Well, more like a super brief overview – Tavern Owner is preparing for bed (I’m waking up at 2am for the game -kinda reminds me of what I had to strategically do to go late nite clubbing). Here on the US east coast, it’s a far jaunt from down under in Melbourne where today’s semifinal will be held.
So here’s the basics you need to know: In Melbourne, kick off is 6:30 pm…
That translates to 4:30 pm Korea Time / 2:30 US EST and on the US west coast Wednesday night 11:30 pm
Uli and company went on (after Saturday’s triumph over hosts Australia to win Group A outright) that it wasn’t results that mattered -but in the way they improved their performance then it was an absolute boost for their mentality and morale, especially after some initial lackluster games against Oman and Kuwait.
Going into this quarterfinal, Korea has 3 wins, 3 goals scored, no goals conceded. Each of these numbers needs a bit of context.
- 3 wins yes but narrow victories over Oman and Kuwait put a big target on Korea’s back. Harrowing times for Stielike as a number of players missed some days training due to a flu going around. More troubling is the loss of Lee Chung-Yong and now Koo Ja-Cheol to injuries.
- 3 goals scored. That’s a paltry sum and Team Korea continues to struggle with quality in the final third. On the other hand, Korea’s unheralded players such as Cho Young-Chol, Nam Tae-Hee and Lee Jung-Hyub have each found the back of net. Can Korea score more than a goal in this match (I’m looking at you Son Heung-Min) so as to put the game away and relieve pressure on the backline?
- 0 goals conceded. It looks good on paper, but watching the games, all of their opponents in the group had decent chances to score, but for one reason or another, were unable to get past Korea’s gatekeepers. Korea’s backline has at times performed their jobs adequately, but still have had their share of appalling mistakes. In the knockout rounds, continuing those mistakes surely will this time be absolutely punishing.
Some factors are in Korea’s favor. We’ve already mentioned the extra day of rest, but also Stielike has rotated his players quite a bit for this tournament. As a result, players like Cha Du-Ri and Nam Tae-hee will be on hand. Both partnered up for Korea’s goal against Kuwait, as Cha’s drive and cross led to Nam’s header – just textbook stuff. Son didn’t start against Australia (recovering at the time from flu) and subbed in the 2nd half.
Ki Sung-Yeung may be given some well deserved rest on the bench. He’s been a steady beast for the red devils, but having put in full 90 minute shifts in all 3 games so far, it’s possible he may only appear in the 2nd half should Korea find themselves in real trouble.
Uzbekistan’s coach has raised some eyebrows and raised the stakes by declaring that his team will surely beat Korea. How will that go over should he lose?
Here’s what a starting XI could look like:
… Lee Jung-Hyub
Son Heung-Min Nam Tae-Hee Kim Min-Woo
… Lee Myeong-Ju Park Joo-Ho
Kim Jin-Su Kwak Tae Hwi Kim Young-Gwon Cha Du-Ri
… Kim Jin-Hyeon
It’s the Center Back pair that has changed each game, and for most Tavern goers, a source of real concern. Could the Kwak / Kim Young-Gwon be right combination?
So, Uzbekistan…I’m not going to lie, I’ll not be able to do justice with previewing this team, so I’ll simply observe that in the past several years they are a decent up and coming central Asian team. Additionally, while they didn’t beat Korea in the last World Cup qualifier, it was close shave, a 1-0 result. Prior to that, Korea drew 2-2 with them in a November 2012 World Cup Qualifier.
Here’s how Uzbekistan arrived at the quarterfinals: