March Friendlies: Korea 1-1 Uzbekistan Review

As you all surely know by now, Korea drew Uzbekistan 1-1 in Daejeon yesterday. It was surely a disappointing performance, especially the second half where we were overrun by UZB. In fact I was REALLY pissed at a few aspects of the game, which I’ll go into detail in a bit later. However, I have the feeling Stielike had “depth testing” in mind with this game, because we learned quite a lot about our fringe players and the new names on the KNT. We also learned a thing or two about our established stars. What went right, what went wrong, and what have we learned about our players? Read further!

  1. Starting Lineup: Stielike’s intentions
  2. As a Team: Severe Issues Persist
    1. In an effort to be more like Jae, I’ve pulled out some images from highlights and I intend to visually illustrate some of the problems ^_^
  3. Individual Assessments and Standout Performance(s)
  4. Final Thoughts and New Zealand Changes

Starting Lineup: Testing our depth

The backline was Kim Seung Kyu – Yoon SY – Kwak TH – Kim KH – Jeong DH. Immediately you can tell that Stielike is testing out YSY as the alt-C to KJS/PJH, JDH (who has been playing pretty well for Ulsan actually) as the potential successor to CDR, and Kim Kee Hee, who we haven’t seen on the national team for a long time. In addition, Stielike tested out Kim Bo Kyung as CM, where he plays now with Wigan), and one of the best players in the K League, Lee Jae Sung. I was a little pissed Son Heung Min started because he’s shown some serious fatigue as rest, but more on that later.

Overall, I was very pleased that we got to see Jeong Dong Ho and Lee Jae Sung in action, and I was also pleased to see KBK back in the team. Truth be told I miss Hong Jeong Ho the most, but in typical HJH fashion, he is still not fit, and it might be a while until we see him fit again. Fortunately, he has made the bench a last couple of matches and with the injury of either Klavan or Callsen-Bracker, HJH might be in contention to start a couple of matches soon.


Team Based Issues and Strengths: 

I’m not going to talk about any strengths, because to be honest, aside from carving out a couple neat chances, something we KNOW the KNT is capable of, nothing really went well.


So, more important than what went well, let’s talk about what went wrong in this match. And even more importantly, I seriously hope Stielike is aware of these problems because they don’t go away. It really does make you wonder – are the problems we talk about worked on in training but is too monumental of a task, or do the coaches just not realize them? Because these are problems you’ve been hearing about for the last couple of years. They’re still present, and though I thought we looked a little better during the Asian Cup, they were ESPECIALLY noticeable vs. Uzbekistan. The three major problems that frustrated me were: finishing, creativity, and first touch.

Finishing and Creativity:
Are we trying to become Japan or Arsenal or something (two of the teams I hate the most, by the way)? Why is that whenever we get the into the final third, which we do a lot, by the way, not a single player has the confidence or common sense impulse to take a shot and instead passes it off? Since there are no extended highlights out right now, which is weird because they usually come out right away, I will pull some clips from Lee Jae Sung’s ball touch vid below (apologies for the blurriness, I don’t have the same so. Just from that alone, I can find two typical KNT moments, like “how the hell did we not score a goal from that situation” and “why the hell did he hesitate/pass.”

Situation 1: There are two things wrong with the following sequence:

Lee Jae Sung backheels to Kim Bo Kyung, who deflects the ball straight to LJH
Lee Jae Sung backheels to Kim Bo Kyung, who deflects the ball straight to LJH (or is that YSY)

The first thing that’s wrong with this image is that Kim Bo Kyung SERIOUSLY should have taken a first touch and QUICKLY passed it on to the OPEN Lee Jae Sung. Why? LJS’s marker is running leftwards while LJS himself is sprinting into COMPLETELY open space. Had Kim Bo Kyung sent a throughball to LJS, that would have been a certain goal.

Another perfectly legitimate option: KBK could have taken a first touch and taken a SHOT. #2 is chasing LJH/YSY right? KBK YOU HAVE WIDE OPEN SPACE IN FRONT OF YOU, TAKE IT! It’s not the best example, but you guys know exactly what I’m talking about – our timidness in front of goal.

It’s also certainly not the first time I’ve seen a situation where we pass wide in the final third instead of passing centrally? It’s actually been a long time I’ve seen a clean throughpass on the KNT, no joke.

We have completely outnumbered the Uzbek defenders in their own box, and still failed to score
LJS slows his run seeing the ball go out wide. We have outnumbered the Uzbek defenders in their own box, and still failed to score

In the aftermath of KBK’s leftward pass, We have 4 onrushing attackers, 5 if you count KBK, in front of 4 Uzbek defenders, but it’s really more of a 3 or 4 v. 2, as #2 is sprinting to mark LJH, freeing up space for KJC. If KJC runs into the open space, and #3 follows, then LJS has open space. We’ve overloaded the box and basically, ANY OTHER TEAM COULD’VE SCORED THIS. 90% of the time when you see something like this you see a goal. Unfortunately, the video doesn’t show the whole sequence, but knowing our team we probably hesitated or sent in an easily clearable cross.


Situation 2: The highlight vid didn’t show the whole sequence again, but a goal didn’t come out of this, which once again, I’m sure almost ANY other decent team could have.

