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!