WCQ Korea v Laos (non) preview + Kickaround

Late night at the Tavern.  No better time to write, but given just how late it is, we’ll keep this to a minimum. Just the skinny-jeans minimum you need to know about Korea’s WCQ against Laos.

Tuesday November 17 at New Laos National Stadium

7 AM US EST / 9 PM Korea Time

Broadcast: JTBC  /   Steaming by (…AFC again?)  We’ll post on Tavern’s twitter handle a link.

If you’ve been following the KNT lately, you’ll know that Uli Stielike’s squad has bossed around the WCQ group in this 2nd round, not quite coasting but you get the picture. They’ve managed to do something odd however: not concede any goals. And Korea has won nearly all it’s games in 2015 -the only loss was the extra OT in the title match to Australia for the Asia Cup last January. More likely, Korea’s defenses hasn’t truly been tested. Nevertheless, strictly looking at goals scored vs conceded, at least vs minnows, Korea is doing it’s job with efficiency…and some degree of flair.

On the heels of last WCQ scoreline of 8-0 at home against Laos in September, it’s not a matter of if Korea will win – rather by how much. [I truly regret having to say that like a cruel stats automaton. Laos’ manager, Steve Darby has been an absolute gentlemen and we hope to see Laos improve their football stature with time  -see Tim Lee’s interview with Mr Darby].

Expect a heavily rotated squad from the one that downed Myanmar 4-0 last Thursday. We know already that Koo Ja-Cheol has to serve a yellow card suspension -allowing him to return to his club in Augsburg. Additionally, keeper Kim Seung-Gyu is off to serve a short training military stint.  Expanding Jae Chee’s twitter musing on Korea’s starting XI:

Predicted change

Hwang Ui-Jo>Suk Hyun-Jun

Ji Dong-Won>Son Heung-Min

Koo Ja-Cheol >Nam Tae-Hee

Jung Woo-Young>Han Kook-Young

Kim Jin-Su>Park Joo-Ho

Kim Young-Gwon>Kim KiHee

Jang Hyun-Su>Kim Chang Su

Kim Seung-Gyu->Kwoun Sun-Tae

Korean media is speculating that Stielike has in mind a 4-1-4-1 formation, Suk playing the one top and the attacking middle four (from left to right): Son, Ki, Nam and Lee Jae-Sung.



However, should a blowout occur, perhaps we will see Ki Sung-Yeung finally get a bit of rest(?) Look for Lee Chung-Yong, who is recovering from a minor knock during a test match with Crystal Palace, coming on as a halftime substitute: might give him some valuable time on the pitch to restart his club season back on the good foot.

Korea will wear black armbands in a display to honor victims of the Paris bombings.

Note: Uli said in his presser the diplomatically correct thing to say: not to take Laos for granted. Good on him, though he’s not losing any sleep over the playbook regarding tactics, formation or lineup.


I’d love to expand this kickaround to include several topical and interesting going ons regarding Korean football, but I’ll have to keep this short. Let’s begin with this item coming across our twitter feed:

Very encouraged to see supporters there in Suwon get fired up and taking action over a perceived bad/unusual business stadium ads deal with the city that hurts club revenue – and has understandably incensed local supporters as certain ads from rival clubs supersede their own club sponsors at various times.

Small steps to improve and make effective change…vaguely reminds me in a distant sense of an entirely different club – one vastly different in structure and history – a club that boasts of an intense support culture: St Pauli.  Their supporters have demonstrated time and again that they can democratically unite to create change that reflects progressive / socially responsible values and ethos. The Tavern has mentioned them before as the ultimate hipster’s club – and this video takes a peek into the insanely awesome left wing rock n’ roll, punk & anarchy world of St Pauli.

Which segues naturally to the discussion of one St Pauli player, a young player Choi Kyoung-Rok. He made his electric debut last season scoring a brace, but injury has cut his profile since then.  Contract extention negotiations are underway, but just as St Pauli have stall a bit, a number of German top flight clubs have stepped up and expressed interest in the Korean forward, including Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg and Hoffenheim.  His contract ends in June.

…and the ongoing saga of Lee Seung-Woo continues. Though he can join Barcelona again officially on January 6th, 2016, he’s been provisionally banned from even attending practice training sessions in the Catalonia capital.  Originally he was going to stay in Korea and train with Suwon FC (from the K-League Challenge division) but then came this:


Last item that caught my attention: FourFourTwo issued their top 100 football stadiums in the world. It’s kind of a fun, not to be taken too seriously kind of list. Given all that, three Korean stadiums made the list, including one in North Korea.

Coming in at #83    Daegu Stadium (who is looking like they may get auto promotion back to top flight)

North Korea’s Rungrado Stadium muscles it’s way in at #55

and finally, Seoul’s World Cup Stadium (fourfourtwo called it Sangam Stadium?) is the highest ranked Korean stadium at #47


Last weekend, protesters demonstrating in Seoul (several reasons for the protest including historically revised textbooks whitewashing the abuses of power during the authoritarian dictatorship of the Park Chung-hee era) were attacked by police. An elderly man who was hit by police water cannons was badly hurt. He was taken to the hospital and remains in critical condition. One op/ed commentator who writes for Time, WSJ, the Economist, Foreign Policy magazine among others, Geoffrey Cain tweeted this on seeing the government crackdown on demonstrators:


Democracy, keeping it healthy and functioning, takes constant effort and vigilance. The Tavern will continue to monitor the situation as the Park Guen-Hye administration’s gradual march towards authoritarianism continues.


Ay guhn nah -it’s 1am — Tavern’s got to close so I can get some shut eye before the match. The game may not be an electric one, nor suspense filled as we all know the outcome. Nevertheless, the Taegueki flag will fly high at the Tavern and my kids will definitely cheer for a high scoring affair. You see, I’ve been rationing their halloween candy; you’d better believe it’s a real celebration at the Tavern on KNT game days- they get one halloween candy for each Korean goal scored. Until next time, Chal ga!


About Roy Ghim 454 Articles
The old Tavern Owner


  1. Seoul World Cup Stadium is located in Sangam-dong which is why it’s also called Sangam Stadium.

    The Lee Seung-woo situation seems an exercise in futility. It seems perfectly clear (no matter how stupid it is) where FIFA stands on Barca and the kids. The ban, including his no training ban, will stand.

    • I don’t have a clue about Barcelona’s appeal but from the Spanish press, going to Suwon FC is just one option. As in, he has other options (don’t have a clue what that might be) & is waiting on Barcelona to make the final decision.

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