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The #KLeagueFM18 Challenges: The Road to Russia [Korea vs Argentina]

The K League Football Manager 2018 Challenges: South Korea's Road to Russia [vs Argentina]

After an underwhelming display and deserved defeat in their World Cup Finals opener against Croatia, Matthew Binns' K League-only South Korea squad most likely need to win their remaining two fixtures to progress to the knockout stages. The only issue is that they face world number 1 side Argentina in their next encounter.

The Challenge: The Road to Russia! Lead the Korean team to the 2018 World Cup and then put in a respectable performance. However, only players plying their trade in the K League can be called upon to represent their country.

"Unlock the door! We have a match to get to!"

Assistant manager and reluctant roommate Lee Hyung-ik has been trying to get into the bathroom in our hotel room for over an hour now, but I am refusing to open the door knowing the fate that awaits me. I know as soon I head out of this Novgorod-based AirBnB, I start the walk towards my eventual sacking.

We should have done better against Croatia, but we were predictably overrun and could not prevent them from clocking up an unassailable two goal lead. To make matters worse, the K League's top striker and the spearhead of my attack, Kim Shin-wook pulled up with an ailment in injury time, tearing a calf muscle in a bid to sprint.

I am left with two choices to replace him, Lee Jong-ho and Shin Dong-woon. Shim has served me well in the past, and also does not have an annoying tiger celebration that he insists on doing when he scores, but Lee Jong-ho has been in form for Ulsan Hyundai and merits his inclusion in the World Cup squad.

There is some semi-fortunate news as a reluctant Ryan Walters returns to the dugout having tried to resign in the post match press conference after the Croatia debacle, but fellow assistant Paul Neat looks set to remain in custody having exceeded his duty free limits and neglected to declare them to the authorities upon entry to the country.

Eventually I am coaxed out of the bathroom by Lee, more so out of hunger than being convinced. I let him have his victory though, pretending that I had been sobbing uncontrollably when actually I had just splashed water on my face and poked myself in the eyes until they were swollen. Though when he points at the pools of vomit on the floor, I quickly head out the door and to the lobby to meet my team, avoiding his questions. After all, it is this kind of unorthodox man management that has seen us defy the odds to be here in the first place.

The last time Korea faced Argentina at a World Cup was eight years ago, where they came spectacularly unstuck, losing 4-1 in Johannesburg, South Africa. That day, a Higuain hat trick and a Park Chu-young own goal sealed the Koreans fate, whilst a fresher faced Lionel Messi tormented 'The Red Devils' for most of the match.

Worryingly, that Korean squad still had considerable talent amongst its ranks, whilst Argentina had the disadvantage of being helmed by Diego Maradona: the managerial version. This time, the South American nation come into this tournament ranked first in the world and favourites to lift the trophy, whereas we were given the longest odds of claiming the coveted silverware.

This iteration of the Argentinian side still sees the likes of Higuain and Messi, as well as Sergio Aguero who put the USA to the sword with assists from both the latter two, but before the celebrations, there was a sense of anxiousness as America took the lead after five minutes thanks to a defensive mishap.

The South American side have been deploying a 3-1-4-2 formation, and are apparently the leakiest they have been in a long while, yet have offset this issue with brilliant attacking displays. Both Aguero goals were well worked and, if it were not for some strong goalkeeping, they could have run riot against the States.

In terms of playing style, they play a high tempo brand of short passes along the deck, retaining possession and pulling apart defences. They play a very high line and the scout reports suggest they will not be changing that on account for Shin Hyung-min and company.

Despite this semi-insightful information, I'm pretty much stumped tactically. We need to score and win but I fear we will be so pegged back by Argentina's swathes of attacking talent, that we may only get the one half chance if we are lucky. With no Kim Shin-wook to convert it though, there's a probable chance it will be missed. Even with 'The Wookie' those chances would already be high.

It is tempting to keep to our previous winning formula, but it did not help us against Croatia and Argentina would sure be more ruthless if they were given the same chances. Furthermore, Argentina will be expecting us to play in that style so it might be wise to vary it slightly.

Still, there is that part of me that thinks there is something to be said about catching them off guard by attacking early. I have admittedly left it too late seeing as we are now on the coach to the stadium, but there's still a good twenty minutes or so until we arrive, thirty if there's traffic. Oh, I do hope there is traffic.

There isn't however, and as the stadium looms into sight, casting it's shadow over the coach and plunging us into darkness. I have to make my decision. Get it right, and I survive for another few days, but get it wrong and I face the sack.

Lee Hyung-ik looks at me from across the aisle and mouths, "What's the plan, boss?".

I glance back at the squad, lean over and tell him, "Here's what we are going to do..."

Alternatively, you can watch the video by clicking here.

Fancy trying your own #KLeagueFM18 adventure? See what ten K League specific challenges we suggest and register your best efforts by clicking here.

This piece draws it's form and inspiration from the FM Project by The Set Pieces. You can read their latest series here.

Gaming on K League United is proudly sponsored by Retro Game Bar in Hongdae, Seoul. Make sure you follow them on Facebook and Twitter

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