World Cup Tactics: Algeria 4 Korea 2

The proverbially tale of two halves? To use the cliche, sure. Algeria was rampant in the first half, going in at the break up 3-0 with Korea failing to even take a shot. The second half was more even, with Korea even being the better side. But ultimately it ended 4-2 in a historic result for the north African side.

Where to start? I guess as always we should start with the formations used and general tactics.

Korea went with their normal 4-2-3-1/4-4-2, and Hong Myeong-Bo made no changes to the side.

Algeria made five changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Belgium in the opening match.

Algeria 1 Korea 0 – Islam Slimani 26′

A fairly simple goal really. It started with Algeria winning a long ball after a restart for an Algeria offside call. The goal is really quite straightforward, so just take a look at the images below, and then we’ll go over some of the ‘what-ifs’ on the way.

algeria goal 1aJung Sung-Ryong’s long kick is aimed at Park Chu-Young, who has drifted wide. There are several players around him as they want to win the second ball. Unfortunately, Algeria wins the second ball, seen above.
algeria goal 1bThere is plenty of space for Algeria to launch their counterattack. Korea is trying to get back into shape, like they did against Russia, but Algeria attacks with more pace and directness. You could nitpick about Son’s positioning here, but ultimately it didn’t matter.

algeria goal 1cA quick back-and-forth is all that happens here. You can see that Yoon Suk-Young has followed the player (I believe it’s Feghouli) up the pitch to cover for Son Heung-Min’s advanced position.

algeria goal 1dA simple long ball over the top is the undoing. Although it must be said that it’s perfectly weighted and that Slimani timed his run perfectly as well. The centerbacks seem well positioned to snuff out any danger from this angle.

algeria goal 1f algeria goal 1gThese two photos reveal a small wrinkle. When Slimani begins his run (while the ball is in the air), he is closer to Kim Young-Gwon, and quite far away from Hong Jeong-Ho. By the time the ball arrives, Slimani has moved away from Kim and is next to Hong. The reason I bring this up is that many people (myself included) criticized the pair for not being more cynical and just hauling Slimani down. But seeing the spacing between the defender(s) and Slimani makes that criticism slightly weaker. The only time to really haul him down is right at the beginning, when he begins his run and is next to Kim Young-Gwon. At that point Hong Jeong-Ho is deeper than the other two, so the foul would result in a booking, but technically it wouldn’t get a red card as it’s not a last-man foul. By the end, when Slimani is near Hong, he’s past the two (just) and any deliberate foul would likely get red-carded. That early in the match and with the strongest opponent to come on matchday 3, it would be a huge gamble to take that risk.
algeria goal 1eFinally, the shot comes and Slimani does very well to keep it down and beat Jung. Both defenders are ‘there’ and Hong does get a toe on the ball just before Slimani shoots.

Whose fault is this goal? The centerbacks for playing too high? The midfield for not getting more pressure on the ball? The goalkeeper for not saving it? My initial reaction was to blame the centerbacks, for playing high and for not just bringing him down. We’ve already talked about the latter issue, but let’s talk about the former. Were they ‘too high’? On second glance I would say no. When Slimani starts his run they’re just inside the center-circle. That’s a good 10 yards or so into Korea’s half, hardly suicidal.

So, who is to blame. He’s an easy target, but I’d put a big chunk of the blame of Jung Sung-Ryong for his positioning and passive response to the ball. The rest does fall to the centerbacks, but for less obvious (because they’re more theoretical) reasons. Consider these final two images.
algeria goal 1hThe centerbacks probably could have been a little tighter together. There are no wide threats at the moment (right midfielder has dropped deep, left midfielder is covered by Lee Yong), so they don’t need to be particularly worried about that. The other possible issue is lack of communication, something that both players and Hong said was a problem post-match. Slimani is making a blindside run on Kim Young-Gwon. As the blue arrow shows, Kim is clearly looking at the ball. Hong has a clear view of what Slimani’s doing. Does he give a shout to his CB partner about the danger? Not sure, but it doesn’t seem like it.
algeria goal 1iBut here’s the bigger issue. What Jung Sung-Ryong does. The dotted red line (in both images) shows where Jung was positioned as the pass happened. As you can see in the second image, he’s moved backwards. At no point during the move does he attempt to come out. If you watch it, as the pass is played, Jung immediately starts moving backwards. Not a huge amount, but noticeably.

Here we run into a problem with systems. If Korea wants to play a high line they can. Hong and Kim aren’t blazingly fast, but they’re not slow, and they can play a highish line with little problem. The problem with Korea’s system is at the back end, the goalkeeper. Think of the club teams that do play the high line regularly: Spurs (under AVB), Barca, Bayern are the first that come to mind for me, and all three have excellent “sweeper-keepers” in Hugo Lloris, Victor Valdes, and Manuel Neur. Because attackers will more often than not beat defenders in a foot race, keepers operating in a high line must be actively aware of the danger when the line is broken and be quick out to snuff any danger.

