Asian Cup roster will get final tweaks

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Asian Cup roster will get final tweaks

ABU DHABI, U.A.E. - With the opening day of the 2011 Qatar Asian Cup less than a week away, national team manager Cho Kwang-rae is ready to make final tweaks to his roster.

After a lackluster 1-0 win over Syria on Thursday night, Cho is currently focusing on finding the right combination of formations and players and is ready to ditch the idea of putting captain Park Ji-sung in the secondary forward position.

“We tested several different positions in the game against Syria,” Cho said on Dec. 31, a day after the international friendly against the Middle Eastern team. “We now have a clear idea of how to best utilize several players we were unclear about leading up to the game.”

Cho substituted five players in the game, tested Park in a forward position and went with a four-man defensive unit.

Park, who normally plays the left wing position, was shifted to the secondary forward position, replacing an injured Park Chu-young, against Syria.

But when it became clear that Park wasn’t coping well with the opposing team’s defense, which focused heavily on containing him, Cho decided to shift Park back to his left wing position just 25 minutes into the game.

“We believe Ji-sung will be a bigger help to the team by providing balance to our attack from the left wing position,” said Cho.

Park is not solely to blame for his ineffectiveness in the forward position. Kim Shin-wook, who started in the forward position, lacked movement up front and looked sluggish. Cho made the decision to start Kim on Thursday due to his size and presence in set-piece plays but Kim ended up slowing down the entire offense.

It’s normal for forwards to switch positions and cover various areas in the other team’s defensive zone throughout the game. Kim’s limited movement prevented Korea from being creative in the opposing zone, and at the same time, made it easier for Syria to lock in on Korean forwards.

Cho is already considering several young candidates to fill the role of the secondary forward.

“Kim Bo-kyung can play the position, and looking at the Syria game, Son Heung-min and Ji Dong-won can also perform well in that position,” Cho said.

Cho substituted Son and Ji into the game in the second half and Korea’s attack improved noticeably.

With Ji and Son up front, and Park and Lee Chung-yong providing support from the wing positions, Korea was able to create several quality chances in the second half. Ji and Son covered a lot of ground and switched positions, and the Syrian defense had problems keeping up with the changes.

“Having watched Shin-wook in a starting role against Syria, I came to the realization that he is better suited in a supporting role off the bench,” said Cho. “If Ji is fit enough to play more than 70 minutes per game, he’s capable of taking on the starting role.”

Aside from the substitute forwards, defensive midfielder Lee Yong-rae had a successful international debut with the national team. Lee was selected for his ability to play both the defensive midfield and left fullback positions. In Thursday’s game, Lee played opposite Ki Sung-yeung in the defensive midfield position. He had been competing against Koo Ja-cheol and Yoon Bitgaram in training camps but his performance on Thursday earned high praise from Cho.

“I would give him a grade of 80 to 90 out of a 100,” said Cho. “He played exceptionally well.

“It will be tough to play the entire tourney with Lee Young-pyo at left fullback. Conditioning is one thing but injuries and warnings can happen to defenders, among other unexpected things. If the need arises, I will play Yong-rae in place of Young-pyo in the left fullback position.”


By Kim Jong-ryok [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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