It was a pretty defense-oriented game for Ahn Ik Soo’s young charges in their first match against Brazil. The scoreline ended 1-1, but a fairly uninspiring performance apart from Han Chan Hee’s wonderstrike before the halftime whistle will leave Ahn Ik Soo’s side with many questions..
We saw a fairly unconventional lineup this time:
Song Beom Keun started in goal after putting on a one-man show vs Germany U19, while 2015 U17 WC captain Lee Sang Min started in defense. Interestingly, it is the U19 defenders that keep getting rotated with 18 year old Lee consistently starting each game (and we will later see that he has repaid Ahn’s faith in him). Pohang fullback Woo Chan Yang, specifically mentioned by Ahn Jung Hwan as one of the three players who impressed him the most, started in a CB role. He HAS played there before but I will later make the argument that he’s better off as a fullback. Both of the starting fullbacks are fairly new faces to this generation and they did an okay job.
Now the midfield and attack is where things get a little weird. Park Han Bin started as DM, okay, that was expected, but what is LEE SEUNG MO of all players doing up there next to Han Chan Hee? For reference, Lee Seung Mo played next to Lee Sang Min as CB in the U17 World Cup when Choi Jae Myung got injured, and his natural position is DM. He was completely ineffective in an advanced role, and the intention was probably to provide defensive cover anyway (the team as a whole also turtled for a good chunk of the match). Then there is Lee Dong Jun being deployed wide, even though he has always played as the CF for this team (and fairly well at that). Why would Ahn Ik Soo push the team’s #1 goalscorer out wide? It was certainly to test newbie and team maknae Cho Young Wook – more on him later.
Literally three minutes after kickoff Woo Chan Yang made a mistake and gifted Brazil an early lead. That being said, it wasn’t an infuriating Kim Yong Kwon esque mistake, but an innocuous one where he tried to clear with his back heel but it didn’t quite connect with the ball:
Some good chances would be spurned by both Brazil and Korea, with Brazil more dominant throughout but making some big mistakes at the same time. However, Han Chan Hee equalized with a stunning volley, really living up to his “second Ki Sung Yong” moniker. That being said, before this Han Chan Hee was just quietly passing and linking play all day – a solid performance but nothing too impressive outside of the goal. The media made a big deal out of him after the game, but I personally don’t think he stood out that much. He didn’t dribble past anyone or provide key scoring chances like he usually has in the past. There is also the question of Han Chan Hee vs. Paik Seung Ho, but that’s another story for another time…
Minutes 45 – 90 were actually quite boring. As you can see in the highlights it was really all Brazil. But you can also see that #6 Lee Sang Min is actually pretty damn talented.
Some things that bothered me about the match:
Lee Dong Jun was more-or-less invisible: Ok so this might be a byproduct of us not really taking any initiative to attack, but still, something about Ahn’s tactics isn’t working, unless it was literally to practice defending. The striker in his place, Cho YW, also didn’t get to show much, but it’s a little more understandable as it’s his debut match against Brazil of all teams. Even Han Chan Hee hadn’t been doing much until he was instructed to push up more and scored a goal on his first shot.
Brazil showed some defensive weaknesses and Ahn did nothing: I understand that this was a friendly and all, but I really think if Ahn make the right subs we could have gone for the win. Brazil’s defense, as always, is weak at the youth levels… it would have been much more fun to watch had we decided to go for that winning goal. That being said we needed all the cover at the back we could get, considering that the Brazilian fullbacks were going crazy near our box for most of the game…
Woo Chan Yang as CB: Woo CY is one of the best players in the K League junior league, but the fact of the matter is he’s pretty small. He’s agile and skilled, which is very nice, but in the highlights alone you can see him struggling physically a bit (and don’t expect him to win too many headers). Personally I really liked what I saw from last year’s Suwon JS U18 Cup with the Suk Jin + Min Ho combo, but it looks like to me they’re either injured or not playing for the university.
Next Match against France:
France is probably the strongest team here, having defeated Japan 3-1 in the first match, and no matter what, the number one priority will be beating Japan in the third match. Will we field a “stronger” lineup against France? I think so, but I think our “best” XI will be saved for Japan, for obvious reasons.