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The Man from Down Under

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BUSAN, South Korea — The 2011 K League season got underway last month, and the Busan I’Park are hoping to improve on last year’s eighth place finish. The team is playing more aggressive football this year under new coach Ahn Ik-soo, and while they stumbled out of the gate, recently, it is showing on the pitch having gone undefeated in their past five matches.

One of the players leading the charge is Adelaide, Australia native Iain Fyfe. The 29-year-old, 1.85m central defender is not only known for his good looks, but his ability to play any position on defence.

Having signed a two-year deal to join I’Park from Adelaide United in January, Fyfe has quickly adapted himself to the K League, though some adjustments were needed.

“They play a different style here. It’s much more physical in Australia, but here, the technical ability is much stronger,” he told Busan Haps.

 
Fyfe enjoyed a stellar career in Australia, where he spent time at Adelaide City, Sydney Olympic, Sydney FC and Adelaide United. He was capped over 200 times there, and was noted as one of the most consistent players in the league, while scoring 15 goals over his career.

After 10 years in Australia and a year in Scotland, Fyfe was looking to try something new, and he feels the competition in the K League has what it takes to make him succeed.
 
With his move to Korea, the adjustment to the new culture has also been made easier by having a former teammate at Adelaide United, Shin In-seob, who is fluent in English.

“It’s a well-respected league, and there’s a huge amount of respect in Australia for Korean football,” he said.

The I’Park are currently sitting 13th in the standings in the Hyundai Oilbank K League, though last week’s 3-1 victory over third place Daejon has raised hopes for the squad. The Busan I'Park will be hosting a Foreigner's Night at the Asiad World Cup Stadium, this Saturday night at 7 p.m., when they take on ninth place Chunnam.

 

Iain Fyfe (far right) from his days playing professional football in Australia

Tickets will be discounted 50%, so admission to the game will cost only 4,000 won. Tickets are available at Gate 23 before kickoff and you must show your identification card. In addition, there will be a pizza giveaway, as well as other special events and booths set up and an English brochure will be printed for the game.

Though it only took two games to net his first goal for the I’Park, big things are in store for the man from down under. And though Busan is more well-known as a baseball town, Fyfe and the I’Park’s new aggressive style are hoping to bring football back into the spotlight not seen since the late Ian Porterfield led them to the 2004 Korean FA Cup.

Busan I’Park play their home games at the Asiad World Cup Stadium in Sajik-dong, from March through November. Tickets are 8,000 KRW for adults, and 5,000 KRW for children.
You can check out the I’Park’s homepage in Korean at www.busanipark.com or in English at www.busanhaps.com/busan-ipark-soccer

Jeff Liebsch has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Eurobasket, Tribal Football and Yonhap News. He can be followed on Twitter at @chevybusan.

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