Korean Football Blog

한국 축구 블로그

South Korea – Ivory Coast

Posted by Seamus Walsh on March 7, 2010

It seems sensible to make the first real post on this blog one about the most recent match by the South Korean national side, which took place in London on Wednesday, when South Korea beat the Ivory Coast 2-0. I think this is a fantastic result for the Koreans, and it looks like they played with unity and purpose. What they need to do now is become more consistent. The top players are playing well enough for their clubs, but the national side has lost to the likes of Zambia and China since the start of this year, although they’ve also managed to beat teams like Japan, Finland and now the Ivory Coast.

지난 주 수요일에 영국 런던에서 한국은 코트디부아르를 2-0으로 이겼다. 아주 좋은 결과였고 한국 팀이 너무 잘 한 것 같다. 이제부터 그냥 더 한결같아야 된다. 최근 잠비아, 중국 같은 나라한테 져서 그렇게 강하지 않은 팀과 경기할 때도 이번처럼 똑같이 잘 해야 된다. 특히 일본, 핀란드, 코트디부아르 같은 잘 하는 팀을 이겼으니까 그렇다.

One issue I do have with this latest result, however, is that it was ostensibly used as practice for facing Nigeria in their World Cup group, under the belief that the two teams have similar styles. I think this shows a slight misunderstanding on the part of the Korean officials – the Ivory Coast and Nigeria may be on the same continent but that certainly does not mean they play the same style of football. Having said that, the Ivory Coast are a quick and powerful side, much like Nigeria. Both sides also have the luxury of having the majority of their squads playing in Europe’s top leagues.

코트디부아르하고 한국의 월드컵 그룹의 팀 중에 하나인 나이지리아는 축구를 하는 스타일이 비슷해서 앞으로 있을 나이지리아전대비에 좋을 것이라는 말이 있었다. 근데 내 생각엔 스타일이 그렇게 비슷하지 않은 것 같다. 같은 대륙인데도 똑같은 스타일로 축구를 하는 게 아니다. 그 건 맞긴 맞는 것 같은데도 둘다 빠르고 힘 센 팀들이고 둘다 유럽의 최고 리그들에서 뛰는 선수가 많다.

Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba

Taking these similarities, South Korea needed to find a style of play and tactics that could be used to overcome other apparent disadvantages. Short passing, tireless running and clever movement off the ball are what’s needed against such quick and strong teams, and luckily this is the default style for the Koreans. Defensively they were well-organised, and managed to stifle Didier Drogba and Aruna Dindane. They missed Park Chu-young, an excellent forward who makes clever runs up front, can create chances for other players, and has scored almost a goal every two games for Monaco this season.

그 걸 가지고 한국 팀은 이런 선수, 팀을 극복할 수 있는 스타일과 작전을 써야 된다. 이런 경기에선 한국이 특별히 잘 하는 짧고 빠른 패스, 지칠 줄 모르고 똑똑하게 뛰는 것은 제일 잘 될 것 같다. 이 번에 수비를 잘 해 가지고 코트디부아르의 최고 선수인 디디에 드록바가 아무 중요한 역할도 하지 못하게 했다. 박주영만 있었으면 조금 더 잘 했을 수도  있었을 텐데. 박주영이 앞으로 잘 뛰고 다른 선수를 위해 좋은 패스를 해 주고 이번 시즌에 모나코에서 거의 2 경기당 1 골을 넣어 왔다.

The lineup for the match against the Ivory Coast was as follows:

Lee Woon-Jae

Cha Du-ri          Cho Yong-hyung          Lee Jung-soo          Lee Young-pyo

Park Ji-sung          Kim Jung-woo          Ki Sung-yeung          Lee Chung-yong

Lee Dong-gook          Lee Keun-ho

Substitutions made:

Ahn Jung-hwan for Lee Keun-ho (46)

Kim Nam-il for Lee Dong-gook (46)

Kwak Tae-hwi for Lee Jung-soo (61)

Kim Jae-sung for Ki Sung-Yeung (77)

Unused substitutes:

Jung Sung-ryong, Kim Young-kwang, Kim Dong-jin, Oh Beom-seok, Kim Hung-il, Shin Hyung-min, Kim Bo-kyung, Lee Seung-yeoul

I think the way manager Huh Jung-moo used is substitutions is interesting, especially considering that he changed the formation for the second half. Lee Dong-gook scored an early goal in the first half, when the team was playing in a standard 4-4-2 formation. I think one of the best things about this Korea side is how they can really stretch the opposition by using quick wingers and full backs. Cha Du-ri and Lee Young-pyo get forward very well to help the attack, and the opposition can find this difficult to deal with, especially with Park Ji-sung and Lee Chung-yong playing in front of them as well. I believe this is the formation Huh will want to start with against Greece in their opening game on the 12th of June, and may well choose to play like this again against Nigeria, although I think the formation he used in the second half on Wednesday is more likely to be the one he opts for against the quick, attacking passing style of Argentina.

At the start of the second half, Korea brought on the experienced striker Ahn Jung-hwan for Lee Keun-ho, but also brought on hard-tackling holding midfielder Kim Nam-il for the other striker, Lee Dong-gook. This meant that Ahn was playing up fornt on his own, with Kim Nam-il and Kim Jung-woo anchoring the midfield, Ki Sung-yeung providing the creativity from the middle, and the two wide men, Park and Lee, able to drop back to create a five-man midfield when the opposition were in possession, and also able to go forward to make a front three in support of Ahn.