Now, could Jung Sung-Ryong have gotten there in time to make a difference? Maybe, maybe not. The pass was almost perfect and it would have taken a perfect tackle by Jung to dispossess Slimani. But, by going out he could have at least disrupted him more and possibly forced a wide shot or slowed him down enough for one of the defenders to get a toe on the ball.

Algeria 2 Korea 0 – Rafik Halliche 28′

Another simple concession, this time from a set piece.

algeria goal 2aThere are five key players in this goal. Kim Young-Gwon, Yoon Suk-Young, Rafik Halliche (the goal scorer), one other Algerian player (sorry couldn’t make out who it was), and Jung Sung-Ryong. As you can see, Korea is man-marking for the most part, with two ‘zonal’ defenders in Ki Sung-Yueng and Koo Ja-Cheol. In the first part of the move, Halliche makes a forward run towards the goal, Kim Young-Gwon follows as part of his man-marking duties.

algeria goal 2bHere’s the key part of the move. Halliche suddenly changes directions and runs towards the ball (left side of the image). Yoon Suk-Young has not kept close to his man (as shown by the grey line). As Kim Young-Gwon moves to stay with Halliche there is a split second where he must go around Yoon. That second allows Halliche to get in between Kim and the ball.

algeria goal 2cYou can see in image three that Halliche has gotten ball-side of Kim Young-Gwon, and is beginning to make his forward run to head the ball. Jung Sung-Ryong is beginning to come out.
algeria goal 2dHalliche heads into an empty net, beating Jung to the ball with ease. Kim Young-Gwon is not in a position to challenge him. The only player who possibly could was the zonal marking Koo Ja-Cheol who did not make any challenge.

So, who’s fault was this goal? Again there is a number of guilty parties. Again the biggest must go to Jung Sung-Ryong. He does the right thing by being aggressive, but he fails to win anything. He’s beaten far too easily, and with the ball arriving in the six-yard box, Jung has to know that he has every advantage when it comes to physical contact. Throwing a rather lame one-handed punch at the ball is pretty weak. It does also appear that Jung calls the others off to claim the ball, which is most likely why Koo Ja-Cheol doesn’t make any attempt to clear the ball. If he’s calling others off, again, he must be more aggressive with his challenge (both hands, clear everything out).

Some blame must also fall on the shoulders of Yoon Suk-Young. Had he done a better job man-marking his opposition, perhaps Kim Young-Gwon is in a better position to challenge for the ball. I’ve criticized this team for being ‘too nice’ before, and this seems to be another example. Shirt pulling is technically against the rules, and you do run the risk of a penalty, but given the obvious physical advantage Algeria has, something more must be done.

Kim Young-Gwon must take some blame as well. Yes, Yoon Suk-Young blocked his run a bit, but Kim must take a better route. He goes around Yoon to the left (away from goal). He must realize that going around to the right is the better option as it’s a more difficult header if the ball arrives further away from the goal and with the player moving away as well. It’s a split-second, instinctive decision, but still.

Algeria 3 Korea 0 – Abdelmoumene Djabou 38′

In essence, this goal is sort of a reverse of goal number 1. Again a long ball over the top does Korea in, but the way it was “defended” (and I’ll use that word loosely) was a flip in how Korea approached the first goal. On Slimani’s goal the two centerbacks were in a zonal marking system. Hong Jeong-Ho “passed” Slimani to Kim Young-Gwon, who in turn passed him back to Hong. At least in theory. In reality, Slimani just split between the two and neither knew exactly who was picking him up. Here the system appears to have gotten confused or mixed up. Kim Young-Gwon is man-marking the run of Djabou, while Hong Jeong-Ho defends the space.

algeria goal 3aHere comes the pass. The red arrows show the runs of the two Algerian players. Djabou and Slimani. The blue arrows show the runs of the two centerbacks.

algeria goal 3balgeria goal 3dThe top image shows the player and ball movement at the time. The bottom image gives a better idea of how close the players were during the moment. Hong Jeong-Ho intercepts the ball and heads it out, but only as far as Slimani. Djabou drifts away from the defenders. Kim Young-Gwon fails to track him back, and Hong steps forward a bit to challenge Slimani. The player in the yellow circle is Yoon Suk-Young.

algeria goal 3c

algeria goal 3eSlimani slides the pass to the open Djabou who finishes easily.

In some ways this goal was similar to the opening goal that Korea scored (thru Park Chu-Young) against Greece in the friendly last March. A defensive mix-up, in terms of assignments, has left an attacking player with a free shot on goal.

The bulk of the blame for this one falls on Kim Young-Gwon’s head simply because he fails to continue to mark Djabou after Hong Jeong-Ho won the header. His blame increases if Korea was still using a more zonal marking system as in that case he should have let Djabou run into Hong’s zone where he would have picked him up (as he did).

There were some suggestions that Yoon Suk-Young should have rotated in and covered the back side, and I suppose he should have come in more than he did. But, there is a player out wide, and Son Heung-Min doesn’t look like he’ll be tracking back anytime soon, so . . .

