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Sunderland man's World Cup dream still alive after apology
SUNDERLAND’S South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng has been spared the axe after a Facebook storm threatened to cost him his World Cup spot next summer.
Shortly after touching down in Asia last week Ki was quick to set up a meeting with his former international boss, Choi Kang-Hee, to apologise for derogatory comments he made about him in the summer. The situation had inflamed after South Korean football fans turned on him for his actions.
Hong Myung-Bo, his current national team coach, had suggested it would become “very difficult” to pick Ki for the national team again if he did not find a way to apologise to his predecessor.
This was the first international break Ki has had since the remarks he posted on his personal Facebook account had been leaked and he genuinely feared he may not play for his country until he had said sorry.
“This is a matter I had to apologise for no matter what,” said Ki. “But the apology was delayed as I thought it was better to do it face-to-face. I’m sorry I was not able to make the apology earlier as a lot of other things were going on.”
The furore centred on comments he made on a private Facebook account last year, which he later deleted, but were leaked to the South Korean media in the summer.
Referring to Choi’s comment that Scottish football teams are all like South Korean National League players except for Celtic, Ki posted: “Thank you for including me in the team, even though I’m playing in some (second division) national league.”
Ki added: “Choi shouldn’t have touched us. I hope he does not show his arrogance any more. Otherwise, he might get hurt.”
After issuing his verbal apology in a meeting last week, Hong handed him his place against Brazil on Saturday when Oscar and Neymar’s goals secured a 2-0 win for Brazil.
The Black Cats midfielder also expects to start against Mali this morning at the Cheonan Baekseok Stadium, where Aston Villa pair Yacouba Sylla and Seydou Keita will face the Koreans.
After the final whistle has blown Ki will make the long flight back to England with team-mate Ji Dong-Won, where he is hoping to be back for his first training session under Gus Poyet ahead of Sunderland’s trip to Swansea City on Saturday.
The 24-year-old will not be able to face the Swans under the terms of his season-long loan to the Stadium of Light, but Poyet is keen to have all of his squad together at the earliest opportunity following the international break.
American striker Jozy Altidore, Sweden’s Seb Larsson, Wales’ David Vaughan and Greece’s Charis Mavrias are among nine players due back at the Academy of Light on Thursday as Poyet steps up preparations for his first game in charge since taking over eight days ago.
One of his former players at Brighton, meanwhile, has distanced himself from claims he is set to move to Wearside in January.
Argentine striker Leonardo Ulloa was signed by Poyet at the turn of the year from Almeria, but the 27-year-old insists he is not thinking about following his former manager to the North-East.
Ulloa said: “I've already said if Gustavo is at Sunderland or any other club, it's a fact that I'm here. I'm fine, I'm happy here, my family are happy in the city. Nothing has changed this week since last week, when Gustavo wasn't head coach at Sunderland.”
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