ANOTHER 4-nation tournament? U20 WC warm-up squad announced

The KFA announced that it is announcing maybe the 8th “4-nation tournament” in the past two years ahead of the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup, this time not against “marquee” teams like France or Brazil, but against Ecuador (Group F), Zambia (Group C), and Honduras (Group E), all three of which have qualified for the U20. This may be the preferable move considering 1) our opening game is against Guinea and 2) we have very little experience with South American sides (outside of 1 against Uruguay and 1 against Brazil).

For those of you who haven’t seen the group draw yet, we must face off vs Guinea, Argentina, and England before a shot at the KO rounds. These U20 sides do not represent the same age group as the sides from the 2015 U17 WC, but there will be some overlap (all the sides have a fair amount of 19-year-olds) so we will go ahead and make the comparison – we have faced England and Guinea before in the 2015 U17 group stages and didn’t fare all too well. As Tim noted in his group draw analysis, we barely drew England and beat Guinea off of a lucky goal from Oh Sehun in the 92nd minute while Argentina went winless. But the coaches have changed and we are likely to see different results this time around.

 

The squad for the 4-nation tournament is as follows:

GK: Song Bumkeun (Koryeo Uni), Lee Jun (Yonsei Uni), Ahn Junsoo (Cerezo Osaka)

DF: Jung Taewook (Aju Uni), Kim Minho/Kim Seungwoo/Shin Chanwoo (Yonsei Uni), Lee Sangmin (Soongsil Uni), Lee Yoohyeon (Jeonnam Dragons), Kang Yunsung (Daejeon FC), Woo Chanyang (Pohang Steelers), Yoon Jonggyu (FC Seoul), No Woosung (Jeonju Uni)

MF: Lee Jinhyeon/Oh Inpyo (Sunggyunkwan Uni), Kim Jungmin (Keumho HS/Gwangju U18), Han Chanhee (Jeonnam Dragons), Lee Seungmo (Pohang Steelers), Lim Minhyeok (FC Seoul), Lee Sangheon (Ulsan Hyundai), Baek Seungho/Lee Seungwoo (FC Barcelona Juvenil A), Kim Moogeon (Jeju United)

FW: Kang Jihoon (Yongin Uni), Kim Kyungmin (Jeonju Uni), Ha Seungwoon (Yeonsei), Cho Youngwook (Koryeo Uni)

 

With this rather large squad, pretty much the entire core of the team (the players who starred/feaured in Ahn Iksoo’s 4-nation tournaments and Jung Jungyong’s 4-nation tournament) has been called up with a couple exceptions. Notable exclusions include Jang Gyeolhee (the only Barca kid to not have been chosen), Jang Jaewon and Park Hanbin (the team’s usual DMs), Choi Ikjin (the usual DM), Kim Siwoo (rotation LW/RW), Park Sanghyeok/Kim Jinya (two speedy wingers who featured earlier but not here), Kim Seunghwan (Lim Minhyeok’s other half at Seoul who impressed very much in the 2015 U19 four nation tournament).

 

Points of interest:

The two usual DMs were not called; this leaves only Lee Seungmo to cover that defensive midfield role. Lee Seungmo has been used defensively for a very long time but after his success at the U17 WC, the Pohang coaches actually started using him as a #10 (lol).

Competition for the CB spots – this team has seen a LOT of rotation at the CB spot and this time pretty much every candidate minus Kim Sukjin has been called. Assuming that 6 or 7 slots out of the final 21-man squad will be allocated for defense, ultimately, only 3 or 4 out of the following players will be called up: Jung Taewook, Kim Minho, Kim Seungwoo, Lee Sangmin, and Woo Chanyang (the latter of whom can also play LB/RB). Kim Seungwoo is a relative newcomer and Lee Sangmin is a year younger than the rest. Woo Chanyang is a 100% lock barring injury. We will see who impresses the most at this tournament.

Ha Seungwoon – in this squad, Cho Youngwook (and his Koryeo Uni colleage Song Bumkeun) is arguably THE most important player (make a case for Han Chanhee but the Koryeo duo is irreplaceable). Though Kang Jihoon and Lee Seungwoo are locks in FW, Ha Seungwoon may have a chance at cracking the squad because KJH and LSW usually play wide. He put up decent performances in the past, but Shin TY might want him as direct back-up to Cho Youngwook. I personally think injury to CYW should entaio pushing someone like Han CH or Lee SW up front, but Shin TY might have different ideas.

 

Predicted lineups:

I don’t know any of these new fullbacks (No Woosung and Kang Yunsung), so I’m going to play it safe:

Lee Seungwoo          Cho Youngwook           Kang Jihoon

Han Chanhee              Lee Seungmo         Lee SH/Kim JM

Woo Chanyang      Jung Taewook       Lee Sangmin        Lee Yoohyeon

Song Beomkeun

Perhaps the most variable position here is midfield – there are many CMs on this team, and between Han CH, Lee SM, Lee SH, Kim JM, and Baek SH, I really can’t tell who’s gonna start/rotate/be favored by STY in the end. There is a lot of time until May, so we’ll see who really steps up during these next three friendlies.

 

Predicted Results:

Portugal training camp apparently went really badly (and STY left Europe feeling frustrated at the players’ performances, satisfied with only LSW and BSH), so I actually don’t expect much from this 4-nation tournament outside of proactive addressing of weaknesses. But considering that this is going on at home, we’ll probably win 2 and draw 1 – we always seem to play well for home friendlies (but play poorly when we go abroad).

 

Squad locks: There are a number of players who play so consistently well or have captained the team that they will absolutely make it onto the final 21-man squad. Keep a lookout for these players.

  • All three goalkeepers will make the final squad. Song BK will start without question barring injury.
  • Woo Chanyang will make the final squad. There’s more uncertainty for the rest of the defenders considering how much rotation we’ve seen, but Lee Yoohyeon is looking like an interesting option following solid games in the latest 4-nation tourney under Jung Jungyong. Sample size however =3 so I can’t predict his inclusion with confidence.
  • The two Barca boys, Han Chanhee, and Lee Seungmo will make the squad.
  • Kang Jihoon and Cho Youngwook will make the final squad.