Korea 0-1 Peru: Disappointing Loss

A disappointing loss to Peru despite getting our act together in the second half. Chance after chance went off target. We really should have won this – our opposition flew halfway across the world and despite jet lag legitimately looked better than us for at least half the game. Peru is among the stronger South American sides, but we should be a leg above them on paper (Korean media made a big deal about how Son Heung Min’s transfer worth or 몸값 is higher than the entire Peruvian team combined). Missing Son and Kim Min Jae is no excuse for a loss. Read on for a full recap of Klinsmann’s third game in charge.

The Lineup

Nothing too out of the ordinary. Kim Seung Gyu was named as the captain in Son’s absence. Won Du Jae is literally the only DM candidate given Park Yong Woo’s racism scandal and Son Jun Ho being stuck in Chinese prison (can’t believe I’m saying this but here we are). I still don’t think he should have been called up though.. not playing for Sangmu and all. Oh Hyeon Gyu scored 3.5x as many goals in the Scottish PL as both Cho Gue Sung and Hwang Ui Jo in the K League, so no brainer there. HHC LKI and LJS are easily our most in form wingers/attacking mids. CB pairing very reasonable too.

The first half

Perhaps owing to the fact that we had an extremely rotated lineup with two debutantes (OK Won Du Jae isn’t making his debut but he’s been off the NT for so long I’m counting him too), the first 10 minutes were very nervy and completely dominated by Peru. We had near zero possession and Oh Hyeon Gyu didn’t even touch the ball in the first 15’. Unsurprisingly it was Peru that took the lead in the 10th minute, gifted to them by a particularly bad sequence for us. A sequence starting from their RW eventually found the goalscorer completely unmarked on the left side of the box. RB Ahn Hyeon Beom rushed to cover him but to no avail.

We came to our senses a bit after the first goal, with Hwang Hee Chan’s dribble resulting in a blocked shot in the 24th. Two amazing through passes from Lee Kang In 25’ and 27’ also went off the mark. The second one led to a 1v1; Oh Hyeon Gyu completely missed his target unfortunately. Shockingly bad finishing. Our next attempt in the 33rd saw Hwang Hee Chan hold on to the ball expertly before passing to Lee Kang In on the right, who attempted a Arjen Robben shot from the edge of the box that was tipped over the bar by the GK.

The salient points from the first half were as follows:

Won Du Jae, as we all feared, was extremely rusty, losing the ball often and not getting much time on the ball. He made us miss Jung Woo Young the elder – which is saying something. National commentators don’t often criticize players or say negative things, but even they pointed out on several occasions that the pressure seemed to be getting to Won Du Jae more than anyone else.

Hwang In Beom uncharacteristically lost the ball a lot. He was a half step off with every touch. Likewise, Lee Jae Sung seemed out of form as well and struggled to contribute to the attack in any way (dudes need a vacation after a long club season). So essentially, we had a completely nonexistent midfield.

Ahn Hyun Beom, as we mentioned in our squad preview, is not really a defender. A right winger originally and very offensively minded, his greatest strength is his explosive speed. All game he reminded us of this – not the latter, but the fact that he was out of position and can’t defend or tackle. A great option as a RW or as a RWB, but out of position for us today. We missed Seol Young Woo.

Second half

Initially, not much changed. Errant passes in the midfield cost us momentum. There were 2-3 scrambles in front of our goal that we managed to clear. In the 61′ Hwang Hee Chan intercepted the ball near the half line from the opposing RB. Lee Kang In dummied the pass which fell straight to Oh Hyeon Gyu – he was one on one with the keeper a second time today. Sadly, this was saved as well.

Our fortunes would change dramatically with the introduction of Cho Gue Sung and Hong Hyeon Seok initially followed by Park Yong Woo in place of the struggling Won Du Jae. The period between 70′ and the final whistle was completely dominated by us.

In the 72′ HHC dribbled past a defender to set up Lee Kang In for a header that was parried wide for a corner by the GK. In the 77th Lee Kang In dribbled past two opponents to set up Cho Gue Sung – his header flew wide, but for a second it really looked like we’d get a repeat of Ghana. In the 78th Park Ji Soo found Hwang Hee Chan on the left, who beat a few opponents before drawing a foul in a dangerous area. In the 87th Lee Kang In would yet again dribble past 3! opponents to set up Na Sang Ho to cross on the RW. And until the end of the game, we’d continue to knock at the door, doing everything right short of actually putting the ball in the back of the net.

