[Recent News][6]

K League 1
K League 2
FC Seoul
Korean National Football Team
Seoul E-Land
FA Cup
K-League Classic
Pohang Steelers
K League Challenge
Suwon Bluewings
Seongnam FC
Bucheon 1995
Suwon FC
Daejeon Citizen
Football Manager
From The Stands
K League Classic
Busan IPark
World Cup
Korean national team
Elimination Game
Asian Cup
KNT Women
K League All Star Game
Chungbuk Cheongju
Russia 2018
East Asia Cup
Qatar 2022
Power Rankings
Away Days
Club World Cup
Busan Transport
Inter Korea
North Korea
Ulsan Citizen
Yangpyeong FC
Asian Games
Chiangrai United
Cho Hyun-woo
Final A
Final B
Final Round
Goyang Citizen
Mokpo City
National League
Russia 2020
Winners Circle

Preview: South Korea vs Lebanon

South Korea travel to Lebanon for their fourth match on the road to Qatar 2022. With both teams having dropped points to North Korea already, a defeat for either side could be a serious set-back to their respective World Cup qualification campaigns. K League United’s Korean national team correspondent Steve Price talks to @FALebanon about the match. 

Last Time Out

South Korea sit at the top of Group H on goal difference after their goalless draw away to North Korea in the previous international break. The match, played on artificial turf in an empty stadium, wasn’t televised, but based on the highlights provided by the KFA, fans didn’t miss too much. Both sides had a few half chances in a match that like most derbies was quite a physical game with some confrontations between the rival players. South Korea captain Son Heung-min said that “It’s a huge achievement just to return safely without being injured.” On returning to Korea, head coach Paulo Bento told Yonhap News that ”It wasn’t a good match at all. We didn’t execute what we had prepared,” particularly in the first half.

Lebanon bounced back from a 2-0 defeat to North Korea with wins against Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka in the latest round of matches. Lebanon opened the scoring early on against Turkmenistan through Hilal El-Helwe. Turkmenistan equalized on 63 minutes but Nader Matar restored Lebanon’s lead just a minute later and they went on to win 2-1. Lebanon then traveled to Sri Lanka and came away with a 3-0 win courtesy of two goals from the penalty spot.

Previous Meetings

South Korea and Lebanon were in the same group for this stage of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. The Taeguk Warriors came back from the Mediterranean coast with a comfortable 3-0 win through a Jang Hyun-soo penalty, an own goal, and a goal from then Suwon Bluewings prospect Kwon Chang-hoon. Uli Stielike’s men made much harder work of the home match against Lebanon, relying on a Lee Jeong-hyup goal deep into injury time to earn them a 1-0 win.

Team News

Paulo Bento has named an almost unchanged squad for this international break. The only real change is Ju Se-jong’s return to the squad in place of Paik Seung-ho. Paik is certainly part of Bento’s long term plans but an experienced head might be what’s needed to see this match through. After this game, Korea have three home fixtures and an away trip to Sri Lanka, so a win away at Lebanon will give Bento a bit more breathing room to bring younger players through.

Korea are basing themselves in the United Arab Emirates ahead of this match. Paik Seung-ho is also heading the UAE, but instead of being with the full national team, he will be with the U-22s who are playing a tournament in Dubai as part of their preparations for the AFC U-23 Championship in January, where Korea must reach at least the semi-finals if they want a shot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Defender Park Ji-soo picked up an ankle injury in training and has been replaced by Jeong Seung-hyun.

Writers’ Chat: Steve asks, FA Lebanon answers

Steve Price: Lebanon had a shock defeat to North Korea earlier in qualification. How do you rate Lebanon’s chances of reaching the next round?

FA Lebanon: The defeat to North Korea has been accepted as a consequence of the difficult conditions that the players faced there and the team has moved on. The two successive wins against Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka have seen the confidence and momentum return and there are still high hopes of reaching the third round.
Captain Hassan Maatouk promised the fans, after the win against Turkmenistan, that the Cedars will beat South Korea.

SP: Who are Lebanon’s key players, who should fans keep an eye on?

