Last international game for Cha Du-Ri set for Tuesday March 31st at Seoul World Cup Stadium to honor the man, the son of Cha Bum-Kun, the last professionally active link to the pioneering legend that propelled Korean football in a whole new light. Here’s a preview of what we might expect from Uli Stielike’s Taeguk Warriors and a glimpse into the future of their World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign.
Korea v New Zealand MARCH 31 7am US EST / 8 pm Korea Time
US Broadcasts: none (creative options available)
Korea Broadcast: MBC
After a dismal 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan Friday, on the surface Uli Stielike will be looking for a convincing win as a psychological boost to morale and keep a sense of calm in the court of public opinion. Looking past that, Uli hasn’t seen all his option players, including Ji Dong-Won. The reality is, Uli is still tinkering with some aspects of the squad given he’s only had 6 months as national coach. However, if we are to make anything out of his sightings at K-League Classic and Challenge matches, he is looking deep to discover all aspects of the Korean football landscape.
Korea has played New Zealand 6 times, won 5 and drew only once – however it’s been 15 years since the last time the senior teams have faced each other in friendly competition. If there’s any indication of the strength of the squads in comparison, the U23 squads have played each other in July 2012 as a tuneup before Korea’s fairly successful Olympic campaign (in which Korea would go on to win the Bronze against Japan and military exemption). Park Chu-Young scored a wicked backheel in the New Zealand test match, Nam Tae-Hee would add to the score and Korea would go on to win 2-1.
Here’s what we know about changes to the lineup: Lee Jung-hyup (CF) and Jeong Dong-ho (RB) were injured in the Uzbekistan match.
Jeong Dong-ho returning to his club at Ulsan. Stielike had already announced well before the Uzbekistan match that Ji Dong-Won would start against New Zealand -and we know Cha will start in RB. Most likely Cha would play roughly the first half before heading out for the sunset. Replacing Cha could be Kim Chang-Soo.
Since Kim Seung-Gyu (GK) had his turn on Friday, Kim Jin-Hyeon will probably get his turn between the sticks on Tuesday.
There are questions about Son and whether he is gassed. With all the travel, etc, it might not be a bad idea for Son to be a super sub on Tuesday. Same could go for Ki Sung-Yeung.
Lee Jae-Sung had a very good debut for his first cap -so that begs the question: Lee, Kim Bo-Kyung, Nam Tae-Hee or Koo Ja-Cheol in the hole? All candidates Stielike will have to sift through…
Here’s a possible lineup for Tuesday:
[swap Kim Young-Gwon and Kim Ju-Young]
4-2-3-1. It’s not a radical departure, but tests out some ideas (and with Yun’s case at LB, give him the Uzbekistan game to settle things). *Tavern writers more familiar with Kim Eun-Sun and Lee Jae-Sung with their respective K-League clubs, let me know if the above are way out of position for them. Here’s what I have a problem with: Ki Sung-Yeung could (and actually should) get a rest, but who would fill his boots? Korea’s best XI would ALWAYS include Ki -provided he’s healthy. Supposedly, if there’s a way to experiment with who could be in line to be Ki’s understudy, this might be the match.
Tavern contributor Takeuchi offered this idea for the starting XI on Tuesday:
A 4-4-2 diamond that morphs into a 4-3-1-2 featuring Park Joo-Ho as LB, Kim Young-Gwon and Kim Ki-Hee as the CB pair and Son and Ji up top. In a versatile diamond, Kim Bo-Kyung, Lee Jae-Sung and Koo Ja-Cheol could all swap positions.
*What will the shape of the KNT look like in the coming World Cup campaign? I may have led on too much with that promise of delving into that – it really deserves it’s own post. However, this is indeed a transitional time with the Asian Cup out of the way; we are beginning to see some elements of what Stielike’s long term vision will look like. Perhaps the first half in Uzbekistan was that first glimpse. The full picture isn’t even close to being assembled -consider that certain key players due to injury/recovery weren’t called up for the March friendlies, including Kim Jin-Su and Lee Chung-Yong. If Park Chu-Young should ever find his mojo again for FC Seoul, that could bolster more up-front options for the national team. And we haven’t even talked about the current U22 squad who will be competing next summer in the Rio Olympics, nor for that matter any other younger talented prospects in various academies across Europe who, in theory, offer some additional youthful energetic possibilities. Again, we will have to leave that tantalizing thought for another post for another time.
Though they are FIFA ranked 133, New Zealand’s national squad has active players in the A-League and a few abroad in Europe. They just missed out the 2014 World Cup in a Oceania v CONCACAF playoff with Mexico (Mexico won 2-0 as their final ‘back from the dead’ revitalization effort). The All Whites captain Winston Reid (West Ham defender) however will miss out on Tuesday due to injury. One player to look out for is their rising young star, Bill Tuiloma, who just broke into Marseille’s first team last February. Here’s a short video on his European top flight education and what it’s meant for his family. In short, while New Zealand’s national football program is fundamentally hampered -in that they only have semi-pro ball domestically, don’t count them and their Māori tribe warriors out. Case in point, Auckland City FC, despite being a semi-pro team that includes amateurs, fought their way to a miraculous 3rd place win over Mexico’s Cruz Azul in last December’s FIFA Club World Cup.
Back to Cha Du-Ri, it will be his moment in Seoul. The KFA produced his short video as a promo:
and let’s take one last look in tribute to the Chaminator:
Extra Time: Korea’s Men’s Olympic squad just won their latest AFC U23 Championship qualifier in Indonesia, this time a 3-0 win over East Timor. Brace by Moon Chang-jin (16′ 46′) and a goal by Kim Seung-jun (43′).
Last Friday, Korea’s Olympic squad beat Brunei 5-0 with goals by LEE Yeongjae (2′) JUNG Seunghyun(28′) KIM Hyun(38′) KWON Changhoon(64′) JANG Hyunsoo(75′).