So, our first mailbag got a few questions in, and our readers seem to be quite concerned about the future of the NT.
Q1: “Do you guys know if there’s any chance that Park Ji sung could come back from retirement to play the 2014 world cup?
Roy: It’s tempting to think he could come back to help out with the 2014 WC –but one of his reasons for retiring from international play is why I believe he will continue to stay out of the Taeguk Warriors lineup. Namely it’s his desire to help the team by freeing up his midfield position for an up and coming midfielder to get more international experience. It’s a good point – but that doesn’t stop prognosticators from wondering if he still has what it takes to make an impact should he decide to change his mind. I agree with you wholeheartedly that he could play a definite positive role if he wanted to lend a hand – but ultimately I think he still favors the idea that the Kim Bo-Kyung / Lee Keun-Ho’s of the squad getting additional experience in his absence might be more beneficial for the team in the long run.
Jae: I think the chances of Park Ji-Sung coming out of retirement are slim to none, and probably much closer to none. He was asked to consider it right before Cho Kwang-Rae was sacked, and qualification from the 3rd round was in jeopardy, and refused. I don’t think he’ll reconsider now. His presence would certainly be a boost, just in terms of the experience and leadership he can bring (in a team sorely lacking in it). I don’t think he’d be a very good wingback, but a central position could work against smaller teams. But, again, I think he’ll continue to focus on club, especially considering that QPR wants him gone, and he’ll be looking for a new team in the summer.
Q2: “What do you guys think the Korean team will look like in Qatar 2022? Do you guys know of any other up and coming Korean stars? What would be your starting 11 in about 10 years time?”
Roy: Both questions are very good ones and extremely difficult to answer adequately. And since I don’t want to eat crow later, I’d rather avoid the question BUT I will offer that as long as the Barcelona and Valencia academy kids education in Spain aren’t derailed by FIFA, those kids could in theory eclipse the current crop of European based Koreans we have now. Son Heung-Min -as long as he gets military exemption or deferment – could also still be in his footballing prime and could contribute mightily in the Taeguk Warriors WC squad 10 years into the future. and (see Moon Chang-Jin).
Jae: Wow, it’s difficult for me to imagine what the XI would look like in 2018. Honestly, I have no clue. Certainly there are some young players, particularly in Spain, but at that age it’s hard to say who’ll end up making the grade, especially considering the FIFA issues that the La Masia kids are experiencing. As we’ve seen with Park Chu-Young, a year or so without regular competitive playing time can really derail a player’s progress and ability. Granted it’s quite a bit different between a 14, 15 year old academy kid and a top flight professional, but still it can’t be good for them to miss out for an extended period. Plus it’s so hard to predict how kids adapt to the top flight from academy matches. The footballing landscape is littered with the names of promising youngsters billed as the next big thing who don’t make the cut in the end (think Bojan, Freddy Adu, Seba Giovinco, etc.). As for a prediction, I think I’ll leave that to the more capable hands of the Tavern’s resident Korean youth expert, Jinseok.
Jinseok: Youth leagues, youth player success, and predictions for the future are very hard. Because player development is SO unpredictable. You need the right combination of playing time, MANAGER (this one particularly), environment, etc.
However, it’s fun to take educated guesses, right?
Let’s see. Qatar 2022. Approximately 10 years from now
Let’s start from the back.
Jung Sung Ryong will be 38 years old, and considering the other keepers we have I doubt he’d be our starter in 2022.
Lee Bum Young – Solid option, no doubt. He will be 33 years old.
Lee Chang Geun – our u20 captain and my personal pick for the 2022 role. He was ROCK SOLID for the U19 qualification and doesn’t make mistakes. Consistency is rare in young keepers. It’s unfortunate though, that Lee and Lee Bum Young are both on the same team
Kim Ro Man – intriguing option. He’s currently 15 or 16 years old (So 25-26 in 2022). He’s a freakishly tall, Pohang youth keeper, half Russian half Korean, who stated himself his dream is to play for our national team. He’s shown incredible ability already; perhaps he can develop into a truly world class keeper. But only time will tell.
Hong Jeong Ho and Kim Young Gwon – they’ll be 33, which just happens to be the same age Hong Myung Bo was in 2002. Unless better defensive optins come up, they will certainly be called up to the squad.
