Lackluster play by Koreans in loss to Iran

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Lackluster play by Koreans in loss to Iran

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Park Ji-sung, left, and Ki Sung-yueng react after allowing a goal to Iran in a friendly match on Tuesday night at Seoul World Cup Stadium. [YONHAP]


The national football team’s backbone on the midfield looked lackluster and its attack featuring Park Chu-young failed to capitalize on the few chances it had in a 1-0 loss to Iran at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Tuesday night.

In his second match since taking over the reins of the national team, manager Cho Kwang-rae tested a new attack strategy featuring Park Chu-young as the lone forward and midfielders Park Ji-sung and Lee Chung-yong as offensive midfielders supporting the first line of attack.

At the core of Cho’s offense is a speedy midfield that creates chances for its forwards using quick and accurate passing along the attack routes up either wing positions.

With the midfielders failing to live up to their expectations, Korea’s attack as a whole suffered.

“It’s regrettable that we weren’t able to perform well but the poor ground conditions made it difficult to play our game,” said Cho at a post-match press conference. “We will prepare for the Asian Cup with two systems. I think our players are halfway there. We failed to score but our attacks up the right wing worked well.

“We will continue to prepare for the Asian Cup using the attack pattern used in today’s game and that we used against Nigeria [Aug. 11].”

Iran’s manager Afshin Ghotbi - who served as a video analyst and assistant coach on the Korean national team under three different managers - seemed well prepared to counter Cho’s strategies.

“Korea often uses both of their wingers in their attacks,” Ghotbi said. “We attempted to take advantage of that style of play.

“Korea must create more chances and in order to do that, they need to find a capable forward. In addition, some players shifted from their positions without any clear reasons, wasting their energy in the process. When Korea was in attack mode, it left big holes on defense.”

In response, Cho said Korea was in need of capable forwards to round out its attack but is willing to wait to select the right combination of players.

“I’m always open to selecting new players,” Cho said. “I have selected Lee Seung-yeol and several other forwards. I would like for them to work harder and improve their play with their respective clubs. They need to continue to assess their weaknesses and attempt to improve their game.”

With the center midfielders like Yoon Bitgaram and Ki Sung-yueng failing to play up to their capabilities in the first half and with Kim Jung-woo and Kim Do-heon equally disappointing in the second half, the defense looked shaky at times as well.

With Park Ji-sung and Lee Chung-yong shifted to the center area from their usual wing positions, Lee Young-pyo and Choi Hyo-jin were used in their place to jump in on the team’s attack on several overlapping plays.

But when the physical Iranian squad pressed the wing and defense areas, it created holes in the Korean team’s defense.

With one final tune-up match before the Asian Cup tourney remaining against Japan on Oct. 12, Cho seemed satisfied with the progress of his three-back defensive line.

“Our midfield and defense did not play out of position in the first half,” Cho said. “But Kim Do-heon and Kim Jung-woo have not participated in many of my practices. I don’t think they have a clear understanding of my system yet. When the spacing between the two players widened, it created chances for the opposing team.”


By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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