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scouting

WCQ: Korea rejoin road to Qatar against Turkmenistan

South Korea return to World Cup Qualifying after a 19-month hiatus as they host three games in a hectic eight-day spell in Goyang. With North Korea's results declared null and void in Group H, victory against Turkmenistan on Saturday would go a long way to ensuring Paulo Bento's side can top the now four-team group. Peter Hampshire looks at the threats Korea could face from Turkmenistan under the new leadership of Röwşen Muhadow and delves into Korea's pressing conundrum. 
(Image via the-afc.com)

Lessons from Ashgabat 

Paulo Bento's first taste of World Cup Qualification came in Ashgabat at the Köpetdag as his side ran out two-goal winners thanks to goals from Na Sang-ho and a 30-yard Jung Woo-young free kick. Korea enjoyed success with crosses into the box from Lee Yong, who looks set to fight for his place with K League rival Kim Tae-hwan this time out. With Kim Jin-su absent through injury at left back, Kang Sang-woo could be rewarded for his fine form at Pohang Steelers should he be deemed above Hong Chul in the pecking order.
Image via the-afc.com
Bento opted for a starting eleven full of experience in the away fixture and despite naming a squad boasting some impressive young talent last week, may play safe options with the game against Sri Lanka in mind on Wednesday. The Taeguk Warriors did look susceptible to the break in Ashgabat, with Wahyt Orazsahedow testing the palms of Kim Seung-gyu on the counter-attack. Korea will take on Turkmenistan on Saturday June 5th at 8pm in Goyang.

[LISTEN: 
K League United Podcast]

Korea's Pressing Intensity

Looking into the stats of pressing intensity through PPDA data, which analyses the extent and aggression of teams pressing through WCQ's so far, Korea stick out like Kim Shin-wook in a kindergarten. They possess the lowest PPDA rating from all eight groups at 4.04, which is understandable considering how much possession they have controlled through their previous match. While Kwon Kyung-won may be pleased to hear he is the second most accurate passer in Asian WCQ, such PPDA data suggests a lot of his passes have been simple balls across the back line.

PPDA against Korea is where it gets interesting as their data is exaggerated in comparison to other teams in Asian WCQ who are dominating their games. With PPD against at 40.87 for Korea this suggests that the rest of Group H are seriously attempting to get in the faces of Paulo Bento's side. Australia sit second by the metric on 26.21, while Japan, who cruised through Group F with six straight wins come out at 20.58. 
Group H standings following North Korea's withdrawal (via the-afc.com)


Turkmenistan's Triple A Chargers

While he was forced to settle for a place on the bench against Korea in the return fixture, Altymyrat Annadurdyýew will surely be on Bento's radar as the most successful dribbler in Asian World Cup Qualifying with an incredible 87% success rate. For contrast, Korea don’t have one player in the top 30 for dribbling success. With the hosts likely to dominate possession, the 28-year-old's command of the ball could be vital.
Altymyrat Annadurdyýew in action. Photo courtesy of the-AFC.com

Another man Turkmen boss Muhadow may look to for having the guile to push Turkmenistan up the pitch is Arslanmyrat Amanow, third for assists in WCQ and first for 1v1 dribbling in all eight groups. At the other end of the pitch is Serdar Annaorazow, Turkmenistan's best defender in terms of aerial duel success (13th in WCQ). He will have to be at his best to deny a forward line that is expected to comprise of Hwang Ui-jo, Son Heung-min and Lee Jae-sung.

Paulo Bento's Squad

Here is the squad that Bento has selected for these World Cup Qualifiers. With the Olympics squad friendlies running parallel to this, some players such as Lee Kang-in, Lee Dong-jun and Song Bum-keun may be pushing for spots in the future.
via KFA Twitter

FNR

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