King Abdullah Stadium, Jordan
Korea will wake up in a few hours with the news that the Taeguk Warriors earned an away win at Jordan under new boss Stielike, his 2nd win from 3 matches. Despite the result, with the Asia Cup around the corner in January, did Korea convince on their ‘cup worthiness’? But first, if you haven’t seen Jinseok and Jae’s Player ratings, check it out here.
First the lineup: Stielike went experimental again for the starting XI:
4-1-4-1 formation a bit of a change from the usual 4-2-3-1, but at first glance notice immediately that Stielike left out some higher profile players, notably Ki Sung-Yeung, Lee Chung-Yong, Koo Ja-Cheol and Son Heung-Min – and as expected, we all got a chance to see the ever controversial Park Chu-Young up top. Resting players for Iran presumably, Jung Sung-Ryong getting the nod between the sticks to start was a bit of a surprise. Otherwise the eclectic starting XI featured a mix of 4 Middle East based players,1 J-Leaguer, 1 Chinese Super Leaguer, 3 K-Leaguers and 2 representing the Bundesliga.
1st half: Korea ball meant lots of possession for the first 10 minutes, but lacking in the creating tangible chances department. Instead it was Jordan that generated the first real chance, another defensive lapse by (I think) Kim Young-Gwon with a poor clearance attempt led to Jordan getting in a quick cross and a fairly decent header, with only the woodwork depriving them of their first goal. The cringeworthy moment was somewhat lessened 4 minutes later as the backline worked in an effective offside trap to stall a Jordanian attack (Jordan broke the offside trap later in the 27th minute but Jung calmly collected the ball to quell the attack).
Korea started to struggle against what Jae described (via twitter) as ‘an aggressive marking system’ that limited their effectiveness in Jordan’s half. It was effective enough that they weren’t able to find that killer ball.
Korea saw their first chance in the 24th minute, a nice build up and in quick succession: Park Chu-Young backheel to Nam Tae-Hee, gets a pass to Cho Young-Choel driving into the area and...a swing and a miss. Opportunity – gone.
Cho tried to make amends 3 minutes later, ripping a shot at the edge of the 18 yard line, forcing a diving Yasin to make the save. A corner kick later, with the ball ping-ponging dangerously in Jordan’s area, Han Kook-Young tried an audacious bicycle kick. Looked good, except for the part where the ball went out very wide.
The ageless Cha Du-Ri has been enjoying a KNT resurgence of late, though he started the game a little quieter than usual. With Koo not starting, Cha took the captain’s armband. As the game wore on, the Koreans shifted towards exploiting Jordan’s right side, with Cha, Nam Tae-Hee and Han Kyo-Won cultivating the charge. Jae’s twitter alerted the Tavern with this timely factoid:
Almost half of their attacks (47%) coming down that side
— Jae (@ArmchairRegista) November 14, 2014
….which foreshadowed events a minute later:
With Park Chu-Young lurking nearby, Han Kyo-Won’s marker got distracted, allowing the Jeonbuk man to get away and freely knock the header on into the net. Jordan 0 : Korea 1
Another header, this time by Park Chu-Young in almost similar fashion to Han’s nearly doubled the score but was saved by Yasin. Back to Han Kyo-Won, before the goal, he not bad, nothing spectacular though. After the goal, he and his KNT mates were energized and opened up the game… temporarily. Overall, he was a bright spot for a largely lackluster squad.
Halftime. Lots of possession -1 goal – few chances created and Jordan unlucky not to score. Instead of commercials, we got something more interesting: introducing a new Tavern contributor – Evelyn Kim, who just published her 1st post for the Tavern yesterday!
Just as I was excited about the other contributors as they’ve come onboard the Tavern, I am equally excited to have her join in our Tavern merrymaking. She first came to my attention in the comment sections, getting the scoop on Korean football news before any of us – being all 21st century savvy and all. Needless to say we were impressed, but initially she declined my attempt to sign her up as a contributor. A few weeks ago, she reversed course and immediately wanted to take on the most controversial subject in Korean football (no not Park Chu-Young): the issue of military conscription and possible solutions to that hinderance to Korean football development. While the Tavern has tackled the issue before, topically it’s come to the fore recently with Korea winning the Asian Gold in the final minute back in October, freeing Park Joo-Ho in the nick of time (and allowing Kim Jin-Su to stay in Europe as well). We’re updating the Who’s Who section soon but here’s a preview bio from Evelyn. Welcome to the Tavern!
