Korea 0 Ghana 4

Well that was ugly. Really, really ugly. Korean mistakes let Ghana get a couple cheap goals in, and it was all downhill from there. Criticism of Hong Myeong-Bo and the team have reached an all-time high, and at the worst possible time with just a week until the team plays Russia in the opening group game of the World Cup. One of the headlines from Naver read, “믿 고 싶은데, 믿을 구석이 없다’ (meed go shipeunde, meedeul guseoki eopda), which roughly means (I think) ‘We want to believe, but there is none left’.

Okay, so technically the above quote refers to Hong Myeong-Bo, but I think it applies to the vast majority of people. But is it right? Is there no belief, no trust in this team left? Something we’ll consider later.

Starting XI

Hong made two changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Tunisia (and that will likely start against Russia). Kwak Tae-Hwi came in for the still recovering Hong Jeong-Ho, and Kim Chang-Soo got a chance to impress ahead of Lee Yong. Otherwise, Hong stuck with his usual formation and players.

SK Ghana XI

 The Game and Goals

The first minutes of the game were actually fairly promising, and even after the first goal Korea responded fairly well. The team certainly looked to have more zip in their step, with more pressing and aggressive defensive, preventing Ghana from really getting going. Lee Chung-Yong and Son Heung-Min both flashed warning signs as they found space to get behind the Ghana defense. Korea’s defense also looked decent. Not being too troubled by Asamoah Gyan or Ghana’s pacey wide attackers.

But there is the small issue of the first goal. A sloppy backpass from Kim Chang-Soo was cut out by Gyan. Panic set into the Korean team (defense and deeper midfielders) and they failed to take up good defensive positions and clear the danger. In the end, it was a bit unfortunate to concede, Jordan Ayew’s shot deflected off of Ki Sung-Yueng and went over Jung Sung-Ryong who had already gone to ground to try and save the shot.

After the goal, things settled with neither side getting an big advantage over the other. Ghana was content on being direct and playing on the break, but the long balls over the top were usually collect by Korea’s center backs pretty easily. Problems did occur when Ghana won the second ball as Korea’s midfield and fullbacks were often out of position.

The second goal came shortly before the break. A goal kick from Jung Sung-Ryong was headed back towards the Korea half. Kwak Tae-Hwi battled with Gyan for the ball. Kwak felt Gyan’s hand on his back, and after a second went tumbling to the ground looking for a foul. It never came, leaving Gyan free to run at goal with only Kim Young-Gwon and Jung Sung-Ryong to beat. Kim, possibly mindful of getting sent off as a last man, didn’t really challenge Gyan for the ball, trying instead just to be in the way of any shot. It didn’t work though as Gyan stepped to the right and fired a low shot past Jung to make it 2-0.

Goal three came shortly after the break. Park Chu-Young lost the ball just outside the Ghana box, and Ghana worked the ball with ease up the pitch. Poor defensive positioning and lazy backtracking the culprits here. Ki Sung-Yueng couldn’t get back in time, and Son Heung-Min didn’t come back on the left to help cover. Now at 3-0 early in the second half the game was virtually over, and both teams started to make their changes.

In the end, Ghana got a fourth and Jordan Ayew got his hattrick. It was really the simplest of goals. Ball goes wide to midfielder, passes up the line to attacker moving out, cross it back in for the simplest of tap ins. Again, laziness probably the biggest culprit. Kim Young-Gwon was slow in tracking the attacker’s run wide and then never really made any attempt to challenge/block the cross. Hong Jeong-Ho was marking Ayew in the box and he simply let him run by him.

Reflections

After the Tunisia loss, there was a feeling that the loss/game was a potential blessing in disguise. A kick in the ass to get going, a moment to damper (perhaps) an overly expectant public, a warning that many lingering problems still exist in the team. Such sentiment is around after the Ghana loss, but at a much lower level. Hong Myeong-Bo, for his part, has tried to keep the mood positive, saying that “I don’t think it was systematical errors but rather mistakes of a few individual players,” that allowed the goals (one and two). In theory those errors can be avoided, and it’s highly likely neither Kim Chang-Soo nor Kwak Tae-Hwi will feature in Brazil.

