Building the World Cup Roster: December 2017

No major changes, but still some noteworthy moves as we build the World Cup Roster. The rules are rather simple: 23 players, 3 of whom must be goalkeepers. I wasn’t initially going to post an update, but the East Asian Cup led me to a few more cautious conclusions.

November: Building the World Cup Roster: November 2017

Before we move on, an important disclaimer. Jae Chee did this same series in 2013-14, and I 100%, without-a-doubt stole the idea. Jwesonghapnida Mr Jae… If Mr. Jae ever wants to reclaim his scandalously stolen series as he rightly can then I as Tavern hoobae will rightfully move aside 😉

In: Kim Seung-gyu, Cho Hyun-woo (UP)
Likely: Kim Jin-hyeon
On the Fringes: Kim Dong-jun (NEW)

Kim Seung-gyu remains in the locks column, while Cho Hyun-woo moves into my “in” column after winning the EAFF goalkeeper award. More importantly, he looks to have gained Shin Tae-yong’s trust, starting 2 of the 3 matches, making a couple really good reaction saves along the way. Distribution looks decent, command of box is good too. He should be going to Russia, and even giving KSG a run for his money for the number one spot. Kim Jin-hyeon will still likely be the third keeper, but he didn’t cement his place. Kim Dong-jun was called up and as the presumptive #4 is on the fringes.

In: Jang Hyun-soo (UP)
Likely: Kim Young-gwon (DOWN), Kwon Kyung-won, Kim Min-jae
On the Fringes: Jung Seung-hyun, Yoon Young-sun (NEW)

“Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s absolutely no chance that Kim Young-gwon doesn’t return to the World Cup, based on experience alone.” -Tim Lee

Egg on my face. A big, steaming hot fried egg. Shin Tae-yong excluded Kim Young-gwon from the E-1 Championship squad as punishment for his fitness levels (he’s turning into Lee Woon-jae!) and issued the former captain a stark, public warning that he shouldn’t be taking anything for granted. As such, he’s dropped into the likely column, while Jang Hyun-soo of FC Tokyo moves into the ‘In’ column. He gave up a horrid penalty against Japan and didn’t look good throughout the tournament, but he started all three games and Shin Tae-yong just rates the kid, and we don’t. Agree to disagree. Kwon didn’t cement his spot, leaving it open to Jung (made senior debut vs. NK) or Yoon Young-sun (made senior debut vs. Japan).

In: Kim Jin-su, Kim Min-woo
On the Fringes:

Nothing’s changed. Park Joo-ho (now at Ulsan) maybe will challenge, as might Hong Chul. Depends on K League form.

In: Choi Chul-soon, Ko Yo-han (MOVED, UP)
On the Fringes: Rim Chang-woo, Oh Jae-suk

After consulting with the Tavern VAR, I’ve decided to move Ko Yo-han to the rightback slot. It’s purely administrative, but he played 2 games at rightback in the East Asian Cup and none at central midfielder. It’s a feasible possibility Shin elects to keep him there *unless* there is a particular opponent that has to be marked in central midfield (*ahem* Forsberg *ahem*). That said his versatility alone has moved him into the confirmed slots for me alongside Choi.

Central Midfielders:
In: Ki Sung-yueng, Koo Ja-cheol, Jung Woo-young (UP)
Likely: Lee Myung-joo, Lee Chang-min
On the Fringes: Nam Tae-hee, Kim Bo-kyung, Joo Se-jong

I confess – I almost moved Joo Se-jong up to the likely column and dropped down Lee Myung-joo, just because being on that XI in that game against Japan is great for your player stock. But there certainly is competition for one of the other slots in central midfield, though not as starters. And LMJ and LCM both have been used by Shin in one of the wider midfield roles, so perhaps that gives them an edge over the strictly central Joo. Jung Woo-young had a good tournament, playing all three games, and capped it off with a confident display against Japan, the likes of which we haven’t seen since maybe his national team debut in a 2015(?) friendly against the UAE. He is the latest lock for the World Cup squad.

