An Interview with Choi Yongsoo re: Sweden

Late at night I watched this interview between a somewhat annoying guy and ex-FC Seoul manager Choi Yongsoo. Choi Yongsoo I think has validated some of the points that we’ve been making, and he admits himself that a lot of it was in hindsight. It’s not a perfect translation but I thought this would be a fun perspective from Choi Yongsoo himself.

And no, for those of you wondering, Choi Yongsoo flat out said there’s a very slim chance he would take over as KNT boss anytime soon.

Without further ado, here’s what CYS had to say:


Q: If you were the coach, what would you have done differently?

A: Sweden, Mexico, and Germany – where should we pick up that 1 win? Looking at our opponents the most winnable game was Sweden. As you saw there were glimpses where we looked the better team. Ultimately, I don’t think we needed to step back/retreat passively (물러서다) as much as we did. Also, with the frequent changes in the system/formation (구성) I wonder if the players felt awkward playing in so many different positions. The manager surely had his reasons and tactical instructions – but as a player these changes can be awkward – a forward for example should play to his strengths up front.

Jinseok’s take: Amen. Why we went so passive is beyond me.


Q: So you noticed that the players looked a little off playing in formations they’re not used to?

A: Yes


Q: What about how the players were used?

A: So this is all in hindsight, but I think it should have been clear that in terms of height we can’t beat the Swedes [CYS later jokes about how the Sweden team is full of Kim Shinwooks]. Before the game, when the lineup was announced I expected that Shin planned to take advantage of SHM/HHC’s speed on the flanks with LJS/KJC supporting 2nd line to proactively run at the Swedes and try to play off of the second ball utilizing KSW’s height. The forward line in a 4-3-3 requires interchanging positions to shake the opposition and make space. But our movement was too (피덩적으로? 피정적으로? Couldn’t catch the word).

Jinseok’s take: In the media comments Shin Taeyong mentioned how he tried to counterattack and wanted to emulate Tottenham. We got something very far from what he wanted, though I do agree that STY’s idea on paper (the KSW 4-3-3) given our player pool was not that bad an idea.


Q: Around 15 minutes we went super defensive. Did we get pushed back or was it STY’s decision?

A: whether it was the opposition buildup or STY’s decision or just an ineffective offense … we sat deeper and deeper (gets cut off again)…
We did have some good counterattacks but when it comes to counters… the speed, the movement, the decision-making… this is something you have to work on heavily in training and show “promised plays” (약속된 플레이가 나와야됩니다, which I assume refers to predetermined counterattacking patterns). Any team can counterattack. But it’s not easy to execute well.

Jinseok: I really liked listening to this part. Makes you really appreciate Huh Jungmoo back in 2010.


Q: Would KSW have been the sub to make early on?

A: From a height standpoint, Sweden has multiple Kim Shinwooks! Over height we could have gone for a more direct attack, which is what we’re better at anyway. In the K League, Lee Jaesung has been linking up well with KSW from the right wing, but we weren’t able to bring out their strengths.

Jinseok’s take: hindsight, but he’s has a point. At the very least we should have realized its not working. 


Q: Should we have gone for the offense and gone for the win?

A: Maybe. This is what our fans want right? Without withdrawing timidly, taking an attacking approach – even if we lose.


Q: So what would you have done?

A: you can’t press and all-out attack for 90 minutes – it’s unsustainable. But for a predetermined amount of time, we could have pressed hard and gone for the win – and depending on the flow of the game, we could have sat back at other times. Our first 15 minutes were good – we could’ve earned free kicks in good positions, continued to make good chances – but I wonder if our defensive line went too deep too early.


Q: If you were the coach would you have asked our players to continuously press forward? (I told you this guy was repetitive)

A: Easier said in hindsight, but if we were in control early on we should have kept hammering at the defense trying to create chances until a goal comes out. We did not need to withdraw so much on our own when we weren’t being pegged back by Swedish superiority. Again, we can’t take this approach for 90 minutes, but we should have at least tried until we deem it didn’t work


Q: The GK…

A: I was half concerned half hopeful for him, but wow, his strengths really shone through.

Q: Why concern?

A: I had some worry about his aerial ability [he’s a little on the shorter side], but that turned out to not be a problem.

Jinseoks take: What is up with korean coaches and height?


Q: Again, this is all in hindsight – but about Mexico..

A: So far of all the World Cup games, the Germany-Mexico game was one of the best ones. I expected Germany to win comfortably by 1 or 2 goals but wow football… the fighter mentality of all 11 Mexican players and their collective pressing, extra running, intelligent play…
Can Mexico show the same form against us? Football is relative. If we prepare well and unnerve them … they have a tendency to get overheated/overexcited at times. So if we be physical to the point of not getting cards and frustrate them to the best of our ability… that being said Mexico is by no means an easy opponent. But we did not lose against Sweden convincingly or due to a lack of skill – we conceded from a PK – and if the players find their confidence it could be possible.


Q: What would you do against Mexico?

A: If it was me… I wonder if we got the tactics flipped (Sweden v. Mexico). The Mexican players are faster but smaller than us, so maybe from set pieces and crosses we could use our aerial advantage and maybe even Kim Shinwook.


Q: So we should have used Kim Shinwook against Mexico not against Sweden

A: I suspect that would have been more appropriate


Q: So should we go all-out attack against Mexico? [I’m rly exasperated by this guy’s questions right now]

A: It’s not so black and white. Sure we can start out guns blazing, but football is all about the flow (흐름 – idk if flow’s the best word). We can go forward at times but also find the right times to sit back if it’s not working and defend and when we get a good rhythm going we can go back to attacking… you have to read the game like this.

Jinseok: this is something many of our past coaches sure could not do.


Q: But as our overall tactical approach?

A: Overall, I wish we wouldn’t passively retreat / step back (물러서다 again). If we sit back because we’re outclassed that’s one thing but we should never start out that way. Our players have ability. We have to prepare with the mentality of winning. And accept nothing less.



Full video is here:


About Jinseok 260 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.


  1. Q: What would you do against Mexico?

    A: If it was me… I wonder if we got the tactics flipped (Sweden v. Mexico). The Mexican players are faster but smaller than us, so maybe from set pieces and crosses we could use our aerial advantage and maybe even Kim Shinwook.

    We should have tested 3-5-2 against Honduras not Bosnia (easier team for the system / Bosnia plays 4-3-3). Here again we’re using KSW in the wrong match again… its STY has fine ideas but he’s applying them to the wrong games …

    • tho tbh I think KSW’s days of starting at the WC are done.. surely STY will choose 4-4-2 this time? That’s what it’s looking like in the media (but then again the media got it all wrong last time besides the KSW starting part)

    • since it’s kinda a given we’re gonna concede might as well go all out lol
      Remember back in 2016? Mexico played a 4-3-3 and we played 4-4-2 with HHC-SHM up front, KCH and RSW out wide, and JHS/JSH as CBs. That being said this Mexico team’s way better than the Olympic side we faced.. hopefully we can outscore them but what are the odds

Join in the Tavern's conversations -Leave a comment...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.