The fact that the goals were largely conceded to individual errors (Kim’s backpass, Kwak’s slip, Hong’s failure to fully mark his man) is both good and bad. It is good in that they are, in theory, easily fixable problems. It is bad in that, individual errors have long been a problem in this team, and as much as we may wish it, that they’ll go away in a week seems a bit unlikely.

Ultimately, this game serves a test of how strong your optimism and belief in this team and manager are. Do you want to see things as a quarter-full (not enough went right to say half-full) or three-quarters empty?

Because honestly, I feel better about the team’s performance after this game than the Tunisia game. That game was a complete let down. At home, against a weaker team that just wanted to defend, Korea looked pathetic. Troubled defensively, no energy, no creativity in attack. While the scoreline against Ghana is much worse, there were good things in that performance. For long stretches the defense did fairly well. The attack had more pace in it, more life, and more creativity (once Koo Ja-Cheol went off).

Luck is always needed in big tournaments, and on Tuesday Korea just had none. On another day maybe that deflection off Ki goes out for a corner. On another day maybe the referee (rightly or wrongly) gives a foul on the little contact on Kwak Tae-Hwi. On another day the teams go into the half 0-0, and Korea doesn’t need to come out more and be more open in search of goals. Am I grasping at straws here? Maybe a bit, but in complete honesty I would take this 4-0 loss to Ghana over the 1-0 loss to Tunisia any day.

Where from here?

That probably is the biggest question. Where does Hong and the team go from here? Fans, and Korea in general, seems to have given up on the team (at least according to Twitter). And compared to the positivity in the build up to the World Cup (pre-Tunisia), the ultimate result in Brazil may be disappointing. But, it shouldn’t be forgotten that these friendlies count for nothing. Russia, Algeria, and Belgium don’t get any points for these losses.

Hong Myeong-Bo has a week. One week to make some big decisions about which XI players take the field. The defense, despite it’s problems seems set. Ki Sung-Yueng and Han Kook-Young have done enough to warrant their spots. Lee Chung-Yong and Son Heung-Min the same. It’s those two in the middle that Hong will need to do some deep soul-searching on. Both Park Chu-Young and Koo Ja-Cheol have been completely underwhelming in the two matches. Hong will need to decide if he’s willing to stick with his (completely predictably) misfiring striker and out-of-form captain or if he’ll gamble on others.

When asked about the players’ attitudes after conceding the first goals, Hong said that he thought, “they had to play under huge pressure. They failed to show impressive play (in the previous games) and that was the reason, I think.” The pressure certainly won’t be any less following this result, and with the next game being the (potentially) vital game against Russia, the team will need to get their heads right quickly. Hong also realizes this telling reporters, “We have a young team, and how quickly they can overcome their disappointments will be key.”

A more detailed analysis of the match will be up in a couple days. My player ratings can be viewed on the earlier post by Tim Lee. If you’d like to see the match again, it is viewable below.

About Jae Chee 312 Articles

A football fan with who got bit by the writing bug.

38 Comments

  1. Quote basically says “We want to believe, but there’s nothing to believe in.”

    Pretty sad, considering the talent the KNT has, while I don’t blame the team or anything, it sucks to see the team right before a competition that comes around every 4 years. I don’t want to wait another 4 years to see Korea thrive. Oh well, can’t have everything.

  2. That mistakes made by individuals was interesting by Hong….1st time he’s ever publicly cast blame on to others than himself. I found it uncharacteristic. I hope he isnt cracking and I hope the public doesnt go ape shit on Hong after this campaign. Looking a bit ominous.

    If you think about it, this team has no captain to look up to right now. Not a one worth the captain moniker. A rudderless ship on the pitch. Someone needs to step up and stop the bleeding now.

    • I don’t think he really had a choice, you can’t explain the first two goals without pointing to individual errors. In (a bit more) context, Hong wasn’t angry or frustrated/upset when he said that. It was in a very matter of fact kind of way. I think he’s a bit frustrated (internally), but I don’t think he’s cracking. The public seems more upset with the team in general rather than Hong specifically.

