AFC 2018 Russia Qualification Round 2: Korea – Myanmar Preview

Coming off of the 3-0 win to UAE you’d think that we should breeze past Myanmar. However, it’s interesting to note that we used to have a bad time against Myanmar, then known as Burma. After previewing the fixture (which actually has quite a history), we’ll look at possible starting lineups and such.

I read a very interesting article on Naver about the history of the Myanmar – Korea fixture, and I thought I’d share it because it was actually pretty interesting.

http://joynews.inews24.com/php/news_view.php?g_menu=702210&g_serial=903178&rrf=nv

So the story goes like this. As of now we have played Myanmar 25 times with 13 wins 7 draws and 5 losses. Now most people would as “how do we have so many draws and losses against a team like Myanmar?” Well it turns out that before Cha Bum Kun came around, Korean football was just beginning to develop and back then Myanmar (Burma until 1988) was quite the adversary for us. The two teams first met in the 1950’s and in the ensuing 15 games we went 4W 6D 5L. And we’ve been undefeated since the 16th match in 1973 going 9W 1D.

Surely there might have been many reasons, like the development of our football, economic growth, etc. But apparently at the core of Korea’s rise in the 1970’s was the rise of Cha Boom – Cha’s first two games against Burma were two 0-1 losses, but since then Cha scored 6 goals vs. them and never once lost.

So, you’d expect us to win vs. Myanmar today and to be honest, this is something I’m certain Stielike can’t mess up. Looking at their national team roster, their captain has 63 caps but everyone else has sub 30, and all of their players are relatively young (like ours) and play domestically. Who knows, they could surprise us like Lebanon but I don’t think Stielike is the type to mess around so much like CKR did as to make us lose to Myanmar.

Team news:

I’m actually very unsure of what the starting XI will look like. The media is still speculating whether Lee Yong Jae, who played surprisingly well vs. a rather unmotivated UAE defense, or Lee Jung Hyup, who scored the easiest tap in goal ever, will start up top. I’d imagine Lee Jung Hyup this time around (Stielike tends to change things up between the pairs of matches) but he might want to see LJY again. It’s really a shame Kang Soo Il had to get ensnared by what Roy aptly labelled “mustache-gate” because so many people wanted to see him play, either as FW or RW.

I hope Lee Jae Sung starts the Myanmar match after strong showings in all three of his NT games so far but again, Stielike changes things – LJS started vs. Uzbekistan, NTH started vs. New Zealand.

Now that Kang is out we really only have SHM, YKH, and LCY (and potentially NTH) out wide. Now, SHM has been like our worst player for the past couple of friendlies (and performing just as poorly with Leverkusen), and he is clearly showing signs of burnout / fatigue. But against a team like Myanmar surely SHM could score a couple right? Might boost his confidence going in, and he sorely needs one right now. LCY likewise hasn’t been in the best of form, but that’s understandable since he came back from injury like a month ago. Likewise, I can’t predict what will happen.

As for the central midfield, you can pretty much be sure Jung Woo Young will start after a MotM worthy KNT debut vs UAE. In both winning the ball back and distributing it, JWY was solid. Which was great to see because after 2012 I thought he had fallen off the face of the Earth. Hopefully this time we get to see Choi Bo Kyung with JWY because CBK, along with RB Lim CW, have yet to make their KNT debuts and I’d love to see what he can offer, though I guess we can’t make too much out of any potentially good performance given the level of our opponent.

In defense I personally want to see LJY – HJH – JHS – LCW. We saw Jeong Dong Ho play and he was good. Now let’s see what Lim CW can do. Same goes for Lee JY, since we didn’t see much of him vs. UAE.

Prediction: We don’t have it in us to score 4 goals. Probably 2-0 or 3-0 at best. See you at 8:00 AM Eastern time, and make sure to tune into Tim’s live Twitter commentary!

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