Algeria 3 Korea 1 – Son Heung-Min 50′

Korea’s first goal was simple and carried a stroke of luck. Like Algeria’s first and third goals, a simple long ball over the top did the defense in.

korea goal 1aKi Sung-Yueng finally unleashed his long-range passing ability.

korea goal 1bAlgeria captain Madjid Bourgherra misreads the flight of the ball and it goes over his head, where it hits Son Heung-Min on the back.

korea goal 1c A couple clever twists and turns from Son opens up a bit of space, and he finishes well.

There is no brilliant or clever play here. So, no explanation is really required. Korea got lucky Algeria misread the pass, and Son did well to finish.

Algeria 4 Korea 1 – Yacine Brahimi 62′

Any hopes Korea had of a comeback were quickly dashed (although after Korea managed to create a couple decent half-chances) as Algeria scored a fourth through a series of beautiful passing moves.

algeria goal 4aMandi finds the run of Feghouli down the middle.

Algeria goal 4bFeghouli shows his strength as he holds off the challenge from Han Kook-Young, turns and finds space to dribble into.

algeria goal 4cHe spots the run of Brahimi from midfield and passes to him. Brahimi dribbles at the defense.

algeria goal 4dHere’s the key moment. Han Kook-Young has stopped tracking Feghouli and is watching the ball (with Brahimi). Ki Sung-Yueng is the first line of defense against Brahimi, Hong Jeong-Ho behind him is the second. Brahimi passes to Feghouli who has found that always valuable “space between the lines” and runs into the box.

algeria goal 4eFeghouli takes a touch which is enough to draw the attention of Hong Jeong-Ho. Ki Sung-Yueng does not follow Brahimi who runs into the space between Hong and Lee Yong. Hong is caught in two minds whether to step up and challenge Feghouli or stay back.

algeria goal 4fBy then it’s too late, Feghouli finds Brahimi’s run and the midfielder slots home easily as Kim Young-Gwon cannot get there in time to block the shot.

Goal number four is really the fault of the two deeper midfielders. Han Kook-Young and Ki Sung-Yueng both give up on their defensive responsibilities right when they shouldn’t have. Ki didn’t follow Brahimi, and Han didn’t follow Feghouli. The defenders got a bit of stick on this one, but their midfielders really let them down here.

Algeria 4 Korea 2 – Koo Ja-Cheol 72′

Korea got one last consolation goal from captain Koo Ja-Cheol.

korea goal 2aAgain, the goal starts with a simple long ball. This time launched by Kim Young-Gwon as he targets Kim Shin-Wook.

korea goal 2bKim Shin-Wook wins the aerial battle, something he did regularly in his relatively short appearance (10 aerial battles won in all). Kim heads the ball across goal where it finds the run of Son Heung-Min.

korea goal 2cSon Heung-Min takes a touch, and is tackled by the defender. Fortunately for Korea the ball trickles towards the sideline and to Lee Keun-Ho.

korea goal 2dLee Keun-Ho powers a cross across the face of goal, eluding the defenders and goalkeeper.

korea goal 2eKoo Ja-Cheol manages to get a thigh to the ball and re-direct it into the goal.

Ultimately, this goal summed up Korea’s second half strategy. Launch the ball towards Kim Shin-Wook and, more often than not, he’ll get his head to it.

First Half vs Second Half

So, what changed between the halves? Korea started to play better and Algeria took their foot off the gas a bit. By going more direct, Korea solved the one area that Algeria was really dominating, the midfield. Ki Sung-Yueng was horribly isolated in the first half as the rest of the midfield just could not cope with Algeria’s pressing. While “long ball” football is often derided as a simplistic and unimaginative tactic, it has it’s place in the game, and Korea’s use of it in the second half was a good choice.

Defensively, Korea just wasn’t prepared to deal with the pace, directness, and aggressiveness of Algeria’s attack. Algeria was there for a fight, Korea was not, and it showed. It’s a sporting cliche, but quite simply Algeria “wanted it more”. They fought and battled for everything and weren’t afraid to get stuck in. Korea was expecting someone who would sit back and let them pass it around, and when they didn’t get it they didn’t know what to do.

Player Ratings

Jung Sung-Ryong 4.0 – After a solid outing against Russia, Jung put in a fairly terrible shift against Algeria. Far too passive on Algeria’s early chances.

Lee Yong 4.0 – Can’t remember him doing anything other than get skinned multiple times down the right side.

Hong Jeong-Ho 5.0 – The best of a bad defensive line. Was sold short on a couple occasions by his teammates.

Kim Young-Gwon 4.0 – The worst game I’ve seen from Kim in a Korea shirt. Individual errors once again bit Korea in the ass, and Kim was often the culprit.

Yoon Suk-Young 5.0 – Wasn’t targeted as much with Feghouli drifting centrally, but he didn’t help that much defensively or offensively.

Han Kook-Young 4.5 – Against a stronger, more physical Algeria side, Han wasn’t as effective as he’s been in recent games. He won just one tackle, and his lack of passing/technical ability was harshly exposed by Algeria’s press.

Ki Sung-Yueng 6.5 – Far from a good game by Ki, but compared to his teammates he was solid. Algeria’s press isolated him and didn’t give him any time on the ball.

