On Saturday, Korean fans visibly outnumbered the Omani supporters at filled Canberra Stadium for the KNT’s first Asian Cup match against Oman. The fixture result shows that the Taeguk Warriors did enough to secure a win, but the score could’ve been much different if they had seized the scoring opportunities that eluded them.
To refresh your memory, this was the starting lineup for #KORvOMA, courtesy of the AC Twitter page:
- Missed scoring opportunities and saves from Ali Al-Habsi, Oman’s goalkeeper and captain, prevented the result from leaning in more towards South Korea’s favor. So did the KNT’s inability to seize scoring opportunities– this confirms Coach Stielike’s initial impression that his players lose poise around the penalty area– this is a consistent, old-news problem that Coach Stielike is trying to fix.
- Korea’s lone goal emphasized Koo Ja Cheol’s strong presence in the game– some have criticized him for lackluster performances, but he has gotten back on his feet since the KNT’s tune up match against Saudi Arabia. Koo kicked a goalpost out of his justified frustration after Al-Habsi pushed his on-target header out.
- And of course, Koo displayed his crucial presence in the game through his shot that rebounded to Cho Young Cheol, who, in contrast to Koo, seemed nearly invisible during this fixture except when he struck the ball in past Al-Habsi. (To a certain extent, though, Cho showed that the criticisms against him are somewhat unwarranted.)
- Like Koo, Ki Sung Yueng and Lee Chung Yong’s presence was tangible in this match through their excellent midfield control at the start of the second half.
Here’s a video made up of highlights from the full match, which show the scoring opportunities that slipped past the KNT:
Player Rotation Possibilities: KNT’s Strikers
Based on South Korea’s matches leading up to this first AC fixture, some people have suggested that Koo Ja Cheol should play as the striker, and not as the central midfielder. Thinking about the essential role he played in the KNT’s goal against Oman, this could be plausible. The same suggestion for Son Heung Min has, of course, justifiably emerged, too, since he carries much of the scoring burden for the team. Could these be possibilities for the KNT’s current striker situation?
This leads us to wonder how Lee Keun Ho and Cho Young Cheol could best contribute on the pitch. If we reflect on South Korea’s tune-up game against Saudi Arabia, Lee was virtually absent as the central forward, just as Cho Young Cheol was against Oman. Given Lee Keun Ho’s high work rate and his yet-to-refine ability to finish as a striker, perhaps he could be more effective as a winger.
Injury update: Kim Chang-soo and Lee Chung-Yong both were substituted out with what looked like worrying injuries. Kim is expected to be out for the Kuwait match, while Lee Chung-Yong initially was reported to have suffered only a minor knock. This just in:
Lee Chung-yong is reportedly set to be sidelined for three weeks due to injury. It means he is almost out for the #AC2015.
— Korea Football News (@KORFootballNews) January 12, 2015