Australia vs South Korea: Player Ratings

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Early this morning (or in the afternoon if you live on the other side of the world), the Socceroos and Taeguk Warriors played to a exciting 1-1 draw. With an experimental side missing some of the usual stars, Paulo Bento’s squad carved out a first half goal through Hwang Uijo and held onto the lead until a late stoppage time equalizer from the Socceroos.

Here’s a long highlights package for the sane North American readers who value their beauty rest! Apologies for the copious ads from Youtube!

Let’s take a look at Bento’s lineup and then go for some player ratings!

Kim Seunggyu-7. He made some solid punches away out of danger and pulled off good saves as well. In addition, he looks comfortable playing out from the back in the way that Bento wants him to. Could he do better on the goalmouth scramble? Possibly. We’ll see if he keeps his place against Uzbekistan

Hong Chul-6. Didn’t notice anything special about his play offensively. He didn’t connect with any crosses that I remember or make really cutting overlapping runs. On defense, he got badly beaten by Leckie in the box and Kim Younggwon had to come over and save him.

Kim Younggwon-8. He’s good. He has good positioning overall and makes good tackles and blocks to snuff out danger.

Kim Minjae-9. This kid is really good. That pass to spring Hwang Uijo for the goal was vintage Ki Sungyeung. Incredible vision to see the run and great execution. There was absolutely no way anybody but Hwang could get on the end of it. Kim also really makes good tackles and is confident driving forward.

Lee Yong-5. I repeatedly go back and forth on Lee Yong. This game I wasn’t impressed. He’s just too safe. He gets out wide like he should and doesn’t really make dumb passes to lose possession. However, he doesn’t try anything risky. He doesn’t go for lung-busting runs and he doesn’t make inventive passes in behind the lines. I distinctly remember a moment where one of the Korean attackers motions for a pass behind the lines and makes the run. Lee takes a look, thinks better of it and passes back towards the center. It’s that kind of decision-making that stalls Korean attacks.

Koo Jacheol-4. Age is really catching up to Koo. He just recently got fit for Augsburg and earned the start alongside Hwang Inbeom. He only made it to the 45th minute before pulling up with a pulled muscle in his leg. He goes down in pain, motions for the trainers, and just knows right away he’s done for the day. I hadn’t especially noticed his play before then but it’s clear that he will struggle to stay healthy. At this point, I am not sure it’s worth the risk of another injury to name him to the Asian Cup squad.

Hwang Inbeom-8. This kid is also good. As a midfielder, he has all of the technique needed to keep the ball away from pressuring defenders. He has vision to make good passes and the tenacity that belies his size. He also very nearly scored a free kick in the second half! Tactically, I think he’s not the best fit for a deep-lying midfield role. He missed Ki being able to help out defensively so that he could roam forward more.

Ju Sejong-7. He came on for Koo and had a solid second half. His set piece deliveries were dangerous and caused the Aussie backline some issues.

Nam Taehee-6. He’s a good dribbler and has finishing skills when he’s in position to shoot. However, in a game where Australia was in mostly in control of possession, he didn’t really offer much. He dribbled forward and evaded defenders, but he couldn’t find the killer pass to carve open the defense.

Moon Seonmin-5. He has a lot of stamina and overall is a solid midfielder/winger. However, his first touch is continually not up to par. In the 30th minute, he completely wasted a great ball over the top. He just couldn’t take the ball down so that he could get a shot off. This is a ridiculously unfair comparison, but Sonny would have been able to take that ball down and round the keeper 9 times out of 10. Moon can’t do that.

Lee Chungyong-7. He deserved a recall to the national team and showed that he still has the tenacity in the midfield. He really gives everything to pressure the defense and win back the ball. Didn’t see much creatively from him but I could imagine that could get in behind the defense and get on the ends of passes from a more creative attacking midfielder.

Hwang Uijo-8. That goal was very good. Makes a great run, shows good composure, and slots the ball low into the far corner. Exactly the killer instinct a striker needs to give the goalkeeper no chance. If you’re making the Hwang vs. Suk argument, I back Hwang at the moment. He’s more mobile, makes intelligent runs, and has his scoring boots on.

Suk Hyunjun-5. I don’t know about Suk. His big asset right now is his aerial threat. However, he also gets called for fouls in the air on occasion and doesn’t really have the speed or technique to get away from defenders. Right now I would say he’s a plan B option, not a starter.