  3. I agree with your take on the game – if you can ignore the crazy bad scoreline – I too will take this game over the Tunisia loss – there definitely was progress. The offense showed more creativity and spark and unlucky not to get goals from both Lee Chung-Yong and more specifically Son Heung-Min with him hitting the post. Of course there is reason for concern in a number of different categories, but I’m being cautiously optimistic this World Cup. They still have the talent to pull off advancing to the round of 16. But I’ll hedge my bet by being cautious and for now I’ll leave it at that. I have a hilarious story to tell about this game vs Ghana – which I’ll wait until later this week to reveal – but I’ll preview it by saying the end result is that I’m in the doghouse – literally…

  4. I also thought that comment was a bit surprising and poorly timed heading into a big tournament coming from a man who should be well familiar with our implosions in situations like this. A good team will overcome individual mistakes and aside from the horrible back pass, I didnt find the errors so horrendous that they couldnt be overcome. Hong, as manager, shouldve took it on the chin and handled it. The fact he didn’t tells me something. The simple matter of fact here is that the fighting thing is overblown because it seems like once we yield two goals sometimes even one goal, we tend to shoegaze.

    Hopefully Hong is able to dig a bit deeper and come up with a solution to this funk.

    He’s done it before.

    (great Tavern post by the way Jae. Got a lot out of it)

  5. I liked the analysis Jae. I still think this team is capable of getting its crap together. First game v Russia will tell. Getting butterflies already

  6. Thx 4 the analysis Jae, still not sure how easily fixable things r, but saying they ARE @ least fixable is still reassuring.

    Outta curiosity, how is Hong Myeong Bo generally regarded here as a manager? Whether his understanding of tactics/positioning, personnel evaluation, motivation, intangibles, whatever, just how good is he really? & what r his shortcomings as a coach?

    I mean, he led SK to a bronze @ London, w/ many of the same players, against teams that had a lot of their own NT players on the pitch & not just juniors. What’s going on, what if anything is different now? Was SK crazy lucky in London, or was that performance more indicative of who the NT, & Hong, truly are?

    • I mean they’re fixable in the sense that careless, individual errors are (in theory) easier to fix than trying to re-adjust a whole system. Will they be fixed is another story because, as I said, they’re the kind of errors we see pretty regularly.

      I can’t recall seeing any specific evaluations of Hong, but generally he’s regarded highly in the motivation/intangibles/leadership areas, but maybe a little weaker in tactics, player selection, and management (in-game). He does have shortcomings, but they’re likely due to his relative lack of experience. He’s a manager with a lot of potential, and if he’s given time, could be a very good one.

      While other disagree, I consider the degree of difficulty between the senior level and U23 level quite large. It shows what the team could be if Hong has a proper cycle to mold them into what he wants. A solid, well organized team.

      • I agree. Hong is definitely on the very young side in terms of coaching. I think if he has more time and even stays on until 2018 that it would be very fascinating to watch. There is a side of me though that wants Hong to go away to learn more and Korea have a foreign coach in the mean time and have Hong for a full cycle perhaps beginning after Russia 2018 concludes. That said, I don’t trust KFA enough so if there was any Korean coach I’m glad it’s Hong.

    • Sorry to say this, because I really hate to be negative, but I’ve honestly felt this way since the 2012 Olympics. I guess I should say it now because my pessimism has reached its peak. The Olympics are not at all representative of the best the footballing world can offer. While it’s cool that SK got the bronze for nationalistic reasons, and for the fact that the players got military exemption, it does not prove anything about what a country is capable of.
      I’ll give four examples of this:
      1) Korea only won 1 of their group matches, a respectable win against Switzerland, but merely drawing with Mexico and Gabon. That doesn’t prove that our team was great… if anything, it shows that we scraped by.
      2) Korea got smoked by Brazil 3-0 in the semi-final. Understandable, because they had a really strong team, but still… Also, many people would say that while Korea’s win against Great Britain was fantastic and exciting, Great Britain basically choked and played horribly.
      3) A lot of the strongest WC teams (like Germany and Netherlands) didn’t even make it to the Olympics…. the pool of talent is much smaller than in the World Cup.
      4) This is easily the most important reason. Korea’s squad had basically all of their best players- the majority of our current national team went to the Olympics. Every other team, apart from Brazil MAYBE, used the Olympics as a youth experiment. I understand that beating Japan makes Koreans happy, but the Japanese squad did not have any of their best players (Honda, Kagawa, Nagatomo, Endo, Okazaki, Hasebe, Uchida, Kawashima… none of them played!). This is also exemplified by the fact that Mexico won the gold, but their chances of doing well in the World Cup are not strong at all.

