Ki Sung-yeung admits he has to miss middle part of Newcastle season to end 59 years of hurt
Ki Sung-yeung has been involved this season in the matches where Newcastle United have picked up 14 of their 16 points.
However, time is now running out before he heads off and misses the crucial middle stage of Newcastle’s season.
The midfielder is going to be part of South Korea’s efforts to end 59 years of hurt and win the 2019 Asian Cup.
South Korea won the first two finals in 1956 and 1960 but haven’t managed one since.
Four years ago the came ever so close, the final was in Sydney and hosts Australia won 2-1 in extra time, the winner scored by former Newcastle striker James Troisi. The Newcastle midfielder played the full 90 minutes and extra time for the losing side.
Newcastle fans will feel a bit like this is the new African Cup of Nations when in the past they lost the likes of Ba, Cisse and Tiote mid-season. That competition now moved to a summer slot so as not to interfere with the European leagues.
However, the 2019 Asian Cup runs from 5 January to 1 February and Ki Sung-yeung says he still doesn’t know when he will head off as Newcastle are trying to keep him a little longer than he norm.
South Korea’s group games in Group C are:
7 January v Philippines
11 January v Kyrgyzstan
16 January v China
Ki says that FIFA rules state players should usually be released two weeks before their first game, which would be 24 December, meaning he can play against Fulham but as it stands, but not against Liverpool on Boxing Day.
If South Korea got all the way to the final then Ki Sung-yeung could be set to miss nine matches, starting with Liverpool on Boxing day and the last one being Tottenham away which is currently scheduled for Sat 2 February, that would be seven Premier League matches and two FA Cup games, if NUFC beat Blackburn in the third round.
Sadly, even if South Korea got knocked straight out in the group stages, it wouldn’t make a great deal of difference, as the only extra Premier League matches he would get back for are Man City at home (22 Jan) and Spurs away (2 Feb – as it stands).
The top two in each of the six groups and the four best third placed teams go through to the last 16 of the Asian Cup, so South Korea are all but certain to qualify.
They are ranked 53rd in the World and the other three in the group are ranked 76th (China), 91st (Kyrgyzstan) and 114th (Philippines).
After the group stages the knockout games are played:
Last 16 matches are 20-22 January
Quarter finals are 24 and 25 January
Semi finals 28 and 29 January
Final is 1 February
To compound matters, Jonjo Shelvey is currently out with a thigh injury and Rafa has already ruled him out until after the Fulham game when they will once again assess his condition.
The optimist in me hopes that the injury isn’t too bad and they are just trying to make sure he will be fit to come back and play once Ki Sung-yeung heads off.
However, the pessimist in me worries that Newcastle are set to face this crucial mid-season section of games without their two most talented midfielders.
After that away match at Tottenham on 2 February, there will be only 13 Premier League matches remaining.
Asked about when he’ll be meeting up with his international team-mates, Ki Sung-yeung:
“I don’t know, it is not confirmed yet, but, by the FIFA rules, it is two weeks before the first game, so it could be after next week (Fulham at home).
“I think they’re talking, there are negotiations, so that it is not too many games I’ll be missing. It depends on the games.
“The final is on February 1, so it’s quite a long time, but I don’t want to be greedy because we have good players. If I can’t play, I can’t play.
“Also, it’s crucial for my country, they haven’t won it for nearly 60 years and I can’t be in two places at once.
“I’m happy that we have put this run of form together before I leave.
“I don’t know when I’m going to leave but there are not many games left in which I can play.
“So as much as I can, I try to win every game.
“I don’t know when I come back if my place will still be there but I’m very pleased and satisfied so far with the team and everything that I play for.
“I think this (Huddersfield) game was crucial to us, this one and the next one against Fulham.
“Maybe we can say that was like a six-point game.”
The NUFC PL schedule until 9 February 2019:
Saturday 22 December 2018
Newcastle v Fulham (3pm)
Wednesday 26 December 2018
Liverpool v Newcastle (3pm)
Saturday 29 December 2018
Watford v Newcastle (3pm)
Wednesday 2 January 2019 (Sky Sports)
Newcastle v Man Utd (8pm)
Saturday 5 January 2019 (Overseas Live TV – Not UK)
Newcastle v Blackburn (5.30pm)
Saturday 12 January 2019 (BT Sport)
Chelsea v Newcastle (5.30pm)
Saturday 19 January 2019
Newcastle v Cardiff (3pm)
Tuesday 29 January 2019 (BT Sport)
Newcastle v Man City (8pm)
(Next 2 games could still be moved for Live TV)
Saturday 2 February 2019
Tottenham v Newcastle (3pm)
Saturday 9 February 2019
Wolves v Newcastle (3pm)
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