When Shin Tae-yong named his 28-man preliminary squad for the World Cup on Monday morning at KFA House in downtown Seoul, there were plenty of surprises on the roster (which, let’s be honest, was a positive thing since Shin’s previous selections had been getting stale and filled with the same underwhelming defenders). However, the biggest surprise came in the midfield as Moon Seon-min earned his first call-up to the senior national team. Many at the Tavern reacted with “Moon Seon-who?” and admitted they knew very little about him, but not this guy! As a proud Incheon United fan (check my avatar), Moon has been lighting it up for Incheon in the K League and fully deserves this call-up. So let’s get to know this quick and creative left winger who has an outside shot to make the World Cup squad.
Nike’s the Chance
Moon Seon-min spent his youth career most likely as a talented player that was overlooked by scouts in Korea. He played for Janghoon High School’s team but doesn’t have mention of any K League youth sides or anything like that. He also played with the KNT’s U-17 side in 2009. However, he probably didn’t get many good offers to play at a Korean university team or K League side but felt he was good enough to go pro so he did just that. He tried out for Nike’s The Chance program, which was a trial contest that offered the chance to win a spot at the Nike Academy in England. Here’s a video of his highlights from that contest.
After winning a spot at the Nike Academy to train, he was noticed by Swedish scouts and offered a contract to Ostersunds FK, who were in the Swedish third tier in 2012 when he joined. Ostersunds FK recently played Arsenal in the Europa League round of 32, so the club has risen quite a bit. After winning player of the year with Ostersunds, he signed for Djurgardens of the Allvenskan, the top Swedish division, in 2015 but didn’t find as much success. Before the 2017 season in Korea, with his European prospects drying up and homesickness settling in, he signed for Incheon United and has been a regular in their line-ups ever since. Last season he struggled to help the team and Incheon struggled mightily but this season has been another story. With Stefan Mugosa and Kwabena Appiah-Kubi partnering him in attack, Moon has been playing well and has notched 6 goals and 3 assists so far this season. Yes, Incheon are languishing in 11th place thanks to a leaky defense, but Moon has been involved in every Incheon attacking move and is on form. I couldn’t find a highlights video I like but suffice it to say, if you’re looking for Incheon highlights, Moon will be involved.
Why did Shin pick him?
Well, this is a funnier question. According to Shin, Moon will bring knowledge of the Swedish footballing style from his time playing there. That is either PR fluff or the delusions of a manager who really thinks that will help him succeed against Sweden. Either way, Shin has stumbled upon one of the most in-form Korean attackers of the K League season. That’s not a bad thing at all. Moon plays as a left winger, he likes to cut in towards the goal, and he has some finishing skills. He has the speed to get by defenders and he has some skill moves in his locker. Is he a breakout star at this World Cup? Probably not. Is he going to make the World Cup squad? Also, probably not. Does he deserve to be in the 28-man squad? Yes. What he does with that is up to him.