KNT Stock Watch: October Friendlies Wrap-up

Photo Credit: Yonhap News

KNT Stock Watch is back! It’s time to look back at the highs of the Uruguay win and the lows of the Panama draw to see which players helped their stock going into November and who’s trending down after poor performances. If you missed the matches, I’ve found some great condensed highlights that will give you a good feel for both matches. I’m going to give you my take on these performances but definitely get active in the comments letting me know what you thought of how everyone played!

Uruguay Highlights (Courtesy of TheKFA Youtube)

Panama Highlights (Courtesy of SBS News Youtube)

  • Goalkeepers

Trending Up: We have to talk about the differing performances of the three current goalkeepers. Kim Jinhyeon was really strong in goal against Chile and came up with some really clutch saves to keep a clean sheet. With his experience, as long as he’s in good form in the J League it makes sense to keep him as one of the squad goalkeepers fighting for the starting role. I am finding it a bit hard to judge the form of Kim Seunggyu because in both the Costa Rica and Uruguay victories, he wasn’t especially tested in goal. That being said, to come away with 2 victories in net is always a good thing! On the goal he let in against Uruguay, he was especially put in a tough spot because Torreira was totally through on goal and 2 of the 4 defenders were beaten. Kim has to block Torreira’s chances to shoot at the near post but as a result he’s vulnerable to the cutback goal. Charging down Torreira would put him at risk of giving up a penalty so it’s really hard to fault Kim for that goal. I think both Kims should be fully in the plans of Bento for his goalkeeping options.

Trending Down: This is going to seem a little harsh but I don’t think that Jo Hyeonwoo had an especially good performance against Panama. In my opinion, the blame for the equalizing goal should be shared between Jo and Nam Taehee. On the play, Jo receives a backpass and takes too long deciding how to play out from the back and pressure comes from a Panama attacker. At that point, his pass to Hwang Inbeom is pretty dangerous and Hwang does really well to win the 50/50 in front of his opponent. From there, Nam makes a careless backpass that gets intercepted. Then comes another questionable decision from Jo. Jo tries to come back off his line even though there wasn’t any real chance for him to close down the attacker that quickly. Rolando Blackburn slots the ball past Jo into the near post. In my opinion, Jo would have had a better chance to save that shot if he stayed on his line, especially since there were defenders who could’ve pressured Blackburn if he waited too long to shoot. Basically, Jo made the goal easier for Blackburn than it would have been if Jo was still on his line. Jo was in goal for a disappointing draw when Korea should have came away with a win. We’ll see how that affects his stock for the November friendlies. He’ll have to improve his play with Daegu FC to make sure that Bento continues to select him.

On the Radar: If there is one K League goalkeeper who is absolutely on fire, it’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings’ Shin Hwayong. Last Wednesday, he came up with more incredibly clutch penalty shootout saves to propel Suwon into the Korean FA Cup Semifinals. His incredible run of penalty saving form could be worthy of a look from Bento in November.

  • Defenders

Trending Up: Park Jooho. We have to talk about how Bento chose him over September call-up Yoon Sukyoung and how he scored a goal after starting the Panama match. His lung-busting run to get on the end of Hwang Heechan’s cutback was great and he’s a solid veteran leftback who provides the width and defensive cover needed. Another defender who is trending up is Jang Hyunsoo. Bento knows that Jang gets a lot of criticism (including from writers and readers here at the Tavern!) and addressed this after the Uruguay victory. Here’s what Bento had to say about Jang:

There is no need to mention Jang Hyun-soo’s past. But I want to say this point. From the three games I have seen until today, he has shown a fairly high level of football. He has the ability to significantly exceed the average football skill. This player has attracted a special interest and it seems that we should protect him. I think he will be a big help to the future of our team. Overall, I am satisfied with the performance the team showed today, and I am more than satisfied with Jang Hyun-soo.

I have to say, Bento is right. Overall, Jang is a serviceable center-back and if Bento and the coaching staff can help improve Jang’s decision-making so that he doesn’t make those needless mistakes anymore, he could well be an important player in Korea’s defense. All good squads have competitions for a spot in the starting XI so if there are 4 CBs that are playing well, that’s always a good thing for the team. Kim Younggwon and Kim Minjae continue to be consistently good players and with the development of others like Jung Seunghyun and Cho Yumin (an Asian Games stalwart), the KNT could have solid CBs to choose from! It will also be interesting to see if Gyeongnam’s Park Jisoo can keep himself in the KNT fold even though he was unable to earn any minutes in these friendlies.

At the RB position, both Lee Yong and Kim Moonhwan look to be established as picks for Bento at the RB position. I’m slowly coming around on Lee Yong. In the buildup to the second goal in the Panama match, it’s Lee Yong who plays through Son Huengmin into the box so that he can make the assist. Hopefully Lee Yong can be challenged by a young player like Kim Moonhwan but can also teach Kim a lot from his experience.

Trending Down: The Pitch at Seoul World Cup Stadium. I kid, but really that slip from Kim Younggwon to let in Torreira was because a huge clump up of grass falls out from under him as he plants his foot. The grounds crew at Seoul World Cup Stadium have to do better to manage the pitch throughout the long K League season and the concerts/events so that the playing surface is in acceptable condition.

For an actual defender who is Trending Down, I’ll go with Hong Chul. With the return from injury of Park Jooho and the imminent return to fitness of Kim Jinsu (who is expected to play with Jeonbuk in a few weeks), I wonder if Hong Chul will see his place in the side threatened. Bento had to be pleased with the play that Park Jooho offered in the Panama match and will want to have a look at Kim Jinsu once he’s fit as well. With young LBs like Kim Jinya and former Barca Boy Jang Gyeolhee also figuring to come through the ranks soon, Hong will have to work hard to keep his place.