Jang Hyun Soo – Will be 30. He was rock solid in the 2009 U20 WC, and unlike most of our defenders, Jang, along with HJH and KYG, weren’t strikers who failed so became defenders. Calm presence at the back, pretty fast/nimble, and showed some strong leadership ability as well. In that sense, he is very similar to HJH. It breaks my heart to remember how Jang got injured right before the Olympics, though the biggest heartbreak was definitely Olympic Captain HJH
I do not know of very many U20 / U17 CBs. I’ll be watching the U20 WC very closely, so maybe we’ll discover someone then, just like we discovered Jang Hyun Soo’s talent at the last U20
Yoon Suk Young and Oh Jae Suk – Solid showing at the Olympics. They’ll be 32 in 2022, but hey, LYP was 33, so it all depends on how they develop from now on. As of now both are in pretty depressing situations at QPR and Gamba Osaka respectively
Lee Ki Jae and Kim Jin Su – Our fullback duo in the 2009 U20 world cup. They were solid, and are getting consistent playing time at Shimizu S-Pulse and Albirex Niigata. Lee especially is being lauded as a very reliable left back.
Paik Seung Ho – our 16 year old Barcelona midfield talent. He definitely has the potential to become our starting midfielder in 2022, given he develops properly.
Ki Sung Yong, Han Kook Young, and Park Jong Woo – We are familiar with these guys already, and will be just past their prime. Ki will be 33, and the other two will be 32. Unless Paik Seung Ho develops into a beast of a CM, expect Ki to be in the starting lineup, though he did say he is considering retiring at 30 yrs. If HKY develops into the Yoo Sang Chul-esque defensive mid we really really need.. he’ll probably be there as well, unless we have promising defensive midfielders coming through the K League.
Lee Myung Joo – will be 31 in 2022. He is performing VERY well in the K league right now, and is said to be very similar to Ki.
Attacking Midfield / Wing
Lee Kang In – I am most excited for this kid (and Lee Seung Woo) above all others, but he’s only 11 years old at the moment. The skills this guy exhibits is ridiculous, and literally walks past defenses like none other. You thought Lee Seung Woo, Jang Gyeol Hee, and the 11 year old Takefusa Kubo also at Barca were amazing? This kid will amaze you even more. He’s mastered all the “tricks” you see professional players do – turns, fake outs, roulettes – you name it, he can do it. However, he’s only 11, which makes success even more unpredictable.
Jang Gyeol Hee – another one of our Barcelona kids – starting winger for Barcelona Cadete B – extremely fast and scores quite a few goals. Doesn’t get as much attention as teammate Lee Seung Woo, but does his job very well.
Park Jung Bin – will be 28-29 in 2022, and has performed pretty well for for Greuther Furth so far. Potential winger for the future.
Nam Tae Hee – will be 29-30 in 2022. His inclusion will be affected by 1). If he can get out of the desert 2). He can finally learn to dribble with his head up or 3). He learns how to shoot.
#7, 11, and 17 on U20 team – Ryu Seung Woo, Kang Sang Woo, and Kim Seung Joon – quite promising
Lee Chung Yong, Koo Ja Cheol, and Kim Bo Kyung – Will be 31 – 33 yrs old in 2022. Again, whether they start for our 2022 WC campaign depends entirely on the development of younger players and if they become good enough to keep our current midfield stars on the bench.
Lee Seung Woo – this kid. Is literally ripping apart defenses by himself in Barcelona’s youth academy. He’s all over the news as the next Messi and is universally acknowledged as one of La Masia’s top talents. OK I’m embellishing a bit but seriously, Marca reporters out there say if there’s anyone in La Masia can rival Messi, it’s LSW. He will be 25 when 2022 comes around.
Hwang Hee Chan – Very very promising 16 year old striker who plays for the Pohang youth academy. Showed incredible potential in the U16 championship, and it’s too bad we didn’t qualify for the U17 WC.
Son Heung Min – He’ll be 29, around the peak of powers. Who knows how he’ll develop in the next ten years- we can only hope he develops into the striker we’ve always wanted
Ji Dong Won – He’ll be 30/31. Like SHM, we can only hope he turns into a world class finesse striker.