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Ki draws from Old Firm experience ahead of Wear-Tyne derby
HAVING played in one of the most hostile atmospheres in the world football during his time at Celtic, South Korean Ki believes Sunderland can win Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby, but only if Gus Poyet’s side can keep their heads at the Stadium of Light.
Ki spent three seasons at Celtic Park before joining Swansea City in 2012 and in his time north of the border the midfielder played in nine Old Firm derbies against arch rivals Rangers.
His record was won three, drawn two and lost four, giving him plenty of experience going into this weekend’s game against Newcastle.
The 24-year-old, who is on a season-long loan from Swansea, was ineligible for the Black Cats’ thumping defeat at the hands of his parent club last weekend, but he could return to Gus Poyet’s side on Sunday.
The Black Cats go into the game desperate to get a first win of the season under their belts, while Newcastle are in form having picked up four points in their last two outings.
The last time the sides met Sunderland shocked St James’ Park when they thrashed Alan Pardew’s side 3-0 and with the Magpies looking to get revenge, Ki knows how tight the game will be.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere, especially at home but it’s also going to be the tightest game in the world,” the South Korean said. “I think everyone will focus to get the points and we’re going to be doing everything we can to win the game. We know it’s different from a normal game and we’re going to be desperate to win it because it’s a derby.”
In the last six meetings between Sunderland and Newcastle, five red cards have been dished out and Ki admits his side will have to keep their cool if they are to record back-to-back wins over the Magpies.
He said: “My experiences with Celtic against Rangers has taught me that in the first ten minutes there won’t be a lot of football, it’s going to be all about the tackles but then we have to get settled and try to play the football we practice for all the time. We have to be calm on the ball and take our chance otherwise they will.
“I think we have to be strong mentally, also physically of course, but mentally we have to control the game or we’ll lose our minds and there can be red cards or losses of concentration which give chances to the opposition. We have to concentrate.”
Poyet will take charge of his first home game on Sunday since being appointed as Paolo Di Canio’s successor and Ki has revealed one of the main problems his new manager is trying to address.
The Uruguayan has asked his side to look after the ball better and Ki hopes they can put that into practise against Newcastle.
He said: “He (Gus Poyet) tried to give us a lot of things to improve, mainly keeping and passing the ball so we don’t lose our energy chasing it. He also wants us to create as many chances as we can with the ball.”
“I like to keep the ball because if we lose it we have to run and get it back but if you keep the ball and create the chances then you don’t have to chase it. If we keep trying to play, we’re going to improve a lot.”
A very limited number of tickets remain for the Wear-Tyne derby, priced from £15 for under 16s, £26 for over 65s and £32 for adults and are available from the ticket hotline 0871 911 1973, online through www.safc.com/tickets or from ticket office.
Cash turnstiles will not be operating and tickets for the game must be purchased in advance from the Stadium of Light ticket office, which will be open as follows: Today: 9-5:30pm, tomorrow: 9-5:30pm, Saturday: 10-1pm, and Sunday 10am-kick-off (1:30pm).
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