Korea v. China Thoughts

Hit the keeper was the name of the game once again, and the general public is starting to feel the frustration of a long goal drought. Though I have to admit I’m starting to feel the same way, looking into the future I remain optimistic. We played a experimental side, we barely ever let China threaten us (CKH might as well have leaked two or three goals), the chances are still flowing, and the real matchup is the haniljeon anyway.

HMB said after the match that “The goal is the World Cup, not winning” and “Nothing has improved since the Australia game.” Clearly, HMB’s motive is not to get results; he’s treating the EAFF as a testing ground. Nine changes to the starting lineup (ten if you want to consider YIL’s position change as one) says it all. The offense consisted of Seo Dong Hyun, Yeom Ki Hun, Yun Il Lok, and Cho Young Chul. Did you really expect us to score with a C team against a team that typically parks the bus and kept 11 men behind the ball all night? I sure didn’t. Yet somehow today’s game felt far more frustrating than before. Was it Seo Dong Hyun’s terribad Li Dong Guo shot? Was it the subconscious urge to play long ball when KSW stepped on the pitch? Perhaps the offense today was far worse? (it was far worse why is this a question) It sure didn’t help that the Australia game definitely had better playmaking and more “sexy HMB style football,” and as HMB said himself, nothing improved. Same story all over again. Whatever it was, I really don’t care. We came here to experiment and we learned quite a lot today

What did we learn about the fullbacks? Kim Jin Su is a better option than Kim Min Woo. KMW didn’t impress too much, though it was against more difficult opposition to be fair. Didn’t make very effective runs and his crosses weren’t particularly good, so Kim Jin Su to start vs. Japan. Interestingly Kim Min Woo used to play CAM for the U23 olympic qualifying stages, but for his club he plays left mid / left back. I think that alone gives more trustworthiness to Kim Jin Su who has defended for Korea’s youth national teams from U12 to U21.

I am ambivalent about Kim Chang Soo vs. Lee Yong. Lee Yong wasn’t bad. His crossing is much better (a single cross with his weaker left foot was better than all the crosses KCS put in all day vs. Australia), yet KCS was much more active on the attack whereas Lee Yong stayed back most of the game. This SOMEWHAT suggests to me that when Lee Chung Yong comes back Lee Yong should step up. Why? When Cha Du Ri was on the NT back in 2011 he choked out LCY a lot by taking the space LCY usually exploits down the right flank, forcing LCY inwards where he is much less effective. To get the most out of our undisputed most technically talented player we have to let him make runs behind the defense and take on fullbacks 1 v. 1. If LCY feels choked out he can backpass to Lee Yong for him to cross. So Lee Yong possibly might be the better option. I don’t really know.

Seo Dong Hyun was completely lost, and to say he played worse than Kim Dong Sub against the Aussies says a lot. Yeommy and Yoon and Younchul-san (a lot of fans make fun of CYC for spending his entire career in Japan) pretty much did nothing. Kim Shin Wook later came on and the team played more longballs than I would’ve liked. Wookie won every one of his aerial challenges but the rest of the team failed to capitalize. Not pleased at all with today’s offense but as we were playing the reserves of our reserves I didn’t expect much better.

Something I felt today as well as during Olympic qualifying: playing Park Jong Woo and Han Kook Young together doesn’t work. As Jae mentioned, you get physicality and energy but lose technical skill and creativity, which was lacking today. The best way to utilize those two is to place one of them next to a player like Ki. Lee Myung Joo and Ha Dae Sung were far more effective in possession, passing, and stealing the ball back. I really missed Lee Myung Joo’s skill. Complete baller (ha what a pun) for not just Pohang but for the NT. How to utilize Kim Bo Kyung Koo Ja Cheol Ki Sung Yong and Lee Myung Joo most effectively has been stuck on my mind for weeks now.. new article is in the works.

Despite the frustration there are lots of things to look at the bright side. Our B defense kept a clean sheet and allowed just one shot on target, very late into the game, whereas Japan’s B defense leaked three goals and forced numerous saves from Nishikawa. The play is still rolling along; no more tiki-taka or 뻥축구, but something far more exciting and effective. He finds a great medium that keeps the game fast paced and moving towards the opposition goal yet keeps the midfield and defense rock solid. China dominated play for portions of the match especially in the second half but we contained them well. Pretty boring match but it was experimental so whatever, the Japan match is the true test anyway.

HMB will absolutely-certainly play our full strength XI vs. Japan, and so will they against us. Against Japan we will likely lay a more physical game with more longballs than usual. It’s time-tested effective (think back to the double win in 2010 and the Olympics win.. works everytime unless you idiotically place … let’s not think back to CKR’s antics…), and Kim Shin Wook is the man for the job. So a lineup of JSR; KJS, KYK, HJH, LY/KCS; HDS, LMJ; KMY/YIL, LSG, KYH/CYC; KSW is what I’m expecting. Also important to note that Japan should not be given space behind the defenders. You could say this about any team but many of Japan’s dangerous attacks come from a situation where they 1). build play up to the striker 2). pass back thus prompting the Aussies to exert pressure and move forward and 3). pump a ball forward and exploit space – a slightly different version of our version of counterattacking. Should be a lot of fun. We can’t score, they can’t defend. They can attack, we can defend. Interesting matchup, huh? It’s probably the main attraction for the European scouts present at this tournament so far.

I’m really excited to see what HMB can create with the full strength KNT squad. If our C team can barely let China play and let one shot on target in .. KNT’s most glaring weakness has already been solved, or so we can hope. Japan has arguably the strongest offense in the tournament, scoring six and conceding five, and we’ll see what HJH, KYK and co. can do against them. He will also be kept busy with the poor finishing we’ve seen at not only the EAFF but the Olympics, but you can guarantee HMB will do something about it and actually try to solve a problem, something our previous coaches have not done for the last three years.