Hong Myeong-Bo’s first game at the helm of the senior national team ended with a disappointing 0-0 result. In what was essentially a K League vs A League match, the score ended even, although Korea dominated the match, and will feel a bit hard done by the end result. While the tournament’s end result is of little consequence to many, the performance of the youngsters getting a chance, and the possible reserve squad members, is important. So, was anything learned from this match?
The short answer is, not really. No player really jumped out as a stand-out performer, nor did any player sorely disappoint. Really, this match was simply a continuation of the performances we’ve seen from the senior side in recent months. The main (and key) difference is that this was done with a B side, while the others were supposedly with the A team.
Korea went with it’s usual 4-2-3-1, with a few surprises in the XI. Kim Dong-Seob started ahead of Kim Shin-Wook, Lee Myeong-Joo did make the XI, and Yoon Il-Rok started ahead of Yeom Ki-Hoon.
Australia went with a straight 4-4-2. That stayed the same when attacking and defending.
Tactically there really wasn’t anything too interesting in this match. Korea controlled possession, a common trend when you have three CM’s versus two CM’s. Besides that Australia’s two forwards, Duke and Vidosic dropped deep when Korea had possession, and did not press Hong Jeong-Ho and Kim Young-Kwon. Giving them plenty of time and space to find the free player. Both teams found space down the wings, with both Kim Jin-Su and Kim Chang-Soo getting involved early and often. Their final balls were a bit on the disappointing side, and the chances they created were closer to half chances. The three attacking midfielders, Lee Seung-Gi, Yoon Il-Rok, and Go Yo-Han, played a bit more narrow, and frequently changed positions (particularly Go Yo-Han and Lee Seung-Gi).
Australia, on defense, played the familiar tight and compact with two banks of four. They conceded space on the wings (hence the aforementioned time and space for the two Kim Soo’s), but didn’t allow much to happen centrally. There was little time and space for the attackers, and most of Korea’s chances came from long-range efforts, crosses, or one-twos that started on the wings.
Offensively, Australia was completely reliant on the long ball counter from the back. Australia’s two forwards (Duke and Vidosic) tried to take advantage of the space down the wings that Kim Chang-Soo and Kim Jin-Su left (see below diagram). While, Hong Jeong-Ho and Kim Young-Kwon don’t possess blazing speed, they were quick enough to keep the two forwards in check until help arrived. And while Aussie keeper Galekovic was superb at stopping Korean efforts, his distribution was a bit lacking. Most of his passes were easily picked off by Kim Young-Kwon and Hong Jeong-Ho. Leaving Australia with little chance of scoring or creating.
Jung Sung-Ryong 6.0 – Almost wanted to give him an S.V. given how little he had to do. Stopped the one Aussie chance (and a fairly routine save at that).
Kim Chang-Soo 6.5 – A solid game for Kim Chang-Soo who continues to ensure he is the regular right back for the foreseeable future. Offers offensive support, and had little trouble defensively down the right. Crossing is still a bit inconsistent though.
Hong Jeong-Ho 6.5 – Nice to see the former U-23 captain back in action. Hong seemed right at home in the back line, and looked comfortable against the Aussie attack.
Kim Young-Kwon 7.0 – I may be wrong, but I think Kim Young-Kwon would be my MotM. Solid on defense, had a wicked free-kick saved, and got his head to a couple corners.
Kim Jin-Su 6.0 – The search for the next left back continues. Kim Jin-Su has promise, but I didn’t come away particularly impressed (but he was better than Kim Chi-Woo). His long throws were probably the best thing he did.
Lee Myeong-Joo 6.0 – Not as influential as he was in the qualifiers. Had trouble picking apart the compact Aussie defense, and didn’t have much space to go forward.
Ha Dae-Sung 6.5 – Of the three Seoul men, probably the most impressive one. Battled hard, and was decent. Still don’t think he has any long-term future with the squad, but could be a useful squad and back-up player.
Go Yo-Han 6.0 – Felt like he was the least effective of the three attacking midfielders. Had some nice touches here and there, but little real incisiveness.
Lee Seung-Gi 6.5 – Worked hard and provided a bit of creativity in the middle. Don’t know if he’ll be seen as a long-term contender for the CAM spot, but nice to know he can do it.
Yoon Il-Rok 6.5 – A nice showing for Yoon in his debut with the senior squad. Don’t think he’s ready yet, but could be a contender down the line for the left attacking spot.
Kim Dong-Seob 6.0 – Honestly felt that he did well, and is a more balanced forward than his Ulsan counterpart. Can be a decent aerial threat along with showed some nice footwork. But, as a forward he needs to do more to score. Missed his best chances. Still looking for someone who can finish.
Yeom Ki-Hoon 6.0 – Had some nice moments and some poor ones. The other K League Challenge players (Lee Keun-Ho) struggled with the senior squad at times since he started serving his time. Yeom is doing the same (except with the police team rather than the military), and he too showed some struggles. Passes were easily intercepted and a bit overconfident with his dribbles. But, was positive and had lots of energy.
Cho Young-Cheol 6.0 – Brought lots of energy and pace to the right side. Was fairly pleased with his short appearance, and hope he sees more time next match.
Kim Shin-Wook S.V. – Didn’t have much time to do anything, and didn’t really do anything.
Hong Myeong-Bo 6.5 – A solid first match for Hong. The team looked more focused and disciplined than before, but some of the same problems still exist. The future looks brighter though.
I maintain that it would be wise not to take too much from this match, but despite the scoreline, I felt satisfied. With the exception of the Uzbekistan game, the team had looked lost and un-energetic. This game seemed a step in the right direction. It was also great to see a coach who was up and involved in the game, and not just sitting on the bench looking glum.
There are some interesting positional decisions that Hong will need to make. Will he stick with a more balanced forward like Kim Dong-Seob (I think he should) or go back to a more physically powerful, aerially dominant forward (Kim Shin-Wook). Will Kim Jin-Su get another shot at left back? Did the attacking trio do enough to earn another start, or did Yeom Ki-Hoon or Cho Young-Cheol do enough to push one of them out?
The next match is against China, who should in theory, be the whipping boy of the group. *Side note – two late goals saw China draw Japan 3-3. While I think the core of the team should stay the same, I would like to see a couple changes.
I thought that Cho Young-Cheol was impressive enough to earn a start and see what he can do. His pace could really cause problems for China. Another player I’d like to see is Pohang’s Go Mu-Yeol, who’s had a solid season for the Steelers, and could add a bit more of a goal threat than Lee Seung-Gi. I’d like to see a bit more consistency in the defensive line, and will vote for Kim Jin-Su to keep his spot. Personally I think Park Jong-Woo is a better player than Ha Dae-Sung, but since he’s been handed the armband Ha will stay. Park could come in for Lee Myeong-Joo who just had an average game, but I don’t think he will at this point. I like Kim Dong-Seob’s more rounded game, and think he should stay as the starter for now.
The next match is on Wednesday, at 8pm Korean Standard Time and 7am in the US EST. JTBC (in Korea) and One World Sports (in the US) will once again be broadcasting the match live and on the internet.