I’m San Francisco born and bred, and currently based in New York City. I first became familiar with soccer/football while watching South Korea’s quarterfinal match against Spain during the 2002 World Cup, as a young fourth grader.My interest gradually grew, though, starting with the 2010 World Cup, when I noticed that South Korea advanced to the Round of 16 for the first time away from home soil…Follow Evelyn on Twitter @evelynyettikim.
Word! Now back to the game. 2nd half: experiment continues, right from the restart:
Formation change: 4-2-3-1
And with halftime murmurings of Park Chu-Young, save for a few decent moments, was largely anonymous in the first half. With that perhaps in mind, Park Chu-Young launched the 2nd half by launching a strong shot -but slightly off target. Park incidentally took the captain’s armband. Did Cha give it to him?
But despite some personnel changes, same story in the back, too much space afforded Jordan and in the 52nd minute, their shot on target forced a stretch save from Jung. Meanwhile, we turn our attention to Yun. The leftback, with revival of his own at QPR, wasn’t able to service with uninspiring crosses from the left flank (though on reviewing a video replay, great freekick – Lee Chung-Yong header almost in – but hit the post!)
Park Chu-Young was able to pressure Jordan’s backline to concede a few more corner kicks. Speaking of CK’s, it got to a ridiculous 9 corner kicks conceded by Jordon (0 corner kicks awarded to Jordan btw). Maybe it was the 8th corner kick where Korea nearly netted their 2nd goal. The set piece in the 57th minute ended up as a cross low to the ground, with Park Chu Young a hair away from heading in the loose ball with an open net -but couldn’t latch on to it.
A few more changes, Han Kyo-Won came out in the 64th for ‘beast-in-form’ Lee Chung-Yong, who’s enjoying a renaissance at Bolton lately. Kim Min-Woo, who seemed a bit lost in the midfield, exited in the 71st with Son Heung-Min on. Was the quasi-A team on the pitch? Another defensive lapse by Kim Young-Gwon, who gave up the ball cheaply just about allowed Jordan to score on a breakaway, the equalizing shot just missing wide.
>A 78th minute freekick saw Lee Chung-Yong, the blue dragon -almost scoring but instead his header hit the post! Koo Ja-Cheol, who was supposed to be the captain named by Stielike, came on as a late sub and almost found the back of the net on Kim Chang-Soo’s cross (Park Chu-Young through ball finding Kim btw). Koo found the side net instead.
Park Chu-Young, possibly sensing his place with the KNT on the edge as he didn’t have a goal to his name, started to track back more, drift wider right, anything to get onto the ball to get it into play. To his credit, he had some unheralded link up plays to keep the ball moving in the right direction. While there’s not enough ammunition to dismiss Park outright from the KNT, there’s legitimate concern over the entirety of his 90 minutes on the pitch. For segments of the game, he seemed to be waiting for service that really never came his way. Was he too static at times to be in optimal striking positions? Evidence points to: yes. But could the argument be that given the talent on field, one that was Ki-less, wasn’t up to the task of properly servicing Park up top? Maybe. Evidence for that -several times he made some runs that had potential, none of his mates had vision or creativity to get it his way. Park Chu-Young’s long term fate on the KNT: to be determined?
With FT approaching, team Korea for all 88 minutes thus far, for all the overwhelming 68% possession, collectively knew the scoreline against a team like Jordan should be higher. But here again was a similar story: decent possession but a lack of a killer touch to find the back of the net – at least in a consistent fashion. So it was in the 88th minute Son Heung-min, Champions League hero for Leverkusen, driving and shuffling his way for team and country -dispossessed and left wandering. Was Ki the missing ingredient tonight? For their respective clubs, Son, Lee Chung-Yong, Yun, Park Joo-Ho have been impactful players. For the KNT, the chemistry was askew. The experiment tonight has been in some fashion – while not a disaster -yes an away win, but it wasn’t a convincing one. It raises some flags in the immediate for how they might fare in the Asian Cup.
Be on the lookout for Jae’s analysis. Then on Tuesday : Iran vs Korea / 7:45 am EST and 9:45 pm Korea time.