The first series in our Tavern Rio Olympics Preview Series is… Meet the Squad! We will be doing an in-depth profile of each of the eighteen lucky footballers to make it to the Korea Repbulic Rio Olympics U-23 team. We will start with the goalkeepers, then move to the fullbacks, centerbacks, defensive midfield, attacking midfield, and forwards.
*Since we only have two goalkeepers in Kim Dong Jun and Gu Sung Yoon, the format will be comparing the two instead of profiling each directly.
Kim Dong Jun has only recently burst onto the Korean football scene, but he has actually been the understudy to Lee Chang Geun for much longer. Just as LCG was the backup GK in the 2009 Fifa U17 world cup, KDJ actually was the backup GK in the 2013 U-20, it’s just that he was more than a year younger (12/1994) than the other players (1993) and never got a chance to play.
But after that tournament, with Lee Chang Geun getting benched at Busan due to Lee Bum Young’s presence, Kim Dong Jun began to impress more and more, palying his first game in the Toulon Cup against Colombia in May 2013. And since the U22 Asian Championship last year, Kim has not only convincingly staked his claim as our #1 goalkeeper, but also put in some very good shifts for Seongnam FC. Which is even more impressive if you consider that in Korea, rookies coming straight out of Uni usually don’t get to start right away in the professional K League (from Day 1 no less)
Gu Sung Yoon, on the other hand, was almost a complete unknown until recently. He played for Cerezo Osaka’s U18, signed with the pro team from 2013-2015, but never got to play due to the presence of Kim Jin Hyeon (but still listed Kim Jin Hyun as his favorite player on the Cerezo official page). Now playing for Consadole Sapporo in J2, late bloomer GSY had been playing much more and has certainly earned his place on the Olympic team.
KDJ has played 18 games and conceded 22, while GSY has played 17 games and conceded 9. GSY has 10 clean shets, KDJ has 6. Clearly the stats favor GSY, yet almost certainly, Kim Dong Jun is going to be the one starting between the sticks. Why could this be? I suspect it’s a combination of 1) playing in a lower league and 2) Consadole being 1st in the J2 table whereas Seongnam is 4th. I’ve never watched Consadole Sapporo play, but I suspect their defense is pretty good considering they have conceded only 15 goals (those extra 6 goals that GSY didn’t concede comes from three appearances from the backup GK).
Strengths and Weaknesses:
Another reason that KDJ starts before GSY is because GSY is slightly error prone. This one was the most egregious in recent memory but he still occasionally has nervy moments (like when the ball flashed across the face of goal vs. Nigeria because GSY couldn’t get his hand on the cross)
In quite a number of ways GSY reminds me of Kim Seung Gyu. Tall, athletic, and good in the air, yet just a little error prone.
Kim Dong Jun on the other hand, is like Lee Chang Geun in that he just inspires confidence that the ball is safe in his hands. He’s pretty good with PK’s as well, though none of the PK’s in this video were particularly good…
The goalkeeper department is the least of our worries, as we have two very talented players to rely on. We even have a third goalkeeper in the shadows, Lee Chang Geun, who will certainly be picked if any one of these two are injured before the tournament. LCG has recently moved to Suwon FC, played immediately, and made some INCREDIBLE saves against Jeonbuk to keep the score 2-2. This video is worth watching in its entirety: