1N the NUMB3RS
36.7 – The amount of possession that Korea had against Colombia. Shin Taeyong, however, wasn’t bothered:
2-1 – The scoreline of the last game between Korea and Serbia. It was the dog days of summer in 2011, Cho Kwang-Rae was the manager. Korea lined up in a 4-3-3, and Cho’s Total Football a la Korea philosophy was in full force, with Lee Yongrae, Ki Sungyeung and Kim Jungwoo the three midfielders. Captain Park Chuyoung opened the scoring in the 10th minute, before leftback Kim Younggwon scored his first international goal.
12 – The number of months since Korea went 2 wins out of 2 in an international break. This was, of course, last year against Canada and Uzbekistan.
4 – The number of caps left for Ki Sungyueng to reach 100 appearances in a KNT shirt. This game could inch him ever closer to that prestigious century and bring him on par with Park Jisung.
12.1 – The number of kilometres that Ki Sungyueng ran vs Colombia.
100 – Branislav Ivanovic, Serbia’s captain, will get his 100th cap if he comes on or starts for Serbia in today’s friendly.
53 – The number of months since Ulsan Munsu World Cup Stadium hosted a KNT match. The last game here was the infamous final World Cup qualifier of the 2014 campaign against Iran, when Korea lost 1-0 but still qualified for the Brazil World Cup. We’re back on the south coast!
22 – The average meters between the last man (excluding goalkeeper) and the first man when defending for the Korean national team against Colombia. In comparison, Colombia’s average was 33m.
“WHAT THEY SAID”
“Some players may be rotated, but there will not be any major changes. We have a squad of hard-working players, so even if some change, the team’s will and effort will not change.”
“We traditionally have some difficulty with these teams (Eastern European sides) because we lack in physicality. But we have to work hard and rise to the challenge, as it is possible that we face a side like this in the World Cup.”
“Our defensive positioning on set-pieces wasn’t enough against Colombia. And neither was it good enough last international break. From now, we must concentrate and train more on set-pieces, avoid repeating mistakes. There’s no margin for error against European sides.”
“We knew the fans were not satisfied with our performances. It made things difficult, the atmosphere was heavy and I felt a lot of weight upon my shoulders. Now, my mind has become much clearer. The players are moving better, and especially are more confident. Though Serbia will be vigorous opponents, I do not expect our squad’s confidence to be damaged.”
Mladen Krstajić (Serbian caretaker):
“Though I visited Korea in 2000 as part of the Yugoslavian national team, I know that Korean soccer has improved tremendously since.”
“All that is important tomorrow is to show a good performance in the stadium. Against China, we were able to play naturally.”
…game time notes…
Goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu picked up an injury in training…Shin Taeyong says he will evaluate all options…it could be a national team debut for Daegu FC’s rising star Cho Hyunwoo…But Kim Jinhyeon is the most likely option… Most observers expect another 4-4-2 from Korea…No word on whether Lee Keunho will start given injury picked up before halftime…The game will be another audition for Mladen Krstajic, the Serbian coach elevated to caretaker…Serbia sacked their manager after qualification.