Uzbekistan player backpasses but the receiver passes straight to the onrushing Lee Jae Sung, who puts the ball right at KJC's feet
Uzbekistan player backpasses but the receiver passes straight to the onrushing Lee Jae Sung, who puts the ball right at KJC’s feet
We have an easy 2 v. 1 on our hands, but fail to score
We have an easy 2 v. 1 on our hands (all KJC has to do is run diagonally left and forward then either shoot or pass off to LJH), but fail to score

Just from a 4 minute ball touch video of a single player, there are two examples of a serious inability to shoot the ball and score.

There were also many instances of major fail ball control and really dumb pass miscompletions, but it’s hard (and pointless) to illustrate ball control errors with images. The lack of basic skills was unbearable to watch, and I really hope it’s due to fatigue.


Individual Assessments:

Lee Jae Sung: 
Those of you who watched the match would probably agree that Lee Jae Sung was one of the few bright spots. On his KNT debut, he was one of the best players on the pitch. That’s not saying much, but he was good, and certainly deserving of not only future callups but also a place in the starting XI (arguably).

I’ve long advocated for Lee JS starting as our #10, and I think he has a really good shot at it. When Lee Chung Yong comes back, it’ll be interesting to see which of the four (SHM KJC LCY LJS) make our attacking midfield trio.

Jeong Dong Ho and Lee Jeong Hyup:
Not bad from both players, but by getting injured early we can’t make a call on JDH’s debut and LJH’s return to the NT.

Son Heung Min:
He ruined quite a few chances; his ball control was completely off; horrible decision making; fatigue, most likely, but he had a REALLY bad game. Like I don’t remember the last time he was this bad. This lack of consistency is something SHM really needs to improve on, but fortunately, time is on his side.

Han Kook Young:
Is slide tackling ability really that important against a team like Uzbekistan? Han really doesn’t contribute anything aside from that; his passing is terrible (so many missed passes in the first half) and he’s often caught out of position.

Kim Seung Kyu: 

Oh dear. He made a small error in judgment and he pays the price. For some reason, there are no extended highlights right now, so this one will do for now: it shows Uzbekistan’s goal towards the middle, where KSK should have rushed out but hesitated.


Changes for New Zealand:

Coach Stielike has promised that he’d put on JDW for New Zealand, which I really like. And as we haven’t seen Cha Duri yet, New Zealand is to be his final farewell match. If I could watch, I would almost certainly shed tears, but as I have a difficult biochemistry exam that morning, I will be unable to watch. Anyway, here’s what I’d like to see:

Ji Dong Won
Nam Tae Hee                     Lee Jae Sung                     Koo Ja Cheol
Kim Bo Kyung                 Kim Eun Sun
Yoon Suk Young               Someone                    Someone               CHA DURI!
Kim Jin Hyeon

1. Kim Eun Sun is exactly the player we need to be testing in Han Kook Young’s role. We know Han’s strengths and limitations very well. What can Kim Eun Sun do? It’s really too bad Son Joon Ho hasn’t been called up because he’s also the type of guy we should be testing in that role.

2. I really want to see LJS as the official CAM. He drifts centrally anyway but still. I also would like to see KJC play again, because he wasn’t as horrible as he was in the Asian Cup and I think he needs match fitness pretty badly right now.

3. Kim Bo Kyung at CM is interesting. I was pretty neutral about it vs. Uzbekistan, and I want to see him there a bit more.

For all of those watching the game, enjoy our favorite Chaminator’s testimonial match! I will surely be scrambling for highlights after my exam.

About Jinseok 259 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.


  1. awesome review, jinseok!

    from what I’ve read so far in various interviews, it appears Uli is well aware of those issues that you have mentioned above; finishing, creativity, and first touch.

    Unfortunately it’s not something that can be fixed straight away,I don’t think.
    It’s something that needs to be drilled repetitively in order for the players to ‘adjust’ from their previous mindset and behaviours.

    It’s good to implement the passing game, I think. the passing game isn’t exclusive to Japan or Arsenal, mind you, both teams you have mentioned took years to come to its present style (Arsenal before Wenger, used to play boring long-ball game under George Graham, Japan also played counter-attacking football under Okada)

    In my opinion, the players did well with limited hours training together and we are headed in the right direction. We will see how the game vs NZ pans out.

    the general consensus here in NZ is that Korea are going to thrash NZ and most ppl here will be happy if NZ don’t concede more than 3 goals (I’m not sure if KNT are even capable of scoring that many tbh)

  2. To blame Kim SG for that goal is a bit silly and far-fetched, imo.

    He knew very well why he’d stopped. He wouldn’t be first to the ball even if he’d have continued – and by making that stop half-way, he made sure that 1) Rashidov doesn’t really have anywhere to shoot, so he has to go round him; 2) while Rashidov can go round him, he also can’t shoot himself.

    If Kim SG had continued, a smart player like Rashidov would have made him look like a fool. By that, he lured him into a difficult position, and so it was really more about defenders to deal with that corner (arriving opponent) rather than Kim SG.

  3. You really can’t hate Arsenal. They bring so much color, seeing Wenger go would be devastating for the league.

    Such a romantic team.

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