First off, apologies if you can looking for this post yesterday (due to my twitter statements), came down with a moderate case of gastroenteritis, and was unable to muster the strength needed to sit down and write. But today is better, and so, we’re back on track.
Wednesday saw the national team reconvene for a friendly match against Peru. Many tipped this match to be a better show of how far the team has come (or hasn’t come) since Hong Myeong-Bo’s takeover, with Peru offering the stiffest test on paper. Peru is ranked 22nd by FIFA in the latest poll (if that’s something you put stock in), and boast the best attack the team has faced in the form of Claudio Pizzaro and Jefferson Farfan. So, the question was, could Hong’s band of merry K Leaguers (and J Leaguers) hold their own against a group of veteran Peruvian players? More after the jump.
The answer in short was, yes. The players did very well against Peru, despite the all to familiar 0-0 scoreline. Korea didn’t manage to dominate possession quite like they did in the East Asian Cup, but did create the most threatening chances and dictate the flow of the game.
There were a few slight surprises in the starting XI. Ulsan’s Kim Seung-Gyu started in goal ahead of Jung Sung-Ryong, Kim Min-Woo started at left back ahead of Kim Jin-Soo, Lee Yong was given the nod ahead of Kim Chang-Soo at right back, and Hwang Seok-Ho started ahead of Jang Hyun-Soo.
Tactically, the team operated the same as it has under Hong. A fairly straightforward 4-2-3-1. The three attacking midfielders were fairly fluid in their positioning, particularly Lee Keun-Ho who drifted both to the left and right. Kim Min-Woo was very active down the left often getting into attacking positions, while Lee Yong was a bit more conservative on the right. Ha Dae-Sung continues to be a good player under Hong, quite active and energetic in the center of midfield, while Lee Myeong-Joo offers a quieter role deeper.
1st Half Analysis
The first half was a very good showing for Korea. Probably the best in the four games under Hong. While we didn’t dominate possession like before, the team looked much more threatening. With Lee Keun-Ho and Cho Chan-Ho coming close to scoring. Defensively, the team looked very assured. Hong Jeong-Ho had little trouble with Claudio Pizzaro, and Peru struggled mightily in getting anything cohesive together on offense. The only blight on the first half was the continuing underwhelming performances of Kim Dong-Seob who struggled to get involved in the play.
2nd Half Analysis
The second half is harder to take any real conclusions from due to the large scale changes made by both teams. Hong Myeong-Bo ended up changing virtually the whole team with only the defense playing the whole match. Ha Dae-Sung’s injury early in the second half was the first major point, as his substitution (with Han Kook-Young coming in) seemed to spark the first major shift in the match. While very good defensively, Han does not possess the technical ability that Ha Dae-Sung has, so Korea started to lose a bit of control in midfield after the change.
I’m also continued to be confused as to why both Hong Myeong-Bo and Choi Kang-Hee continue to put Jang Hyun-Soo in at defensive midfield. Granted this time it was only for a few minutes, but it’s still an interesting move. Jang has made three appearances now for the senior side, and two of those have been in midfield. Twitter user @Onthegas1999 said that it’s not a position Jang plays for FC Tokyo, so it’s a bit confusing, and certainly one to continue watching in the future.
Kim Seung-Gyu 7.0 – A solid showing for Kim, who made his senior team bow. Was largely a spectator, but did well to turn around three shots (one by Yotun, and two by Pizarro).
Lee Yong 6.5 – Solid, but a bit conservative. Maybe a better choice against stronger teams than the more gung-ho Kim Chang-Soo. Had a few problems with Claudio Pizarro when he started to drift wide to lose Hong Jeong-Ho.
Hong Jeong-Ho 7.0 – In the preview I said this was the player I would be watching, and he did well. Admittedly Pizarro probably plays into his strengths (strength, one on one battles, aerial challenges) rather than his weaknesses (pace, off the ball movement), but against a quality striker Hong did well.
Hwang Seok-Ho 7.0 – For being a third or fourth choice defender Hwang did well. A quiet night for Hwang, but in a good sense in that there were no major problems.
