Road to the World Cup: The Morocco Preview

After a catastrophic 4-2 defeat in Moscow against Russia, only made worse by Kim Juyoung’s abysmal two own goals and all-round defensive meltdown, the Koreans look to hit the re-set button in Switzerland when they will face a resurgent Morocco.

Team News Shin Taeyong will make 8 changes from the last match, media reports. Son Heungmin, Lee Chungyong and Jang Hyunsoo will remain in the side. (JANG HYUNSOO? Aw come on).

Shin came under heavy criticism for his tactics and formation choice after the Russian game, but training ground murmurs show that though Shin wants a more dynamic, fluid display in midfield, he’s not bothered by the furious media. Remember, this is Shin Taeyong. “If they score 3 goals, we’ll just have to score 4.” is his adage.

The heavy rotation combined with a 3-4-3 formation makes team prediction not too difficult:

Son Heungmin – Ji Dongwon – Nam Taehee

Oh Jaesuk – Kim Bokyung – Ki Sungyueng – Lee Chungyong

Song Juhun – Jang Hyunsoo – Kim Kihee

Kim Jinhyeon

The defense looks absolutely awful, with Song making his KNT debut, and no defensive midfield cover to boot. But this is the likely lineup, meaning that, given Morocco’s dynamism, we could be in for a more free flowing encounter.

The Oppo Morocco are reeling off of a 3-0 win against Gabon in Casablanca after the Ivory Coast slipped up a golden chance to preserve their group lead in CAF qualifying. The Moroccans now move into the first – and only – qualifying spot in their group, and, with a draw away in the Ivory Coast in November, will qualify for their first World Cup since France 1998. They have all to play for.

The Moroccans are a particularly dynamic, fluid side, and yet for a CAF team are superbly well drilled in defense, with a good shape and structure to allow their creative players to thrive in. The reputation of defensive stalwarts is well earned, with 9 goals scored and none conceded in 5 games of qualifying. That said, they’ve got three 0-0 draws to their name, which suggests a very France like situation – they’ve got good structure and some speed merchants, but the end product hasn’t always been there. This may be moot as there’s no chance Korea sits deep and tries to let Morocco break them down. Instead, with both sides traditionally liking to have more possession, the team who has the most of the ball may very well end up being the winner.

Key player: Khalid Boutaib – if the Turkey-based striker starts, he could be a handful for the defense (much like Kokorin was for Russia, even if he couldn’t finish). Boutaib scored a hat trick against Gabon and whether or not he starts depends on how seriously two-time African Cup of Nations winning manager Hervé Renard takes this match.

The Question The key question will be how Korea will cope with a more open, dynamic opposition. Generally Korea can find some success against these teams, and Shin will be hoping for a win to assuage the bloodthirsty crowd of pitchfork-wielding fans and netizens. But with a shaky defense sure to leak a goal or two at the back, can Son and the forwards finally show that free flowing dynamism that Shin strives for with his sides? Or will they revert to meaningless direct play that creates spurts, not sustained phases, of attacking play?

The Skinny

Korea vs Morocco

Somewhere in Switzerland, I couldn’t be bothered

9:30am EST, 10:30pm KST

Tuesday October 10th 2017

Come on Korea!

About Tim Lee 321 Articles
The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?


  1. This will be the first time I’m supporting the opposition. Sad times call for sad measures. Shin needs to be exposed. The stubborn fool is not a WC quality manager. We need to do away with him while there is still time.

    Morocco already scored 2 in less than 10 minutes. LOL

  2. No leadership on this team. It’s really freaking sad.
    I’ll comment on another Asian team with a leader- Tim Cahill in Australia. Not sure if anyone saw (I just saw news + highlights), but Australia played the second leg in the AFC playoff against Syria. The score was 1-1 on aggregate from the first leg. Today in the second leg, Syria actually went ahead early and were on their way, but then Tim Cahill at age 37 tied it. It went to extra time and he scored again to send them to inter-continental playoff. This guy deserves to be at the next World Cup more than any Korean player. It’s a shame that it might not happen. He plays with pride and inspires the other guys. 37 years old and when the light shines brightest and the pressure mounts highest, he nails two goals in front of a packed house.
    THAT’s leadership. He’s never been one of the best players in the world, but for his country he is certainly one of the best. I’m not even a fan of Australia, but I’d rather watch him at the World Cup.

  3. Some issues I’d like to highlight:
    (1) Squad
    (2) Defense & Offense
    (3) Fitness
    (1) I’ve always found it strange that the KFA has a lot of faith in the European-based players. With Ji Dong Won, Koo Ja Cheol, Lee Chung Yong, and Ki Sung Yueng getting rustier by the second, I think it’d be good to nurture players at home. I think Jeju United has a lot of talent that the KNT is missing out on. The squad has a strange habit of missing out on key passes (especially when there are players in optimal positions for shots on goal). Even when players are shooting, they have a tendency to look down at the ball, rather than looking up at goal.

    (2) Defense… is like an automatic opening door. I think Kwon Kyung Won and Kim Min Jae, is our only hope in defense. The KNT needs to better invest in our wingbacks. I haven’t researched who should go in yet, but I will in due time (Not that the KFA will listen to me lol). Offensively, I’ve addressed the issue with bad timing and bad shots. The players need better communication, and more ‘planned’ plays. The strikers should also have a bit of an element of surprise into their shots. Their body language is too obvious for the opposition.

    (3) Fitness. I think they should take some tips from the NFL. There are some beast-strength but lightning fast players in the NFL. The exercises they do can surely benefit the players in KNT. Hiddink did a good job of documenting the fitness of all players, and making sure that they perform as well as the european elite players. It’s not difficult to adopt, and can be well implemented. The players looked way too tired today.

    With all that said, I still really feel for Shin Tae Yong. He’s a young coach, and its heartbreaking to see his side suffer. I wish we took in Senol Gunes, Marcelo Bielsa, or even Alberto Zaccheroni. I only wish the KFA will one day think like we do. Thanks to the writers for all the hardwork. I always enjoy reading them. Hopefully, I catch one of ya, and yell our hearts out with beer or soju lol. Peace.

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