Lee Chung-Yong 5.5 – A poor day at the office for the vice-captain. Couldn’t get anything going offensively, but battled hard on the defensive side of things.

Koo Ja-Cheol 6.0 – Got his first World Cup goal, but struggled again to really make an impact offensively. He ran his socks off, but still struggles to fit into this team.

Son Heung-Min 8.0 – The only player that really played the full 90 minutes. Son’s determination and passion was pleasing to see, but at the same time it was a little sad that the youngest player on the team was showing the most.

Park Chu-Young 5.0 – Another fairly anonymous showing from the man Hong put so much faith in.

Lee Keun-Ho 6.0 – Reprised his energetic, off-the-bench role, and contributed with the assist for the second goal.

Kim Shin-Wook 6.5 – Won more aerial duals in his second half appearance than any other player thus far at the World Cup. But his limits remain, unable to get involved in any other way other than knocking down long passes.

Ji Dong-Won 6.0 – Energetic and lively, but didn’t contribute much overall.

Hong Myeong-Bo 4.5 – His initial plan got trashed after just a few minutes, and Korea never recovered. Got things going better in the second half, but by then it was far too late.

Thoughts and Conclusions

A shocking game for virtually all. Not only for the ease with which Algeria sliced through the Korean team, but also that they came out fighting. Algeria has long been touted as an organized defensive side with some good counterattacking talent, but no one saw them as an aggressive, high pressing, attacking force. So, kudos to Algeria for playing a brilliant game. Well done.

This game reminded me of some comedy shows or cartoons where there are two boxers in a ring. One is trying to be all fancy, dancing around, showing off their footwork, and throwing the light shadow punches. The other just stands there watching, and then suddenly pops the other in the face. Then while the dazed fighter is standing there wondering what the hell just happened, the other boxer smacks him a few more times.

Korea would of course be the fancy looking boxer. Trying to keep possession with their little short passes, and poke and probe looking for an opening. Algeria, the other boxer, who decides to skip the fancy stuff and just hit the guy.

The bulk of the blame must fall on Hong Myeong-Bo. The team was utterly unprepared for what Algeria put on display. I realize that few, if any, foresaw what Algeria would do, but at this level that’s not really an excuse. Managers must prepare for a variety of situations and scenarios, and even if they don’t have one prepared for what they see, they must adapt quickly. That Korea didn’t get their act together until the second half is far, far too late.

As far as players are concerned, I don’t think we really should be surprised by what we saw. We all knew that Jung Sung-Ryong is a shaky keeper at times, that the two centerbacks are capable of switching off/making individual errors. That Han Kook-Young is a liability in terms of passing and possession, that Park Chu-Young is out of form, and that the team is not mentally strong.

Do changes need to be made? Against Belgium I’m honestly not sure what you can change other than the forward and maybe the goalkeeper. Kwak Tae-Hwi and Hwang Seok-Ho are not upgrades on Hong Jeong-Ho and Kim Young-Gwon. Kim Chang-Soo is not an upgrade on Lee Yong. Kim Bo-Kyung is woefully out of form, and Lee Keun-Ho nor Ji Dong-Won is a 10. Ha Dae-Sung is coming off an injury, and Park Jong-Woo is also a technically limited player.

We can complain until we’re blue in the face about this player or that player that was not called up, but for now we must accept that these 23 players are the ones to choose from for the next match. After that a much longer discussion will need to be held about the future of the national team.

About Jae Chee 312 Articles

A football fan with who got bit by the writing bug.

33 Comments

  1. Thanks for this Jae.
    I have to ask – post World Cup, is Lee Bum-Young/Kim Seung-Gyu our only options for keeper? We don’t have any other K-League keepers or a promising young one? (False hope probably)
    I’ve never seen LBY play and KSG doesn’t seem to be that much better than Jung if at all so…

    I guess the whole “we have a legendary (to us) defender as our manager so our defence must be exceptional!” theory has really been proved wrong on the biggest stage now.

    And it’s not the first time our DM have failed to accomplish the “D” part of their job.

    Honestly let’s just play long ball against Belgium. We can bring on LKH and JDW as subs or something. We just have to go for it imo. No more “calm, steady, short passes and waiting for deadly pass” game. Just do it like in the 2nd half, get to the point and if we lose it’s not like we were supposed to win anyways. Easier said than done…

    • And if I had to give my player ratings, (seeing that I don’t have editing powers I’ll post them here), and they’re very similar to Jae’s and Jeremy’s,

      JSR 4
      HJH 4
      KYG 4
      YSY 4.5
      LY 4
      HKY 4.5
      KSY 5.5
      SHM 8
      KJC 6
      LCY 5
      PJY 4.5

      LKH 6.5
      KSW 6.5
      JDW 6

      HMB 4

    • The three who will challenge will be (in order) Kim Seung-Gyu, Lee Bum-Young, and Kim Jin-Hyeon. The current U-23 keeper is Noh Dong-Gun who is Jung SR’s understudy at Suwon, but hasn’t played a minute yet this season. Really Kim SG and Lee By are the only young(ish) keepers starting in the K League. The rest are all older veteran players like Kim Yong-Dae (Seoul), Kwon Soon-Dae (Jeonbuk), Shin Hwa-Yong (Pohang), and so on.

