It’s an exhibition game at home, but the interest from the Welsh home fans has been ‘muted’.
The South Korean national soccer team, led by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, will play a friendly against Wales at Cardiff City Stadium in Wales on Aug. 8 at 3:45 a.m. (KST).
It will be Klinsmann’s first match abroad since taking over as coach. It’s a great opportunity for Klinsmann to get used to the away atmosphere after playing in front of one-sided support in a red-washed stadium.
However, the local Welsh fans, who are expected to create a raucous European home atmosphere, have been slow to respond.
As of about 12 hours before kickoff, the Welsh crowd was still less than 60% of the total. The sectors around the main stand are mostly full, but there are still many more empty seats elsewhere.
Cardiff City Stadium, which has a capacity of about 33,000, is expected to hold around 10,000 spectators at this point.
Members of the South Korean national soccer team, including Oh Hyun-gyu, train at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, U.K., on Sept. 6 (local time)메이저놀이터 ahead of an exhibition match against Wales. (Courtesy of the Korea Football Association) 2023.9.7/News1
Meanwhile, fan enthusiasm is high in South Korea. The Welsh Football Association has allocated sectors 119, 120, and 121 as away seats for this match, and there are currently only about 30 empty seats. Considering the on-site sales, it is virtually sold out. According to the Korean-American Association ‘Love England’, many Koreans living in London and other European countries are planning to visit the stadium with their own flags.
The lack of interest from Welsh home fans has a lot to do with the country’s recent poor showing in UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying.
Rob Page’s side are in fourth place in Group D of qualifying with one win, one draw, and two losses (four points).
Fans are particularly unhappy, especially after a 2-4 loss to underdog Armenia in front of a packed home crowd in June. There is also a lot of dissatisfaction with player selection and tactics.
“Welsh fans are hoping for a bad result against South Korea so that Page can be sacked,” said British media outlet The Sun. They won’t be cheering,” and pessimistically predicted that “Wales’ match against South Korea could see the lowest attendance in Welsh soccer for four years.”
Excluding the period of restricted access due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Wales’ smallest recent attendance was 766 against Belarus at the same venue in 2019.
Meanwhile, ahead of the Euro 2024 qualifier against Latvia in Group D on Wednesday, Page added to the frosty atmosphere by stating that he “didn’t really want an exhibition game against South Korea as we have a big game coming up”.
South Korea national soccer team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann (L) and captain Son Heung-min hold an official press conference ahead of the team’s exhibition match against Wales at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, England, on June 6, 2018. (Courtesy of the Korea Football Association) 2023.9.7/News1