Analysis of South Korea NT ahead of FIFA World Cup in Russia
South Korea has recently emerged as arguably the strongest football power in Asia and is historically the most successful Asian football team as well. They have featured in consecutive 9 World Cups. But this time around they had to toil hard on the penulimate day against Uzbekistan which ended in a goaless draw to seal the direct spot in World Cup.
Drawn in Group F,
they are plotted with reigning World champions Germany , Mexico and Sweden. Comparitively a tough Group for the South Koreans as they will have to play very well to ensure any chance of progressing to the next round. A big chunk of South Korea’s fate would depend upon Tottenham star and their alisman Heung Son Min. Son is arguably the most well recognised active Asian footballer in the world and he will need to be at his best if South Korea dreams of procuring anything positive in Russia.
● Squad Analysis :
South Korean national coach Shin Tae-Yong included 12 defenders in his premilary squad to aort out the defensive issues issues which have long haunted them. Since Shin’s appointment in the National setup last July, the team have scored 20 and conceded 19, not a very healthy stat especially when they would have to tackle one of the best attacks in the World Cup in few days time.
From the European contignent Shin preferred the experience of Ki Sung-Yueng who has long been playing for Swansea City, just relegated from the English Premier League, FC Augsburg’s Koo Ja-Cheol and star Heung Son Min of Tottenham Hotspurs.
● Provisional Squad
○Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe/JPN), Kim Jin-hyeon (Cerezo Osaka/JPN), Cho Hyun-woo (Daegu FC)
○Defenders: Kim Young-gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Jang Hyun-soo (FC Tokyo), Jung Seung-hyun (Sagan Tosu), Yun Yong-sun (Seongnam FC), Kwon Kyung-won (Tianjin Quanjian), Oh Ban-suk (Jeju United), Kim Jin-su (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Kim Min-woo (Sangju Sangmu), Park Joo-ho (Ulsan Hyundai), Hong Chul (Sangju Sangmu), Go Yo-han (FC Seoul), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
○Midfielders: Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea City), Jung Woo-young (Vissel Kobe), Kwon Chang-hoon (Dijon FCO), Ju Se-jong (Asan Mugunghwa FC), Koo Ja-cheol (FC Augsburg/), Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Seung-woo (Hellas Verona), Moon Seon-min (Incheon United), Lee Chung-yong (Crystal Palace)
○Forwards: Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Hwang Hee-chan (FC Red Bull Salzburg), Lee Keun-ho (Gangwon FC)
● Probable XI :
Kim Seung Gyu (GK)
Park Soo Hoo(Def)
Kim Jin See (Def)
Jang Heung Soo (Def)
Hong Chil (Def)
Lee Yong (Def)
Lee Chung Woo (MF)
Ki Seung Yeung (MF)
Jung Woo Young (MF )
Kwon Chang Hoon (MF)
Heung Son Min (ST)
● Squad Rating :
○Goalkeeping : 6.5/10
○Defence : 6/10
○Midfield : 6.5/10
○Attack : 7/10
○ Overall Rating : 6.5/10
● Past Record in World Cup :
Having participated in nine consecutive FIFA World Cups, the most by any Asian country, South Korea is also the only Asian nation to have ever featured in a World Cup semi-final, a feat they achieved back in 2002 when they jointly hosted the World Cup with Japan, upsetting the likes of Italy on their road to glory. They reached the Round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Although overall South Korea’s fortune in World Cup has mostly remained gloomy as in most of the occasions they had to face departure from the scene from the Group stages, sometimes without a win or a point.
● Recent Form :
On the basis of friendlies in past 1 year, they have mixed result in the bag.
Losing 4-2 to hosts Russia, 1-3 loss against another fellow World Cup participants Morocco, followed by a 2-1 victory against South American powerhouse Colombia and success in regional powerhouses (that includes fellow World cup participants Japan).
Recently a hardfought 2-3 loss against Poland showed that if they do some modifications, then they can compete with the best.
● Hurdles :
With the rich array of talent Germany possess, it’s unlikely that they will be completely dispossed from the top spot of the group.
As a consequence it goes all down to Mexico, Sweden and S. Korea to battle it out for the second spot..
In terms of experience, South Korea is the third most experienced side in the group and Sweden are playing after a absence from mega events for a decade, which might affect them bit negatively. And it’s the only opposition they can rally their chances on as against the likes of Mexico it would be trembling task to cover off.
Another major criticism according to experts were that South Koreans are poor performers away from home continent and the adverse climatic conditions of Europe never really suits them.
So it all goes down to the preparatory camp and friendlies to cope up the climatic disorientations.
● Writer’s Take:
Drawn in Group of Death with Germany, Sweden and Mexico, it’s highly unlikely that South Korea stands a chance for moving into the knockouts here in Russia. But considering the track record of the Korean Republic in World Cup, they are one of the most successful Asian teams in the grandest stage of the game and only team from Asian continent to feature in World cup Semi final and they would not be pushovers in this regards. Nature of the World Cup is that it has always produced some upsets and the South Koreans will be hoping that they feature in one of those upsets!