Man it’s been a while since I’ve last posted! The World Cup made me really sour and got me working on a monstrosity of a post titled “Everything that Went Wrong in the Past Four Years, and How to Fix Them,” but after all the news updates of HMB resigning, LYS getting appointed, I felt that the post became obsolete. I am now, however, in the process of reviving it. So get ready for that one, to be posted in a total of six segments:
- Coaching and Identity
- Formation, System, and Tactics
- The KFA
- The Team and the Current Talent Pool
- Korean Culture?
- The Future
Anyway, a lot of stuff is going on right now in the youth football department, so let’s dive straight into that.
The U23 NT and the Asian Games
This is the real important one, obviously, since military exemption is on the line. Moreover, the games are being held in Incheon so the chance to win it is truly now. The squad is actually set to be announced within the next day. Just a couple hours ago I was expecting this front four lineup:
Kim Shin Wook
Son Heung Min Kim Seung Dae Lee Jong Ho
However… a twist was thrown into the selection process as of today. Leverkusen refused to let SHM go for the Asian Games, even if it was only for the knockout stages, saying they could not afford to let “one of its top players” go for 2 champions league games and three Bundesliga games. Son is only 22 so he has more shots at military exemption, but this is quite a setback for him, as well as for Lee Kwang Jong who has hopefully thought of a plan B. Also, Hoffenheim has already cleared Kim Jin Su, so at least he’ll be available.
Before Leverkusen’s statement most were expecting a wildcard selection of Kim Shin Wook, Kim Seung Kyu, (these two are certain picks) and Shin Hyung Min (odd choice, but he is really on form right now and a DM is always valuable). The other options were Lee Yong, Lee Myung Joo, and Park Joo Ho, who will now be fighting with Shin Hyung Min for that 3rd spot now that one of the attacking quartet cannot participate. This will probably favor Lee Myung Joo to slot in as the CAM but who knows, we’ll just have to wait a couple of hours. Stay tuned for the full Asian Games roster!
The U20 NT: AFC U19 Championships
This age group features exciting talents such as Hwang Hee Chan, Seo Myung Won, Kim Shin, and Paik Seung Ho. The team, though missing its professionals (those who have pro contracts), Paik, and an injured Seo Myung Won, recently flew over to Japan for the SBS cup. We will face Japan U19, Colombia U19, and “Shizuoka” which I assume is a random J League youth team.
The 2014 AFC U19 Championship is also coming up in October. Getting to the semifinals, which entails winning once after passing through the group stage, qualifies us for the 2015 U20 World Cup, a tournament we always do surprisingly well in. However, this time around might be a bit tougher since we are placed in a group with Japan, China, and Vietnam. We are clear favorites but these opponents cannot be underestimated.
The U17 NT: AFC U16 Championships
We qualify for the U20 World Cup so often, yet qualification for the U17 World Cup has proved for more elusive as our last shot at it was in 2009. Perhaps the age group featuring Lee Seung Woo, Jang Gyeol Hee, and promising 195 cm striker Yook Geun Hyuk can change that though. This team recently participated in a tourney in Mexico (which LSW didn’t participate in to attend Juvenil A preseason but Jang did), we beat Canada 2-0, lost to Brazil 3-0, and beat Costa Rica 1-0 in the group stages. We then lost 3-0 to Ecuador.
As for the AFC U16 Championship we are drawn with Thailand, Oman, and Malaysia. Sounds like a piece of cake, but our U16 teams have always been so inconsistent I don’t know what to expect. Hopefully the Barcelona duo can lead us to our first U17 WC in a long time.
The Spanish Contingent
Lee Seung Woo and Paik Seung Ho are officially on Juvenil A. Both are still banned, despite the “temporary lift” that was announced earlier this summer (I have no idea why, and no one else seems to know for sure either). However, given that Paik Seung Ho turns 18 this March he will be eligible once more since the Fifa rule only bans U18 kids. Lee is still 16 so unless Barcelona actually decide to take action he will not feature much, but fortunately, Juvenil A will play in 6 friendlies and the Memorial Kocsis tournament in Hungary before the season (in which Lee and Paik will not feature) begins. They actually should’ve played Levante’s youth team yesterday but there are no updates on that for some reason…
Jang will play for Juvenil B. He just flew back to Spain for preseason.
Lee Kang In: I actually can’t figure out how he’s doing because Valencia is a little frustrating – they don’t list all of their youth squads on their official website (only a Juvenil A and an Alevin A) and Google isn’t helping me at all. But whatever competitions they enter I’m confident Lee Kang In is beasting it up because that’s what he always does.
Kim Seung Kyu is still playing for Almeria B, while Kim Woo Hong, once of Real Madrid’s Castilla, has transferred to Deportivo La Coruna’s B team, which lists him as a LB.