October 15, 2012
Well, technically this is part deux of the Tavern’s preview of the Taeguk Warriors’ clash with Iran [part 1 was yesterday’s post]. Those two teams will rock the casbah on Tuesday 12:30 pm US Eastern Standard time, and Wednesday early morning 1:30 am Korea time. For US based viewers, One World Sports (Dish Network) has the game. Let’s take a look at FIFA’s Group A for Asia:
…and so it’s #1 facing #2 -and Iran will be hungry for 3 points to secure their passage to Brazil. With a win, Korea distances themselves from the rest of the pack and can pretty much book their ticket to Brazil. And yet they are surprisingly only a loss away from Iran leveling with them on points. Historically, Korea and Iran are dead even in their match ups. The Taeguk Warriors first squared off with Iran in 1958; since then Korea and Iran both share between them 9 wins, 7 draws and 9 losses. Stating the obvious, we’ve got a tiebreaker tomorrow -the stakes are more elevated than usual. Their last matchup on January 11, 2011 was also a heated affair: Yoon Bit-Garam broke the deadlock to score the only goal in the game and knocked out Iran in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Asian Cup.
The Tavern was scheduled to take a look at a possible 4-4-2 formation today -but we’re getting indications that boss Choi Kang-Hee will go with a familiar 4-3-2-1 formation. While the Tavern’s starting XI was named in yesterday’s post, SportalKorea had their own starting XI. It might be interesting to look at theirs today.
Kim Bo-Kyung Lee Chung-Yong
Ki Sung-Yeung Park Jong-Woo
Yun Suk-Young Kwak Tae-Hwi Jung In-Whan Oh Beom-Seok
Things to look out for:
- With left back Park Joo-Ho (FC Basel) suffering from bronchitis after arriving in Iran, Channam Dragon’s Yun Suk-Young is looking good for his first international cap.
- Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung is reported to have a slight calf injury sustained during practice. He’s still expected to start, but at the first sign of any kind of trouble, expect boss Choi to go to the bench. It will be hard to imagine a midfield without Ki, but if Lee Keun-Ho (Ulsan Hyundai) doesn’t find a starting spot in Choi’s plans, he may wind up coming in for Ki.
- Not intentionally courting controversy, Park Jong-Woo (Busan IPark) found it anyway when he sported a fan made sign that read “Dokdo island is ours” after South Korea won the Summer Olympic Bronze medal match against Japan last August. FIFA stripped him of the said medal, but gained folk hero status amongst South Korean nationalists. If that lineup above is used, he will see his first international cap.
- As mentioned in yesterday’s interview with SportalKorea’s Santiago Perez, Park Chu-Young needs a solid performance to even be considered in Paco Herrera’s plans when Celta Vigo makes a visit to Real Madrid and the Bernabeu. No pressure, right? Still, he has come up huge for the Taeguk Warriors in the past, and having logged significant minutes for his club so far, Park’s fitness is good to go.
- The Tavern recommends watching Son Heung-Min tomorrow closely. Iran certainly will be. Most definitely on fire for Hamburg, there’s no reason to doubt that Son won’t be a dangerous factor in this match.
- Midfielder Nam Tae-Hee (Lekhwiya SC/Qatar) and giant forward for Ulsan Hyundai, Kim Shin-Wook (otherwise known as the Wookie) are other substitutes who could be game changers for South Korea if they get called into action. As dynamic as Cardiff midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung has been for his former club Cerzo Osaka, his international game for the senior national team has been less noticeable. Nevertheless, Kim’s got that potential to make a decisive difference in the game -but if he doesn’t, Choi will not hesitate to swap in Nam or Lee Keun-Ho fairly quickly in the 2nd half.
- Finally, boss Choi has fashioned quite a dynamic edition of the Taeguk Warriors to work with. He’s getting gradually more comfortable in utilizing the ‘Euro-Koreans’. Shedding Lee Dong-Gook from the roster was also a very wise decision, and now he has more options, more firepower and multiple means to get the ball in Iran’s net. Their last several wins have not been very convincing, and the Uzbekistan draw in their last most recent match was cringe-inducing. With the talent he’s now drawing on, there is the expectation that at last we may at last get to witness a team that capable of going deep into the Brazilian edition of the World Cup. When Koo Ja-Cheol gets healed up, this team will be really fun to watch.
UPDATE: aigh, can’t sleep…so what do I do but crank up the old Tavern laptop [there might be a connection somewhere here]. Anyway, I found 2 articles that might boost the morale of Tavern goers. Goal.com (who’s not had good Korean football coverage as of late) had a Iranian writer contributing an op/ed article on corruption endemic to the coaching side on the Iran national team, and how that’s contributing to a drop in their form recently. 2nd article -Kick off Asia blog writer Behnam Jafarzadeh looked at the stats and raised the idea that there is a ‘Korean curse’ that’s afflicted some of Iran’s coaches. An excerpt: “Two of Iran’s head coaches in recent 12 years, Jalal Talebi and Amir Ghalenoei were fired after losing to South Korea. Queiroz is in danger of becoming the third…”
and now I’m going to bed…is that the Colbert Report on the TV behind me…?