This morning, our Taeguk Warriors played their final friendly match before the World Cup kicks off against Senegal. Senegal will play in Group H and figures on paper to be one of the strongest African sides going to the World Cup.
This match was supposed to be behind closed doors, but luckily Tim was on the case and tapped into the Senegalese Twitter world to get us those timely updates this morning (he’s a Twitter pro!). I’ll recap with all the info we have and give you my take on this match! Hopefully there will be a lot to talk about in the comments!
For this friendly, Shin stuck with the 4-4-2 that yielded a 0-0 draw with Bolivia last Thursday. Steve Han posted the line-up and here’s what it might have looked like on the tactics board.
A couple things that I want to take note of in this line-up. Cho Hyun-woo was the starting GK one match before the World Cup begins. Pair this with the fact that Kim Seung-gyu was substituted at halftime in the Bolivia match and it seems like the No. 1 goalkeeper for the tournament has not been decided. In addition, Kim Min-woo started the match because Shin Tae-yong revealed that Park Joo-ho had a little pain in his knee and was rested for the match. In midfield, it is interesting that Koo Ja-cheol was tested out in the center of the midfield with Ki Sung-yeung, a departure from the usual Ki-Jung pivot. Finally, Hwang Hee-chan and Moon Seon-min were ruled out of the match to rest because they picked up knocks in last week’s training. Both are on course to be fit for Sweden.
Also, here is Senegal’s line-up for the match:
Now let’s discuss what happened in the match and what that means going forward. First of all, let’s not get too carried away with a 2-0 loss to Senegal. Senegal are a great side led by Sadio Mane and I felt that this would be a really good test for the Taeguk Warriors one week before the Sweden match. During the match, Lee Yong went down injured in the 37th minute after a collision and was replaced by Go Yo-han. Lee Yong got stitches to his head but Shin said in his postgame comments that he will still travel to Russia and there is no need to call in a replacement. In the 57th minute, Jung Woo-young was brought on in place of Lee Seung-woo. I don’t know how this changed the formation but it could have allowed Shin to revert to his normal Ki-Jung pivot and pushed Lee Jae-sung farther forward into more of a 4-2-2-2 or 4-3-3 formation. In the 67th minute things got interesting. Korea let in an own goal but it is looking like there was some weird scramble at the back because the KFA and Senegal have attributed the goal to different players! Have a look!
Victoire du Sénégal contre la Corée du Sud
— Cynthia Nzetia, FIFA (@FIFAWorldCupSEN) June 11, 2018
Korea's own goal that put Senegal ahead in the second half was scored by Kim Shin-wook, according to the KFA.
— Steve Han • 한만성 (@RealSteveScores) June 11, 2018
Whether or not it was Kim Young-gwon or Kim Shin-wook who caused the own goal we’ll never know but it’s certainly odd to see. For the last sub, Korea introduced Ju Se-jong for Kim Shin-wook in the 84th minute. Good to see Shin playing this like a competitive match and only using 3 subs. Finally, in the 91st minute Moussa Konate converted a penalty to make the final score 2-0 (the KFA didn’t release who conceded the foul). There was some Twitter chatter that Son scored a goal deep into stoppage time but it wasn’t counted so the score stayed 2-0.
Let me give some quick positive takeaways from what little I know about this match. For one, Kim Shin-wook once again proved that he doesn’t have the ability to influence matches at the international level outside of the AFC World Cup qualifying cycles. Just imagine if he had banged in two goals with Hwang Hee-chan injured and we were forced to endure him starting against Sweden, a team that were designed to neutralize him. Yuck! Another line-up surprise that might be telling is that Jung Woo-young was not given the start with Ki. It was interesting to see that Koo was tried out in CM role and it will be interesting to see if that is Shin’s plan A going forward. Koo played a lot of different midfield roles for Augsburg this season so he would be up to the task if asked to partner Ki. Ju Se-jong was given a substitution late so this could be an indication that he has fallen down the pecking order in the CM battle. Finally, let me address that own goal. There were rumors that Kim Shin-wook might even be placed in a back 3 in the lead-up to this match. We have no idea what happened on that goal but if at any point Kim was instructed by Shin to play defense that would be very odd. Anyway, so far it seems like the back 4 will be Park Joo-ho, Kim Young-gwon, Jang Hyun-soo, and Lee Yong. Unless Jang Hyun-soo was culpable for the penalty or the own goal in some way I do not see him losing his spot at this moment.
Alright, let’s move on to a very odd post-match press conference from Shin Tae-yong. The videos and transcripts from that have been floating around Twitter and they don’t look good. Tim posted up some very good quotes and I’ll post the part of the thread that works into a point I want to make about Shin.
”I don’t know why you keep on speaking of a “power program”. I don’t care what’s happening on the outside. Why do you (the media) keep talking to me about outside (foreign) experts? Give us strength. Our roadmap is collapsing. Believe in us.”
— Tim Lee (@korfan12) June 11, 2018
From the point last year when Shin was appointed KNT manager, his comments to the media have always been puzzling. Today’s press conference was no different. He expresses his wish to take away the phones of his players because the media criticism is affecting them. He mentions feeling nervous and says his plan is collapsing. He goes on to comment that the Korean public’s excitement for the World Cup is falling because of the media criticism. Frankly, this is nonsense. Every manager must be able to deal with criticism when the results are as poor as this. And why wouldn’t Korean fans be less excited when the team is having trouble winning in friendlies leading up to the World Cup?
So my conclusion regarding Shin is a bit grim. All his talk of “tricks” for Sweden have clearly gotten in his head. He is paranoid about the media criticism, at a loss for how to get the best from his players, and still not sure if his plan will work. He needs to relax, take responsibility for his poor results, and encourage his players to give their all in training and leave it all on the pitch against Sweden. No more tricks Shin, you’re only tricking yourself.