After a catastrophic 4-2 defeat in Moscow against Russia, only made worse by Kim Juyoung’s abysmal two own goals and all-round defensive meltdown, the Koreans look to hit the re-set button in Switzerland when they will face a resurgent Morocco.
Team News Shin Taeyong will make 8 changes from the last match, media reports. Son Heungmin, Lee Chungyong and Jang Hyunsoo will remain in the side. (JANG HYUNSOO? Aw come on).
Shin came under heavy criticism for his tactics and formation choice after the Russian game, but training ground murmurs show that though Shin wants a more dynamic, fluid display in midfield, he’s not bothered by the furious media. Remember, this is Shin Taeyong. “If they score 3 goals, we’ll just have to score 4.” is his adage.
The heavy rotation combined with a 3-4-3 formation makes team prediction not too difficult:
Son Heungmin – Ji Dongwon – Nam Taehee
Oh Jaesuk – Kim Bokyung – Ki Sungyueng – Lee Chungyong
Song Juhun – Jang Hyunsoo – Kim Kihee
The defense looks absolutely awful, with Song making his KNT debut, and no defensive midfield cover to boot. But this is the likely lineup, meaning that, given Morocco’s dynamism, we could be in for a more free flowing encounter.
The Oppo Morocco are reeling off of a 3-0 win against Gabon in Casablanca after the Ivory Coast slipped up a golden chance to preserve their group lead in CAF qualifying. The Moroccans now move into the first – and only – qualifying spot in their group, and, with a draw away in the Ivory Coast in November, will qualify for their first World Cup since France 1998. They have all to play for.
The Moroccans are a particularly dynamic, fluid side, and yet for a CAF team are superbly well drilled in defense, with a good shape and structure to allow their creative players to thrive in. The reputation of defensive stalwarts is well earned, with 9 goals scored and none conceded in 5 games of qualifying. That said, they’ve got three 0-0 draws to their name, which suggests a very France like situation – they’ve got good structure and some speed merchants, but the end product hasn’t always been there. This may be moot as there’s no chance Korea sits deep and tries to let Morocco break them down. Instead, with both sides traditionally liking to have more possession, the team who has the most of the ball may very well end up being the winner.
Key player: Khalid Boutaib – if the Turkey-based striker starts, he could be a handful for the defense (much like Kokorin was for Russia, even if he couldn’t finish). Boutaib scored a hat trick against Gabon and whether or not he starts depends on how seriously two-time African Cup of Nations winning manager Hervé Renard takes this match.
The Question The key question will be how Korea will cope with a more open, dynamic opposition. Generally Korea can find some success against these teams, and Shin will be hoping for a win to assuage the bloodthirsty crowd of pitchfork-wielding fans and netizens. But with a shaky defense sure to leak a goal or two at the back, can Son and the forwards finally show that free flowing dynamism that Shin strives for with his sides? Or will they revert to meaningless direct play that creates spurts, not sustained phases, of attacking play?
Korea vs Morocco
Somewhere in Switzerland, I couldn’t be bothered
9:30am EST, 10:30pm KST
Tuesday October 10th 2017
Come on Korea!