After winning against Jordan in a lackluster showing on the road, the Korean National Team arrived in Tehran on Sunday to prepare for their match against Iran. Let’s look at the KNT landscape as the friendly approaches:
Coach Stielike expects his players to be victorious again, which he (oh so subtly) hinted at during his 60th birthday celebration on Saturday, by saying that a win would be the team’s birthday gift for him! To increase the chances of that happening, he has saved his stronger players for this match. You’ll find notable elements about some of them below:
Two news sources confirmed Tim’s speculations for the goalkeeper role, which Kim Seung Gyu will take. After seeing Jung Sung Ryong at the goalpost, KSG gets his chance to confirm his spot at the upcoming Asian Cup.
Kwak Tae Hwi and Jang Hyun Soo will replace the Kim Young Gwon – Hong Jeong Ho defensive duo, while Cha Du Ri and Park Joo Ho will feature a second time in this match.
Along with expressing his satisfaction with Park Chu Young’s composure on the pitch during Friday’s friendly, Coach Stielike has told Lee Keun Ho to tie up his laces for this upcoming game. This means LKH has recovered from his back spasms to do so.
A KFA news report stated that Coach Stielike has been trying out different combinations of attacking players, which partially explains why he replaced Koo Ja Cheol and Kim Min Woo with Son Heung Min and Nam Tae Hee for this upcoming friendly. Those player selections support his previous promise to have his players deliver a more direct, attacking style of play.
South Korea has had a rough 9-7-11 record against the Iranian Lions, and hasn’t managed to snag a win away from home, with 2 draws and 3 losses under its belt in that front. The 1974 Asian Games marked the first time that both teams faced each other in Tehran, when the Iranians won 2-0. The Taeguk Warriors managed to tie 2-2 with them during a 1978 World Cup Qualifier. Currently, Iran’s FIFA ranking is 51, currently the highest of any Asian football team, while the Warriors stand at 66.
Stielike was smart to save his best players for last, given this record, the KNT’s bumpy past with the Iranians, and the intense atmosphere of Azadi Stadium. Yonhap News described the setting as “one of the most intimidating environments in Asian football”, with a capacity of 100,000, which will be filled with only men, because Iran has banned women from being in public stadiums. Also, Azadi Stadium is situated on a hill that’s more than 1200 meters above sea level, which will pose a physiological challenge for the KNT members as they play on the pitch. Will they break their losing streak away from home?
Date: Tuesday, 11.18.2014
Time: 7:55AM EST, 9:55PM KST
Location: Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran.
SBS MBC in Korea. If you’re not there, now’s the time to get creative.