      It’s great that Korea got bronze, but it doesn’t mean that our group of guys can cut it in the World Cup.
      Have any of you noticed that Korea’s national team (A team) has not played Japan’s national team (A team) since we got destroyed in 2011 3-0? That was the last time our best guys played against their best guys (Kagawa, Honda, etc). Why is that? Doesn’t that tell you anything? It’s got to be the longest time Korea and Japan didn’t play in a friendly. We used to play them all the time because we thought we could beat them. Now, it’s like we’re afraid because we know they’ll beat us. Even their B-team beat ours in Seoul last year.

      I really hope I’m wrong, but if this is the best we’ve got, I’m really concerned we won’t get a single point in this World Cup.

      Please… someone say something optimistic now!

      • Well, the ole standby’s: “Nowhere to go but up”, “Anything good from here on out is a pleasant surprise”, “I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong, now make room on that bandwagon”, the like 🙂

      • What is with this constant Korea and Japan comparisons? What does Korea losing to Japan in 2011 friendly have to do with the upcoming 2014 world cup? Even though I don’t have the highest hopes for the 2014 world cup, I don’t understand how Korea played against Japan in a friendly in 2011 have to do with the upcoming world cup. I don’t understand how Korea losing in the EAST ASIAN CUP has any relevance to the world cup.

        If you are going to bring up a match 3 years ago, then why not bring up the asian cup match when our team actually look it seriously. Korea would have won against Japan if the ref didn’t make the wrong call and mark Okazaki’s fall as a penalty kick even though the foul was OUTSIDE the box. Even after the penalty was taken, a Japanese player ran toward penalty box before Honda even kicked the penalty ball which isn’t supposed to be allowed. Remember when Korea beat Japan 2-0 in a friendly before 2010 world cup? Why not remember that. What’s so bad about Korea losing 1-2 to Japan in EAST ASIAN CUP. NO ONE CARES about that cup. Korea dominated that match in possession and shot count but didn’t take its chances well like Japan that’s it.
        And it’s not that we don’t play Japan because we don’t think we’ll beat them. I think there are other reasons. Remember that from a total of 76 matches between Korea and Japan, Korea won 40 times, tied 22 times, and Japan won 14 times.

        Korea passed the 2012 Olympic group barely scraping by? Mexico had a squad that would soon win the cup. I think tying with that team isn’t that bad. At least we didn’t get a one win, one draw, one loss group stage like we did in 2010 and 2006 world cups.
        And I see you are just mentioning the score instead of the performance of the Korea v. Brazil match. I think the Korean performance against Brazil in that Olympics match wasn’t that bad. Korea played VERY GOOD football in half of the first half but that first Brazil goal ruined Korea’s momentum. There were TWO INSTANCES when there were OPEN NET opportunities thanks to very good opportunity/chance passesbut bad finishing from Kim Hyun Sung and Thiago Silva’s taekwondo feet kick blocking the ball which blocked Ji’s header from scoring into the open net.

        • Woah! I only brought up the Japan match in the Olympics because the Olympics was the topic.. and my point about the other two matches with Japan was to show that Olympic U23 football is completely different from national team football. I’m not trying to focus on Japan my friend.
          Anyway, if Korea plays Japan’s Ateam again soon (trust me, I’ve been hoping for it!!!!), I’ll shut up. But they haven’t.
          Look, you don’t have to agree with me. I understand the Tavern has lots of different fans with different opinions, and that’s good. It’s just sometimes I get frustrated when sports fans let emotions get to their head without seeing things for how they are. The bronze medal in the Olympics made everyone in Korea think football was alive and well in the country, but I believe it was totally false and an unfair comparison with other countries who just sent their inexperienced players.
          I really hope I’m wrong. Up til Tunisia and Ghana, I would have never said these things. But I’m completely out of hope right now.
          And I don’t think 3-0 v Brazil means Korea played well. That’s like a lie you would say to someone just to encourage them. Brazil didn’t beat anyone else that badly in the Olympics besides New Zealand… and I don’t want to be in their company. Is that so wrong?

          • And I promise. If we get out of the group stage, I will apologize to everyone at the Tavern and never doubt Korea again. Oh lord, I want that to happen….

