Asian Games RO16: Korea 5-1 Kyrgyzstan

I wasn’t planning on individual game writeups until the quarterfinals, but this one was notable enough for me to post about the match. The score suggests that we breezed past Kyrgyzstan with ease but for anyone who actually watched the game, there was a point towards the end of the first half where we didn’t seem as invincible as we had been throughout the tournament (we were still always going to win though). Why do I say this, and why did Hwang Sun Hong tell the media “I hope we never play like this ever again”? Read on to find out

Going into this match the bracket looked like this:

On paper it seemed that the real test lies ahead in the round of 8 where we would potentially face hosts China (they did beat Qatar 1-0 concurrently alongside our game) and beyond, where we may face the likes of Uzbekistan (who always gives us a hard time), Saudi Arabia, Iran, Japan, or North Korea (our 2014 final was against NK, our 2018 final was against Japan). After all we had faced Kyrgyzstan before (like 2 weeks ago for the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers) with a totally different squad and still won 1-0.

Our lineup was as follows:

The match started very brightly. What really stood out to me was that although Korea’s gameplan is almost always go wide –> cross, this team actually built up through the middle utilizing through passes and runs behind the defense (they’ve been doing this the whole tournament too). It wasn’t a huge surprise when we had a penalty converted in the 11th minute by captain Paik. And right after the opposition kickoff, we timed a press to perfection allowing Um Won Sang’s cross to connect with Jeong Woo Young for his 4th goal of the tournament.

It was in the 28th minute that Korea conceded our very first goal all tournament. Kyrgyzstan, who of course focused on defending most of the match, did leave two men ahead of the ball for counterattacks. One of them managed to dispossess Paik Seung Ho and slotted home on a 1 v 1 – our GK had no chance.

It was the first time that at any point in this tournament, momentum actually shifted away from us. Kyrgyzstan came at us more aggressively and more actively afterwards. We committed less players forward in the attack; the fullbacks in particular were more restrained. Although I was confident that we would win ultimately, this seemed like the only point where we were shaken to some extent.

Things remained nervy until the 3-1 came in the 74th minute when Seol Young Woo’s cross hit the hand of a Kyrgyz defender, which Jeong Woo Young slotted home with ease. After this the floodgates opened up for the ultimate 5-1.

Reactions afterward:

Hwang Sun Hong did not sound 100% pleased in his postmatch interview.

황선홍 감독도 “다음 라운드로 가게 되어 기쁘게 생각한다. 축구는 흐름의 경기라고 생각한다. 우리가 승기를 잡았을 때 상대를 침몰시키지 못하면 상대에게 기회를 제공하게 되고 어려움을 겪는다. 오늘은 교훈이 되는 경기가 아니었나. 다음부터는 이런 경기를 하지 않았으면 좋겠다”라고 말했다.

Rough translation: “I am glad we made it to the next round. Football is alll about momentum. If we are looking at victory but cant fully suppress the opponent, we conceded chances and subsequently face difficulty. Today’s match was one we can learn from. It would be good to not have a match like this going forward.”

Amen – we need to kill off the game early. Esp against a team that may try to pull shady business. This kind of thing should ideally not happen going forward.

Paik Seung Ho for his part stated that it was a good thing that HE made the mistake. He expressed gratitude that his teammates overcame his mistake, and that he never once doubted or worried that the team would win, although he did feel sorry for his teammates. As a great leader and as someone who went through a lot in his career (my very first Tavern post was on Paik and his FIFA ban all the way back in 2012), I think he is spot on. Mistakes like this can tank a player’s confidence, and if anyone on this team can overlook something like this and move forward, it’s Paik.

경기 후 백승호는 “2-0으로 이기고 있는 때에 루즈한 상황이 생겼다. 그런 부분에서 제가 실수를 해서 팀을 더 긴장하게 만들었다. 축구에서는 실수가 나올 수 있다. 오히려 제가 실수를 한 게 또 다행이라고 생각하고 선수들이 잘 이겨내 줬다”고 소감을 전했다.

이어 “실점 후에 전혀 걱정되거나 그런 건 없었다. 앞서 말한 것처럼 선수들을 긴장하게 해서 그게 좀 미안했다. 신경 쓰지 말라고 했다”고 덧붙였다.

My concerns

Overall things look good and we should be able to get the next 3 wins on the road to Gold. But for those of you who have followed the Tavern for some time, you’ll know I am admittedly a bit of a worrywart. In recent memory I had some worries about whether Napoli was the right team for Kim Min Jae, whether Lee Kang In can get playing time for PSG (I am now very convinced that he will), etc. So in the end while I am still optimistic that we can win this thing, I have a few concerns going forward:

First is the fact that we play China. Last time we played them they injured two of our key players Um Won Sang and Go Young Joon with horrific studs up tackles. This is how China plays – essentially every time we play them we either get an injury or inevitably see some truly dirty play. If there was a team that I wish we could’ve avoided on the way to the final it’s China for this very reason, and the fact that they’re the home team who almost certainly has the ref in their pocket. Against Qatar they managed an early 1-0 lead, kept the lead, then grassrolled for the entirety of extra time. The Qatar manager was furious that of the 6 minutes of extra time there was less than one minute of actual play. If we don’t put 2-3 goals past them early on I fear we will see some truly dirty antics, ranging from disallowing perfectly legal goals to allowing horror challenges. If Lee Kang In starts you can bet they’ll try to hack at his legs at every opportunity. That being said I have confidence we will be able to kill the game early on.

Second is the rotation of our full backs. This is a rare Korea team that features fullbacks as a strength, not a liability. But there’s a drop off in quality from Seol Young Woo + Hwang Jae Won to Park Gyu Hyun and Choi Joon, the later of whom started in the loss to China in the friendly I referenced above. Fortunately these two were rested against Bahrain, but I foresee these two players seeing the most minutes going forward.

On the bright side, China had a big bust up at the end of their match against Qatar leading to their captain and best center back getting a red card.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch all this. It’s pretty ugly

Lineup predictions? For rotation purposes I would expect Song Min Kyu to start if he is fit (his return to action has been a bit delayed). I expect Lee Han Beom and Park Jin Seob as our CBs (or maybe LHB – Lee Jae Ik, the pairing that beat China 3-1 recently), the same GK and FB pair, and some rotation in midfield – maybe Hong Hyun Seok will start with Lee Kang In starting on the bench? Or maybe we will try to get the early goals and put in Lee Kang In from the start. Either way, no matter who we start, we will win and hopefully, come out without any injuries.

For fun: Lee Chun Soo, Song Jong Guk, and Kim Chul Ho’s reactions (I’ve been watching all of Lee Chun Soo’s vids on the Asian Games. Very entertaining stuff)

About Jinseok 259 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.

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