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South Korea Looks to Rebound Against Romania

South Korea will have some work to do ahead of their second Group B match against Romania on Sunday following a surprising 1-0 opening loss to New Zealand which saw them create several chances to score but fail to find the back of the net.  Chris Wood was the man of the hour for the OlyWhites, netting the only goal of the contest with a quarter of an hour remaining to secure an important three points.  Kim Hak-bum will have to re-consider his lineup options and add tactical focus if Korea has a chance of turning things around and staying in the conversation for the knockout stages.
(Photo courtesy of AFC)
 

Match: Romania vs South Korea
Venue: Kashima Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday July 25th, 2021; 20:00 KST

A Need for Adjustments

The Koreans put a lot of effort into their wing play in the first half against New Zealand but it did not produce the desired results.  Photo courtesy of AFC.
South Korea must realize that there is no more time for calculation as they prepare for Romania, who were successful in their opener against Honduras courtesy of an own goal at the end of the first half.  The approach to this match will have to be a more offensive one and the Taeguk Warriors must look to establish a lead in the early stages of the match.  

The lineup selection for the match against New Zealand was too cautious and too defensive - the likes of Song Min-kyu, Lee Dong-jun, and Jeong Seung-won need to play from the first minute for Korea to have a better tempo about their play.  .Lee Dong-gyeong also came from the bench in the loss but his status as the tournament moves forward could be up in the air following a bad show of sportsmanship at the final whistle when he looked to refuse to shake hands with Chris Wood.  Such a move has been described by many in the home media as being very disrespectful, with calls for him to be excluded from the team for the remainder of the tournament, regardless of how far Korea advances.


Seniors Need to Step Up

Hwang Ui-jo did not have the best of performances against New Zealand, so will it mean a change at the head of the attack?  That remains to be seen but he must realize that as one of the senior call-ups to the team, there is a particular emphasis for him to be a leading figure, and the best way for him to do that is to convert his chances in front of goal.  He needs to find his confidence and emerge as a match winner for his country.  Kwon Chang-hoon is another of the seniors of whom much is expected and he will also have to raise the level of his play if Korea has intentions of getting out of the group.

The wing play for Korea was active against New Zealand with Eom Won-sang being the team's most dangerous player in the final third, while Kang Yoon-sung could have put a few assists in his locker had the finishing been better.  Both will continue to be important pieces in the coming matches.


Impressions

Korea need to find their scoring touch against Romania.  Photo courtesy of AFC
Kim Hak-bum was particularly fierce in his criticism of his players following the match saying that there were not many things they did well.

"I told the players to look for open space up the middle and make passes in that direction, but they couldn't execute that at all," the coach said

"The guys had to be more aggressive. I think they were too wound up because this was the first match. We should address that but this is only one match. We'll be fine in later matches."

Lee Kang-in was regretful in his assessment of the performance.

"In football, you can win some and you can lose some. I'll have to forget about this one and get ready for the next one," Lee said. 

"I don't have much else to say, other than that we'll try to win the next one."

The loss to New Zealand was only South Korea's third in the group stage at the Olympics in the past two decades.  If that isn't enough motivation for them to turn their fortunes around, it could be a long trip home thinking of what could have been.

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