          • The thing is you aren’t actually being completely logical about this. No one is saying that the Olympics show that Korea is the best team or even the 3rd best team in the world. The point that was made was that Hong coached very well in that tournament, so Dae was asking which is the real Korea under Hong’s coaching. So, Jon, you actually started a rant that was irrelevant to the question being asked. Korea playing well in the Olympics under Hong’s coaching is generally a fact. Furthermore, the Olympics aren’t as hollow as you make it out to be, because, in fact, it is almost though admittedly a much lesser in quality version of a sort of U23 World Cup with a couple exemptions for older players on each team, usually those exemptions are good players. It showed that a young Korean squad has talent and your comment actually shows that you aren’t familiar with the quality of the young Mexico team. Check the squads again and see all the great players that were in the tournament and tell us again that there is zero significance. Here’s the link if you need it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_at_the_2012_Summer_Olympics_%E2%80%93_Men's_team_squads
            And again, notice that Dae wasn’t saying Korea was the 3rd best team in the world. He’s asking why they played well in the Olympics under Hong to win bronze (with many of the same players) and why they are sucking now. So, it seems to me, Jon, that perhaps you are also overreacting irrationally just a touch.

            This is how I would (rationally) answer Dae’s question. First, Hong’s work with the U23 NT in the Olympics is far more indicative of how a NT under his coaching can be than the current situation. This doesn’t mean Koreans are suddenly championship caliber in terms of talent, but the combination of their talent and Hong’s coaching can, in fact, produce quality soccer against other talented teams. Second, when Hong was coaching the Olympics, he had also been working with the U20 and then the U23 team consistently. Though many of the players might be similar in the current KMNT, the reality is that as the senior MNT, they have not had all that much time together and under the direction of Hong. And while there are many players that were on the Olympics team as the current team, it’s definitely not the exact same team both in terms of personnel but also in that even the current players aren’t the same players they were two years ago. Some have improved, some have regressed.

            Your pessimism, Jon, however, is warranted, not because of your point that Korea doesn’t have the players to ‘cut it’ in the World Cup. Some do and some don’t perhaps, but generally it’s not the talent that’s failing them per se. I wish the talent was higher than it is, but the truth is that this team is still more talented in terms of individual players than South Korea probably ever was in its history. That’s a good thing. However, they are completely lacking cohesion, confidence, and discipline. Some of that validly falls on Hong as the coach. However, I think that Hong hasn’t had as much time as needed. Rarely can a coach make dramatic improvements in less than a year. My view would be like Dae and some others. There can only be room for optimism from here. You can only be pessimistic if you had expectations. So since you no longer have any expectations of Korea doing well, we only have the possibility of doing better from here. Plus, we can have optimism in that at least we aren’t in Group G or pretty much any other group. Lol. I hope that helps, Jon.

          • Irrational was a strong word. I really meant you weren’t really as objective as you thought you were being.

          • I completely agree with what you’ve said. I wasn’t at all trying to argue with Dae’s point or make any case against Hong as a coach. I have no insight into Hong’s ability as a coach, so I wasn’t trying to respond to his question. My only point was just that I don’t have faith in these guys, and honestly I didn’t have faith just because of their bronze medal. To me, it just didn’t mean anything in terms of football or their chance in the WC (although it’s huge for them for military exemption, I definitely get that). I think I just didn’t write it well.
            Anyway, here’s hoping my expectations are far surpassed. 대한민국 열심히하세요! 끝

  7. I agree with Jae’s analysis, even the analysis he made by omission, whether he did that on purpose or not. I saw a lot of people on the previous ratings post rip into Jung Sung Ryong. I couldn’t watch the match so I just assumed everyone must have been right about him. However, he may have made mistakes throughout the match (again, I don’t know since I didn’t watch the whole match), but I did look at the goal highlights, and frankly, you can’t really blame him for any of them, and I was actually actively trying look find a way to put some kind of blame on him. I think his leadership is sketchy if even existent, his confidence seems to have gotten shakier than in years past, and his reflexes are very average, but his positioning is actually pretty consistently good. In fact, in all 4 goals, I found him to be in good if not always perfect position, and some of his bad positioning could be attributed to the defenders turning the ball over to leave him out of position. If you want to read my break down of each goal, you all can let me know if you agree or not.

