Official Pre-World Cup Series: Korea v. Tunisia preview

So the Tunisia match on May 28th is coming up folks! It is our last friendly at home (Seoul WC stadium) before the team heads off to Miami for training camp. Without a doubt, this friendly (as well as Ghana on June 9th) is designed to help us not just prep for a team that’s apparently similar to Algeria, but also to fine tune the issues in our team play and iron out the starting XI for good. It seems that sometime in the past we have played Tunisia before, ending in a 0-0 draw. Kickoff: Wednesday May 28 at 7 AM US EST / 8 PM Korea Time.  TV in US: none [streaming options, check back on Tavern Twitter right before kickoff].  TV in Korea: MBC.

South Korea:

This will be our first friendly after the release of the final World Cup roster, so what we see on the 28th will pretty much be what we’ll see when the World Cup rolls around, minus some minor errors perhaps. So, it will provide us a pretty good idea of where we stand in terms of rebuilding since the Dark Ages and readiness for the WC.

As for our starting XI there are only two points of contention – goalkeeper and left back.

When it comes to the goalkeeper position we will probably see Jung Sung Ryong. Goalkeeper is a position where experience tends to matter, and considering that all three of them are either in bad form or inexperienced, it looks like the starter will be Jung. It really shouldn’t be so black and white, but considering that Jung and Kim Seung Gyu are on about the same form, and that Lee Bum Young has been beasting in the K League but 1) inexperienced and 2) rather underwhelming in recent tourneys, Jung is most likely to start at the moment. However, if he really screws up vs Tunisia, you can bet he will be replaced when the Ghana friendly rolls around. Considering the whole goalkeeper problem, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see HMB sub out the starting goalkeeper some at half time. Perhaps Lee Bum Young will be given a chance due to his K League form, maybe behind Kwak and Hwang SH, to see how he does. Though it must be said, the opposition isn’t quite to the level of Russia, Algeria, and Belgium.

When it comes to left back… given the level of opposition I think Yoon will start. HMB will no doubt want to test out Yoon’s form and fitness. After all, HMB seems to trust Yoon the most (as do most KNT fans) when it comes to left back; the only problem, of course, being his lack of playing time. It seems though that he still has what it takes.

It is also possible that Ki will not feature vs Tunisia as he has just recovered from injury, and HMB has repeatedly stressed the importance of not getting injured – perhaps Ha Dae Sung will start in his place.

Thus, the starting lineup, on paper at least, will be:

On paper, of course, we’ll see Lee Yong playing defensively, the left back playing as a winger, and Koo moving forward to press:

Hopefully, with all the training at Paju so far and more time to gel together we’ll see a more cohesive team than we’ve seen before.

Sorry Jinseok, Jae jumping in here. I’ll be doing the tactical analysis for games (pre- and during the World Cup), so I thought I’d mention the five things I’ll be watching for against Tunisia.

  1. Left back – I agree with Jinseok that Yoon Suk-Young will likely start, but I’m curious to see if Hong uses him in a similar manner as Kim Jin-Su against Greece. Yoon can get forward, but his more balanced nature may alter how Hong utilizes the left back position.
  2. Possession and the defensive positioning (read on for Jinseok’s thoughts, then mine will make more sense) – Having a massive amount of possession and pinning Tunisia back makes sense on paper, but this Korea team rarely does those things. This team is built to be more direct, so we’ll see if they can settle down and play more patiently.
  3. Transitions – Korea took advantage of sloppy Greek transitions to score, and narrowly survived our own poor transitions. Hopefully Hong has drilled the team on picking up defensive assignments and being effective in switching to attacking positions.
  4. Han Kook-Young – Against an, in theory, lesser team that doesn’t have a key man to mark in attack, how will Han fit into the side? And would a more balanced player (Park Jong-Woo or Ha Dae-Sung) offer more (see point 2)?
  5. Pressing and Counter-pressing – Reports from Paju have stated that Hong has been working on these things, so we’ll see if it’s come to fruition. Korea’s counter-pressing has been fairly non-existent while the pressing has been poorly executed.

Okay, back to Jinseok’s preview!


I really don’t know too much about Tunisia, nor do I recognize any of their players. Quite a few seem to play in the French league. However, it is worth mentioning that they drew Colombia 1-1 quite recently, and that they missed out on a world cup berth due to losing to Cameroon 4-1 on aggregate. Meaning, they are not a team to be underestimated, though they certainly should be beatable.

I really wish I could find more information on Tunisia (for an expert analysis of the opposition see Jae’s Greece Preview), but there doesn’t seem to be too much online. I promise there will be a more expansive preview (for both sides) once the WC matches roll around.

Tactics and Predictions:

Expect Korea to play their typical HMB style game – fast paced, some neat passes here and there, a good mix of short passing and longballs, and perhaps a goal on a quick counterattack. Given the level of opposition we should also expect to see plenty of possession with HJH and KYK playing a high line like 60-70% of the game. Tunisia seems like they will most likely turtle, so this should provide a good idea of how well our offense can pry open a defense, which will truly be tested against Russia and Algeria.

If we cannot beat Tunisia our chances of getting out of the group stage would be in serious jeopardy. Given our dominance vs CAF sides, I’m calling a 2-0 or 3-0 win, with PJY scoring at least 1.

About Jinseok 259 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.


    • I’m just updated Jinseok’s post with this info: Kickoff: Wednesday May 28 at 7 AM US EST / 8 PM Korea Time. TV in US: none [streaming options, check back on Tavern Twitter right before kickoff]. TV in Korea: MBC? (Jae, is that channel right?)

    • And for those of us in America, we can eat $%!#. 🙁

      Ah well, I’ll be at work anyway. Would be hard to convince the boss I’m working and also fiddle with shady football stream sites at Te same time.