  2. Are you guys going to be writing a Korea vs Belgium preview? I actually look forward to new articles being posted and am grateful for the hard analysis you guys put into these articles. Do you guys have any hope within you that Korea could beat Belgium an possibly advance? If Belgium plays like they did against Russia and Korea makes the right changes and plays exceptionally well then isn’t it possible? For me, I will be hopeful until they are out.

    • Korea certainly won’t go down without a fight. Although it’s unlikely, I still have that feeling we can sneak a victory against Belgium, while Russia will overcome Algeria. Son will also step it up.

    • Lets change the mentality around here, especially after this WC. Im sick of people wanting to squeak by. We’ve trying to squeak through at this level for the last 30 years. This team doesn’t even belong in the tournament let alone the next 16. I hate to express this level of tough love but reality bites…this has been a complete fiasco. The only good thing coming from this is a big shot in the ass and hopefully some policy reform in Korean football from the ground up.

      We cannot risk this sort of embarrassment again. The gulf between Korean/asian soccer with the rest of the world is one again HUGE.

      • Wait. But I think we’re going to win… No need to be so negative, we don’t control korean football..

        I say start park jooho on the left and yun on the right and hope his youth makes him adaptable… Then sub in ksw and lkh in the second half to change it up. I believe park chu young will awaken in the game against Belgium. If he doesn’t then onto kim shin wook.

      • If people were any more pessimistic, fans would probably have stopped watching a while ago. Yeah, this World Cup was a failure for Korea. Regardless, I still want a Korean victory. Even if it means “squeaking by”.

      • In all due respect, no one is saying we should be sneaking around. I’m sure you, me and anyone else who are Korea supporters would love to see Korea bossing around on the world stage -but let’s keep some perspective here. I can only speak for myself – I didn’t have any illusions that Korea could be capable of a deep tournament run, especially a year ago with the state the KNT was left in. The best Korea could do was advance from the group and lose to Germany on S American soil. KNT may not reach that target – yet to be determined however. There always was the chance Korea could either be exposed or possibly beat the odds and do relatively well in the tournament depending on a number of factors, but in the big picture —whoever was going to take over after Choi Kang-hee was going to be in a difficult position no matter what. You want to bring the hard love? Hey man -DON’T WE ALL? Just sayin’…- they’ll be a time to bring that hammer down; and collectively perhaps we all can bring that down on the KFA and everybody responsible – which could mean we also must bring that down on ourselves -more on that later. In the meantime – the team down there now need our support. I’m going to bring it. Whether you give them that -win lose or draw – I can’t decide for you.

        Kimchi Cock, yes you – I am talking to you, namja to namja – you have been a loyal Tavern patron and I hope at the end of this you will continue to be a loyal patron. I appreciate your views as well as everyone else’s that’s been constructive, (by the way, have you paid your bar tab yet?) Look Kimchi, this isn’t a matter of deserve – what team deserves to be in the World Cup? World cup qualifiers are inexact and unfair -tell that to Uzbekistan -or to Ireland in 2010. Even if you’re the top rated team – the reigning World Champions – BFD when you’re Spain and exit group stage in 2 games. Even the best can have pants-to-the-ground embarrassing losses. That’s the World Cup. Gotta pay to play.

        Frustrated? I’m with you. But I’m going to go back further. What about the 12 years after 2002 – an opportunity to get the kleague going right, get the masses off their asses and into the stadiums. grow the domestic league. and if the stadiums were too big, tear em down and build back up, this time right. You want to talk embarrassing – how about having nearly empty stadiums for K-league games. Even more so for Asian Champions league games – Korean teams are beating Chinese and J-League club teams and you wouldn’t know it with the empty stadiums and little to none tv coverage. All around Asia stadiums are PACKED despite not winning the Asian title. Korea has won 3 out of the past 4 titles but you would never know from the home side stadium crowds. and how about the courage amongst the general population in Korea to challenge the status quo in regards to military conscription that hampers Korean football and allow flexibility so that Korean footballers CAN be the best they can be- and represent Korea FULLY. Instead there’s superficial pettiness and idiotic distractions made about Park Chu-Young and whether he draft dodged – or Ki Sung-Yeung and whether he’s unpatriotic if he uses his left hand during the n’tl anthem. I think you and I can agree -that’s petty & distracting and is fully b.s. This is the mentality of some (not all but some) in Korea and with that kind of attitude – well hells bells, sometimes even I feel like Korea doesn’t deserve to be in the WC. But that they are in Brazil, they did fight in the qualifiers – and thus, ‘laissez le bon temps rouler’. What I’m saying is perhaps not all on the pitch in Porto Allegre should be where your anger is placed – there’s all these systemic problems that need to be addressed and rooted out and it will NOT be an overnight thing.