FAL: Hassan Maatouk is the captain and has been the talisman of this team for a while, but his performance level has dropped recently. The hope is that now that he has finally broken the all-time goalscoring record some pressure will be off him.
Under coach Liviu Ciobatoriu however, Mohamad Haidar has been the best performer and is at the heart of everything good Lebanon do going forward.
Hilal El-Helwe (SV Meppen, 3.Liga) scored three in his last two games with Lebanon and recently opened his club account for the season and is entering the game in good goalscoring form.
The return of Bassel Jradi (Hadjuk Split, 1. HNL)  definitely the biggest story however as he has been a seen by some observes as a "troublemaker" throughout his brief time with the national team and divides opinion among the players but can be a top player on his day. 
Goalkeeper Mahdi Khalil has been in terrific form over the last year and just won the MVP award for this year’s AFC Cup, having kept 9 clean sheets in 11 games and conceded only 3 goals. 
Due to the current protests, the last Lebanese League game was played on October 6.  Local players except (AFC Cup winners) Ahed’s might not be physically ready, so we will really need a huge contribution from the players of the diaspora. 

SP: How  are Lebanon likely to approach the game? Will they play defensively or look to win the game in front of their home fans?

FAL: We have gotten used to seeing Lebanon line up in a very defensive manner in these types of games but since Liviu Ciobotariu has arrived, Lebanon have approached games with an attacking mentality and style of play, so I do not expect him to completely abandon this. Even if he decides to set the team up to defend deep, he will commit players on the counter-attack and will look to win the game. However, this new approach under the new coach has seen Lebanon become vulnerable defensively and the goalscoring problems that were there under the previous coach remain, and there will need to be solutions to these issues in order for a positive result to be achieved. 
Lebanon looks forward to win. Lebanese players and fans still remember the win against the Republic of Korea in 2011. Lebanon has been undefeated in Beirut since 2014. But the main priority might be to gain at least one point. 

SP: With the recent protests in Lebanon, is there a chance of this match being relocated to a neutral country? What are Lebanon's home matches usually like in terms of the atmosphere, pitch etc.?

FAL: No it won't be relocated. FIFA asked Iraq to choose a neutral venue for their next games, but they didn't ask Lebanon. The protests in Lebanon are peaceful.
In Beirut, Lebanon's home matches atmosphere is really good. 
The pitch is a natural grass pitch but is poorly maintained and its dryness makes it a difficult surface to play on as the ball is slowed down a lot. This will definitely affect South Korea’s performance, just as it will Lebanon’s as it makes it difficult to keep possession and move the ball around quickly.


Ryan Walters is joined by Steve Price in studio and Peter Hampshire on the line to discuss the KNT's matches against Lebanon and Brazil as well as the FA Cup Final.

FA Lebanon asks, Steve answers

FA Lebanon: Lebanese Fans really love Son Heung Min. Do you think he will start? 

Steve Price: Lebanese fans might love Son, but not as much as Paulo Bento does. If Son Heung-min is fit, he’ll play 90 minutes against Lebanon. He’ll probably start in the friendly against Brazil too.

FAL: Coach Bento said that his selection was made for Lebanon. What can be his tactical approach? 

SP: Bento’s comments seem to be referring to selecting the more experienced Ju Se-jong rather than Paik Seung-ho, which shows how important this game is. Tactically, the approach will be the same, attacking, but with players well positioned to prevent the transition so that the opponent can’t counter-attack. Korea will try and play it out from the back if allowed, but will mix up their attacks and try and play it in behind Lebanon if they play a high line.  

FAL: How do the South Koreans see Lebanon and is the 2011 defeat still in their mind?

SP: 2011 is a long time ago and Korea have played Lebanon a few times since then, but they are a team that have been tricky to beat in the past, and that 2011 match has been referenced in the local media (referred to as 'Lebanon shock') ahead of this game. This is probably the key fixture in this qualifying group. 

FAL: KFA sacked Cho Kwang-rae after the loss in Beirut in the 2014 World Cup qualifying. Can it happen to Bento in case of a draw or a loss?

SP: The pressure will certainly increase should Korea fail to win, but Bento’s performances have been better than many previous coaches and unless there are underlying problems, it is unlikely that the KFA would sack him based on the result of any one match. After all, if you sack the coach, you have to find a replacement who would do better. Once this match is out of the way, three of the four remaining games for Korea are at home, so a draw wouldn’t be a disaster, but a loss would mean there is no margin for error in their final four games.

South Korea play Lebanon in Beirut on Thursday at 10 p.m. Korean time

No comments:

Post a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search