South Korea's Manager Checks European Based Players Ahead of World Cup

Shin Tae-Yong, the South Korean national team manager took a two week trip to Europe to check on European based players in France and England as he starts to think about his World Cup squad selection. He checked on Troyes striker Suk Hyun-Jun, Swansea’s Ki Sung-yueng, Tottenham’s Son Heung-min and Crystal Palace’s Lee Chung-Yong.

Shin had some interesting comments from his discussions with Son’s manager Mauricio Pochettino, he told Shin that, “Son normally plays as a winger but he (Pochettino) thinks Son can do well as a lone striker or in a front two.” There is no doubt that Son will be one of the first names on the South Korean team sheet in Russia, and considering his current Spurs form he will carry the majority of Korea’s hopes as the nation will be looking at him as a player who is capable of dragging them into the last 16.

When Shin spoke about Ki and Lee, he mentioned that Ki was in a ‘good condition’ at Swansea and Lee has said he wants to go to the World Cup. Shin has however pointed out that Lee’s situation is a lot more precarious than Ki’s. While Ki hasn’t been playing at Swansea because he’s been injured, Lee, on the other hand, is out of favour, out of the squad, and completely out of contention at Crystal Palace. Shin has said Lee’s situation has to change if he has any chance of going to Russia, be that a transfer away from Crystal Palace or a loan. So as things stand it’s looking ominous for Lee unless he moves away from Palace if you read into Shin’s comments but Ki seems to have one foot in Russia.  

Suk’s place doesn’t seem assured either, and this may be in some part down to the performances of South Korea in the East Asian Championships recently where they had no problems scoring goals. This is in contrast to their World Cup qualifying campaign where goals were difficult to come by as they stumbled over the qualifying line in Uzbekistan at their host’s expense. It could be argued that the opposition was stronger in qualifying, but are the likes of Syria really a stronger opponent than China and North Korea? The performances of Kim Shinwook, in particular, could be troublesome for Suk as he really excelled during the East Asia Championship and has been mentioned regularly by Shin.

Grouped with Germany, Mexico and Sweden in the World Cup, Shin has already stated that he considers Koreas opponents to have superior ability insisting the team will be selected based on the player's ability to run more than the opposition.  Run and outwork the other teams seems to be the plan Shin has in mind, and it’s not such a bad idea as many a lower league side has defeated a ‘bigger’ club with this mentality.  

In the end, whoever Shin picks, if Korea manages to brush off their underdog tags and battle their way through the group by ‘outfighting’ the illustrious nations they’ve been paired with; then the whole squad will rightly go down as legends.

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