The World Cup is coming, here you can find out a little bit about the players making the trip to Brazil.
Part 1: Goalkeepers
Part 2: Fullbacks
Part 3: Centerbacks
Part 4: Central Midfielders
Part 5: Attacking Midfielders
Part 6: Strikers
Name: Jung Sung-Ryong (정성룡)
Senior Caps: 58
Club: Suwon Samsung Bluewings (Korea)
Korea’s number 1, by shirt number at least, and probably at Brazil as well. Jung made his senior team debut in 2008 against Chile, but it wasn’t until shortly before the 2010 World Cup that he really emerged as a prominent member of the senior side. Jung started every game for Korea in South Africa, and then most of the games at the 2012 Olympics (did not start semifinal match against Brazil). At the club level, Jung plays for one of the biggest clubs in Korea, Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Prior to that he played for Seongnam FC (then known as Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma) and Pohang Steelers.
Skill-wise Jung is a fairly reliable keeper. He is good at all the basic skills for a goalkeeper, but doesn’t excel in any of them. He’ll make the saves he should make, but rarely will do the spectacular ones. Jung’s most obvious weakness is that he is prone to making simple errors due to lack of focus. There are also questions about his leadership and ability to organize the defense in front of him.
Due to his experience, Jung will likely be the starter come Brazil. Kim Seung-Gyu (see below) challenged him for the top spot during the winter training camp, but a mediocre showing against Mexico probably cost him.
Name: Kim Seung-Gyu (김승규)
Senior Caps: 5
Club: Ulsan Hyundai (Korea)
The other possible starter in Brazil. Kim Seung-Gyu is a relatively new addition to the senior setup, having made his debut less than a year ago against Peru. But prior to that Kim had been a fairly constant feature in the youth teams at the U23, U20, and U17 levels. On paper, Kim Seung-Gyu is almost the exact opposite of Jung Sung-Ryong. The youngest of the three keepers in the squad, Kim earned the first team starting job at club level (with UIsan Hyundai) just last season. He did very well with Ulsan, as his solid performances forced veteran, and former number 1, Kim Young-Gwang, to leave the club on loan in order to get first team minutes.
Not the tallest or biggest of keepers, Kim displays above average athleticism that allows him to make some spectacular saves. But his youth and inexperience does become more apparent during scrambles in the box as his positioning becomes poor and he panics a bit. Like Jung, there are also questions about his ability to organize and marshal the defensive line in front of him.
For a while, it looked like Kim Seung-Gyu had emerged as the favorite to start in Brazil, but a shaky start against Mexico, when four goals got by him, and the relative youthfulness of the Korean squad as a whole, will probably cost him. Expect Kim to be first choice of the bench should something happen to Jung, but otherwise it will probably be after the World Cup that Kim gets his next real chance to claim the number one shirt as his own.
Name: Lee Bum-Young (이범영)
Senior Caps: 0
Club: Busan IPark (Korea)
Unlikely to feature at Brazil in any games, Lee will likely be competing with Kim Seung-Gyu for the starting job after the World Cup. Lee has yet to make his senior side debut, but did feature for the 2012 Olympic team. Lee came off the bench in the quarterfinal match against Team GB after Jung Sung-Ryong got injured, and made the crucial stop in the penalty shootout to get the team to the semifinals. Lee Bum-Young has played his entire career, which is admittedly a bit on the short side, at Busan IPark in the K League Classic. Lee spent the first few years as the backup, but became the regular number one a couple years ago.
The most notable thing about Lee is his size. At 199cm (6’6″) tall and 94kg (218lb), he’s easily the biggest of the Korean keepers. That size makes him a huge presence in goal, and likely is a reason why he seems quite adept at saving penalties and stopping one-on-one attempts. But the cost is that Lee is not the most athletic or mobile of keepers. It appears that his first step is a bit slow, and as such he get’s beaten from range more often than he should. Also, given his size, he should be a more commanding presence in the air, but it’s something he still needs to work on.
It would be hugely surprising if Lee Bum-Young made an appearance in Brazil given he is yet to receive his debut senior cap, but he’s one to keep an eye on in the future.