Kim Min-Woo 6.5 – A solid outing, but nothing spectacular or of note. Is he better than Kim Jin-Soo? Not really. I don’t see him having any immediate role in the team, especially once you take the Euro players (Yoon Suk-Young, Park Joo-Ho) into consideration as well.
Lee Myeong-Joo 7.0 – Another quality outing for Lee who continues to make a strong case to continue starting for the team. Lee doesn’t have the eye catching passes that Ki Sung-Yueng can make, but he almost always seems to make the right pass.
Ha Dae-Sung 6.5 – His night unfortunately cut short by injury, Ha continues to be a useful player under Hong Myeong-Bo bringing lots of energy to midfield.
Cho Chan-Ho 6.0 – Did well in terms of getting into good attacking positions, but did terribly with his finishing. Wasted what was easily the best chance when he was one on one with the Peru keeper, but his shot was straight at him.
Lee Keun-Ho 7.5 – I will go a bit out on a limb and say that Lee Keun-Ho gets my MotM. Yes, he showed have converted some of the chances he had, but they weren’t easy (most on the volley from tight angles), but it’s hard to remember a time when there was a player who put himself in those positions and managed to get their effort on target. Most other players would probably have tried to take it down, dribble, and then pass or shoot. Wednesday was certainly Lee’s best showing for the senior squad since his move to Sangju Sangmu.
Yoon Il-Rok 6.5 – One of the bright performers from the East Asian Cup, Yoon didn’t sparkle quite as much on Wednesday, but still put in a good shift. Like everyone else on the team, Yoon could certainly use some work on his finishing, but he could in time cause yet another selection headache as it looks like we have another talented winger on our hands.
Kim Dong-Seob 5.5 – His start against Australia showed promise, against Japan averageness, against Peru another step backwards. Kim struggled to get involved with the play or threaten the goal.
Hong Myeong-Bo 7.0 – A record of 0-3-1 and just 1 goal in those four matches is a fairly poor showing, yet it does feel like the team is making progress at times. If nothing else, the players who were a bit jaded under Choi seem re-invigorated under Hong.
Cho Dong-Gun 6.0 – Was slightly better than the player he subbed in for, but still doesn’t seem like a player who is up to the task of playing the ‘one top’.
Han Kook-Young 6.0 – Strong defensively, weak offensively. That seems to sum up Han in a sentence. Tackled and won the ball well, but wasn’t capable of turning it into a good attacking chance.
Lim Sang-Hyub 6.0 – I had hopes that Lim would do well (Busan bias), but he too joins the list of average players. Lim has done well this season with Busan, scoring several goals from the left wing position, but failed to really provide any spark this time.
Baek Sung-Dong 5.5 – I’m trying to remember anything Baek Sung-Dong did. Cannot.
Lee Seung-Gi s.v. – Late sub, did nothing.
Jang Hyun-Soo s.v. – Late sub, why defensive midfield?
National Team Locks
Hong Jeong-Ho, Lee Myeong-Joo
Should be in the subs
Hwang Seok-Ho, Ha Dae-Sung, Lee Keun-Ho, Kim Seung-Gyu
Should get some time in friendlies
Yoon Il-Rok, Lee Yong, Lee Seung-Gi, Cho Chan-Ho, Han Kook-Young, Jang Hyun-Soo (*if DM)
Maybe called for meaningless friendlies
Kim Min-Woo, Cho Dong-Gun, Kim Dong-Seob
Probably should stick with their club for now
Baek Dong-Sung, Lim Sang-Hyub
The one question that I feel really needs to be answered is ‘how does Hong Myeong-Bo want the striker to play?’ Is he looking for a predator type or a build up type? A Lee Dong-Gook (in theory) or a Kim Shin-Wook? Hong seems to be trying to go down the middle, but it’s not working terribly well. It seems like a build up type, not necessarily Kim Shin-Wook, but someone who can help bring the attacking midfielders into the game and create space for them would be ideal. If he hadn’t been shifted to the wing, I would say Ji Dong-Won may be the best fit unless Park Chu-Young can pull things together quickly.