Architects of our own failure yet again

As always, the Asian Cup eludes us. A comprehensive 2-0 defeat to JORDAN of all teams – we were completely outplayed, completely deserved the loss, no question who was the better team. Our midfield and backline were completely overrun. Individual errors cost us the goals, yes, but Jordan set up perfectly to counter us. Kudos to Jordan for NOT sitting back and letting us snatch a last minute goal like Saudi Arabia and Australia did – they chose the correct approach of continuing to play their game, suffocating our midfield, and making like for like subs. So Lee Kang In, Son Heung Min, and Hwang Hee Chan created 0 shots on target. Has that ever happened before? Acc to Opta that’s a first for us since 2007 when Opta was founded. We’ve squeaked by through late drama and luck up till now but as our luck runs out we have to face reality and ask ourselves: have we ever played proper football all tournament? Nope. I said in my preview – we have a lot of reflecting and retrospection to do. Not a single thing went right for us huh. This is a truly humiliating match, one for the ages.

Three truly humiliating things here:

Zero attack. What is our identity as a team? How do we attack? Do we play defensively, do we play offensively? Do we play quick football, counterattacking football, buildup football? What exactly do we do? Even our old attacking patterns from the friendlies never happened this game. You can’t put Son Heung Min, Hwang Hee Chan, and Lee Kang In together and create ZERO SHOTS ON TARGET. But perhaps that’s what happens when you put talented individuals together with no coherent system in place.

Zero midfield: Park Yong Woo and Hwang In Beom had absolute stinkers today. Constantly passing to the opposition, gifting Jordan their first goal – like it’s one thing to concede because your opposition was really good, but it’s another to concede because your team straight up sucks. On the first goal, it’s almost as if Al Tamari KNEW Park Yong Woo’s pass would be garbage – you can see him start running even before Park Yong Woo plays the misplaced pass. And wow we crumple to a press way too easily. You know what’s funny? Lee Jae Sung, Hwang In Beom, Son Heung Min, Lee Kang In are very press resistant. In the Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue Un. How is it that when these guys get together on this team all we see are pass misses and dispossessions? This doesn’t make sense! Kwon Hyuk Kyu please save us…

Zero defense: Holy crap this was by far the worst one. How can NOBODY close down an attacker and win the ball back? We made Al Tamari look like Messi. That’s how awful this defense is. Pass misses were everywhere too. I knew Kim Min Jae’s loss would be a huge blow, and we knew that Kim Min Jae single handedly shut down Jordan’s counterattacks in the group stage, but I didn’t think we’d be this bad. We still have defenders in place, and conceding so many 1 v 1 chances in the first half should’ve been a bad omen, that we were doomed to concede eventually. Kim Ji soo and Lee Han Beom: please save us…

The blame surely does rest on Klinsmann and on the players who keep making mistakes and not passing properly, but I encourage us Koreans to direct most of our anger towards our FA. There was a short period of time when Kim Pan Gon came into power and appointed managers for logical reasons – this manager plays this type of football, which suits us, etc. Not saying that Bento was AMAZING but at least there was a plan and a vision. That’s a start. Now that the stooges at the KFA drove him out and replaced him with a Hyundai mogul and Lee Yong Soo with perhaps zero footballing acumen, we appointed Klinsmann with zero rationale. They literally could not explain WHY we picked Klinsmann. What kind of identity we wanted. What kind of football the KNT can and should be playing. Michael Muller literally answered “Gangnam style” when trying to explain why we picked Klinsmann. This is how you get truly humiliating games like this one. And because we lucked out into the semifinals, we can’t really sack Klinsmann either despite absolute and utter humiliation like this. Son Woong Jung was right. And even though we sack Klinsmann there is ABSOLUTELY no way we will hire anyone better. As long as the KFA is incompetent, we will always be stuck in a merry go round of bad manager after bad manager. So please – direct your anger to our KFA. I’ve been saying this for years now. We have an absolute golden generation coming up, and we’re going to squander if because of the KFA.

We absolutely need to leave the KFA to Kim Pan Gon, Lee Young Pyo, and Son Woong Jung. Get the stooges out.

I actually think this is more humiliating than Japan’s loss to Iran. They have their weakness, we have ours. And the JFA actually has a long term vision that they are trying to execute.

This won’t matter at all, but here are my notes from this match. I’m just straight up copying and pasting what I mostly wrote at half time. I’m not even going to try to make the second half coherent.

The lineup:

Klinsmann seems to be trying to correct a big issue from the first match. We were far too exposed in midfield, so this time we went 4-3-3 and played slightly more defensively than before. So on paper, this should be the right call to make.

