Korea NT boss, Uli Stielike, has announced his much awaited call ups for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against China and Syria. And well… his choices were not surprising (with one exception), and were widely panned in their familiarity and predictability. Read on (more after the jump).
Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Kwoun Sun-tae (Kashima Antlers), Kim Dong-jun (Seongnam FC)
Defenders: Kwak Tae-hwi (FC Seoul), Kim Kee-hee (Shanghai SIPG), Jang Hyun-soo (Guangzhou R&F), Kim Min-hyeok (Sagan Tosu), Hong Jeong-ho (Jiangsu Suning), Kim Jin-su (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Kim Min-woo (Suwon Samsung), Choi Chul-soon (Jeonbuk Hyundai)
Midfielders: Ko Myung-jin (Al Rayyan), Koo Ja-cheol (FC Augsburg), Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea City), Nam Tae-hee (Lekhwiya FC), Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Jung Woo-young (Chongqing Lifan), Ji Dong-won (FC Augsburg), Han Kook-young (Al Gharafa), Heo Yong-jun (Jeonnam Dragons)
Forwards: Hwang Hee-chan (RB Salzburg), Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Lee Jeong-hyeop (Busan IPark)
Stielike has once again gone with his tried and tested(?) squad with Heo Yong-jun of Jeonnam and Seongnam’s Kim Dong-jun making debut appearances for Stielike’s squad. Kim Min-hyeok has been called before, but has not officially made his KNT senior team debut. Otherwise it’s a lot of familiar faces.
Kim Seung-gyu has reportedly been decent for current J1 table toppers Vissel Kobe, while Kwoun Sun-tae has been okay for new club Kashima Antlers. Kim Dong-jun has been okay in Seongnam’s two games, and is most likely just in camp for Stielike and his staff to take a closer look at the young stopper. He continues to polarize opinion, but Kawasaki’s Jung Sung-ryong is possibly the only debatable omission from the list (probably in place of Kwoun Sun-tae, Jung did make the reserve list). Cerezo’s Kim Jin-hyeon, another Stielike favorite, is nursing a back problem.
Defense isn’t particularly impressive to see. The centerbacks are largely the CSL contingent with Kim Young-gwon still missing (injury). Our CSL CBs are currently suffering quite a bit as the league suddenly changed their rules on foreign players to include AFC players, and the entire country is going through an anti-Korea phase in response to the Korean government’s decision to deploy the US’s THAAD missile defense system. Hong Jeong-ho and Kim Kee-hee, while decent players, are always good for a mistake or two in a game. Jang Hyun-soo remains decidedly average in this writer’s opinion. Kwak Tae-hwi seems to be showing his age for FC Seoul, and Kim Min-hyeok is untested at this level. Kim Jin-su seems to be enjoying a bit of a revival at Jeonbuk, and he is joined by teammates Choi Chul-soon and Lee Yong. Suwon’s Kim Min-woo, a versatile player who can also play in midfield, rounds out the calls.
The midfield is also well-known to KNT followers. Son Heung-min is suspended for the match against China, so he will only feature against Syria. Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk) is injured while Kwon Chang-hoon has been overlooked as he tries to settle with new club Dijon. Kim Bo-kyung has, once again, inexplicably been left out of the squad again. Ki Sung-yueng is just back from injury with Swansea, but hasn’t really been in Paul Clement’s plans. Heo Yong-jun (Jeonnam) is the only real surprise face in this squad. Heo is another versatile player, but seems (on the face of things) to be decidedly average and not likely international quality.
Lee Jeong-hyeop fresh of scoring in back-to-back games for Busan, is back in the fold. Kim Shin-wook AKA plan B is also in. Youngster Hwang Hee-chan rounds out the forwards.
Honestly, my biggest annoyance with this squad is the complete lack of Jeju United players. Jeju is easily (my opinion of course) the best team in the young K League season, and they have played four solid games against Jiangsu Suning, Gamba Osaka, Incheon United, and Ulsan Hyundai. How Stielike has managed to overlook all of the players is a mystery to me. Ahn Hyun-beom, Lee Chang-min, Oh Ban-seok are all worthy of a place in the squad over some of those who made it. But, it’s Stielike so I can’t say I feel a huge amount of disappointment simply because it’s expected.
Honestly, one of the reasons why I loved the Tavern before I became a writer was because of Jae’s ability to perfectly capture what I was thinking. And he’s done it again here, so really I don’t have that much to add. Instead, here’s a table of call-ups I would have done differently and why:
Stielike’s Pick, My Pick, Reason
Heo Youngjoon, Ahn Hyeonbeom, Stielike went with tried & untested. While he’s at it, he should have gone with Ahn’s raw pace on the right wing instead of this fairly unknown winger.
Choi Chulsoon, Oh Banseok, See Jae’s reasoning.
Ko Myungjin, Lee Myungjoo, While Ko’s stay in the Middle East has gone fairly unnoticed, Lee has received raving reviews from his exploits at Al-Ain.
Jung Wooyoung, Kim Bokyung, I don’t particularly rate Jung. While Lee MJ can fill in as DM, Kimbo can bring some Jeonbuk chemistry to the MF with Kim Shinwook and the Jeonbuk fullbacks.
Lee Jeonghyeop, Yang Donghyun, We know that Lee is decidedly average. There are other not-too-old Korean striker options – Park Chuyoung, Lee Jongho, Kim Seungdae to name three – and Pohang’s Yang Donghyun is another. He’s stronger in the air than Lee and a tad less mobile, but a far better finisher. Worth a look.
What do you think of the call ups? Someone Stielike missed? Shocked someone made it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.