So, the team is back in action tonight against Mali in Cheonan. The team is recovering from a mixed performance against Brazil in Seoul, and hopefully the team can build off it rather than come down from the buzz surrounding the match. This preview will be a bit short as I’ve been ridiculously busy lately and haven’t read any news about this match, so I’m a bit short of info.
Compared to the Brazil match, there has been very little build up to the Mali game, which I suppose isn’t too surprising. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what kind of team Hong puts out. Normally I would expect Hong to change several players, maybe half the team, but given the poor record that the team has under his stewardship (1-3-3) and the lack of goals (just six, with four coming against Haiti) Hong may be tempted to put out a stronger side just to keep the pressure and press off him and the team.
Some players will certainly be changed, with some reports speculating that Kwak Tae-Hwi will come in for Hong Jeong-Ho and Lee Keun-Ho coming in for Ji Dong-Won. Both may be good choices, and ones that I would personally have no problem with. Kim Chang-Soo is another tipped to possibly start. Son Heung-Min may start according to Yonhap News, but other reports say he’ll still be on the bench. I may be mistaken, but I don’t believe Son has an injury problem. I wonder if Hong is being careful about Son’s fatigue levels. Son is certainly racking up more air miles lately, and with Leverkusen competing on three fronts, he will likely play more minutes this season than in any prior season.
Mali is certainly a lesser known team to most (myself included). Head coach Amadou Diallo has called up 18 players for the match.
Goalkeepers: Germain Berthé (Onze-Créateurs), Abdoulaye Samaké (COB)
Defenders: Ousmane Coulibaly (Brest, France), Adama Tamboura ( FC Randers, Denmark) Idrissa Coulibaly ( Raja de Casablanca, Morocco), Mahamadou N’Diaye (Troyes, France), Boubacar Sylla ( RC Lens, France)
Midfield: Seydou Keita (Dalian Aerbin FC, China), Tongo Hamed Doumbia (Valenciennes FC, France), Ismael Keita (SCO Angers, France) Samba Sow (Karabükspor, Turkey), Abdou Traoré (Bordeaux, France), Yacouba Sylla (Aston Villa, England), Sambou Yatabaré (Olympiakos, Greece)
Forwards: Kalifa Coulibaly (PSG, France), Mana Dembélé (Clermont Foot, France), Mahamadou Samassa (Chievo Verona, Italy), Modibo Maiga (West Ham United FC, England)