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Preview: South Korea vs Colombia

International Friendly Preview: Republic of Korea vs Colombia

South Korea go into their friendly against Colombia in Seoul on Tuesday night following their 1-0 win against Bolivia at the weekend.  A host of new names have come into the side after their disappointment at the Asian Cup and the retirements of both Ki Sung-yueng and Koo Ja-cheol.  In particular, Kwon Chang-hoon stood out with his performance in his long awaited return to the squad following an extended layoff because of an Achilles tendon rupture, while Kim Moon-hwan and Ju Se-jong played key roles as well.  KLU's Branko Belan previews the fixture. 
(image via Dailian News)

Match: South Korea vs Colombia
Venue: Seoul World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Tuesday March 26th, 2019; 20:00 KST

Last Time Out

South Korea 1-0 Bolivia

Paulo Bento had a little something different in mind when deciding on his formation for the match, with Ju Se-jong taking over as the anchor in midfield and Son Heung-min partnering up top with Ji Dong-won in a 4-1-3-2 formation.  Despite having a lion's share of the possession in the opening half, the same problem which led to their early exit at the Asian Cup - their inability to finish in front of goal, reared its head once again. Ji came close with a header and then Son spurned a pair of chances that both should have resulted in goals when he shot directly at Bolivian 'keeper Ruben Cordano with just over half an hour gone, and then pushed his shot wide of the post after dispossessing Raul Castro later in the half.

After the break, Korea's lethargic display in front of goal continued, as a host of players missed chance after chance to put the home side in the lead.  The deadlock wasn't broken until the 86th minute when Hong Chul crossed in from the left for second-half substitute Lee Chung-yong to head home from just outside the six-yard box.  It would be enough to earn the victory but if Korea wish to put on a better performance against their South American counterparts on Tuesday night, they can't calculate in attacking positions as much as they did on Friday night.

Highlights: here 

Japan 0-1 Colombia

A 64th-minute penalty strike from Radamel Falcao was enough for Colombia to emerge victorious at the International Stadium in Yokohama on Friday night.  They had a good chunk of possession but could not make it count as much as they would have liked as both teams ended the match with only three shots on target apiece.  

Neither team was able to go into the lead in the first half, although both had their chances.  Ritsu Doan and Musashi Suzuki came the closest to scoring for the Samurai Blue, but the teams would ultimately head to the break goalless.

Little would change after the re-start until Colombia were awarded a penalty just after the hour mark after it looked as though a Japanese defender got a hand to the ball. Falcao stepped up and converted from the spot, despite Maasaki Higashiguchi guessing the right way, but it deflected off his hand and ended up in the back of the net.

Japan continued to press forward in search of a late equalizer, but the Colombian back line stood strong, and Los Cafeteros held on for the win.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The last time these two sides met was in November, 2017 in a friendly as both teams were preparing for the World Cup in Russia.  It was then manager Shin Tae-yong's first win in charge of the Korean national team, and Son Heung-min scored a brace, while Cristian Zapata netted a consolation goal in the 76th minute following a James Rodriguez corner.

South Korea Team News

It seems that Paulo Bento has found the successor to Ki Sung-yueng in the midfield in Asan Mugunghwa's Ju Se-jong.  Speaking of his performance following the Bolivia match, he said:

“His passing ability is solid. He swings plays from wing to wing impressively. His performances have been positive. Even if Jung Woo-young remained fit, I would’ve chosen Ju to start today.  I’ve been well aware of his ability to add width to the game with his cross-field passing.  After analyzing Bolivia, I planned on using our full-backs and wingers in wide areas to create chances.  Ju was the player designated to enable that.” according to Steve Han.

To be sure, Ju was Korea's most accurate passer in the match as well, as he had more accurate passes penetrating opposing players (seven; Kim Min-jae was next with four) and more accurate cross-field passes than any other Korean player, with six (only Kim Min-jae and Hwang In-beom had more than one each).

