It’s been over a year since Park Chu-Young rejoined the KNT for the start of today’s crucial friendly with Greece. Crucial and friendly usually aren’t in the same sentence, but this was a high stakes test of overall World Cup fitness -could Korea away from home deliver? Before the game, tension was rising, so much on the line as many including Hong Myong-Bo and Park Chu-Young himself said it would be his last chance to show he deserved a spot in Korea’s World Cup lineup. 18 minutes into the match Park Chu-Young latched onto a beautifully delivered pass by Son Heung-Min, smashing a brilliant volley past Greece’s Panagiotis Glykosto on into the net to surge Korea ahead against the FIFA 12th ranked nation. The electric moment marked the return of Park Chu-Young. [Park’s goal starts :36 seconds in]
Here’s another angle of Park’s shot:
Son did well to zero in on Park making his run and delivered his overhead pass with deadly precision.
Park in the starting XI made a difference and the team overall looked different – I’d say more effective. When not scoring, particularly before his goal, Park linked up well with his teammates, and delivered a stellar pass to bring Lee Chung-Yong one on one with the keeper – his shot was on target but the so-so finishing allowed the keeper to get enough to block it from going in.
Hong once again made a controversial and risky move adding Park into this roster despite Park’s lack of minutes in Europe lately. His faith (and perhaps all of ours) was justly rewarded. For those who listened in on the last Tavern Live Hangout, we discussed whether Park would score and if so, would he do the sliding on knee/prayer scoring celebration. He did (Dammit Park -don’t risk injuring your 28 year old knees! AND Don’t make me sound like my hal-mo-nee in reprimanding you to stay safe all the time!) Hong gave Park a rest and installed Kim Shin-Wook for the start of the 2nd half, with an uneasy 1-0 lead…
And yet it was the 21 year old Son Heung-Min, even as inconsistent as he was, who had another moment of sheer brilliance to double the lead 10 minutes into the 2nd half.
Captain Koo Ja-Cheol with the assist. See that tight angle? Son’s left footed shot surprised the keeper, bounced off the post- and another international goal notched for the Bayer Leverkusen wingman.
Experiment over and the results are in: most of his European based players gelled with the handful of domestic based players, enough for the lineup to work and be productive. Korea looked like they enjoyed a good possession rate – and this time the finishing backed up and complimented their hard work to maintain time on the ball. At this point, Hong’s roster looks fairly sealed up, today’s stating XI is expected to be pretty much his World Cup starting XI of choice. Hong’s sub choices were quite revealing on his thoughts – interesting choices but didn’t seem effective tonight. There will be a some pundits scratching their heads and wondering why Park Joo-Ho (Mainz) and Ji Dong-Won (Augsburg/Borussia Dortmund) didn’t see any time tonight.
It was an encouraging result for the Taeguk Warriors. FIFA ranking had us pegged at 61st. Korea won an away match at Athens, Greece for what FIFA deemed to be the 12th ranked team in the world. Proving perhaps that FIFA’s ranking is as flawed, if not more so than the BCS system in the US.
Still, there are plenty of cracks in the system to be concerned with. Defense got very lucky that they didn’t concede 2-3 goals that could and should have easily went in. From BSK forum, a poster there remarked: “the crossbar was a better keeper than Jung Sung-Ryong.” Ouch. I twittered during the match:
Did I just see that? Goalmouth scramble with not one but two bounces off xbar for Greece…
— Roy Ghim (@taeguk_warrior) March 5, 2014
That backline at various time, particularly defending against set pieces (yet again), gave me heart attacks. I think I’m going to need a defibrillator while watching the World Cup. John Duerden remarked:
According to Greek media outlet ekathimerini‘s match report, there were a number of Korean supporters on hand for the friendly. “The national team was outrun, outsmarted and outdone by South Korea…there were times when the Greek players could do no more than just watch the tricks the Koreans pulled on the pitch, to the excitement of the 300-strong following the Asian visitors had on the night…”
And Young Hoon-Kim offers his take from the game posted on football.com.
This isn’t the full match report – Jae Chee will be posting his post match analysis soon. Stay tuned for that AND both Jae, myself and Jinseok Yang as host will broadcast another Tavern Hangout on Google. Broadcast time: Friday 5pm US EST / Saturday 7am Korea time. If you don’t get to catch it live – it will be a youtube video that you can access on demand at the Tavern. More details to come soon at the Tavern.
Last thoughts? He is STILL the leading scorer on KNT…so good to see Park Chu-Young’s name return to the scoreline. It simply is The Return of Park Chu-Young. The dream continues. Dae Han Min-Guk.