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scouting

Daehanminkyu? Should Joo-mes be in Uli's squad?

Half-jokingly I started the Twitter hashtag #daehanminkyu a couple of weeks ago on the back of a good performance against Chungju that saw him move up to joint top scorer in the K-League Challenge alongside Brazilians Jonathan (Daegu) and Japa (Suwon).

Since then he's played another three games, all of which SEFC have won, scored 5 goals, including a hat-trick against Bucheon, and been Man of the Match twice. He's now scored 11 league goals in 11 league games - not to mention one in the FA Cup against Ulsan. The idea of him being tried out in Stielike's squad doesn't seem quite so far-fetched now.

Of course, Uli has already announced his squad for the upcoming UAE friendly and opening qualifier away to Myanmar and decided to overlook the K-League's top scorer by a country mile. Was he right to do so? It's hard to argue that he was.

The Korean team has been crying out for someone to lead the line since Park Chu-young quit football and decided to join Arsenal. A variety of options have been tried out and failed to really establish themselves, while age has caught up with others such as Lee Dong-gook. With talent thin on the ground - thanks in no small part to the tendency of K-League sides to fill their attacking places with Brazilians - surely any Korean option that is scoring goals regularly should be looked at seriously?

Some will argue that Stielike has done that by re-calling Yeom Ki-hoon of Suwon but, at 32, surely Yeom will not be making the trip to Russia in 2018 for the World Cup and is more of a step backwards than forwards?

Elsewhere Stielike has stuck with his man Lee Jung-hyup (now at Sangju) who looked reasonably capable during the Asian Cup in Australia but has struggled to find goalscoring form in the K-League Challenge this season. His hat-trick against Gyeongnam means he now has 6 for the season but at the time of selection he had only scored 3 in 9 matches. The fact that Lee is considered good enough for the squad while playing in the Challenge league also eliminates the argument that players from the second tier of Korea shouldn't be considered for the national team.

Stielike's other selection - Lee Yong-jae of J2 side V-Varen Nagasaki - is an even more left-field one. Yes, Lee has an impressive CV with spells at Nantes, Red Star and a youth international track record but that's largely history.  Nor has Lee ever been a particularly prolific scorer, his best season yet seems to be a half dozen bagged in the lower reaches of French football. Even at J2 level he's only managed 4 goals this season.

It has to be asked then on what logic does Stielike see Lee Yong-jae as a better option than Joo Min-kyu? I'm sure Seongnam fans will also be asking the same about Hwang Ui-jo, another exclusion that makes me wonder about Uli's selections.

By any measure Min-kyu has been the breakout player in the K-League Challenge this year and Martin Rennie has worked wonders with a guy who up until now had seemed destined for a middle-of-the-road career in the lower reaches of the K-League.

He's demonstrated a level of skill and ability that perhaps few imagined he had in him and, watching him play, it's pretty obvious that he is capable of playing at a higher level (and hopefully will be next season when and if E-Land make it to the Classic). His wonder strike that earned him the nickname Joo-mes is just one of a handful of top class goals Joo has managed this season.

At 25, he still has time to improve and under Martin Rennie it looks like he might just go from strength to strength. With the East Asian Cup approaching in August (for which only players in Korea, Japan and China will be eligible) surely Uli Stielike should take another look at Min-kyu?

What do you reckon? Is Joo-mes good enough for the Korean NT? Check out his goals below and share your thoughts in the comment section.



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