      Based on previews I’ve seen, the broad media opinion – at least in the US and UK – is that the Korean team sucks and has no chance. However, that opinion seems largely based on the embarrassing end to the qualifiers and the big friendly losses to Mexico and US, which I don’t think are fair, but maybe that’ll lull opponent and they’ll overlook the team.

      Unless they struggle against Tunisia, in which case we really are f!!ked.

  1. Who made up that myth that Russia and Algeria are going to be playing defensively against us?

    Russia had 20 goals in qualifying in 10 games. Algeria had 16 goals in 8 games. We had 13 goals in 8 games. Incidentally, the only friendly (besides vs. Greece) where we showed we could attack well was against Russia who incidentally put 3 goals behind us.

    Unless we completely dismantle Tunisia, I would say it’s pretty arrogant for some of you to assume that we will be the ones attacking while everyone else will park the bus against us. It may be quite the contrary actually, which isn’t the worst since we have more direct players.

    Tunisia was a terrible friendly to schedule too. We should’ve picked a more balanced group that isn’t on its third coach in 6 months. We are basically facing a team of players in the Tunisian domestic league because their European players weren’t called up. This friendly only serves as a confidence booster at this point. Just because they are North African doesn’t mean they any way resemble Algeria. We should’ve just went with any side that actually qualified, like Honduras – it would’ve been easy to set up since we are in Miami.

    • Settle down. Nobody has assumed that Russia and Algeria will park the bus. Jinseok only said that “Tunisia seems like they will most likely turtle, so this should provide a good idea of how well our offense can pry open a defense, which will truly be tested against Russia and Algeria.” Russia and Algeria have good defenses. So, he’s right, a match against Tunisia will give us some insight as to how Korea can do against a strong defense.

      Think of a fighter who trains by fighting someone who only defends. The purpose of the training session is to develop strategies that are effective against a good defense, and not necessarily because it is anticipated that the next opponent will only defend. A fighter might also spend significant training time attacking a punching bag. This is to practice one’s offense, and not necessarily because it is anticipated that the next opponent will stand there and do nothing.

  2. Agree completely with skim172 and Chong-soo. Well-said (including the US viewers eating sh$t).
    I hope we see great playing against Tunisia because that will be the absolutely only possible positive to draw from it. Any less than great playing means we’re not ready for our group. Even if we smoke Tunisia, that still won’t mean we’re ready against Russia, Algeria, and Belgium. People say it’s the weakest group, and that’s probably be true, but that means it is also the trickiest group to face. Korea won’t fear the teams, but they also can’t know what to expect without real experience. Tunisia (and Ghana to a lesser extent) won’t exactly be the best prep. But as long as Korea knows that Tunisia should be a confidence boost and Ghana should be a test against a quality team with a very different style, then it’ll be fine.

  3. @Roy, I was walking in SF on the way to the US – Azerbaijan game today when I saw a dude wearing a korean jersey with a beanie and beard.. seriously thought it was you

    • Ha!! I don’t know about the beanie, but the beard would match the profile! Who was that that scored that last goal/header? Johannson? I was half falling asleep but that set peice was textbook

  4. its going to be about fostering chemistry and flow of play. only way to establish that at our stage is through an easier game so Im ok with Tunisa. We are getting thrown right into the flames with Ghana and as long as this team realizes this and plays hard then I also don’t have a problem with polar quality match ups.

    Lee BS over Jung is a full stop immediate change in my book. Im over Jung, and I think he’s unreliable in high intensity situations. Other than that, Im through whining. Its time to support. I like our chances in this group very much.

    • Well that was an anti climax. To be honest I’m not ‘too’ worried at this point. Not a great result but will temper expectations which I think is a good thing. Id rather teams underestimate us. My concern is our lack of bite in attack. Would have loved to see nam Tae hee as a creative option.

  5. ONE TEAM, ONE SPIRIT, ONE GOAL (What a shame of slogan…!!!)
    Specially ONE GOAL…..WTF is that…..!!!! Short mind, no blood and no brain.

    I’,m a foreigner living in Seoul a while ago. I’ve ever loved soccer, as a player or a simple fan. I went last night to see the South Korea match and I was completely disappointed. It was like a kids match where South Korea was so lucky in just getting one goal in the first half. I have some questions:
    * Why is South Korea is playing so fu….. slow.
    * Why almost all the players look like newbies playing for the National Team and are completely different when they play for their league teams.
    * Why players with international experience ( other leagues) look completely different to the players of the Korean league.
    * Why can we remember that the best WC ever for the National team was 2002 with a foreigner coach. OOOUCH…!!! Just Korean Pride….SHAME
    * Why Korean players don’t show that they have blood running in their veins and they love sweating their uniform every match for the sake of Nationalism.
    * Why as a fan I should feel just proud qualifying to the WC, instead of dreaming wining the dammed thing.
    I think is time as a soccer fan lover to tell this people from the KFA that the South Korea National Soccer Team belongs to every person who cheer for them and for that reason ask them to behave like professionals.

    Go South KOREA in WC Brasil 2014, It’s possible another top 4.


    SORRY but you can’t change the reality…
    SOUTH KOREA coach, KFA and some players SUCKS….!!!!

    ANYWAY, GOOD LUCK on WC 2014

    • I’m not sure why your other comment was deleted. I’m assuming they thought you were trolling. If you’d like I can speak with them and possibly restore it.

    • Hi Andre,

      Tavern Owner here, listen I don’t how your original comment got taken down. Personally I didn’t see anything wrong with it, so I’m restoring it. No hard feelings, thanks for reading and commenting at the Tavern.

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