Football is a funny thing. Last season Ki Sung Yong + SHM were our best performers, but this season the once-frozen-on-the-bench Lee Chung Yong has already started two games for Crystal Palace. Hwang Hee Chan also managed to get minutes (thanks to an upcoming Champions League qualifier), while Koo Ja Cheol continues to perform as our only consistent performer in the continent.
Moreover, Stielike has finally announced his squad for the crucial World Cup Qualifying Final Round games against China and Syria. With Iran and Uzbekistan in our group yet again, we definitely want to secure all three points early on so we can secure qualification then experiment a bit with the up and coming teenagers such as Lee Seung Woo, Paik Seung Ho, and Jang Gyeol Hee.
Read on for more details, but before that, if you haven’t already, check out Roy’s two recent posts that are getting a lot of discussion going, as well as Tim’s perspective post about what went wrong in the Olympics.
The English Contingent
Lee Chung Yong yet again showed his “tekkers” in the recent CP match against Tottenham. The team as a whole still sucks, but in the 82′ LCY played, he once again showed that he is one of CP’s best players (not a very big accomplishment, but he did enough to justify his continued inclusion in the XI). The reviews were either positive or negative, depending on the reviewer’s general optimism level. Some condemned the entire team to 5’s or lower, while others gave LCY and Cabaye higher ratings:
Fortunately, Christian Benteke will join up with the squad, and with Cabaye back in the picture as well, LCY will hopefully start contributing some assists and goals.
Son Heung Min was not included in the squad at all. It seems he is not entirely match fit.
And neither is Ki Sung Yong. He only managed a couple of minutes off of the bench, but in the short time he had he looked pretty good:
The German Contingent:
In the recent DFB Pokal match, Koo Ja Cheol was named Man of the Match. We really have to thank KJC for being the one consistent performer in Europe, as well as Augsburg for retaining faith in KJC all this time. Ji Dong Won and Takashi Usami started off the bench.
Aside: Augsburg are pretty thin on the CB end. Augsburg scouts, how about a good look at Jeong Seung Hyun? He defended pretty well against the likes of Selke, Meyer, Gnabry, and Brandt, maybe he’s worth a look?
Meanwhile Kim Jin Su is still frozen out of the Hoffenheim squad, and wasn’t even on the bench in the recent DFB cup match. It’s really unfair for KJS – he was one of the standout performers for Hoffenheim last season before the new manager came in and decided to bench KJS for good. KJS recently changed agents to push for a move, but for some reason he as yet to actually make a move happen. It’s hard to believe no teams are interested considering how well he played last season though…
Park Joo Ho, on the other hand, was listed on the starting XI prematch but ended up not starting. He instead got subbed on in the second half
Hwang Hee Chan: Started RW for RB Salzburg because the first team players were being rested ahead of Champions League qualifying. Unfortunately didn’t get to do much before being subbed off at 80′.
Suk Hyun Jun: Came on at 62′ for Trabzonspor. Hopefully Suk can recreate his Vitoria form in Turkey. I said this many times before but lemme say it again – moving to Porto was a mistake!
THE CHINA CALLUPS:
FW: Suk Hyun Jun, Hwang Hee Chan
MF: Son Heung Min, Ji Dong Won, Koo Ja Cheol, Lee Chung Yong, Ki Sung Yong, Lee Jae Sung, Kwon Chang Hoon, Jung Woo Young, Han Kook Young
DF: Kim Min Hyeok (Sagan Tosu), Oh Jae Suk, Jang Hyun Soo, Hong Jeong Ho, Kim Kee Hee, Lee Yong, Kim Young Kwon
GK: Jung Fire, Kim Jin Hyeon, Kim Seung Kyu
Team news: Son Heung Min will only play the China game then fly back to England. Suk on the other hand, will only play the Syria game. Thus, I expect Hwang Hee Chan to start up top against China.
I’m sort of mad right now. Arguably the best midfielder in the K League right now, Kim Bo Kyung is ONCE AGAIN left out. Jung Seung Hyeon gets left out, and we don’t have a single actual left back in the squad. Is Jang Hyun Soo going to play LB again, or will Oh Jae Suk going to cover on the left side as he sometimes does with Gamba Osaka? [edit: Stielike has confirmed the LB options are indeed OJS and JHS]. On the plus side, we at least see OJS back on the KNT, though I would have liked to see him at RB starting over Lee Yong…
Also, we once again go with JWY – HKY. I swear, until we find proper defensive midfielders, we’re never going to perform well on the world stage. My hopes in this department right now are pinned with 18 year old Park Han Bin or Ulsan’s Kim Gun Woong, but the truth is, a decent DM is not going to come out of Korea’s ranks anytime soon. I still maintain KYK or HJH would do well in the DM position, perhaps better than JHS, but no manager seems keen on actually trying that. Actually, against China and Syria a KSY solo volante should be enough, freeing up space for our real promising CM’s like KCH, KJC, LJS to play in the advanced midfield roles.
As expected Hwang Hee Chan made the cut – if any attacking player from the Olympic squad is deserving it’s HHC. The SHJ – HHC duo should serve us very well going forward.
There’s also a bit of a disturbing trend here – why is the Korean national team composed of more than 3 times as many CSL/J Leaguers than K League players? We have quality players in the league – Kim Bo Kyung, Shin Jin Ho, Choi Chul Soon, etc. getting ignored in favor of.. Han Kook Young and Jung Woo Young. Stielike attends a ton of K League matches and went to the FC Seoul matches in particular over the last couple of weeks. What was the point if all the new additions come from J League or Qatar? Honestly, a Jeonbuk XI alone could see us beat China and Syria.
Tim barging in here. Obviously there are a couple notable omissions that I’m less than pleased about. Kim Bokyung of Jeonbuk is another player who absolutely deserved a call-up. Remember Stielike’s words of not too long ago? “A successful national team must have 6-7 players from their domestic league champions.” To see this completely ignored is frustrating. Stielike’s words so far haven’t been met with much action when it comes to team selection.
A player who I would have been fine with letting go is Han Kookyoung, simply because he is very much a one-purpose player – useful-and-hopefully-not-rash slide tackles being his main, and pretty much only advantage. Opposition like China and Syria don’t need a player like Han, they need players who can break down opposition. Time and time again, Kim Bokyung has shown that he excels in this department against K-League defenses. His English Premier League credentials are a testament to his calibre. His omission is one of astonishing lack of judgment.
I’m very glad to see Oh Jaesuk return to the side, after injury took him out of contention for the Spain and Czech Republic friendlies. He could be a very promising solution to our rightback woes. Lee Yong didn’t need to be re-called, and a player such as Ko Yohan could have been given a shot. That being said, Lee Yong is arguably the best fullback in the K League right now and a key reason for Sangju’s success. His World Cup experience does also bring something to the side.
Kim Minhyeok is also a new face, the Sagan Tosu man being called up to the EAFF Asian Cup squad but not featuring. I would have preferred that Jung Seunghyeon be rewarded for his strong Olympics performance, but Stielike’s likely had his eye on Kim for a while. Kwak Taehwi also hasn’t played for a while.
Jung is TERRIBLE. Why is he still getting called up?
Because he’s actually doing well in the J.League. And we don’t really have anybody else. Plus he’s got some experience from World Cup 2014.
Not a fan of his though, don’t worry.
If it wasn’t for the mandatory military service, I bet there would be more dual citizens around the globe and the KFA could take a page out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s playbook and do some passport grabs. There must be some Korean Germans, Korean English, Korean Brazilians, and maybe even Korean Americans out there that can play soccer.