Wide Midfielders:
In: Kwon Chang-hoon, Lee Jae-sung
Likely: Yeom Ki-hun
On the Fringes: Lee Chung-yong (DOWN)

Don’t want to lock in Yeom Ki-hun just yet, but I think he’s almost home in Shin Tae-yong’s plans. The absence of a credible option on the fringes (Yun Il-lok and Kim Seong-jun got no playing time despite being named to the East Asian squad so they are excluded) keeps the Suwon stalwart in good position. Also, Shin has experimented with playing Kim Min-woo as left midfielder, or Lee Chang-min as right midfielder, so there’s depth in this position, even if it isn’t reflected here. Lee Chung-yong just needs to play, god damn it, but he’s shifted down because we have a veritable dilemma in forward…

In: Son Heung-min
Likely: Hwang Hee-chan, Lee Keun-ho (DOWN), Kim Shin-wook (UP)
On the Fringes: Suk Hyun-jun, Lee Jung-hyub, Ji Dong-won, Jin Seong-wook

What do you do? Suk Hyun-jun is in the form of his life, Kim Shin-wook was dominant at the East Asian Cup and has set out his case to be the side’s Plan B. I’ve gone for the Wookie, but things can change and if Suk can maintain his form the coaching staff will have a head-ache to select the striker options. Lee Keun-ho falls into the likely column because of the plethora of options leaving nothing for certain.

As It Stands, Korea’s 23-man roster will probably be:

Goalkeepers (3): Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Cho Hyun-woo (Daegu FC), Kim Jin-hyeon (Cerezo Osaka)

Defenders (7): Choi Chul-soon, Kim Jin-su, Kim Min-jae (all Jeonbuk Hyundai), Kim Min-woo (Suwon Samsung), Jang Hyun-soo (FC Tokyo), Kim Young-gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Kwon Kyung-won (Tianjin Quanjian)

Midfielders (9): Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea), Koo Ja-cheol (Augsburg), Ko Yo-han, Lee Myung-joo (both FC Seoul), Jung Woo-young (Chongqing Lifan), Lee Chang-min (Jeju United), Yeom Ki-hun (Suwon Samsung), Kwon Chang-hoon (Dijon), Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai)

Forwards (4): Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Lee Keun-ho (Gangwon FC), Hwang Hee-chan (Red Bull Salzburg), Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai)


About Tim Lee 321 Articles
The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?


  1. Haha, just several years ago, Korea had a huge striker dilemma! It’s interesting that, now there are 3+ players that could play the striker position!

    • I don’t know how confident we would be with playing Kim Shin-wook, suk Hyun-jun or Hwang Hee-chan up top as a lone forward but playing a Son Heung-min alongside them in the 4-4-2 does change things.

  2. Tbh I think Lee Changmin, as much as I like the guy, is extraneous – we have KSY and KJC (and heck even LMJ if you include him who can play his role just as well and imo itd be better to take him out for SHJ

    Tldr – too many similar CMs in KSY KJC LCM LMJ and JWY

    • Honestly I’m comfortable with the squad, but I’d like a more defensively-minded destroyer midfielder in the side. KSY KJC LCM LMJ JWY are too similar, but bringing SHJ along for the ride alongside KSW also seems a little extraneous. SHJ would be more of a starter, while KSW would be more of a desperate long-ball target, but in any case LKH and HHC will probably both play the 2nd striking option alongside SHM so well that you’d rather not waste your spot on a striker who won’t play.

      TLDR – too many similar CMs, instead of calling up 5 forwards, should maybe look into a pure DM like Park Jongwoo or Lee Chandong(?) (Han Kookyoung has said he’s tired of playing for KNT). JWY doesn’t inspire confidence as a pure DM

  3. Kim Shin-Wook is on form right now but his opponents were smaller asian players compared to relatively bigger world cup opponents. He may be a good choice against mexico but I doubt he can take his advantage of his height when facing against Germany or Sweden. When someone asked Ahn Jung Hwan about his opponents in Korea and Europe. Nobody in Korea gave him a hardtime but everyone in Europe gave him a hard time.

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