After what has been a nightmare week of injuries for our Russia World Cup squad, Yonhap News put out a story that has some encouraging news for our defensive situation. I’ll leave the article link right here and give you my take on the news.
S. Korean football coach hints at using new tactics at World Cup https://t.co/2ppvphyVed
— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) May 23, 2018
I want you guys to remember that my title says “some” good news. First of all, we will see on Monday what Shin’s new tactics will be (yikes!). Shin also revealed the status of two of our most recognizable defenders, albeit for very different reasons. Kim Jin-su, the leftback who returned to Jeonbuk after a spell in the Bundesliga, has been out with a knee injury that he suffered in the March friendly against Northern Ireland. He was called up to the provisional World Cup squad and at the press conference Shin Tae-yong said he had begun jogging and light training so a decision would be made on his status for the World Cup soon. Then we saw Monday that the decision would be made Thursday morning in Korea at the latest. Well, this looks like they have made that decision. Kim Jin-su will not play the two upcoming friendlies in Korea but will be staying with the squad until June 1st. So that is one extra week for Kim to prove he can resume full training and get a chance in the final friendlies in Austria. There are some definite positives to draw from this. For one, the training/medical staff must be encouraged by something in Kim’s recovery to say that he can stay for an extra week. This points in the direction of Kim being very close to full fitness, just not in time for next week’s friendlies. In addition, Shin will be forced to consider the alternatives at left back in the two friendlies and will be able to get an idea of who can replace Kim if he can’t make the final squad. That being said, leaving the decision until two days before the final World Cup squad deadline is very nerve-racking and shows just how desperate the KFA is to have Kim fit. Not exactly the most ringing endorsement of the other left back options called into camp. Remember, I said some good news!
On the Jang Hyun-soo front, we have more encouraging news to report. Jang is injured and will not be playing in next week’s friendlies either. He will focus on rehab and will most likely play in the friendlies in Austria. This is huge for Kim Young-gwon and Kwon Kyung-won, the two CSL center-backs who are not struggling for fitness. The next two friendlies will now be their chance to cement themselves as the starting pairing for the World Cup. Really any CB at the Paju camp should be training extra hard to show Shin that they are better and more fit than Jang will ever be! Saying that Jang will play in Austria indicates that he will make the final squad, but that’s about the only guarantee at this point. Everything else is up in the air. There could be hope for our defense yet!