So as I mentioned in my previous October Fixtures post, we have two U22 friendlies scheduled, both against Hoju (Australia), the first of which was held ~ 19 hours ago. And man, it was actually a great match – I didn’t watch it, admittedly, but I loved the highlights so much. It felt so much better than the recent win against Kuwait, despite how important it was to win that Kuwait match – Shin Tae Yong truly never disappoints. When I saw the starting lineup I had a COUPLE of questions, sure, but the result was actually fantastic and you guys would be surprised to hear that the man stealing all the headlines right now is none other than the 19 year old Hwang Hee Chan, who played surprisingly well earlier today (yesterday). He had a bit of a slow start at Liefering but he’s at 6 goals in 11 games, and it looks like he’s finally back in form. That guy hard-carried our U16 team back in 2012. Can he repeat the feat? Will he be selected for the upcoming Olympic Qualification tournament, the AFC U22 Championship? Read on for what happened and what I suspect will happen the second Australia friendly.
I posted the squad for the two Hoju friendlies but let me post a different version with squad numbers:
Now the squad is missing key players like Moon Chang Jin and Lee Chang Min due to injury as well as Kwon Chang Hoon due to senior team duties. People also expected Cho Suk Jae, the young Challenge striker who currently has 15 goals (in 30 games), to start (in fact, I had long thought the strikers STY would eventually choose would be Cho Suk Jae and Kim Hyun, the Jeju Utd starting FW).
Instead, Shin Tae Yong decided to call up a trio of overseas based strikers in addition to Kim Hyun, all three of whom started: Park In Hyeok of Hoffenheim but on loan at FSV Frankfurt, 19 year old Liefering striker Hwang Hee Chan, and Alcorcon Youth (La Liga) striker Ji Eon Hak. If you count Germany based RSW and Choi Kyung Rok you could say the entire attack was composed of 해외파:
The result? Incredibly pleasing, though admittedly our opponents played shockingly badly. Within 3 minutes Hwang Hee Chan burned the Hoju fullback to grant Spain-based Ji Eon Hak an ez goal, and some questionable handling from the Hoju GK put us up 2-0 within 30 minutes, the goalscorer being captain Yeon Je Min.
Since I didn’t watch the game, and I am running off of highlights and BSK comments, I will present the extended highlights first, and you guys can judge whether my commentary is on target or not.
The first thing I have to say: no one had a bad day. Pretty much everyone, even subs, did something notable. Overall I was very pleased with how the game went. The forward passing from defense to offense was great and I loved the fluidity our attackers brought to the game. High energy, high pressing, and a lot of good, creative plays that was a joy to watch. Overall, an A+ for Shin Tae Yong.
As for the players, our Yeonsei University goalkeeper Kim Dong Jun played his part nicely aside from one nervous moment towards the beginning – he’s a consistenly solid keeper who will surely make it to the U22 Championship. One more point about the keepers – I can’t believe how much talent there is in this department. A GK trio at the level of Kim DJ, Lee Chang Geun (the hero and captain of the U20 2013 generation that won the U19 championship and got to the quarters of the World Cup), and Gu Sung Yoon (Consadole Sapporo’s GK) is something that we’ve never had in youth levels before.
The fullbacks were solid, and contributed to the attack nicely. Shim SM notably had a goalline clearance (covering for that nervous moment from KDJ I mentioned earlier). The defenders were good too, I thought Yeon Je Min played his part a little better than Song Ju Hoon though. Which is to be expected I guess considering how their clubs careers have panned out. I question whether Song Ju Hoon or Jung Seung Hyun will be the starting CB next to Yeon Je Min – Song JH certainly didn’t do anything to warrant not starting, but Jung Seung Hyun had been great in his past outings with Yeon Je Min. I suspect Jung will start next game.
Here’s a ball touch vid of our standout captain:
Lee Chan Dong was his usual Lee CD self. The Gwangju midfielder has pretty much never disappointed in his short time with the KNT youth stages (he’s a relative newcomer to the KNT youth scene compared to guys like Ryu, Hwang Hee Chan, and Kim Jin Su), and it certainly helps that he’s playing consistently for Gwangju. Ryu, Choi KR, and Park IH had some brilliant moments as well and although I didn’t get this impression (again, I didn’t watch the game), I’ve seen comments saying the two showed some rust, and likewise Ji Eon Hak seemed like a solid player as well. Hwang Hee Chan was pretty much unanimously praised as a beast, and in the highlights you really can see why – it’s not just because of that assist in the 3rd minute.
Again, you can’t get much information from 20 minutes of highlights, but you get the gist of what happened – solid stuff from Shin Tae Yong’s men.
An interesting aspect of the game you might have caught while watching the game – we were SURPRISINGLY aggressive today, to the point where we made some questionable decisions like stamping opposition players / going for some deep tackles. I hope the players do realize that things like that can get them sent off. Another point to be made – even in the latter minutes of the highlights you can see some SERIOUS pressing. The pressing and aggressiveness were impressive, but of course, our players can’t get too carried away.
What will happen next game? I bet we’ll see quite a bit of rotation, 5-6 players at the very least should be changed up. After all, this is Shin Tae Yong’s testing ground for who he’s gonna pick for the U22 Championship. I also don’t expect us to have this good of a game either considering that 1. Australia will be looking to improve and 2. rotation. It’s not often we have this good of a game against Australia, and in fact it’s not often our U22 teams play this well. Shin Tae Yong is certainly an impressive coach and to be honest the talent in this age group is comparable to the Bronze medal winning 2012 generation. In fact I find Moon Chang Jin and Ryu Seung Woo and Kim Seung Jun more impressive than Nam Tae Hee / Ji Dong Won, and Lee Chan Dong more impressive than Park Jong Woo. The other comparisons would be Kwon Chang Hoon and Lee Chang Min to Koo Ja Cheol and Ki Sung Yong – I think Ki and Koo just pip the very talented Kwon-Lee duo. As for defense… I think the level is similar. The keeping? Well I’d say Kim Dong Jun > Jung Sung Ryong but remember that Jung Sung Ryong saved our a** against Great Britain (JSR saved Ramsey’s PK, LBY saved Sturridge’s PK in the final shootout) and had a very solid tournament throughout. It took us some luck to win the Bronze in 2012 (i.e. playing GB in the quarters as opposed to say Brazil), but if that sort of luck comes back to us, I’d say we can easily make our way to a second Bronze medal.