The official 18-man squad that will represent South Korea at the Olympics has been released. There are a couple of surprises. The Tavern writers will post their thoughts below:
The official squad is as follows:
Kim Dong-jun (Seongnam FC)
Gu Sang-yoon (Consadole Sapporo)
Jang Hyun-soo (Guangzhou R&F)
Song Ju-hoon (Mito Hollyhock)
Jung Seung-hyun (Ulsan Hyundai)
Choi Kyu-baek (Jeonbuk Hyundai)
Lee Seul-chan (Jeonnam Dragons)
Shim Sang-min (FC Seoul)
Park Dong-jin (Gwangju FC)
Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)
Park Yong-woo (FC Seoul)
Lee Chan-dong (Gwangju FC)
Ryu Seung-woo (Arminia Bielefeld on loan from Bayer Leverkusen)
Kwon Chang-hoon (Suwon Samsung)
Moon Chang-jin (Pohang Steelers)
Lee Chang-min (Jeju United)
Suk Hyun-jun (FC Porto)
Hwang Hee-chan (Red Bull Salzburg)
The biggest surprise here is the inclusion of Park Dong Jin, who had quite a horror show in the recent four-nation tournament in Korea. With the inclusion of seven defenders (only three of whom, JHS CKB and JSH, I deem Olympic worthy), perhaps STY wanted extra cover in the fullback positions, but why would he bring a second right back instead of a second left back? As LITERALLY everyone is commenting/tweeting/facebooking right now, we really don’t need seven defenders in the squad.
Another surprise ought to be the inclusion of Song Ju Hoon, who has been playing very poorly as well, but Shin Tae Yong has some sort of weird affection for him so it’s really not that big of a surprise.
I am also quite disappointed that Kim Seung Jun didn’t make the cut, because 1) we don’t have many AM / wide mids, and 2) he has played much better than Ryu Seung Woo for quite a while now. At least he was playing regularly for his club, something RSW hasn’t been doing… since he’s gone pro. Honestly speaking the last time I felt really convinced by RSW was the 2013 U-20 World Cup. Also, considering that our first subs probably ought to be forwards or offensive/wide midfielders, I’m not quite sure why we only included four in SHM, KCH, MCJ, and RSW. Does STY have plans to move HHC out wide, or is he really just planning on sticking to those four? If the latter, he clearly rates RSW much higher than the fanbase…
There’s only really two surprises in this selection, and Jinseok’s highlighted them above. Song Juhun remains in the callup picture despite a nightmarish past few games for the U23s. I don’t think he will be starting, given Jang Hyunsoo will definitely be starting in central defense (why else would Shin Taeyong call-up two out-and-out right backs in the more flamboyant Lee Seulchan and the more physical Park Dongjin) and Jang would be best aided by a taller partner such as Choi Kyubaek. That being said, if there’s one off-the-ball reason Shin may value in him, it might be leadership, and that alone might keep him in the starting XI. When word comes out of the captain of this squad (officially) we’ll have a better picture.
Park Dongjin’s inclusion seems to indicate that Shin Taeyong is indeed paying special attention to the fullback positions, and Lee Seulchan will have competition in the rightback role. Perhaps it’s a sensible decision, as Lee certainly is the more adventurous of the fullbacks while Shim Sangmin is a more balanced fullback. As a result, Shin Taeyong probably saw it fit to ensure a more robust, balanced option on the other flank.
That means Kim Seungjun is dropped and although that’s not my favourite decision, it’s hard to argue with as Kim has not been playing with Ulsan much at all since Kim Taehwan has moved up to right wing.
Otherwise, nothing much else to say, other than that this is a decent squad with the potential to do well but also to fail miserably. There’s no guarantees. It’s a squad with obvious weaknesses but undeniable strengths and a fair bit of options with a tactically flexible manager. It’s time to get behind the boys and take the Rio Olympics by storm.
I’ll echo Jinseok and Tim’s thoughts that the inclusion of Park Dongjin is surprising, while the inclusion of Song Juhun is questionable (but not surprising). Park Dongjin’s inclusion is also interesting as it gives the team two right backs in him and Lee Seulchan. Does that mean that Shin Taeyong plans on utilizing Jang Hyunsoo as a centerback or (gulp) in midfield?
The midfield is my worry as it seems set that Shin Taeyong will start Lee Chandong and possibly Park Yongwoo in midfield together against Germany and Mexico. If not Park Yongwoo then we see Lee Changmin or the aforementioned Jang Hyunsoo. It looks a midfield that will not be able to control a game, and will invite pressure on the team. On paper that’s not terrible given Suk Hyunjun’s work rate, Son Heungmin’s pace, and possibly Hwang Heechan’s as well. However, Korea has never been a good counterattacking team, and it remains to be seen if they actually utilize that strategy.
Another issue is the lack of wide midfielders. Son Heungmin, Ryu Seungwoo, Moon Changjin, Kwon Changhoon, and Hwang Heechan are capable of playing there, but it’s not their preferred or best position. Additionally none are particularly defensive-minded or super hardworkers when it comes to tracking back and “putting in a shift”.
If Son Heungmin can find his form then the attack is good enough to give Korea a reasonable chance at getting out of the group, but if we’re honest I’m not holding my breath.
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