    Goal #1: Jung was generally in good position rotating all the way following the ball as a GK should, while the defenders basically watched it rotate all the way to the other side as, conversely, defenders should not, rather than even attempting to get a body part on it, let alone clear it. Then when the shot was taken, if you see the angle in which he dove he likely would have had the save were it not for the deflection off of Ki, changing the direction on him while he was already on the ground.

    Goal #2: This is the only goal that one could even remotely try to put the blame on Jung, but even then I think it would be a weak argument. He was put in a difficult position being found too high up the field, but that was largely because of Kwak going to the ground for no good reason and basically giving the ball up too early. Even with Jung’s slow feet he generally got himself where he needed to in terms of angle and the Ghanaian shot it perfectly to the outside window. If you watch the highlights slowly Jung dove and almost even got a hand on it in basically a 1 on 1 situation. You could perhaps argue that he should have cheated more to his left to cover even more of the outside edge of the goal, but I’m not sure how that was possible on such an extremely fast and poorly defended break.

    Goal #3: Everything Jae said above is right, including his omission of any culpability on Jung’s part. And when you look at the actual shot from a straight on angle facing the goal, it looks like there was a slight deflection. However, even without that slight deflection, the shot had way too much power and basically the shooter had his choice of where he could put the ball. If you argue that Jung should have gone further to the left, well that already doesn’t work because the Ghanaian shot it across his body to Jung’s right and made it anyway. If you argue Jung should have cheated to his right, aside from the fact that that would have actually been a mistake in positioning to go away from ball to expose more goal, then pretty much the whole left half of the goal is ripe for the shot. Even with the one defender late to pressure the ball, it likely would have been an even easier shot to make than the one the Ghanaian actually ended up making. Again, this goal should primarily be attributed to the poor defending of the players in front of Jung than himself.

    Goal #4: Does even the harshest critic blame Jung for this one? It’s pretty self-explanatory. The defender gives up on the ball while the Ghanaian was the more aggressive one getting there first. I don’t know how you can blame any goalie in a situation like that considering it was not really a situation where the GK can or should come out towards the ball first.

    My conclusion on Jung’s play is that even if you criticize Jung, you would only be able to say that he can’t make the spectacular plays. That would be a fair statement. You could also criticize things that are more intangible and not related to his individual play as I’ve said, like his lack of leadership and the uninspiring vibe regarding his confidence. However, if you’re rating his actual play, he’s usually not the reason Korea is getting beat. Even in previous matches, it’s usually because of the poor defending or poor finishing/attacking. Jung is just plain uninspiringly solid doing the minimum of what he needs to do. Now, again, if his play was bad apart from the goals, that is another story, and it would be nice to see a fuller analysis of his whole match play rather than just the goals. However, I’d also reiterate Jae’s analysis that he looked calmer (maybe more confident?) than against Tunisia (and especially Greece). I’d like to hear Jae’s and others’ thoughts though. Believe it or not, I’m not a JSR apologist. I just don’t like a person getting irrationally slammed for what turns out really to be yet more bad play by defending from the players in front of the GK, whether by momentary individual mistakes or otherwise, rather than the goalie himself.

    FYI, I was working with the highlights below as my frame of reference to make my analyses. In case you are thinking I’m seeing this terribly wrong.

    • My detailed thoughts on the goals and culpability will be in the analysis post up tomorrow (hopefully). But, in short I generally agree with you.

      • Well, that’s a relief. I look forward to the additional tactical nuances related to the goals thatn I know you always provide, which I’m more oblivious to.

    • I’ve been 1 of the guys not so hot on Jung, & I’m not just going by this 1 match, but all the games I’ve seen Jung in: he just doesn’t inspire much confidence.

      Now, folks here are really well versed in soccer, er, football; 1 of the reasons I visit so often lately, intelligent analysis. Me, I bring the enthusiastic, under informed popular viewer’s perspective. I trust what my eyes & gut tell me, & they keep telling me Jung can’t cut it on the intl. level.

      I used 2 b a cautious supporter of him after Lee Woon Jae, figuring, “Hey, new blood. Younger, bigger, hear good things, lets give him a chance.” Mistakes, underwhelming outcomes? “He’s young still, let him get sum more experience under his belt.” Years later now, the evolution & improvement I was hoping for just haven’t materialized. He’s like the same guy he always was, just older.

