Got back from Dupont Circle in DC where a number of Korean supporters cheered on the Taeguk Warriors, nervous as there was only a slim chance to advance…and for a while after Russia scored their go ahead goal early against Algeria while Korea was pressing Belgium early on, there was hope that Korea could find 2 goals needed against Belgium to advance from Group H. You all know the rest of that story (which we will deconstruct this Friday June 27 in the US/ Saturday June 28th in Korea for the next Tavern Hangout Live at 6pm EST / 7 am Korea time (check soon for links), but before I combine my observations with my adventure in watching Korea v Belgium with other Korean supporters in D.C. (you’ll have to wait until after the Tavern Hangout).If you haven’t checked out rating scores from Jeremy, do that first then check back here. Jeremy, thanks for picking the ball up with writing that, but I’d have to respectfully disagree about Lee Yong – I’d rate him lower —another conversation for another time
Honestly I’m exhausted (my 5 year old is the culprit) and I’m seeing double right now – going to crash. Before I do, I will be posting about my trip to DC tomorrow as well as some food for thought about the game, but first I want to share this from Nick Yi. He posted this in a FB Korean National Football Team International Supports Club:
“This World Cup may have been a disappointment, but that will not define the South Korean National Football Team (SKNFT).
Ever since 1998, South Korea has been steadily producing stand-out talents, & the number of outstanding Korean players have been increasing.
Our 2014 South Korean football/soccer team featured the most number of players that were good enough to play in foreign leagues [most of them in the Premier League (UK) & Bundesliga (Germany)]…
… but the lack of preparation/cohesiveness, & weak defensive performances killed us.
I still have huge respect for Hong Myung-Bo, but the weak experience from the coaching staff may be blamed as well.
Simply, SKNFT got humbled.
Before the World Cup, there were even talks of how our 2014 team may be good enough to reach the round of 8 (after all, we had a record number of players who were good enough to play in the Premier League & Bundesliga. Many thought that these INDIVIDUAL talents will bring a new golden-era of South Korean football),…
…but many forgot that football/soccer is ultimately a team game (e.g. Costa Rica did not feature superstars in their team, but they displayed that they were a well-trained team. A team that played as a single, cohesive-unit that actually finished first in their group of death).
Before being sent off to Brazil, we played Tunisia, a team that did not even qualify for the 2014 WC. We approached the game as if a win will be handed to us, like a “warm-up” game… only to lose 1-0. After that friendly, we didn’t take on Ghana too seriously enough to a point where we got overwhelmed by them with a 4-0 loss. & many of us thought that Algeria was the weakest team in Group H (even western sports pundits have expressed similar opinions about Algeria before the 2014 FIFA WC)… But Algeria became another surprise-team of the 2014 WC.
… “Hubris,” an excessive pride or self-confidence killed our performance.
We had the talent, but the lack of experience (from players & coaches), the lack of any stand-out defensive players, the lack of serious performance in the friendlies… I could list more, but it makes me wonder what kind of team we could have been had the SKNFT played more friendlies & given themselves a few extra months to synthesize the team chemistry. I really wish that most of the exported players were able to gather back at KFA HQ in South Korea much earlier (some players were obligated to finish some games for their clubs before the World Cup).
But SKNFT will only get better from this point.
Yes, our record number of “outstanding” individual talents did not result in a successful World Cup performance, but the increasing number of these talents will only make our team better.
So I’m optimistic that our 2018 WC performance will be a completely different story from this year’s WC (assuming that we will qualify for 2018 FIFA WC).
By 2018, our stars, Son Heung-Min, Koo Ja-Cheol, Ki Sung-Yueng, & Lee Chung-Yong will still be under 29 years old, & these players are still promising to this day.
One of the new buzz within South Korea football/soccer is the Korean youth players who are getting trained in exclusive European football academies.
Currently, 9 Korean youth players play for La Liga or Bundesliga youth academies.
One of them has been performing extremely well: Lee Seung-Woo. (see attached YouTube vid).
This 16yr old Korean football-prodigy, in Barca’s La Masia academy, will be 20 years old by the time 2018 rolls around, & the linked YouTube video displays his extraordinary skills amongst the most talented youth players in the world.
SKNFT still has a bright future.
Fresh batches of young prospective Korean players, like Lee Seung-Woo, may blossom our team into an elite team on par with S. American & European teams.
I’m confident that many of our current stars will continue to grow as they age & that players like Lee Seung-Woo will meet the hype.
Who knows, we may also get blessed with highly talented defensive players by 2018.
You gotta experience the lows to experience the highs.”
Apologies to Nick as I edited his first and last sentence. Still, his sentiments largely echo mine. There’s so much to deconstruct, but one thing at a time. Hope you’ll join us later for the Tavern Hangout on Friday in the US / Saturday in Korea. Otherwise the conversation will continue at the Tavern on the future of Korean football, where does it go from here? Plus I have a bittersweet, kinda hilarious journey to the heart of DC in search of Korean support/therapy while watching Korea’s last stand in the World Cup. Stay tuned…