On the Radar: We have already talked about Kim Jinya but I also want to mention Jang Gyeolhee. After an end to his youth contract with Barca’s academy, he left the club after not earning a pro contract and spent a season with Asteras Tripoli in the Greek League. However, that move didn’t turn into a long-term contract so he has returned to Korea with Pohang Steelers, the club he trained with as a youth player before moving to Barca. He didn’t sign a contract during the summer transfer window so he’ll begin playing for Pohang next season in March. I imagine his first goal will be to impress in the K League and get himself into Kim Hakbum’s plans for the Tokyo Olympics, but if his form is good Bento has shown a willingness to give young players a chance so you never know.

  • Midfielders

Trending Up: Alright, let’s get the easy ones out of the way. Ki Sungyeung, Hwang Inbeom, Jung Wooyoung, Koo Jacheol (if he’s healthy), and Lee Seungwoo would seem to be locks in Bento’s midfield plans for the time being. Lee Jinhyun can cement himself in Bento’s plans by continuing to play well at Pohang and training hard with the KNT when he’s called up, even if he and Lee Seungwoo don’t earn minutes in the matches just yet.

Trending DownNam Taehee. He can be really good in some moments and then ummmm, not so good in others. Let’s talk about the good first. It’s Nam who makes the pass in to Hwang Uijo to win the penalty in the Uruguay match. It’s also Nam who intercepts an errant Panama pass and backheels the ball to set Hwang Heechan free to create the first goal. Unfortunately, it is also Nam who makes an absolutely terrible backpass that Rolando Blackburn turns into the equalizing goal. Nam has these moments of inventive play that shows his class but then a mistake like that that shows he may not be the best fit in a central midfield three.

On the Radar: Jang Yoonho. Another solid Asian Games performer who could be given a shot if Bento wants to get a look at a different central midfield option and drops Nam Taehee.

  • Forwards

Trending Up: Let me say this: Hwang Heechan looks to be playing much better these days. The change of scenery at Hamburg plus the gold medal confidence has done wonders for his form. He is pushing the ball forward, taking on players in the box and making good decisions to set up his teammates. Son Heungmin will miss the November friendlies and that’s going to be really good for Sonny. Frankly, he needs some rest as he is in a bit of a rut at Spurs currently. For the KNT though, he’s played every minute for Bento and has done well in the role Bento gives him. In November, expect to see more of Suk Hyunjun, Hwang Uijo, Lee Jaesung (hopefully healthy) and Ji Dongwon (if he regains fitness) across the forward line to make up for Sonny’s absence.

Trending Down: Moon Seonmin. I’m hoping Bento doesn’t continue to select him because there are better options than him as an impact substitute on the wings. For example, you could sub in Lee Seungwoo maybe?

On the Radar: I’ll pull for the Ulsan Hyundai trio of Hwang Ilsu, Lee Keunho, and Han Seunggyu. All three are wingers/forwards that have had their scoring boots all season for Ulsan so hopefully Bento takes in an Ulsan match and sees what they have to offer. Lee Keunho is a veteran that could get a recall to the national team while Hwang and Han would be newcomers. If you want to replace Moon Seonmin, you could certainly make a case for one of these three players.

Let me know what you thought of these players in comments and I’ll see you in a few weeks for another edition of KNT Stock Watch. My challenge: I will keep an eye on fitness and form to try to predict Bento’s November squad for the friendlies in Australia. What do you think? Can I guess most of the players correctly?

About Michael Welch 89 Articles
That Halfie Korean-American who loves football (I mean, soccer).


  1. This is great. Thanks for pulling this comprehensive assessment together!

    1) I’m all for giving everyone a second chance. And these guys work super hard and are under tremendous scrutiny. It’s great to see that Jang played much better this time around in the October friendlies, but I still can’t forget his performance during the September match against Chile and then his WC performance. I really don’t think he’s the CB of the future for this team. What do others think? Is Jang getting back in Bento’s good graces?
    2) Son really deserves this November break he has coming up. Can’t believe how many miles and minutes he’s had to endure the past few months. Hopefully this break gives him a chance to reset and recharge so that he can regain his form for Spurs (still looking for his first goal of the club season) and then get ready for the Asian Cup in January. He seemed to play better against PSV today but still not 100% there.
    3) Hoping that these players in Germany get healthy soon. Seems like there’s always something going on with Koo, Ji DW, and Lee JS.

    Bonus: I’m starting to get really excited for Lee KI

  2. thanks for the post Michael!

    As for Lee Keunho, I wouldn’t mind seeing him in action again. His performance against Colombia last year was pretty good.

    I think Korea is pretty good right now. Three solid goalkeepers.

    November will be interesting. No Son Heung Min. We will get to see how the team plays without him.

  3. Lee Kangin’s first team debut for Valencia was today (albeit in the cup against a weaker side): check out his shot at 0:37 here

    Excited to see what else is in store for his career. He’s only 17!!! Sonny is almost a decade older than LKI.

  4. Well, y’all got your wish, Jang Hyun-soo is banned from the national team. Not only does he have a tendency to make boneheaded decisions on the pitch, he also makes them in his personal life.

    • Yeah, it was so stupid what he did. You won military exemption and the government does you a huge favor by only asking you for one month of basic training and a couple weeks of community service and then you hand in fraudulent documents? It is just so ungrateful and I’m sure men who actually did their military duty would have been really upset if he wasn’t punished for this. Good riddance to Jang, that’s just such a silly thing to do.

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