New Celtic signing Ki Sung-yeung, South Korea's creative spark in the centre

I would also be curious to have seen Kim Dong-jin play at left back, as I don’t think Lee Young-pyo is quite as impressive as he has been in previous years, although Kim has had his own problems. Still, it could have been useful to see how he performs for the national side following his move back to Korea. Lee Seung-yeoul of F.C. Seoul is another player who certainly has the potential to add something to this Korean side, but I think he will have to wait ’til after this World Cup before he gets a run in the national side to really show what he can do. I do think he would be a good partner for Park Chu-young up front, but he needs to improve his goal scoring first. Also, if Lee Dong-gook can maintain this standard of performance, his experience will surely mean he starts up front with Park when Korea play in a 4-4-2 formation. When they play with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation that they did in the second half in London, Park is clearly the outstanding forward in the current Korean squad, so although he naturally prefers to play with a strike partner, he must still be selected to play alone up front when Huh decides such a formation is needed.

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5 Responses to “South Korea – Ivory Coast”

  1. João Diogo Reis said

    Hi Seamus, nice blog!
    I’ve been studying the South Korean team, and I have a few questions, perhaps you can help me with some of them.
    First, what happened in the first (*) game against North Korea?
    *- I mean the first game of the final group stage, I know they were also in the same group in the previous stage
    From the 14 players that South Korea used in that game, only 6 ever played again in the following 7 games.

    Second, this lineup against Ivory Coast will be South Korea’s starting XI in the World Cup?

    Oh Beom Seok played most of the games, did he lost his place in the starting XI?
    And Kim Dong Jin competes for the left back position with Lee Young Pyo, can’t they both play?
    What about Kang Min Soo, did he lost his place in the starting XI? He played 4 of the 5 first games, but then he hasn’t played in the last 3.
    And what about Park Chu Young, is he injured? Will he be selected for the World Cup squad? Did he lost his place to Lee Dong Gook or Ahn Jung Hwan?

    Thanks in advance for the help, and once again nice blog, keep up the good work.

    • Hi there João, thanks for the thoughtful comment! I’ll try and answer them all as well as I can.

      1. What happened in the first group game against North Korea?

      I’m not really sure what you mean by what happened. I didn’t see the game, which ended 1-1, so I can only speculate about some of it, but you have to remember that of the four times the two Koreas played each other in qualification, three of those matches ended in a draw. For whatever reason these matches tend to end in a draw. Also, the match you’re talking about was played in China in front of only 3000 people – not the best atmosphere. You’re obviously correct that the South Koreans didn’t have their best team for that match, although I couldn’t possibly tell you the reasons. They only conceded a goal by giving away a penalty which the North Koreans scored. In the second fixture of the final group round South Korea picked a much stronger team and got the win they were looking for at home in front of nearly 50,000 fans in the World Cup stadium in Seoul.

      2. Will this lineup be the South Korean lineup in the World Cup?

      Well, obviously we need to wait and find out. It’s very difficult to predict something like this, because different players will have different levels of fitness by June, and some might be injured or have other reasons for not playing. If we assume all players are fit and have no injuries, then no, I don’t think this will be their lineup for the World Cup. There are also still 3 more friendlies to be played before the World Cup begins, so I think those might make a difference to who starts when the coaches get the chance to see how the players cope in tougher matches, because they will be tougher: Ecuador have been playing very well the last couple of years, and are a dangerous team. Then they play Japan in japan – it’s a big rivalry and playing in Japan will make it harder. Also, Korea beat Japan recently, so the Japanese team will want revenge. This sort of match will reveal which players can cope best with the pressure. Finally, Korea will have to come all the way to Europe to play Spain – the best team in the world. Trust me, these three matches will decide which players Huh Jung-moo thinks are going to be best in the World Cup environment.

      As for the actual players in this match, yes, I think Oh Beom-seok has now lost his place to Cha Du-ri. Cha was only brought back into the squad late last year, and he hadn’t played for the national team for a long time. But, since he’s come back he seems to be the preferred choice at right back. I think this is because he plays in Europe, and his team, Freiburg, are back in the top division of German football – although they look like they might be relegated again. He’s more powerful and quick than Oh, and I think this is what has made Huh realise he needs him in the team. I agree, I think his pace and power and ability to attack out wide will be needed in the World Cup, especially against the power of Nigeria and the pace of Angel Di Maria who plays on the left wing for Argentina.

      Kim Dong-jin and Lee Young-pyo can both play, and I think they will. It seems these days that Huh can’t make up his mind about who he will select, and they often swap around in games. I’m sure both will play a part in Korea’s games this World Cup.

      As for Kang Min-soo, I don’t think anything’s happened to him, and I’m sure he’ll be on the plane to South Africa. However, of the three central defenders who appeared in this match, two play in Japan, and perhaps Huh has decided this experience of playing abroad is going to be more important in the World Cup. Don’t rule Kang out though.

      Park Chu-young, on the other hand, was injured, as far as I’m aware. He’s back now though, which is very important for him. He’s improved a lot for Monaco this season, and his scoring ratio is about a goal just under every three games. He also has three assists. Luckily for Monaco they have another excellent goal-scoring striker, Nene, so some of the pressure is off park. He’s still vitally important for them, though, and even more so for the national team. He has not lost his place, and I expect he will play in the next match and all of their World Cup matches, probably alongside Lee Keun-ho, although expect to see the rejuvenated Lee Dong-gook and Ahn Jung-hwan used as well to fit the tactics of the moment.

      Hope this answers your questions!

  2. […] the World Cup campaign, but I take this as an indicator that Kim is now the more likely to start. Following the friendly against the Ivory Coast I commented that I would have liked to have seen Kim in action as Lee played the whole of that match. Well, now […]

  3. […] performance against Spain I would say he’s probably tempted to go with Kim Jung-woo, who was also key to the victory over the Ivory Coast back in March. He’s also competing with the experienced holding midfielder Kim Nam-il – […]

  4. sajid ch said

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