February 6, 2013
On Wednesday February 6, a friendly match featuring the Taeguk Warriors versus Croatia is set for 9 am US EST and 11pm Korea Time. No jetlag to worry about for the European based Korean footballers: the match will be at Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium near London. The shit is about to get real.
The latest roster news: Ki Sung-Yeung just joined his Taeguk Warriors training today after giving a few days off to heal up fully. His ankle has been recovering a nasty tackle by Chelsea’s Ramires in Swansea’s League Cup Semifinal victory nearly 2 weeks ago. Left back Yun Suk-Young appears to have been ruled out by Coach Choi Kang-Hee, possibly due to Yun’s just starting his new role at QPR. One notable absence is midfielder Lee Keun-Ho who is currently doing his compulsory 2 year stint with the South Korean army.
So with the roster of players that Boss Choi has called up to duty has a number of high profile European based players. The big question mark is whether the defense can hold back the offensive firepower Croatia will throw at them. The Taeguk Warriors have been notably weak in the back line in recent years. Croatia’s last FIFA ranking places them in 10th position. South Korea’s latest ranking has them at 34th.
It will come to the surprise of Tavern readers that I’m proposing a 3-5-2 formation for this game. Let me throw out how that could look for the Tavern’s Starting XI: Now you might say, “But Tavern, didn’t you just say the defense isn’t exactly the bee’s knees?” I did indeed. But if I could be in coach Choi’s shoes, this is a friendly and we can take some creative risk here. Son Heung-Min, Park Chu-Young, and Koo Ja-Cheol, with Lee Chung-Yong and Kim Bo-Kyung on the wings,and Ki as the deep mid, their inclusion makes conventional sense for the starting XI offensive front. The trouble is where to fit Ji Dong-Won. Having him on board could make for a tactically dynamic offense, albeit really top heavy there at the expense of a defensive back player. In a 4-3-2-1 world, dropping the D from 4 to 3 players is very risky, especially so against Croatia. However, don’t forget that Ki has played a defensive midfield role for Swansea, and in fact played a few early games as a center back for the Swans, a role he didn’t do too badly for being out of position. Koo has also been very versatile, and has not been afraid to track back forcefully on numerous occasions during last summer’s Olympic medal winning run. If Ki and Koo were to provide support to the 3 remaining backline, then push forward aggressively when needed (as long as the back 3 stays consistently back), it could be a winning formula. Coach Choi has recently used the 4-3-2-1 in a number of World Cup qualifiers, with less than stellar results. This could be a surprise break in the mold for the normally inept Choi. Nevertheless, we are expecting him to remain unimaginative in his roster formation and will most likely start the aging forward Lee Dong-Gook instead of Ji or Son. We will expect Choi to do some experimenting as the friendly format rules allow for more than 3 substitution. It will be interesting to see who amongst the defensive players called up can step up at Craven Cottage.
Croatian players to watch out for: Obviously the big names on the squad are Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, but I’m really keeping a wary eye out for Jelavic, who has been deceptively dangerous for Everton this season.
We will try to update via twitter throughout the match.
Briefly to start today’s kickaround; racism rears it’s ugly head yet again, this time from the vice president of AC Milan in reference to their newest aquisition, Mario Ballotelli. ESPN FC has the rundown:
“Paolo Berlusconi was attending a rally for a candidate for his brother’s right-wing People of Freedom party when he made the comments.
He said: “Okay, we are all off to see the family’s little n—–. He’s a crazy head. All the young ladies are invited as well — you can even have a chance to meet the president (Silvio Berlusconi).” Which is all the more spectacular given Kevin Prince-Boateng’s recent walkout when faced with racist chants at an opponent’s stadium.
In other international football news, yesterday’s bombshell headline implicated more than 300 matches around the globe, some of them Champions League matches -now under investigation for match fixing. A Singapore gang is suspected of trying to influence the outcome of these various games -and it’s far reaching too, with games in Europe, Asia and Africa now suspected of having some aspect of the scoreline rigged.
This may be a few days old, but over the weekend Koo Ja-Cheol got in a timely assist in Augsburg’s 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg. His Augsburg teammate Ji Dong-Won played 89 minutes, lively performance, but no goal.
Ki Sung-Yeung: 90 minute shift for Swansea in a 0-1 defeat away at West Ham. He got in a wicked shot, but denied by West Ham keeper Jaaskelainen. He’s been damn unlucky not to score yet for the Jack Army. Some surprise boss Ladrup started Ki as he was still not 100% recovered from a nasty tackle by Ramires in their League Cup semifinal win over Chelsea about a week and a half ago.
Park Ji-Sung: 18 man roster for QPR, but no minutes on the pitch for a scoreless draw with Norwich. £8million striker Loic Remy out injured -now reportedly for up to 2 months! New left back Yun Suk-Young just received his work permit, but was not in the 18 man roster. QPR sits at the bottom of the Premier League, 6 points away from safety.
Kim Bo-Kyung: 61 minutes for Cardiff at Leeds, ‘Kimbo’ had a better 2nd half when he was subbed out for Sunderland loanee Frazier Cambell. Following a Craig Bellamy strike, Campbell got to tap in the rebound for the only score in the match. Cardiff is running away with the English Championship, leading at the top with a 10 point safety margin.
Lee Chung-Yong: put in a good 90 minute shift for Bolton, but despite decent team effort, it ends up another loss for the Wanderers against Watford.
Son Heung-Min: 90 minutes and another solid performance. Nevertheless Hamburg goes down 2-0 to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Park Chu-Young: 29 minutes in the 2nd half for Celta Vigo, 2 good chances to score for Park but not able to get it past Osasuna’s keeper. Celta loses 0-1 and falls into the relegation zone for the first time since the beginning of the season.
Suk Hyun-Jun: 90 minutes, debut start for his new Portugese club Maritimo. He put in a decent shift, got some shots in at goal, but a tad off in his finishing. Maritimo goes down to Gil Vicente 4-2.
There’s that Pink Floyd theme that I’m trapped in, the one about time and running around and never being able to catch up. A new job should bring about a bit of cheer, especially in a recovery economy. It pays the bills at the Tavern, that’s for damn sure. The conundrum is that right now, the hours at the job is terribly time consuming, but so does managing the rowdy enthusiastic lot here at the Tavern. Something has to give.
Don’t want to be overly alarming and announce the closure of the Tavern. I don’t have to wave the bloody white flag yet, but future posts will be considerably shorter -or will happen less frequently. This new position (that started on Monday), while paying better than my last -inevitably mean less Tavern time, and thus ironically, less joy. New jobs shouldn’t bring about such a lack of cheer, I won’t have that around here. If anything, we need more joy, not less.
UPDATE: So onto the joy, we’re actually in good luck as we have some new Tavern writers who will be coming on board. Introductions will be coming soon, but as long as I treat them better than my Tavern intern (where the hell is he – he was supposed to fetch me some coffee, damn it) I think we’ll be in tip top shape. Game on.