[By Jisun Yoo] Korea faces its first historic showdown with Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is considered the virtual rivals of Germany and Sweden that Korea will be meeting in the first stage of 2018 Russia World Cup.
The Korean men's soccer team led by coach Shin Tae-yong will hold an evaluation match against North Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland at 11 p.m. on Friday (Korea time). Korea and Northern Ireland, which have never met each other before, will have their first historic showdown.
Northern Ireland has not been invited to the 2018 Russia World Cup, but they should not be underestimated. Northern Ireland ranked second in Group C after Germany in the European regional qualification and advanced to the playoffs, and lost the chance to advance to the finals by losing the first and second group matches to 0-1 in total.
But the play was excellent. The first game was 0-1 lose due to the penalty kick that raised controversy, and the second game, the score was tied at 0-0 after fierce fighting. Furthermore, Northern Ireland is a strong team that allowed only six goals in 10 matches in the European regional qualifying round.
This is a good opportunity to test Korea's offensive capability against European teams. Coach Shin Tae-yong invited Son Heung-min(Tottenham Hotspur), Hwang Hee-chan (Salzburg), Kim Shin-wook(Jeonbuk Hyundai), and Lee Keun-ho(Gangwon FC) as strikers. As he said before leaving the team, " I am basically planning a two-top plan, " it is highly likely that one of Hwang Hee-chan, Kim Shin-wook, and Lee Keun-ho will form a team with Son Heung-min.
However, Lee Keun-ho, who showed a fantastic partnering with Son in November last year, is not yet sure if he will start the match against Northern Ireland due to an injury. Son's partner will be narrowed down to Hwang Hee-chan and Kim Shin-wook.
Hwang has already teamed up with Son in the World Cup final qualifying round, and Kim Shin-wook has proved his scoring ability as he scored goals in four straight international matches. Kim Shin-wook also has the advantage in his height competing with Northern Ireland defense team.
The biggest point of the evaluation match with Northern Ireland is to see which offensive cards Shin will take out, and to see if the cards will be the key to breaking through the solid defense of Northern Ireland.
In fact, after the squad was announced in March, the main issue was the defense line, which consisted mainly of Jeonbuk players. " The most complex part in my head now is defense. Germany and Sweden are stronger and higher than we are. We have concerns about whether our players will stand up to it when we push back.
It has emerged as a major task to check whether the defense team is able to demonstrate stability against European players. The concern over the defense line is going on. Five Jeonbuk defenders were chosen, including Hong Jeong-ho, Kim Min-jae, Kim Jin-su, Choi Cheol-soon, and Lee Yong, but Jeonbuk conceded as many as 13 goals in seven games they played this season.
Director Shin Tae-yong responded to these concerns by saying, " It is not just a matter of the four back alone, we have to prove it on the pitch ". Park Ju-ho said, " We can ease the pressure in the defense depending on how much the players in the front line helps with the defense, and he added " The players in the front to help with the defense has been emphasized all the time and our organizational strength will be on the way very soon as the players know each other very well. "
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