set the journalistic agenda in the football world (and not just for those who speak English) and with Rooney in such blistering form, it's no surprise that every time you click on a website or open a newspaper, the Scouse marauder is being lauded once again.

Rooney has, without question, been in astonishing form. It's not just his goalscoring but his all round play that seems to have gone up several notches now that Manchester United have stopped mourning the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and started to hit top gear.

But while Rooney has earned all the plaudits, the efforts of others have gone unnoticed - or at least unheralded.

Park Ji-sung falls into that category, with the South Korean in the kind of form that proves he will be just as important to his country's hopes as Rooney will be to England's at the World Cup.

Of course, the Koreans are not harbouring hopes of winning the tournament (and some think England should not be so lofty in their ambitions either) but if they want to achieve their goal of progressing into the second round, then Huh Jung-moo needs Park to carry his current form into June.

On Saturday he set up Dimitar Berbatov for United's third against Fulham in an impressive cameo appearance as a second half substitute while his strike against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League earlier in the week highlighted his ability to find space, his movement and his normally unheralded finishing ability. And the goal came on top of a performance in which he managed to keep Andrea Pirlo unusually quiet.

Park was long ago recognised by fans of the Asian game as his generation's best player from the region. Sadly, the Asian Football Confederation seem incapable of doing likewise, refusing to consider him for their Player of the Year award despite being part of the Manchester United team that won the European Cup in 2008 and playing in the final in Rome 12 months later.

To his credit, Park seems less than bothered. But while the English media have an excuse for their myopia, isn't it time the AFC finally paid tribute to Asian football's finest ambassador?

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