The other substitutions, Na Sangho, Jung Seunghyun, and Lee Jinhyun didn’t make a large impression in either direction. It was great for Na and Lee to make their senior debuts and Jung could be a good future option at CB. For now, they worked hard to try to preserve the lead, even if it was unsuccessful at the end.

If you watched the game, let me know your thoughts or point out something I missed. We’ll see you all again Tuesday for the Uzbekistan match!


About Michael Welch 89 Articles
That Halfie Korean-American who loves football (I mean, soccer).


  1. Missing our key players was blatantly evident during most of the game. Korea lost its shape offensively and sometimes defensively. It seemed like there were no fluidity going forward. A lot more back passes than bento probably would have liked. Kim SG played a solid match until the end, those kind of balls are harder than it looks. It’s hard to say any of the recently new call ups proved anything except Hwang In Beom and maybe Ji Se Jong?
    No offsides but the foul amount 20 seconds before the corner was definitely a foul.
    think bento should definitely experiment more during the UZBEK game and give the newer guys a 45-60 minutes on the pitch.

    LSW > Moon seon min…sorry Michael

  2. What did you guys think of Australia’s goal? I personally thought it was offside. There are people claiming that our keeper’s attempting to catch the ball made offside invalid. is that true?

    • It’s a super tough call. So I think it was onside. The first Aussie that goes for the rebound is onside. And then since Kim Seung-gyu makes a save and loses the ball I can see how you would say that all Aussies are onside to score. It’s a tough call but I thought it was a goal.

  3. Number 24 was the one that knocked the ball out of KIM SG’s hands. If the ball is on the ground while the keeper has it in his hands, you can knock it out. At that moment 24 was the only one onside, the other 3 were off sides. But once 24 knocked the ball out, the other three were good to score.

    It’s the foul before the corner kick!!!

      • Yeah, the backline of Korea has been a nightmare for 8 years. Still needs improvement. I didn’t watch the match, but was wondering what adjustments Bento made after half time- if any, and how the players responded or how it affected the play. I know it was just a friendly, so don’t know if he did much managing during the game.

        • Although we didn’t bring our A team to Australia, the defense we saw was basically the best defense Korea can offer and we definitely see a solid backline which is good to see. But without our best midfielders we go back to looking like a backpass 1st team which is not what we saw from the other games managed by Bento. Hwang IB needs to chow down on some all you can eat Korean bbq because he looks and plays like a twig which is why 90% of his passes were back to the defense.

        • I watched the game, but I can’t remember if any defensive adjustments were made. It was a little too early in the morning for me. lol I noticed that they were less sloppier in possession in the 2nd half. Korea seemed better with the ball with Ju Se-jong instead of Koo. The commentators mentioned that Australia dropped their defensive line after conceding from Kim Min Jae’s awesome pass to Hwang Ui-jo.

  4. Hwang inbeom didn’t impress me. 90% of his passes were backpasses. It makes me dread the eventual day Ki retires, more and more. Like Lee Yong he tried too hard to “play it safe”. As for Nam Tae Hee does every newly appointed manager need to go through the same cycle? Call him up through the Asian Cup and realize he just doesn’t have it for the international scene? He was just as passive as he was during the Asian Cup 2015 Final match against Australia. Moon Seung Min is not better than Lee Seung Woo…he’s just another typical Korean winger who likes to run a lot and nothing more.

    If Baek Seung Ho and Lee Kangin were in the Asian Games squad, they probably would’ve been called up by Bento by now. He does know there are other Korean players outside of the World Cup and Asian Games squads right? Maybe this is one of the things that irritated a lot of Portugal fans.

    • I think an out of form Lee SW is better than Moon SM who should be dropped from the team. He’s been given enough opportunities! His first touch is horrible and really struggled to work with Lee Yong to defend the right wing.

      I also don’t understand why Bento is relying so much on players from the asian games. They’re promising, but aren’t there better and more experienced players in the kleague or elsewhere?

      • I think of one of the main criticisms people had about Bento when he managed Portugal etc was he had a tendency to stick to the same core of players even though it was obvious to all that it was not the case. I think we are seeing that again with his love for guys like Nam Tae Hee, Moon, and Jang Hyung Soo.

        • I think a national team manager should stick to the same core of players so they have plenty of time to develop good team chemistry, but this should happen after he’s considered all the options. Maybe, Bento doesn’t want to experiment too much before the Asian Cup which is coming up really soon. Despite being inexperienced, the u23 players that played at the Asian Games have already played with Hwang Ui-jo and Sonny before.

