Let’s go…. the 6 game stretch continues. Uli Stielike’s men are in Bangkok tonight as they prepare for what should be a relatively easy friendly against Thailand. A clean sheet victory would see the Korean side set a new men’s national team record for most consecutive clean sheet wins, with 9. Let’s go through a projected lineup, previous encounters against the Thai side and the significance of the match despite the lowly opponent.
Oh but first off, some notes. Koo Jacheol was brought off in the second half of the Lebanon World Cup Qualifier, but his injury was not serious. He was just suffering from cramps but as a precautionary measure, he’s been sent back to Augsburg. Kim Jinhyeon, the starting keeper vs Lebanon, was sent back to his club side, Cerezo Osaka – there’s no real need for him to stick around as there’s no reason why Stielike would start him in this match.
Let’s have a look at a projected lineup – and to be honest, Korean media isn’t really interested in this match, seeing how it comes on a holiday weekend and it’s one that we should be winning with relative ease. I suspect almost complete rotation against the Thais, and if there’s ever a game to see some tactical experimentation from the usually conservative Stielike, this is one of them. He did perhaps hint this in a press conference prior to the Lebanon clash, saying that “I don’t believe this (the Lebanon game) is one for experiments. That is what friendlies are for.” Nonetheless, if we assume Stielike is sticking to the 4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1 formation…
(Edit: another article is suggesting that Lee Jeonghyeop might start up top with Suk Hyunjun in a 2 top. That dynamic could be interested to observe)
That sounds like a best guess to me. It depends on how much rotation Stielike goes with, and if he gives Ko Myungjin a run out or if he’ll stick to the trusted Joo Sejong – alternatively he could play Nam Taehee in the center and send Lee Chungyong out wide again. In net, I hope to see Kim Seunggyu, because I don’t trust Jung Sungryong, I just don’t, it’s a traumatic thing…
Historically, Korea has been strong against Thailand, with 30 wins, 7 draws and 9 losses. Indeed, that last figure seems like an incredibly excessive amount for a side that are minnows on the Asian stage today. The reason: we haven’t played them since 1998, when we somehow were beaten in Bangkok for the Asian Games Quarter Finals (which counts as a senior match). Here’s a grainy video showing their delirium at such an expected victory.
Ah, but don’t worry. A repeat failure is far less likely this time. The most recent clash between these two sides that could be any sort of indicator for tomorrow’s friendly was the 2014 Asian Games Semi Final, where South Korea overcame Thailand 2-0 through Lee Jongho and Jang Hyunsoo’s goals:
In the post-match of that comfortable win, Thai keyboard warriors saw it prudent to whine and complain about how they were “cheated” out of a victory… here’s a few amusing clips/pictures of their total breakdown that still endures today: (the Tavern doesn’t condone the comments section of that video…)
Laughable. Despite their weirdly whiney fans, Thailand have made a good account of themselves in their World Cup Qualifying campaign, although they were drawn in a fairly lucky group – Iraq, Vietnam and Chinese Taipei (Indonesia being disqualified). The nation, 118th in the world according to FIFA rankings, will be satisfied with two 2-2 draws against the Iraqis, but needed a late winner against Vietnam in their opening WCQ game and went behind 1-0 against Chinese Taipei in November, through they eventually won 4-2. Luck of the draw and good results have ultimately meant that they will feature among the 12 teams in the 3rd Round of Asian Cup Qualifying – the first South East Asian team to qualify to a stage with World Cup berths on the line since.. Thailand in 2002. They are making steady progress (they were decent at U23 as well).
And although this match will be in Thailand, making this a veritable away match for the Korean national team, it will only be in front of some 20,000 spectators, with Thai officials opting to use the Supachalaisai National Stadium in place of the larger, more intimidating Rajamangala Stadium, which seats 50,000.
Now, you might be wondering – why is there any reason to get up early on Sunday morning and watch this match against THAILAND? If there’s one predominant reason, it’s the fact that Korean national team history could be made. The men’s national team are closer than ever to setting a record for most consecutive wins without conceding – which currently stands at 8. The national team has not conceded a goal since Yamaguchi’s wundergoal in the East Asian Cup all the way back in August. Against a Thai side which shouldn’t pose much of a test offensively, it is close to certain that the men will secure this record as they prepare for Spain and Czech Republic friendlies in June.
Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t the most thrilling of friendly fixtures – but Stielike could make it interesting if he experiments tactically or rotates heavily, giving forgotten or out of favour players like Ko Myungjin or Nam Taehee a full 90 minutes, or if he opts to leave Ki Sungyueng on the bench, letting players like Jung Wooyoung having to do the heavy lifting in midfield.
9:30 PM KST, 8:30 AM EST – KBS2 broadcasting in Korea, and in North America – DM us on Twitter, we’ll help you out if you can’t find a place to catch the match. Daehanminguk fighting!