So, with most of the matches done with, I think we can start to get an idea of who is in and who is out of Hong’s potential World Cup squad. Rules for the squad are: 23 players, 3 of which must be goalkeepers.
In: Jung Sung-Ryong
Likely: Kim Seung-Gyu, Lee Bum-Young
On The Fringes: Kim Young-Kwang
The goalkeeping situation, I think, is almost set. Despite some thoughts of contenders coming in over the summer, it seems like Jung Sung-Ryong has held onto his number 1 shirt. I think that’ll change after the World Cup, but until then our “good, but never great” Suwon stopper will be it. The other two that will likely make the trip are Kim Seung-Gyu and Lee Bum-Young. I think Kim Seung-Gyu is almost a lock after a good EAFF Cup showing. Lee Bum-Young looked to be the heir to Jung earlier, but he seems to have been passed up. If it’s not Lee, than Hong could recall Kim Young-Kwang back into the squad for a more experienced option.
In: Lee Yong, Kim Chang-Soo
On the Fringes: Shin Kwang-Hoon
Right back is another position that is almost locked up. I think Lee Yong has been chosen as the starter, and it’s his place to lose. Kim Chang-Soo should provide reliable back up. Pohang’s Shin Kwang-Hoon is a distant third option should one of the other two get injured or experience a dramatic drop in form.
In: Kim Jin-Su
Likely: Park Joo-Ho
On the Fringes: Yoon Suk-Young, Kim Chi-Woo
I think two good outings have seen Kim Jin-Su promoted to starting left back, which is quite impressive considering he’s only 21. Park Joo-Ho has been playing regularly for Mainz, but has had difficulty working his way into Hong’s starting XI. Yoon Suk-Young should tag along IF he can start playing again in some capacity for QPR (cup matches). If Yoon remains firmly rooted in the stands, then there may be a chance for qualifying mini-hero Kim Chi-Woo to get back in.
In: Hong Jeong-Ho, Kim Young-Gwon
Likely: Hwang Seok-Ho
On the Fringes: Kwak Tae-Hwi, Jang Hyun-Soo
Hong Jeong-Ho and Kim Young-Gwon are locks for the starting berths. Hwang Seok-Ho seems to be highly rated by Hong, so he should be one of the back ups. I think Hong will take one more center back, and that would seem to be between Kwak Tae-Hwi and maybe Jang Hyun-Soo. Kwak seems to have worked his way back in as an experienced option and good dressing room player for the young players, while Jang was a mainstay in the U23 team. Jang hasn’t been called up lately though, so that’s a slight concern for him (is he injured? anyone know?). So, right now I’d say Kwak has a slight edge over Jang.
Center Midfielders (passing)
In: Ki Sung-Yueng, Lee Myeong-Joo
On the Fringes: None
A locked up spot just because of lack of options. Ki Sung-Yueng seems the starter with Lee Myeong-Joo backing him up.
Center Midfielders (holding)
In: Ha Dae-Sung, Han Kook-Young
Likely: Park Jong-Woo
On the Fringes: None
The next three games will likely be a final audition for Ha Dae-Sung and Han Kook-Young to make their cases for the other starting spot. The other will likely be the back up option. Park Jong-Woo should make the trip as a filler for either spot if it’s necessary.
In: Lee Chung-Yong, Koo Ja-Cheol, Kim Bo-Kyung, Son Heung-Min
Likely: Go Yo-Han, Yoon Il-Rok
On the Fringes: Lee Seung-Gi
Lee Chung-Yong, Koo Ja-Cheol, Kim Bo-Kyung, and Son Heung-Min should all make their travel plans for Brazil barring an injury. Go Yo-Han or Yoon Il-Rok will likely make the trip as back ups. Lee Seung-Gi probably won’t get the call unless there’s some problem with the other six.
Likely: Lee Keun-Ho, Ji Dong-Won
On the Fringes: Park Chu-Young, Kim Dong-Seob, Kim Shin-Wook
I’m hesitant to say that any forward has really locked up a spot for Brazil. I think the closest is Lee Keun-Ho after a good showing against Mali. I think he’ll get another run out next month to see, and then Hong will decide on him. Ji Dong-Won may make it if he can work his way back into the Sunderland team or secure a January move. Park Chu-Young will go IF he moves in January or sooner, but if he stays at Arsenal he has no chance. Kim Dong-Seob and Kim Shin-Wook seem long shots, but if no one steps up or if Lee or Ji experience a drop, then one of them could make it.
So, as of now, I view Hong’s 23 man squad as this:
Goalkeepers (3) – Jung Sung-Ryong, Kim Seung-Gyu, Lee Bum-Young
Defenders (8) – Lee Yong, Kim Chang-Soo, Kim Jin-Su, Park Joo-Ho, Hong Jeong-Ho, Kim Young-Gwon, Hwang Seok-Ho, Kwak Tae-Hwi
Midfielders (10) – Ki Sung-Yueng, Lee Myeong-Joo, Park Jong-Woo, Han Kook-Young, Ha Dae-Sung, Lee Chung-Yong, Son Heung-Min, Kim Bo-Kyung, Koo Ja-Cheol, Yoon Il-Rok
Forwards (2) – Lee Keun-Ho, Ji Dong-Won