      I still remember in ’02, round of 16 match against Italy, Lee 1-on-1 w/ a breakaway Italian, & he just knocks that shit aside. I was watching on Univision I think it was, & the announcer was in absolute Latin histrionics, yelling, “Woon-Jae-Leeee! Mano y Mano! Muy Macho!!”, & then in English, “Oh-My-God!!”; then Lee, eyes about to pop outta his head, screaming at his defenders & flailing his arms like he was going batshit. I was cracking up & cheering so loud @ the same time.

      And then there’s Jung. Mr Meh. His sad-sack, lost duck expression; those kinda Cro Magnon brows furrowed in confusion, fear even *sigh*. Even the superficial seems 2 b against him :

      So listen, I’m open to being convinced otherwise, that Jung actually does have it in him. It’ll b a tuff argument to make, but I wanna b convinced, cuz I mean… he’s all we got, right? 🙁

      • I’m not sure what you are wanting to really be convinced of. Whether your view is popular or not, I don’t think your views are all that based on facts. Gut feelings are highly subjective and I have my gut feelings as well. I’ll start with my gut feeling. Jung has lost confidence compared to when he was younger and that is the reason that the popular view such as yours thinks he’s worse than he is. That being said, the facts are that Jung can, in fact, cut it at the World Cup level, not because he’s elite, but because he’s generally not the liability that will lose you the match. If you watch him play, even when he has little confidence, he seems to always be positioned anywhere from decently to excellently. Now his reactions are on the slower side and he isn’t super athletic or quick on his feet; he also doesn’t have the histrionics of Lee Woon Jae and the flair for the dramatic. However, evaluating positioning is probably the highest ranking priority in terms of rating a GK and Jung is above average to good in that department. I commented in the Greece game as well, but he was generally in the proper position throughout most of the match even if his confidence was in a terrible state. The difference really in whether Jung is going to be a quality keeper for Korea or not is his confidence and willingness to take on more leadership. Admittedly it looks like he won’t. However, he’s still very serviceable because of his positioning alone. As I said already, if Korea sucks, he’s not going to be the reason Korea does badly. To this point he hasn’t been in the top 3 reasons Korea has been losing, and that applies pretty much to every match. The problem is that since Jung isn’t stepping up to take leadership of the defense, you need someone to step up among the defenders, but not them really are leaders and they’re also very young. I don’t particularly think you need to be convinced of anything. It’s just a reality as I’ve stated before that he is just an unspectacular and not particularly inspiring solid goalkeeper. I’d rather you try to convince me that he’s the reason Korea will lose or that he’s been the reason Korea has been so terrible. I suspect you will not be able to. Regardless, yes, we’re stuck with him. I wouldn’t mind seeing what the younger guys can do, but Jung has to this point still proven more than them. I would actually love to be able to agree with you that Jung is just a sad sac of a player, because then we can try to move on and see if the younger guys have something greater in them. However, to this point, Jung has not been that bad.

        • Whoa, Dan, I never suggested Jung was the major reason SK was screwing up, just that he was a disappointment who wouldn’t provide the necessary edge an NT needs to succeed at a WC.

          “Not that bad” or “serviceable”, “adequate”, aren’t descriptors one usually wants to hear associated w/ one’s National GK, & I just find it kind of sad that this is what SK currently has to settle for. That out of all the goalies in an entire country, he’s the best they could roll out for a WC. Picture him as top GK for any # of Euro or S. Amer. NT’s, I imagine those countries would b up in arms. & the fact that no Euro league, no matter how minor, even bothered to bring him over just to test him out is also disheartening.

          I think about countries w/ an embarrassment of riches at GK, Germany in particular. They have no less than 3 GKs that r arguably world-class in Neuer, Leno & Adler, & that’s just off the top of my head. But Korea can’t produce even 1. And this just makes me sad, & not a little jealous.

          I’m particularly thinking of Adler & Hamburg in ’12, when Son was playing there. Their defense was considered middling @ best, & it was Adler who in large part kept them in a hunt for Europa league contention for much of the yr., when really they probly had no bizness even being in the conversation.