    • I really like your passion but I want to offer a bit of pushback here.

      Bento isn’t repeating the same cycle of the last manager. Rather, he’s making his roster choices mostly because of injury issues. Would Moon Seonmin or Nam Taehee be in these squads if Kwon Changhoon Lee Jaesung were available? Probably not. I don’t think Bento really views these two maligned players as long term solutions by any means. He’s just choosing them because he has to at the moment. Could he look for other winger options in the K League? Yes. He absolutely could and should. I’ve definitely been pulling for Ulsan Hyundai’s winger options in my KNT Stock Watch column.

      In terms of favoring Asian Games players, I think Bento is doing this because as Mike said, it’s about chemistry. The national team manager just doesn’t have the time of a club manager to get players to play well together so he has to rely on some players that have played together previously.

      Also, we gotta keep it realistic on the hype train here. Paik Seungho plays in Spain’s lower divisions currently for Girona’s reserves. He still hasn’t gotten any first team minutes. Lee Kangin has one senior start to his name. These guys aren’t ready for the big time and it wouldn’t make sense for Bento to call them out of the blue. So no, I don’t agree that had they been on the Asian Games squad they would actually make the national team. Lee Seungwoo just got dropped for not playing enough at Hellas. The reason Asian Games players like Kim Moonhwan, Na Sangho, and Lee Jinhyun make the squad is also because they are consistent starters in the K League.

      • I understand the reasoning for Bento dropping LSW from the squad this time around. Based on the hype and news surrounding LSW, it would seem that he’d be a regular starter or at least getting decent minutes for a lower level Italian team. Any insight as to why he’s not playing or developing as much as I feel like he should be. I know the FIFA ban probably hindered his development, but I feel like and would hope that he’d be better than he is now.

        • It’s really hard to say with Lee Seungwoo. At the Asian Games whenever he played he was really good.

          Probably what happened to him is that Hellas just don’t view him as the right fit for the way they want to play. They might not play a formation that fits Lee or something like that. So, he just sits on the bench every week. He absolutely should try to transfer this winter.

  5. I don’t think Nam should be starting games anymore. While he’s had a couple of good games in the Bento era, he’s a liability on defense and too often, he just disappears for prolonged stretches of a game. Behind Hwang, I think the 2nd line should consist of Sonny, Lee Jae Sung, and Hwang Hee Chan/Lee Chung Yong.

    • I definitely rather see Lee JS as KNT’s #10, but I think Nam would be a solid backup option. I think his forgettable performance against australia was partly due to the lack of midfield chemistry and overreliance on hopeful long balls. Why do you think Nam TH is a defensive liability?

  6. One of those sane N. Americans, so I appreciate the vid. Wow, SK did not impress. So much “exploratory” mid-long passing/crosses, in the general direction of someone but really just hoping anybody can get to it, no elegant buildup; like the bad old days. Will have to chalk this up to many top guys being MIA. Aus otoh built up nicely, just couldn’t finish.

    I’m actually alright w/ this imo flattering result; it’s in some ways the “B” team that held/frustrated the more dynamic Aus A team to a draw. And Bento hopefully got a better idea of who/what won’t work. Optimistic for when all the best guys, Son, Hwang, Ki, LSJ et al show up for the real show.

    P.S. Like others said, don’t like Kim SG in goal much, would feel better w/ Cho. And I’m wishing Bento had brought that young kid, Song something? The promising one, not too great in Asiad but heard he’s been doing real good lately in K league

    • Without our A squad this national team has always struggled against decent opposition. Just look at our chances; we had to rely on a long pass from the CB to have our first shot of the match and the rest were all from set pieces which goes to show how bad the midfield was. The fullbacks are an absolute joke, they can’t cross the ball.

  7. Reading through some of the comments. Phew, tough crowd! It was just a friendly. I think we can take away a lot of positives from the match. From only watching the highlights, seems like there was some ebb and flow. The defense was definitely suspect. The goalie wasn’t the best but he if only hadn’t lost focus in the end, the narrative would be a lot different with a 1-0 victory instead of a 1-1 draw.

    HEY! At least we’re better than the USMNT! We now finally have a coach who seems to have a plan and a promising squad. I’d rather be Son on the ROK team than Pulisic with the sad bunch of bums on the USMNT.

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