        Are any of us prepared to actively deal with those systemic big ticket items in the long haul? For that matter, are any one of us in a position to influence any of this -especially from inside the US? (i kinda hoped yes with my in bed with maradona article

        [http://inbedwithmaradona.com/journal/2014/1/2/conscription-the-dreaded-rite-of-passage-strangling-korean-football]

        but I don’t know if a critical mass in korea has read it to get the conversation ball rolling, or even google translated it … oh well)

        The gulf between Korea/Asian football and the football powers has always been a gulf – but it’s a matter of degrees. And it’s still only a matter of time, but Korea can smartly bridge the gap faster. However I encourage everyone not to blow a gasket, not over one game. There’s the big picture to be concerned with.

        Speaking of games, -as difficult as it might be – we have to have some element of FUN and allow the gods of probability to play havok here. Take a deep breath and have fun like the Korean supporters down in Brazil there are having and just go with it (for now). The perspective I see is we have a talented team – as in raw talent – it is imperfect -it is capable sometimes (and REALLY incapable other times). but it’s also incredibly young and inexperienced. Overusing ‘capable – Korea was capable of 3 point against Russia but got 1. It was capable of getting 3 against Algeria but got none and moreover got their asses whooped. Anyone who is an honest analyst will tell you that with as unpredictable World Cup as we’ve seen, Korea has a chance against Belgium, but visa versa applies. A Team Korea against some mix of Belgium B? I say game on. I could be wrong – but I won’t crow about it if I am right.

        Going back to Algeria b/c that will be THE talked about critical game that will be remembered here at the Tavern – we should be mad – but why I emphasis on cooling it is because we have to think smarter. We can’t over-react like with Cho Kwang-Rae – because the ‘balli-balli’ Korean mentality of we-want-instant-results-now attitude gave us Choi Kang-hee. I will never forget nor forgive the decision to install CKH — that going ass-backwards is what Korea CANNOT afford, period. It’s probably why Hong was so cautious in his approach to this WC, but another thread for another time…

        I’ll have to repeat this in a latter post but if I can be allowed to overgeneralize -a Korean’s best qualities: persistence. When falling down – we get up -we learn -we grow- and we kick ass eventually. Moreover, the idea that we can influence and be part of the conversation to improve the quality and standards of Korean football is RAD. Korea should never give up fighting. Dae han min guk ya’ll. I’m going to work on the basement (that is falling apart). I’ve dropped the mic to the floor. Peace out.

        • You know what? I don’t even care if we win the whole thing while Im alive. I know thats a serious pipe dream.

          I would be ELATED, if once…just once…we got into the 16 or a bit higher with a bit of authority. Like Mexico is.

          No controversy no high jinks no luck and no reliance on anyone else but from our own ability.

          With Honor and Pride

          That is all I ask for.

          • What do you mean by honor and pride? Think about that Korean flag made up of the pictures of the Sewol victims during the national anthem. Are we Koreans not proud? Or Son’s effort to try and keep Korea alive vs. Algeria. Is that honorable enough for you?

          • Then you and I are on the same page. I think all true Taeguk Warrior supporters are with you on that.

            The only thing I can encourage you in viewing the Porto Allegre loss is let’s balance the negative with the positive – to keep perspective of where Korea has been – keep the conversation in a constructive direction on how it should move forward. Should Korea be better 12 years after their historic run in 2002? Maybe, but consider Cote I’voire has never advanced – even to the round of 16. I think they should’ve advanced this time around (soft penalty kick awarded Samaras but I digress).

            How we tailor our criticism of the loss is just as important as being hard and real about the team.

            Have hope that the players who were ‘shite’ on Sunday – you never know if they have potential to learn and grow into an internationally renown group that we can all be proud of. And maybe they won’t, but I’m reminded of Son Heung-Min who everyone can agree was boss on Sunday. Not only did he shank all his shots vs Russia, going back further this kid was dropped initially by Hamburg’s academy as a 16 year old. I believe he went all the way back to Korea. Hamburg eventually gave him another shot. And fate, as it would turn out, would give him an altogether different outcome, some of it his own hard work in training, some of it dedicated persistence from his dad, and some of it, being at the right place at the right time.

            When Korea does do what you just outlined – you and I won’t be the only ones ELATED. I’ll go further – I think Korea could, if the right tactical moves are made that can positively affect Korean football generations into the future – Korea can get back to the WC semis legit and maybe beyond. One never knows…

          • I know what you’re saying but Ive been following for a long long time.

            I think Im allowed to vent my frustrations here.

            I honestly expected us to be competitive this tournament especially given our grouping.

            Instead the gulf between us and the rest of the world is as big as its ever been in the last 40 years. The display in Brazil was over the top HORRIFIC. Its hard to have a positive spin on this.

    • Korea’s A team against Belgium’s B Team? Short answer: if Korea shakes off that bad loss and doesn’t hang their head low, they have what it takes to score at least 2 goals against them (that’s the minimum needed + Russia beating Algeria 1-0). The defensive mids have to help the backline -and in turn the GK keep a clean sheet. If they are back on their feet, mentally and physically, then yes, I do have hope. Could I be wrong? Let’s say in my World Cup pool, I picked Spain to go nearly all the way. I picked Italy to make it to the semis. I didn’t pick USA to advance. Consolation: I wasn’t the only one….

