The second round of the EAC resumes tomorrow. With South Korea playing China, and then Japan and Australia facing off. Both matches ended in draws (Korea-Australia at 0-0, and China-Japan at 3-3). That leaves the group, and tournament at that, wide open for any team to win it. Any team that wins this next round will have the inner track for the gold medal, and should Korea-Japan win or Australia-China win, that would set up quite a final day showdown.
On the heels of our solid showing against Australia, and the slightly strange 3-3 match between China and Japan, one would figure we may have the strongest side here, assuming we can put our chances away. I was cautiously optimistic in my review of the previous game, and I’ll remain that way for now. Defensively and organizationally, we were much better. But we’re still not where we should (or want) to be. And for that reason I will not get carried away. But anyway, onwards and (hopefully) upwards.
Team news? Not much. Hong seems fairly pleased with the group that played against Australia, but journalists watching his training sessions seem to think he’ll make a few changes. Kim Shin-Wook is tipped to come in, as is Cho Young-Cheol. Leaving would be Kim Dong-Seob and Go Yo-Han. Other players who are being rumored as taking a seat are Lee Myeong-Joo and Kim Chang-Soo, with Park Jong-Woo and Lee Yong coming. I suspect the first two of happening, but I think the latter two are less likely. So, a possible XI would be:
From a tactical perspective the only/most interesting one will be the striker choice. Kim Shin-Wook or Kim Dong-Seob. Shin-Wook will be fairly familiar, both his strengths and limitations, to most fans given his more frequent run-outs under Choi Kang-Hee. Aerially dominant, if he can get some good service, he could be a real handful. Also, he showed in the Uzbekistan game, that he can be quite effective as a knock-down player with skilled attacking midfielders running onto the ball (his partnership with Son Heung-Min was decent). I suspect that it’s this aspect that Hong Myeong-Bo will be looking at. Kim Dong-Seob on the other hand, didn’t show as much aerial presence against Australia, but did have decent footwork and link-up. So, a simplified choice would be air (Shin-Wook) or ground (Dong-Seob)?
While our Japanese and Australian opposition will be familiar to most, China is likely less known, given their moderate success at football. Despite being the most populous country on the planet by some degree, and having plenty of money to pump into the domestic league, China is yet to produce a team or any individual player that has captured the world’s attention. The closest seems to have been a couple years ago when Shanghai Shenhua signed Chelsea duo Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba along with former Argentina national team manager Sergio Batista. The Chelsea pair have since left (citing money issues), although Batista still remains.
The most famous Chinese national team player? That possibly may be Sun Jihai, a defender who spent several years at Manchester City (before Mideast money came). More cynical people may point to Dong Fangzhuo, who spent a few seasons on the other side of Manchester (with United), but never really made any senior side appearances (and was most likely signed for marketing purposes).
In the current national team side, all the players play in the Chinese Super League, with most of the players from the current holders, Guangzhou Evergrande. Guangzhou is also the home of Kim Young-Kwon. While Korea, Japan, and Australia have all brought their B teams (although part of ours is the A team), China has brought their A squad, given the league is in break, and they don’t have any players playing in Europe. This gives them a slight advantage over the rest of the teams, and also hints at why they won the contest the last time out.
Since 1978, Korea has a spectacular record against China. 16 wins, 11 draws, and just 1 loss. When did that one loss occur? That’s right, in 2010, in the last edition of the East Asian Cup. Hopefully that won’t happen again tomorrow.
Currently, China does not have a permanent manager. The previous manager was the Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho, but he was sacked after not qualifying for the World Cup, not qualifying for the Asian Cup, and also a few humiliating losses including an 8-0 loss to Brazil (China’s worst recorded loss ever), and a 5-1 loss to Thailand. Camacho, most famous for his years at Real Madrid (as a player), and then as a long-time manager of the Spanish national side (until the penalty shootout loss to Korea at the 2002 World Cup). Former assistant manager Fu Bo has taken over the reigns on a temporary basis.
I feel like I say this too often, but I don’t really know the Chinese national team, so I’ll just list what another site (from Naver) is suggesting their line-up will be. It’s a 4-3-3 with the following players:
If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at Chinese football, I found this site called ‘Wild East Football‘ which would seem to be our Chinese counterparts. Give it a look over.
I think this match will probably be a little closer than some expect. I think Korea, given our defensive strength (as long as it stays the same as the Australia match), should have a slight edge. I don’t like doing score predictions (because I’m usually wrong), but I’ll guess 2-1 Korea, leaving it all to do on Sunday against Japan.
The match will once again be broadcasted on JTBC (in Korea) and One World Sports (in the US). Both channels will also be doing live streams and replays as well. The match is at 8PM Korean standard time, and will be held at Hwaseong Sports Complex.