The first half:

I take that back. I think anyone can tell that the first half was really really poor. The first 30 minutes was all Jordan with near zero attacking chances from us. As usual, the greatest culprit was REPEATED pass misses either straight to the opposition or just out of bounds. Our defense passed straight to the opposition, sent passes and clearances out of bounds, or had the ball dispossessed in the midfield. I know we have a tendency to do this often but why so much now? Jordan’s pressing? Nerves? Either way momentum was all Jordan today and Cho Hyun Woo saved us on multiple occasions, registering 4 saves in the first half to Jordan’s goalkeeper’s 0. If Jordan was just a little bit more clinical they could’ve had a strong lead by the first half. It is worrisome that whether it’s HIB, LJS, or PYW, we were STILL getting outnumbered and outmuscled in midfield despite playing a 4-3-3 instead of a 4-4-2. Compared to the first game, we were able to pick off the second ball much more effectively – thanks to the midfield 3 being there, and HHC and SHM often coming down to help out. But still, overall, we made the game way too easy for them.

The lack of Kim Min Jae was sorely felt as well. JSH and KYK just cannot match the pace of Al Naimat and Al Tamari. Al Naimat’s dribble past PYW, JSH, and LJS was pretty impressive, but it just illustrates how much we need Kim Min Jae – a kind of defender nobody can dribble past 1 v 1.  

Korea perhaps started to come alive after the 30th minute, although the underlying issues above still persisted the entire first half. We nearly got a penalty (which clearly wasn’t), LJS hit the post from a bicycle kick, but nothing really happened and Jordan continued to make chance after chance after chance. We were quite literally kept alive thanks to Cho Hyun Woo. The stats speak for themselves:

Shots: 12 to 4
On target: 4 to 0
Shots inside the box: 7 to 3

That… is not OK.

Second half: Lee Kang in moved centrally in a free midfield role. Dropping deeper, and seeing better passing and better possession/press resistance in midfield.

Immediately conceding from a mistake from Park Yong Woo … back pass picked off. That pass was too telegraphed. That was a straight up assist from Park Yong Woo. And yet again, we are the architects of our own failure. It’s one thing if you’re losing because your opponent creates a beautiful goal, but it’s another thing if you’re losing because you just gift your opponent a goal.

PYW subbed out immediately for Cho Gue Sung after conceding. Will we revert to crosses and put Lee Kang In on the left? Unfortunately, this leaves a defensive midfield of LJS and HIB – I don’t think that’s good.

Aaaaaand as it turns out our weak ass defense just cannot cope with Al Tamari. Nobody bothered to close him down? Kim Min Jae did it so effortlessly last time…

Saudi and Australia: they sat deep and defended. These guys: nope. Counterattacked and kept pressing. That was the right call against us. Kudos to them.

I said earlier that i’d update this post throughout the day but honestly I don’t feel like it. This is a hard one to swallow. Perhaps the most humiliating defeat of our team in all the time I’ve been following the KNT. And in retrospect, a shockingly humiliating Asian Cup. A 3-3 draw with Malaysia? Come on. Anyway, I can’t harp on this pain any longer. Tavern out.

About Jinseok 259 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.


  1. Korea lost this match due to empty midfield. Our two midfielders, Park Yong Woo and In Beom gave away 2 easy goals to jordan. Whenever, jordan got the ball. Our midfield was not doing anything to stop them.

    Jurgen Klinsmann really is a german fraud. Didn’t sub in Park Jin-seob for Park Yong Woo (!) who had an amazing game against Australia, Hong for LJS and was solely responsible for not selecting Paik Seung Ho, another midfielder we needed in this tournament. He should be sacked ASAP.

    • FYI, Klinsmann had no tactics coming into this tournament. Play out from the back and see what happens – literally this team’s identity.

      KFA should do its job and sack this fraud already. Hire back Paulo or a proper manager.

    • Sorry, but as an outside, meaning not attached to Jordan or South Korea (I’m fan of IRAN), I should say that South Korea played to their best assets. This was Jordanian side who had determination and focus and a better side. It seems that Klinsmann didn’t have any plan for such a game, meaning what to do if Jordan plays like that.. and honestly that roots from the fact that he’s a European coach with zero experience in Asian football, which is a different beast than world class football in South America and Europe. You have to leave in this continent and coach teams for a number of years to know how to play against teams like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, UAE, even Syria and Palestine who had their fare share of good plays. He was too optimistic.

      • Welcome! Always good to hear from neutral fans.

        Let’s hope Iran wins the cup!

        Good point, you do need to know how to play teams like that and well, Klinsmann’s luck ran out.

  2. lol “Gangnam Style” really? what a joke
    Korea was pretty shaky from day 1 and kudos to Jordan but man… this is just embarrassing on so many ends.
    and why is Klinsmann smiling after the match???? it makes me think that this was all a secret plot to get revenge against Korea after they beat Germany in 2018 hahahaha. you put a German in charge of hiring a coach and then you hire another German coach, not a very good one like Klopp, but Klinsmann.

    Speaking of Klopp… I know it’s unlikely, but can we get him LOL. I hate liverpool with a passion but cannot deny Klopp’s talent as a manager.