    • wait, not to sound like a nerd (too late), but if PCY catches the snitch, wouldn’t Korea win the game instead? Weasley – 2 demerit points from Gryffindor!

  3. I haven’t commented much partly because I’m in the middle of moving to HOTLANTA. However, I’ve also refrained from commenting because I’ve been slightly annoyed with the histrionics and also many half-baked analyses going on, which is fine, since this is a place for fans. That said, we keep trying to pin the blame on the wrong people. Sure, JSR made mistakes, but there were larger team mistake that contributed as much if not greater to those mistakes. Sure, there were tactical mistakes, by HMB, but he had less than 1 YEAR to do anything. Unless you’re a superstar coach, and even then, I’m pretty sure it’s difficult to accomplish anything. I’m not excusing anyone. JSR, the defense, the midfield, the forwards, the coach, they all had mistakes, but THE single biggest reason everyone is frustrated right now, whether you know it or not, is not because of them. It’s because of the KFA! The KFA consistently puts the team in poor position to excel. Dae or someone posted an article about the failure of the Asian teams in this World Cup. Japan, though they failed miserably in this World Cup, is the only Asian team doing it right. The KFA is not only nepotistic, they’ve never once had a long term goal. Roy is right to point in that direction. That said, military conscription is towards the bottom of the list of things to fix. If the KFA remains a crappy, nepotistic, short-sighted, corrupt, and vision-less organization, the KNT will at best be like most of the African teams. A team with talent and very poor long term prospects. Ghana is the only federation (and I’m speculating based on results and overall progression of the team in the past 12 years) that seems to have some sort of long term thinking and might be the exception, but there have also been evidence to the contrary. Heck, even many of the UEFA teams have been too short-sighted, like the Scandinavian countries and, of course, the BIGGEST and BEST at short term vision-less leadership, England! KFA needs to step up and start thinking BIG and AMBITIOUSLY, like the Japanese and the Americans are doing. Those two are the ones that have been historically similar to Korea in terms of soccer development, yet even as the talent level is generally growing in similar fashion, Korea is definitely behind those two now. The JFA and USSoccer have demonstrated this desire and have worked towards these long term goals for developing the soccer in their nations. But, as much as I’m looking forward to discussing that, I think the first thing is to just enjoy. I might be upset, but I’m going to enjoy the fact that Korea is even in the tournament at all. NONE of us should take for granted how difficult it is to be a team that has made the World Cup 8 straight times!

    • While I agree with you on KFA being an inept and stubborn old boys organization set in its ways, lets also not forget that Japan got soundly abused this tournament as well so your argument kind of falls flat. We all know the federations have their issues here but even Japan with all its development couldn’t compete because it was physically inferior. Zacheronni effectively put his hands up in the air today and exclaimed “no mas” after Colombia.

      Against Algeria, we got MANHANDLED and out skilled. Japan lost very similarly to Columbia, and Zacheronni complained that the single biggest problem he faced with his team was a physical disadvantage. I doubt he’s making that up and the way teams played against both of us really is the tale of the tape. I had a discussion with Jae pre-WC here on how teams would play us and it has turned out exactly that way (press-counterattacking-ambush) because of our offensive liabilities. Like shooting fish in a barrel really.

      Hong may have had a little less time than a lot of NT Managers but he knows these guys well and handpicked a lot of them based on his own experience with them. This team has not been properly drilled or conditioned prior to this tournament. Why? Is that the KFAs fault? Too easy to blame a faceless entity right now.

      Very clearly, Hong has had a crappy game plan and an even shittier philosophy about adjusting to unfavorable conditions. He has made little or no change to his approach and while Im not saying that would’ve changed the outcome to any of our matches, it all seemed like a tremendous waste of time under his helm. Eerily enough, it reminds me of Cha’s tenure at the helm where he fell completely apart in 98 after good to ok pre tournament. He looked like a fish out of water when the shit hit the fan and had NO answer for the disheveling that took place against Holland.

      We need competent, foreign management and hopefully before anyone realizes something is drastically wrong. Korean soccer is going to take a huge hit after this tournament imo. Viewership and following will be considerably down which means even less money for the KFA. God knows whats going to happen to Kleague after this.

      And before anyone jumps down my throat for being pessimistic, Im Korean and know my peeps well. We are about as fair-weather as it goes.

      • I second the idea that the K League will take an attendance hit post-WC when it resumes. After the Korean baseball team crashed out of the WBC, KBO attendance dropped sharply (although it rebounded nicely this year). I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar in football.