          U spoke of SK’s defense issues, & I completely agree, they’re terrifying, consistency of Swiss cheese. But what if they had a Korean Adler, or Neuer behind them? How much could this raise their group confidence? How much more secure would they feel?

          It could b like a mental paradigm shift, from “Can’t F-up, can’t F-up”, to “Just do ur job don’t worry bout the rest, just do ur job”. Because the guy behind u has ur back; he owns that house, & no1 enters w/out his permission. It could b like freedom.

          What is it I wanted to b convinced of? That maybe Jung could b more than “just good enuff”. You tell me in so many words that he can’t, that he will never b the kind of GK other National Teams would b proud to roll out. Alright, I’ll accept that, I have to. & it’s depressing.

          The only saving grace would b if sum1 could mention an SK youth GK in the wings, 1/2 giraffe 1/2 cat 100% Punk, who makes scouts the world over drool

          • Actually, you prove your own point wrong when you ask whether other teams would have the likes of Jung. In fact, there are many GK’s that aren’t elite in the World Cup, granted I’d put Jung on the lower end of the GK rankings in the current World Cup. However, just “good enough” IS the minimal standard. I can understand wanting more than that. Who wouldn’t want more? The question is whether he’s ‘good enough’ to play in a World Cup and is he the reason that SK is struggling. I think the answer would have to be that he’s not the major liability currently on the team. If what you are really asking is, Is Jung elite? Then no. However, you don’t need to be elite to make it to the World Cup and that applies to most teams. It won’t change you being depressed, but then again, I was never arguing that Jung was awesome.

          • I reread my statement. I have to apologize for the way it reads. I think my statement reads a little like I’m being a jerk. Lol. I’m just being as objective as possible. I am actually with you in that I’d love to have an elite goalkeeper or at least a GK with swag like LWJ. I disliked Lee personally, but you need a guy with leadership and some swag like he had, to make up for his weaknesses. Jung needs that, too. My only point is that if you’re looking to Jung as the weakest link, then I think that’s a very mistaken view that isn’t really grounded in how he actually plays and has played even recently. There are just too many at fault and playing poorly ahead of him to jump on him first, especially regarding his play. His play is generally solid, but he just looks uncomfortable. Again, the point I want to emphasize is that if we criticize Jung it should be properly placed towards his lack of leadership and confidence, not towards his individual play which is above decent.

          • Eh, np Brah 😉 Still, can’t help wishing SK had a more formidable goalie.

            Again, I really think such a player would help improve an entire defense: mentally, they’d b more flexible, more assured, cuz not every mistake would mean automatic death sentence. So they don’t spend every other second in terror of mistakes, but rather think about playing, which I’d imagine leads to less mistakes XD A good kind of vicious cycle.

            That’s the luxury I wish SK had, a GK who allows a defense to sensibly bend & adapt, instead of trying 2 b an inflexible, impervious wall 24/7, where a single crack leads to catastrophic failure.

            Plus, that top GK would b directly responsible for saving at least a few goals over the course of a tournament “above replacement” (ref. baseball: WAR), which is always a good thing 🙂

  8. Its sad but shows how disappointed I am in the guy.

    That pic of KSY on the homepage above irritates me to no end. The arrogance. And youre not that good kid.

    • No worries, I was about to rotate the homepage pic again. Don’t like Ki’s arrogance eh? I mean, I don’t blame you for feeling that way. I think some arrogance may be prerequisites for playing in the epl, but it is what it is I guess

  9. Actually, I have a legitimate question because I wasn’t really following it before 2007. How confident/assured were Korea in the weeks leading up to the 2002 WC? Did they have high/low expectations before that WC? I’m pretty sure expectations were really high for 2006 and 2010 WC… right?
    Anyway, I’m just curious if Hong has experience in a feeling of being “underprepared” that he can relay to these guys.

    • They tied England in a friendly 2-2 and barely lost to France 2-3 in a friendly before 2002 world cup.

    • Korea’s expectations were reasonable. It has rightly always been to just get out of the group, especially in 2010. Even in 2002, Koreans never expected the Semi-finals as an expectation.

      • We have to remember that we had an amazing coach and an incredibly experienced set of players. Not to mention the fact that we had almost six months of preparation compared to the few weeks of full team prep that we are getting now.

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