The national soccer team suffers from flank defense famine. The situation is somewhat better on the left flank, where Kim Jin-soo (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Hong Chul (Daegu FC), and Lee Ki-je (Suwon Samsung) are holding up. The right flank continues to be a concern.
For the first two A-Match matches in March, the first since Jürgen Klinsmann’s appointment, most of the players who played at the Qatar World Cup were on board. The departure of Kim Jin-soo saw Seol Young-woo (Ulsan Hyundai) called up as a replacement, but there were no major changes. In June, the team will start planning for the new edition in earnest.
World Cup members Kim Moon-hwan (Jeonbuk), Kim Tae-hwan (Ulsan), and Yoon Jong-kyu (Gimcheon Commerce) faltered. Injury issues prevented them from playing many games for their respective teams. Kim Moon-hwan has started eight games and Kim Tae-hwan has started six. Yoon Jong-kyu hasn’t even played a single game this season.
In the meantime, Seol Young-woo has stepped into Kim Tae-hwan’s shoes. Seol has played a lot on the left flank, but this season, he’s mostly played on the right flank. His defensive stability has improved, as well as his link-up play and participation in attacks.
Recently, he’s even gained confidence. He has also been using his left foot, which was considered a weakness. All 13 of his appearances this season have been full-time. He also has the advantage of being able to play both left and right back. He was born in 1998, so he’s a good option for the next generation.
Ahn Hyun-beom (Jeju United) is another newcomer who has made his presence felt. Born in 1994, Ahn’s strengths are his explosive sprints and speed, and his “hit and run” in the 33rd minute of the 14th round against FC Seoul (1-1 draw) was enough to make a strong impression. Although the team’s draw overshadowed his performance, it highlighted Ahn’s strengths. 안전놀이터
Not only that, but Ahn has been making spur-of-the-moment moves this season to create space behind opposing defenses. Defensively, he is a good fit for Klinsmann’s ‘attacking soccer’ style of play. Ahn himself is eager to make the national team. Shortly after the Seoul match, he said, “I hope you’re not fooling anyone and tell me (Klinsmann). If I’m selected, I want to show my strengths,” he emphasized.
There are four league matches left before the June A match. It will be interesting to see if existing resources Kim Tae-hwan and Kim Moon-hwan will be retained, or if a new face will be given a chance. It will be interesting to see what Klinsmann chooses.