Tuesday brings about the second friendly for September. A recent foe is back in the form of Croatia, who if you remember handed us a lovely 4-0 beating in London back in February. Another 4-0 seems unlikely given Croatia’s demanding schedule, and the minor fact that they’re leaving half their team in Europe. Nonetheless they should still provide a decent test for our players. Bit busy now, so very short preview, but one nonetheless.
Hong Myeong-Bo picked up his first win as senior boss amidst a comforting 4-1 win over Haiti. But, he still seems quite bent on constantly changing and testing the team with early reports suggesting wholesale changes are in order. The scope of the changes seems to vary, from about half the side to virtually all of it. I’m not positive who will emerge from the tunnel, but here’s a best guess:
Let’s start off with what the reports generally agree with. Koo Ja-Cheol, Lee Chung-Yong, and Kim Bo-Kyung will start. Most seem to think that Son Heung-Min will start, but only play for a half. Kwak Tae-Hwi is figured to start ahead of Kim Young-Kwon. Most think that Kim Jin-Hyeon will get a chance in goal, but a few seem to think that Jung Sung-Ryong may get a chance to show he should keep the number 1 shirt. Virtually all think that Cho Dong-Gun will start at forward. Reports are a bit mixed about the fullbacks, but it seems more likely that Hong will make the changes. For the other central midfielder, reports are mixed. Some say Ha Dae-Sung will start again, with others suggesting that Lee Myeong-Joo or Park Jong-Woo will start. I guess we’ll see.
Croatia is only bringing 16 players to Korea. They are:
Goalkeeper: Dario Kresic, Antonio Jezina
Defender: Darijo Srna, Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Hrvoje Milic, Igor Bubnjic, Josip Pivaric
Midfielder: Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, Arijen Ademi, Alen Halilovic, Marin Tomosov
Forward: Eduardo, Nikola Kalinic, Leon Benko
Only four of Croatia’s starting XI from their match against Serbia have made the trip: Srna, Lovren, Rakitic, and Eduardo. Ivan Perisic was a substitute in that match. All five figure to play a part in this one as well. Korean media is focusing quite a bit of attention on young Alen Halilovic, who at age 17 is the youngest player to ever feature for Croatia. Don’t know who made it up, but the Korean media is promoting him as the “Balkan Messi”. Judging from his youtube videos I don’t know if he’s really like Messi other than apparently being left-footed and highly rated. It may just be the look (mainly the hair), but I thought he looked a bit like Stevan Jovetic. Anyway, moving on.
Despite it clearly being a B team, it’s still one that carries considerable danger. Frontman Eduardo (the man who Park Chu-Young was supposed to replace at Arsenal) still has plenty of pace and goalscoring ability despite the horrific leg injury he sustained a couple years back. Darijo Srna, whether at fullback or midfield, is capable of playing dangerous passes. Rakitic and Perisic are also quality players who will surely make an appearance at some point as well.
I’m really not sure how to view this game. Croatian B team, friendly, lot’s of Korean changes as well, it’s all so . . . ehhhh. But, it’s still something, and hopefully we’ll get a positive result from it. Experimentation seems to be in Hong’s mind still, so maybe we’ll see some interesting combinations or promising play to look forward to in the future.
Time: 8PM KST/7AM EDT (I think)
Location: Jeonju World Cup Stadium
Twitter: @SKSBlog for minute-by-minute coverage or re-tweets @taeguk_warrior