Shin Tae-yong will announce Korea’s World Cup roster in just over a few hours (seems quite early, or was the end of semester rush that long?!). So, let’s try and predict what the KNT manager will do in a few hours and who we’ll be cheering on in Russia!
In: Kim Seung-gyu, Cho Hyun-woo, Kim Jin-hyeon
I feel quite confident that these will be the three goalkeepers. Both Kims have proved themselves somewhat in other important games, while Cho Hyun-woo is continuing as the rising star from Daegu FC. Other goalkeepers in the K League may have wanted a look, while Jung Sung-ryong is doing much better over in Japan, but it seems unlikely that Shin will go off the board now to pick untested or disliked options.
In: Jang Hyun-soo, Hong Jeong-ho
Who Knows? Two of: Kim Min-jae, Yoon Young-sun, Jung Seung-hyun, Kim Young-gwon
Korea had a centreback problem. With Jeonbuk’s young star Kim Min-jae sustaining an injury that could keep him out of the World Cup, reports seem to indicate that Shin may not opt for the aggressive and sometimes risky 21 year-old. This obviously cements what looks like a thoroughly uninspiring duo of Jang Hyun-soo and Hong Jeong-ho (apparently Hong is injured, but I don’t think it’s serious?). The back-up options, however, are scarce, especially if you look past Jang-Hong. Yoon Young-sun and Jung Seung-hyun have perennially been the discussion since Shin took over, but only Yoon played in March (a substitute appearance vs Poland). Kim Young-gwon, on the other hand, had a major falling out with Shin back in November(?) and is less in favour with this manager than he was with previous managers. If I had to guess, I’d think Shin would go with Yoon and Jung, but if I were in charge, it would be Kim Min-jae and Kim Young-gwon. That’s all you need to know about what I think of Shin Tae-yong’s defensive choices…
In: Kim Jin-su*, Park Joo-ho
On The Fringes: Kim Min-woo, Hong Chul, Lee Ki-je
Former Hoffenheim leftback and instafamous Kim Jin-su picked up an injury several weeks ago that leaves a very tight timeline for his recovery. You’ll recall that Kim missed out on the 2014 World Cup due to injury, and it would be devastating for him to miss out yet again – one thing is for sure, he doesn’t seem like he’ll be at 100%. Park Joo-ho has been starting a load of games for Ulsan, but he can also shift into defensive midfield, so back-up options are therefore important: Kim Min-woo is a more conservative choice, while Hong Chul is a more tested and attack-minded pick. Lee Ki-je is rather untested. If I had to pick, I’d say Kim Jin-su makes it for sure, Park Joo-ho comes along with the potential to play in midfield, and probably Hong Chul makes the training camp in case Kim doesn’t recover in time (Shin could name 25-26 players and cut three before the competition begins).
In: Choi Chul-soon
Maybe: Lee Yong, Ko Yo-han
This seems fairly straightforward: Choi has started many games under Shin, but isn’t the most consistent of options, while Lee Yong’s World Cup experience and recent league performance probably brings him over the line. Ko Yo-han could tag along as a replacement right-back, left-back or defensive midfielder.
In: Ki Sung-yueng, Koo Ja-cheol, Lee Chang-min, Jung Woo-young
Captain Ki’s club career may be uncertain, but with the national team he is on the highway to 100 caps, and will, as always, be a midfield staple. His partner remains unsure – Koo Ja-cheol will go to the World Cup, but where does he fit? Lee Chang-min is a dynamic threat to score from distance and will likely be a super sub, while Jung Woo-young has played as Ki’s defensive half throughout much of qualifying.
In: Kwon Chang-hoon, Lee Jae-sung
Likely: Lee Chung-yong
Lee Chung-no way? Yeom Ki-hun was going to go to the World Cup as a veteran, maybe playing some substitute minutes. His recent injury and admission that he probably won’t be in shape in time for the first match means Lee Chung-yong comes back on the radar. Kwon has been tearing things up with Dijon of late, while Lee Jae-sung has obviously shown his class often enough to be trusted.
In: Son Heung-min, Lee Keun-ho, Hwang Hee-chan
On the Fringes: Kim Shin-wook, Suk Hyun-jun, Ji Dong-won
Son Heung-min is an obvious option, and god forbid he gets injured in training or something because in the 4-4-2 he is the focal point of the side. Lee Keun-ho works hard and is a good partner for Son in that formation, while Hwang Hee-chan youthful mobility makes him an ideal super sub in my view. As for the fourth forward, it’s hard to tell who Shin rates more… Kim Shin-wook has started an insane amount of matches but has proven time and time again that he is ineffective against European opposition, Suk Hyun-jun is inconsistent though he has made noise recently at Troyes, while Ji Dong-won is much more balanced but sometimes far too quiet. I’ll go with Suk because I like the idea of a strong power forward, which is what Suk can be when he is in form, but we’ll have to see.
Lee Seung-woo has also said recently that he is dreaming of going to the World Cup, but I really can’t see that happening.
Tim’s Predicted 23-man roster (with extras in case of cuts due to injury, or just for the sake of having extras in a 26-man predicted roster context)
GK: Kim Jin-hyeon, Cho Hyun-woo, Kim Seung-gyu
DF: Jang Hyun-soo, Hong Jeong-ho (*Kim Young-gwon), Kim Jin-su (*Hong Chul), Choi Chul-soon, Park Joo-ho, Lee Yong, Yoon Young-sun, Jung Seung-hyeon, Ko Yo-han
MF: Ki Sung-yueng, Lee Chang-min, Koo Ja-cheol, Jung Woo-young, Kwon Chang-hoon, Lee Jae-sung, Lee Chung-yong
FW: Son Heung-min, Lee Keun-ho, Hwang Hee-chan, Suk Hyun-jun (*Ji Dong-won)