    • Klinsmann is a spuds player by heart it seems. I don’t even like tottenham nor do I care how good he was as a player but hiring a manager based on the same nationality is stupid.

  3. Not defending Klinsmann cuz since day one I’ve said he should be fired if we don’t win this tournament.

    But it seems to me that the players actually like him. And the herd mentality of Korean netizens on this topic is annoying as fuck. The issues we’ve seen in this tournament have been around for awhile and I’m not sure Klinsmann had a chance in hell of fixing them in less than a year.

    People focusing on him smiling while congratulating the Jordan coach/players? What a fucking joke. The greatest coaches in the world do that. This isn’t the 1980s nor is it 북한. Have some class.

    So while I understand if he does get fired (it’s what I asked for myself), the way that it is playing out is annoying the hell out of me.

  4. The Hyundai back line deserves a recall lol.

    Hopefully we have young players to take over the midfield and back line. If we want to play out of the back we need the players. Passing and defense was so terrible.

    But I’m proud of our guys for fighting so hard and winning two great elimination matches. Kilnsmanns luck ran out, he never made adjustments from the first Jordan match. But still this is on the players.

    I don’t want to make excuses but they were obviously wiped out after 2 120 min matches. That was going to catch up to them at some point.

  5. Korea only managed to win 1 game out of 6 in 90 min and lost goal in every match with a total of 10.probably the worst record in the past a tournament solid defence is the key to championship even for the top teams.. how can a team fail to improve with lessons learnt in the 1stb round.. sorry to see a waste of talent and very mediocre korea team under the incompetent klinnesman..

  6. I like the title because I wholeheartedly agree with it. This failure is 100% on us.

    We knew we had no system in place, but the barrage of unforced error made yesterday was still uncharacteristic. Was it because of pressure? incompetence? mental lapse? combination of all? I don’t know. But you know what would’ve decreased the likelihood of our players having those symptoms? If our players were rotated vs Malaysia.

    Most of our starters played the full 90′ in the GS and played two consecutive high-paced 120′ matches prior to this debacle. To expect them to be sharp and on top of their game is unrealistic. Yes, we missed Kim Min-jae, but c’mon. We looked like we were constantly one or two steps behind the Jordan players.

    Also, what was the point of holding majority of possession if the outcome was to be predictable? How many times did we build out from the back or midfield before finding space out wide for either Seol or Kim TH to cross the ball? Did it work? Yes, in some sense it did, but was it the optimal solution or tactic? Hard no. We were vulnerable to counter attacks and we clearly couldn’t cope with their speed, but Klinsmann made no adjustments other than shifting Lee KI centrally in the second half (which I liked), but made a like-for-like substitution when we should’ve gone full out offense to chase the game.

    Involving Cho in every game despite him being in poor form was frustrating to see as well. Why not just stick with Son up top or put in use Oh Hyun-gyu?

    This whole tournament highlighted a need to revert back to what we built during the Bento era. We competed well against WC caliber teams. We have essentially the same team who’s now struggling to beat Malaysia and Jordan. Talk about regressing…

  7. Hello! Thank you for writing this piece. That was the only match I could not watch due to work and when I saw the score I started feeling unwell but after reading this you made me feel better, so, thank you! Seriously!

    The one thing I would like to add is that I don’t understand why people are complaining about the Malaysia game. The team struggled to play that game having the A team on the field, so, how are people so certain we would have won with the B team on?

    Also… I would like to hear from the people who were saying they wanted to lose so that the coach will get sacked. Are you happy now? I dont think you are! So can you please spare us with all the negativity especially when you don’t really mean it?

    I think the players gave their all and I also think that the fans need to realise that having a small number of star players is not a guarantee to win cups or championships. Look at Tottenham.

    Anyway, keep up the good work! This is a good place to relax our minds!

  8. I am supporters for both Korea and Japan and that tournament is really sad for me as both teams are out before the final. Honestly, I watch Korea all 6 games and I still don’t know what is the game plan from Klinsmann. Actually it looks like he just ask the players to play long ball all the time and waiting for second ball then any individual moment will save the day. At World Cup, Korea played with much more compact (the first game against Uruguay was really brilliant and that should be how the team keep the clean sheet first before looking for the goal). I really hope KFA will change the manager but i dont think they will do it for both the financial reason and also Klinsmann guide the team to semi final (actually his player guide not him). At the same time, the young Koreans are in Europe should be perform better for the next tournament and I really hope Korean teams will have much more defenders playing in big 5 league. Kim Ji Soo will have a really good opportunity for next season with Brentford, Lee Han Beom also have chance to play in Denmark before moving on. Seol Young Woo i see the news he is going to Red Star soon. And one more thing, i think Hwang In Beom should not start the game for Korea anymore, he really played bad this tournament so Korea need better option for his position.

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

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