Park Yong Woo was not only defensively sound but also sprayed passes from deep effectively. He is a great distributor, brought to the NT his great form for runaway league leaders Ulsan Hyundai, and showed that he is the man to replace Jung Woo Young Sr. in midfield. Cho Gue Sung, for all his struggles at Jeonbuk, is a remarkably effective target man and linked up with Lee Kang In on numerous occasions. Hong Hyeon Seok gave Park Ji Sung vibes as he was everywhere on the pitch, often making a few key interceptions. He is no doubt going to feature more prominently on the NT going forward.

In the final few minutes we converted to a 3 ATB system with Park Gyu Hyun also making his debut. Na Sang Ho came on and played RWB, and in the short time he had he verified why he’s arguably the K League MVP so far. We would continue to dominate without any end product until the final whistle.

Update: full highlights were just uploaded (I am writing this part around 11:00 PST)

Thoughts:

Lee Kang In – our MOTM for sure. He must have completed at least 10 dribbles today with some insane crosses and through balls. He was everywhere especially in the second half and was so close to notching several assists. He really is at a level above everyone else. Hwang Hee Chan also deserves a shout too though. These two were our best attacking outlets by a mile.

Are we putting too much pressure on a young Oh Hyeon Gyu to be our starting CF? This match really exposed his limitations – he really is raw and just kinda runs around recklessly. He also has a way to go in terms of clinical finishing. While Cho Gue Sung wasn’t GREAT (many off target headers), he still was a more effective FW than Oh Hyeon Gyu this time around. We really need Cho Gue Sung in form for the national team until OHG develops a bit more. He may be impending a move to Europe, but he better go to a team that guarantees playing time because for the sake of the national team right now we need a fit and on form CGS.

4-4-2 was a very bad call in hindsight. We were totally outnumbered in midfield. I think we should’ve made tactical changes much earlier than we did. Easy to say in hindsight but still. It also didn’t help that Won Du Jae Hwang In Beom and Lee Jae Sung were massively off form.

Klinsmann remains winless in 3 games. The performance itself has been decent… but somehow we’re just not getting results. There have only been 3 games, but still gets you a bit worried about the Asian Cup upcoming.

Even without Kim Min Jae, Kim Young Kwon, and Kwon Kyung Won, the CBs were excellent. They even made some surprisingly good passes too.

Park Yong Woo should be our starting DM going forward. The racism scandal came at a VERY inopportune time. Even Hwang In Beom started playing better with Park Yong Woo around. We knew that Won Du Jae was a very questionable call up considering he can’t even get minutes at Sangmu and dramatically fell out of form since 2020-2021 (more on that in our June friendlies preview post). That injury he got really changed his career and it seems he has unfortunately stagnated and/or regressed since then.

This match also put a big magnifying glass / highlighter over our biggest weaknesses: Fullbacks and Defensive Mid. These positions have always been glaringly worse than the rest of the team. Imagine if we had top European League level fullbacks – not even Kim Min Jae level just like… starting for a midtable EPL Bundesliga or Serie A level. Ahn Hyeon Beom showed us that he can’t defend; and Lee Ki Je was also very nervy and didn’t contribute much offensively or defensively. We are really doomed to being a revolving door on the flanks until we find someone better. There are some good youth prospects coming through at least? But we’ve been saying that for forever. Next game I really expect Seol Young Woo to start.

Please bring on Joo Min Kyu at some point. Hwang Ui Jo is so terribly off form right now.

Before the game, I read that 3.Bundesliga Dynamo Dresden’s Park Gyu Hyeon was training alongside Park Ji Soo as the CB pairing in training – now this felt a little bizarre to me. He’s a very talented player who I’d love to see tested as a fullback, but it made me think. I am really really hoping that we’re not going to get a repeat of Choi Kang Hee’s favoritism of K Leaguers… except in reverse this time with major favoritism to literally anyone in Germany. I can picture it now – the media will be like “OMG Klinsmann favors the German third division over the K League” – and I am strongly of the opinion that the top K League talents > third division guys even if it is Germany. But that’s just how Klinsmann operates (he pulled from the 3rd division of the MLS…) and it even looks like we might get a repeat of Julian Green with Klinsmann trying to recruit the half-German half-Korean RB/RW/DM Jens Castrop. A post on that story is upcoming.. stay tuned.

About Jinseok 259 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan. https://www.taegukwarriors.com/jinseoks-story/

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