AFC U23 Championship Group Stage: Korea v Yemen Preview

With a rather unconvincing 3 points (but 3 points nonetheless) against Uzbekistan, Korea heads into the Yemen match tomorrow going for nothing less than a win. Let’s preview Korea’s potential lineups and some lingering questions that the Uzbekistan match left us with:

Lineup Questions: 

I had been pondering the question: since we have to win the QF to have a shot at Olympic qualification, and from the Uzbek match (13th) to the QF (23rd) we play 4 games in 11 days, wouldn’t proper rotation be very important? And if so, in which game are we going to rest our key starters? Yemen (16th) or Iraq (19th?)? Iraq is the much harder opponent but it makes more sense to rest Iraq given the tight 16th – 19th – 23rd schedule.

If Shin Tae Yong is going to make a dramatic 5-8 changes for a game, the game he has in mind is Iraq. In an interview he said there would only be 2 changes for the Yemen (“우즈베키스탄전서 코뼈 부상을 당한 송주훈(미토 홀리호크)이 예멘전에 결장할 예정인 가운데 신태용 감독은 “2명 정도 선수 변화가 있을 것”이라고 말했다.”). He also said there would be a formation change. If you count the (hopefully innocuously) injured Lee Chang Min and Song Ju Hoon’s broken nose which will apparently rule him out only against Yemen, it’s pretty easy to predict who the stand ins will be: JSH for SJH and either KSJ or LYJ for LCM.

lineup

Or maybe we will see Lee Young Jae in MF with MCJ shifted to the wings.

Perhaps against Iraq we will see this, although I am not entirely sure if rotating the fullbacks like this is a good idea. But considering how much they run I think they need a break too.

Capture

And despite this being our B team I honestly think on a good day this team has what it takes to beat Iraq.

Considering that we have three very strong teams in Korea Iraq and Uzbekistan with a clear “whipping boy” in Yemen in the group, goal difference might be especially important. Perhaps the best way to go is to score as much as possible vs Yemen (hence the 4-3-3 and keeping KCH MCJ and HHC our main goal threats) and hope to grind out a draw vs Iraq. I know this team isn’t the most clinical of our youth setups (then again none of them are), but I’m hoping we can at least win 3-0 or 4-0 in this one.

Player Thoughts:

Hwang Hee Chan and Kwon Chang Hoon aside no player really impressed that much. In fact, a Korean reporter in Doha met and interviewed a Man City scout who reported being especially impressed by HHC. As a result, there is still a lot for STY to think about:

  1. Park Yong Woo: After impressing in friendlies leading up to the event he made many mistakes vs Uzbekistan that could’ve been punished by other teams. Given that the alternative is a 19 year old university player perhaps we don’t have much of a choice. But then the question becomes do we have him play every game to give experience/gel with the team more, or rotate him? Lots to think about here. I’ve heard people say that in a 4-4-2 diamond there’s a lot of pressure on the DM alone, so maybe PYW needs more CM’s around him (LCM?). On the bright side, I’m getting the feeling that we won’t miss Lee Chan Dong as much as I thought we would.
  2. The alternative striker: Incheon’s Jin Sung Wook didn’t show much vs Uzbekistan and even missed an easy 1 on 1 early on. Admittedly most of the attacks went down the left flank of SSM – LCM – RSW – HHC but still, fans were not that impressed. Kim Hyun also hasn’t been up to par lately. HHC can’t start every game of the tournament. And what if he were to get injured? Go with JSW/KH or shift MCJ, who has played false 9 for this team before, to FW?
  3. Yeon Je Min and the defense as a whole: I’ve never seen YJM make a big mistake on any NT setup but against UZB he made a big one and almost cost the team a goal only for KDJ to come to the rescue. The defense also gave #17 (I think) way too much space for his goal, though if I remember it was PYW who failed to mark the guy. And to KDJ’s credit, he couldn’t have done anything about as it took a bounce right in front of him (like Park Ju Young’s FK goal against Nigeria, these shots are nearly impossible to save). In the next three games, I expect more or less the same players to start (except SJH for his injury) and hopefully, improve over the course of the tournament.
  4. Moon Chang Jin: in the past MCJ was the undoubted team ace but he was really quiet against UZB aside from his goals. We NEED this guy to come to life again, especially if we want to win the tournament. Same with Ryu Seung Woo, who I noticed more often than MCJ but was still rusty, which is understandable given he has yet to officially make an appearance for Leverkusen.

Other interesting facts:

Apparently, Stielike has arrived in Doha to observe the U23 training and matches. Might guys like HHC get a NT callup soon? After all due to Kuwait we have already qualified for the third round and can afford to experiment a little with new players.

And here’s an interesting bit of philosophy from STY: he does not believe that the man who earned the PK should take it, because 1) he might justify missing with having drawn the PK in the first place and 2) will often be overexcited as HHC was after earning his PK. On the other hand, someone else has to justify taking the shot in the first place, giving more motivation to score. Shin apparently directly instructed MCJ to take it as opposed to HHC who was the one standing over the ball at first.