SPORTS

Korea natl. football team needs big-name striker: coach

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 25, 2017 - 16:34
  • Updated : Sept 25, 2017 - 16:34
South Korea football coach Shin Tae-yong said Monday that the men's national team needs a big-name striker to play a more aggressive and exciting brand of football.

Shin announced his 23-man squad for friendly matches in Europe next month, but only two players -- Ji Dong-won of FC Augsburg and Hwang Ui-jo of Gamba Osaka -- were listed as forwards. South Korea are scheduled to take on Russia in Moscow on Oct. 7 and are trying to play against Morocco three days later in Switzerland.

The Taeguk Warriors were originally set to face Tunisia on Oct. 10, but the African nation canceled the friendly due to "internal reasons," according to the Korea Football Association. The friendlies are South Korea's first step in their 2018 World Cup preparations, after qualifying for the top FIFA competition earlier this month.
 
South Korea football coach Shin Tae-yong speaks during a press conference at the Korea Football Association House in Seoul on Sept. 25, 2017. (Yonhap)

"We don't see a big name (South Korean) striker these days," Shin said in a press conference at the KFA House in Seoul. "If we use a lone forward system, it (lack of big-name strikers) might not be a problem, but if we are to deploy a two-striker formation, I think we have a small pool to choose from."

For the upcoming friendlies, Shin, who took the senior team helm in July, announced a roster made up entirely of overseas-based players, since domestic league players will not be available due to their club schedules.

But with FC Red Bull Salzburg striker Hwang Hee-chan sidelined due to a thigh injury, and powerful targetman Suk Hyun-jun struggling to get playing time with his new club Troyes, Shin lamented that he had limited options on the attack.

Hwang, in particular, was a huge loss for Shin since the 21-year-old had been the hottest South Korean attacker with seven goals in 12 matches for his Austrian club.

"Since we had to summon only overseas-based players, we didn't have enough players at each position, especially for the striker spot," he said. "In the friendlies, I think we have to keep changing formations to cope with that problem."

In the final Asian World Cup qualifying round, South Korea bagged 11 goals in 10 matches, the most among the six teams of Group A, but nine of them were from matches at home. And of those 11 goals, only three were scored by pure strikers.

In the final round, South Korea used players like Ji, Suk, Hwang, Lee Jeong-hyeop, Kim Shin-wook, and Lee Dong-gook as targetmen upfront, but only Ji and Hwang were able to find the back of the net.

"We can get a victory, play attacking football, and pursue exciting football with lots of goals if we can produce a big-name striker," he said. "It is a position that we really need to pay attention to."

When Shin took over the helm in July after Uli Stielike was sacked, many fans thought the 46-year-old would improve the national team's offense since he'd been known for aggressive strategies. But expectations turned into disappointment after Shin's side collected two scoreless draws with dull performances.

Shin said upcoming friendlies have put big pressure on him because he knows he has to satisfy fans both in performance and results.

"I think I'm surrounded by enemies on all sides at this moment," he said. "In the friendlies, I first want to check whether the selected players can carry out my tactical orders successfully." (Yonhap)