Since late February Ahn Ik Soo had called up a large list for a domestic training camp, but he has just announced a final roster for the two friendlies we have against the German U19 team. In a few days the team will fly out to Germany for the two friendlies scheduled for 3/26 and 3/29. Read more for a position-by-position analysis of the players who were called up. We have some very interesting choices from the disciplinarian himself…
Players from last year’s U17 World Cup:
A total of five players from the team that topped Group B in the Chile 2015 U17 World Cup were called to the training camp, and only one, the starting Goalkeeper Ahn Jun Soo, was left off the roster. Included in the Germany friendly roster is the star CB and captain Lee Sang Min, who has interestingly just signed for Soongsil University, the alma mater of players such as Park Joo Ho and Pohang’s Kim Dae Ho. His fellow CB partner Lee Seung Mo (who can also play DM) and RB Yoon Jong Gyu (who can also play RW) were also called up.
Before we get to the 4th U17 player, I would like to say that I’m very interested to see who ends up starting in the defense. Only three CB’s were called up (not counting Lee Seung Mo who was listed in MF). The main CB and captain of this team is Kim Suk Jin, who is on the roster, but his usual partner, Kim Min Ho, has been left off. After younger captain LSM, the only other CB here is Jung Tae Wook, so I am very curious to see which two end up starting. On the other hand, 5 fullbacks are on the list. There’s the U17 starting RB Yoon Jong Gyu, while the other four all played at the U18 JS Suwon Cup last year.
Another interesting fact about this lineup is that we have 4 defensive midfielders. Now this is great because Korea has always lacked DM’s, and Jang Jae Won is not even on the list. But again, I’m curious to see which players will feature over the two friendlies. Park Han Bin played against Uruguay and Belgium; Kim Dong Hyun I don’t remember seeing much but I’m fairly certain he’s also a designated DM; Kim Gun Woong I have very high hopes for as he went straight from Ulsan U18 to Ulsan Hyundai (but will, very sadly, certainly get no playing time) and featured in the random friendlies (the tournament in Singapore for example). Then there’s Lee Seung Mo, who I don’t know if Ahn Ik Soo sees as a CB or DM.
The two “offensive” midfielders on the list are two players who 1) went pro this year 2) I am going to feature in my Youth Players series and 3) are highly touted as being the top young talents in the K League this year, enough to be personally mentioned by Park Chu Young and Choi Hyo Jin at Media Day. They are Han Chan Hee and Lim Min Hyeok, players I rate VERY highly. I’m almost certain both will start both games in fact – these guys are the crucial creative links on the team. In the long run, though, Han Chan Hee (who’s more of a KSY-esque offensive CM while Lim Min Hyeok is a #10) will have to compete with Baek Seung Ho. Baek Seung Ho and Han Chan Hee, interestingly enough, were born on the same day and play the exact same position. Both cannot take to the pitch at once because I’m not gonna lie, at first glance at least they’re pretty similar players with similar skillsets. I will go into why they’re different in a later post – can’t give too much away here!
The FW position is also very interesting. We see the complete omission of players like Kim Dae Won and Oh In Pyo, who I thought would get called up for sure. The regulars here are Kim Jung Hwan, Lee Dong Jun, and Kang Ji Hoon. Let’s start up top here: the main strikers of this team are Lee Dong Jun and Kang Ji Hoon. Kang scored 5 goals in that tournament in Russia while LDJ scored that wonderful goal against Uruguay in the U18 JS Cup.
On the flanks, with the way he’s playing, Kim Jung Hwan will almost certainly be starting on the right wing. With Lim Min Hyeok and Baek Seung Ho I rate him as one of the best players of this 1997 generation – Atletico Madrid seems to agree with me as they tried to sign him for Atletico B. More on Kim Jung Hwan and why it was a good idea to snub Atletico B will be discussed later in my Youth player series.
The interesting callups here are the rest of the players: Chile’s Kim Jin Ya of Incheon U18 (the guy who ran half the pitch to produce the second assist for Jang Jae Won’s goal against Brazil), Kim Mu Gun, Jung Chi In, Jo Young Wook, and Won Doo Jae. These players have not featured all too much for Team Ahn Ik Soo (though I remember Won DJ and Jung CI getting sub minutes sometime in the past), so we will see which one of them ends up taking that LW spot and how many of them manage to get minutes against Germany.