By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, Asian countries make an impression in the World Cup and a Taiwanese American tennis player gets a spot in Wimbledon.
Japan and South Korea leave impact on World Cup
The World Cup featured just two Asian countries, but both Japan and South Korea played big during the first week of the tournament in Russia.
Japan advanced to the round of 16 with a win over Colombia, a tie with Senegal, and a narrow loss to Poland. However, the team played one of the best matches of the World Cup, as it sought to upset one of the favorites, Belgium. Japan surprisingly took a 2-0 lead in the second half. But Belgium stormed back with two goals within 5 minutes. Then, in stoppage time (before the match would have gone into overtime), Belgium amassed a counter strike off of Japan’s attempt to score and scored a goal with seconds left in the second half to advance. It was a dynamic performance by Japan’s goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who did his best to turn back one of the best national soccer teams on the planet.
South Korea’s World Cup coach Shin Tae-Young used deception to ensure that no one would try to steal any of its plays. The coach had players wear jersey numbers that weren’t their own because he believes Westerners cannot “distinguish between Asians.” The news came amid an admission by a Swedish assistant coach who had rented a house overlooking the Korean training camp in Austria ahead of the tournament and used a telescope to spy on the training sessions. Shin indicated that the surveillance would not matter due to his unique training move.
While this was a unique tactic employed by the coach, it’s a commentary on the stereotype that people cannot tell Asian people apart. The assumption that Asians look the same does not happen just in sports. In everyday life, the confusion is based on racial and ethnic similarities with height, hair color, etc. So, is this admission by the coach a way of taking advantage of racial ignorance? Likely, and he has used it to avoid his team strategy to get out.
South Korea did not advance past the group stage, but had one of the biggest upsets of the World Cup when it defeated Germany. The victory ousted the reigning champs from the tournament. While it also meant the end for South Korea’s World Cup (it lost its two other matches), the players celebrated once the match ended, as players collapsed to the ground, emotional and exhausted.
The World Cup is as big a sporting event as the Olympics and it stirs great pride for many nations in what is arguably the world’s sport, football (or soccer for us Americans).
Although there were just two Asian nations that qualified this year, they both showed the passion and emotions the event stirs. Its fan bases should be applauded for making the trip to Russia to cheer on their teams. Neither team won the final, but each showed that they belonged.
Taiwanese American gets a spot at Wimbledon
The Wimbledon tennis tournament started in July and it will miss one of the men’s best players. Andy Murray, a two-time winner of Wimbledon, withdrew from the tournament due to lingering pain from hip surgery. The 31-year-old British star stated that it was “too soon” to play in five-set matches. As a result, American Jason Jung will take his place. The Torrance, Calif. native represents Taiwan. It will be Jung’s first appearance in the tournament. The 29-year-old played college tennis at the University of Michigan, where he earned a degree in political science.
Jung is currently ranked 155th in the world. This past February, Jung won the Kunal Patel San Francisco Open, which is part of the Association of Tennis Professionals Challenger Tour (ATP).
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.