      • actually, kimchi my point stands. japan crashed out, but they’re still in better shape for the long haul. again, if you read, i already acknowledged that they got beat. japan’s problem is a different one than korea’s, but i’m not addressing their issues here. this isn’t about blaming a faceless entity.. there are faces to this. the kfa is not some made up organization devoid of people. you talk about hiring foreign management. guess who does the hiring? yea. the kfa. besides that, you missed the whole point that i explicitly stated.

        players and coaches aren’t without fault, my point is that the whole reason it’s as bad a situation is that it started from the top. elsewhere, kimchi even talked about changing from the bottom up, which is completely not the problem. the top has to change in korea. that’s the only way that the bottom can excel. the kfa continues to get a free pass, because people always find it easier to blame the coach or the players. you are the one giving a free pass to the kfa.

        as for hong, i find your arguments are the weakest when it comes to assessing him. you keep going on and on about his supposed ‘anti-football’ tactics. i’m not even a hong apologist and that makes absolutely zero sense. his philosophy is not conservative tactically. perhaps in terms of lineup change and adjustments, which you have rightly criticized, but not tactically. the problem is consistently that he plays a tactic that his players for the most part are incapable of. his style leans much more towards the tiki taka (indirect a bit, but not conservative) than the counter attack, and high pressing from the backs (also aggressive rather than conservative). in fact, against algeria, the problem was not really the ‘style’ of play, but rather that the korean players could NOT HOLD POSSESSION. they literally would goof up passes. now, it’s beyond me how anyone can consider that a part of hong’s tactics. you can blame hong for not understanding his personnel and even selecting the wrong personnel or even employing the wrong tactics (getting out-coached), but to call his tactics ‘anti-football’ actually shows how much your comments seem more based on emotional outbursts of anger rather than reality. this isn’t even to mention that it’s not anti-football to play conservatively even if you were right about hong’s tactics being too conservative. unless you think the typical italian way is ‘anti-football.’ no one gives a damn about total football or anti-football. results is what matters and hong can rightly be taken to task for that. but, it needs to be taken in context and you can’t have it both ways. you can’t complain about this being all about results and then complain putting some kind of value to stylishness of a team’s play. it’s about what works, and if you want to blame hong for his tactics not working, fine. but don’t attribute false judgments to his style to accomplish that.

        as for physicality, korea has not consistently had issues with physicality from World Cup to World Cup, so i’m not sure what point you’re trying to make there by relating that with japan or asia.

        as for the cha comparison, it’s apples and oranges, except of course that the kfa was incompetent and an embarrassment in its handling of that as well and the reality that the competition had stronger teams than korea. again, context matters. cha may not have been a great coach, but to think that the results would have been any different when you look at that dutch team and what korea had, you’re kidding yourself. the only reason korea even got a draw with belgium was because belgium was so underwhelming on offense. but you even bringing up 98 highlights my point. where is the sense of direction from that point on? hiddink was supposedly the answer. but what did they do after hiddink? they relied on advocaat. but you know what their criticisms were when they left? that the kfa basically is nepotistic and that their own dysfunction limits the growth of korean soccer. hiddink had a direction and korea went along with it for 4 more years afterwards, but it was hiddink’s vision not their own. every good football nation has a plan from the soccer federation on down and they find coaches that can fit that. in fact, that’s what the dutch felt most vindicated by. van nistelrooy was saying that in holland they train the youth in a certain way from when they’re children to adults, and that the thumping of spain was a vindication that that vision was still a viable one. what vision does the kfa have in terms of korean soccer identity and style? you can keep complaining about hong and whomever else, but at the end of the day, until the kfa changes, i can almost guarantee that you’ll be complaining about some other coach or player 8 years from now if not 4 years from now.

        as for the kleague taking a hit, that i can agree with, but what does it matter? attendance is already pretty crappy. koreans aren’t necessarily fairweather fans when it comes to SOCCER as a sport. it’s much more dire and short-sighted than that. they only care about the KMNT. they don’t care about club soccer, especially the kleague. it’s not like they LOVE euro leagues either. they are perhaps fairweather fans of players and if there is some star they’ll watch. aside from that, they don’t see or care that their is a connection between the development of the domestic league and the KMNT excelling. That might be bad enough, but what’s worse is that in my opinion, the KFA doesn’t see the connection either or don’t care that there is a connection.

        • Perhaps the reason I miss your point so often is because you like to discuss these things in such a general way. Of course, I don’t disagree with you that the KFA is the death star center of the wrong universe and the main reason perhaps that we find ourselves where we do now. Its a safe general way to argue the situation but do you have any exact instances for the fail? Im open to hearing this I guess. As I just indicated imo, KFA’s hiring of CKH led directly to this result, so you’re right, KFA sucks. For most of us though, simply saying KFA sucks just doesn’t cut it.

          I think Korea is fairly far behind Japan in the scheme of things right now. They have more money and more interest to succeed. They’re also much more openminded than us. They still looked just as horrible as the next country in Asia during this WC and were exposed in almost the exact same way, so trying to squarely place blame on soccer federations does little to explain the situation. Maybe its something you don’t want to hear.

          • you make some good comments about Cha and Hong that I will address in the next Tavern post hopefully…this layout is a complete mess (my bad) and hard to follow.

    • After some more thought, Id like to propose this as the direct reason for our flailing in Brazil.

      Choi Kang Hee

      That dude absolutely juiced whatever momentum we might’ve had and planted the seed for where we are now.

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