How much Bento plans to change the side for the match against Colombia remains to be seen, but one player he will not be able to count on is Ji Dong-won, who, as it was reported in the Korean media, has returned to Augsburg because of an apparent injury.  He had complained of soreness in his left knee after the match on Friday and will not be able to participate, which means that Hwang Ui-jo will step in to take his place.

Kim Min-jae also trained separately from the team and his status as a member of the starting eleven is in question.  If he is indeed unable to go, then Kim Young-gwon and Kwon Kyung-won will start as the pairing in central defence.  Bento should be able to count on the rest of the squad to be ready.

Another player who hopes to earn a place in the starting eleven is Lee Jae-sung, who did not start against Bolivia.  He answered questions with reporters and shared his thoughts ahead of the match.

"I wasn't able to compete against Bolivia because so many attacking players were in good form," he said. "I've given more effort to play against Colombia and I expect to play a good game with my teammates tomorrow."

Lee, who was one of the players who played in the last friendly against Colombia, added that he expects a different match in comparison to last time because both teams have different coaches, and so, the tactics and style of play will be different, but that he hopes to play a role and help the team get a win.

Finally, Kim Seung-gyu will miss the match due to a bout with enteritis, but the question remains as to who Bento will turn to in goal between Jo Hyun-woo and Gu Sung-yun.

South Korea Squad

GK: Kim Seung-gyu* (Vissel Kobe), Cho Hyeon-woo (Daegu), Gu Sungyun (Consodole Sapporo)

DF: Kim Young-gwon (Gamba Osaka), Kim Min-jae (Beijing Guoan), Jung Seung-hyun (Kashima Antlers), Park Ji-soo (Guangzhou Evergrande), Kwon Kyung-won (Tianjin Tianhai), Hong Chul (Suwon Bluewings),Kim Jin-su (Jeonbuk Motors), Kim Moon-hwan (Busan I-Park), Choi Chul-soon (Jeonbuk Motors)

MF: Jung Woo-young (Al Sadd), Ju Se-jong (Asan Mugunghwa), Hwang In-beom (Vancouver Whitecaps), Lee Jin-hyun (Pohang Steelers), Kim Jung-min (Liefering), Paik Seung-ho (Girona), Lee Jae-sung (Holstein Kiel), Lee Seung-woo (Hellas Verona), Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Kwon Chang-hoon (Dijon), Lee Chung-yong (VFL Bochum), Lee Kang-in (Valencia), Na Sang-ho (FC Tokyo)

FW: Ji Dong-won* (Augsburg), Hwang Ui-jo (Gamba Osaka)

* - injured

The Adversary

Radamel Falcao scores a second-half penalty against Japan to give Colombia a 1-0 win. Photo courtesy of The Japan Times.

Colombia come into the match after their victory over Japan on the weekend in a match where they were outplayed for long stretches but came away with the result in the end.  It was their first football since being eliminated by England on penalties in the Round of 16 at the World Cup in Russia last year.

Since then, Colombia has changed managers, as Carlos Queiroz took over the team in February this year, after deciding not to renew his contract with Iran, following their exit in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup to Japan.  This is his fifth national team appointment, having already been in charge of his native Portugal, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and Iran.

There are most likely not going to be too many changes to the side that played on the weekend, as he is still working out combinations to see which players fit best together in the side.  That would mean that Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina will compose the pair in central defence, James Rodriguez will play in an attacking role in midfield, in behind the lone striker up top who will most likely be Radamel Falcao.  Colombia are a very good counter-attacking team, and could cause the Korean back line a considerable amount of problems if they are not well prepared.  


It should be an interesting match with a pair of Portuguese strategists going head to head, but on paper, the South Americans will have an edge in terms of talent.  Son Heung-min and company continue to struggle in front of goal, and they will have to score at least a few past Camilo Vargas if they are to win this one.

Even though the Koreans will have home field advantage, it may not mean much, as they didn't exactly play lights out at Munsu Stadium in Ulsan last Friday.  Colombia, on the other hand, will want to get a result for their new coach as he begins to write the newest chapter in his managerial career.  Colombia will likely have just a bit more quality on the night and should be able to come away with another win on Asian soil.

Predicted Score: South Korea 0-1 Colombia 

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