Hong Myung-bo finds critical piece in Kim Shin-wook

November 20, 2013
orean national football team winger Son Heung-min, left, and striker Kim Shin-wook pass each other during a friendly against Russia at Zabeel Stadium in Dubai, Wednesday (KST). Korea lost 2-1. / Yonhap

Korean national football team winger Son Heung-min, left, and striker Kim Shin-wook pass each other during a friendly against Russia at Zabeel Stadium in Dubai, Wednesday (KST). Korea lost 2-1. (Yonhap)

 

Manager Hong Myung-bo watches his players before the start of the game. / Yonhap

Manager Hong Myung-bo watches his players before the start of the game. (Yonhap)

The Korean national soccer team has finished its international friendly schedule for 2013 with a 2-1 loss to Russia in Dubai. However, Hong Myung-bo, who replaced a hapless Choi Kang-hee as manager in June, did not come away empty handed.

At Zabeel Stadium, towering forward Kim Shin-wook, Hong’s newest experiment at lone striker, scored from close range in the sixth minute to give Korea an early lead. However, the Taeguk Warriors failed to defend the lead and conceded consecutive goals to Russia’s Fedor Smolov and Dmitry Tarasov, as their goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong once again did not look very sharp.

The defeat has led to an avalanche of criticism on the Internet, as the Russian side had fielded only two regular starters for that match. However, Hong appears to have finally found the critical pieces he had been looking for.

Korea dominated the possession battle in the first part of the game, with Kim finally providing a frontline presence, and Lee Chung-yong and Son Heung-min threatening from the wings.

The team was less impressive, however, after Hong replaced some of his starters to test the depth of his bench. Luck was not on the Koreans’ side either, as GK Jung allowed Smolov’s dribbler to get behind him to make it 1-1.

With Hong in charge, Korea has won three, lost four, and drew three games, while scoring 12 goals and conceding 11. Three losses came against tough opponents in Croatia, Brazil and Russia, and last week’s win against Switzerland in Seoul was a confidence-booster.

For the past five months, lack of sure-fire striker appeared to be the most glaring weakness for the Korean squad. However, the 6′ 6″ forward Kim has meshed well with support attackers like Lee and Son to show promise.

Hong’s defense also seems to be coming around, anchored by the center-back axis of Hong Jeong-ho and Kim Young-gwon.

The biggest concern for Korea at this point appears to be the goalkeeper position, as Jung is in danger of losing the job he has held since 2010 to Ulsan Hyundai’s Kim Seung-gyu.

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