2022 World Cup Qualifiers: South Korea vs. Sri Lanka Preview

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Photo Credit @newsis

South Korea’s quest for the 2022 World Cup continues. This Thursday, 10/10 at 7 AM EST, the Taeguk Warriors will be facing Sri Lanka, the first of two qualifying matches which will be played this international break.

Sri Lanka should be an easy victory. They have lost both of their qualifying matches so far, and lost 6-0 to Malaysia in a friendly match last Saturday. Paulo Bento will certainly put more attention into the away North Korea match. However, this match gives Bento an opportunity to assess numerous players and tactics.

Paulo Bento has a task in front of him which may be far more difficult than it sounds: formulate an attack line which involves Son Heung Min, Hwang Hee Chan, and Hwang Uijo. So far, he has employed a two top system, using Son with either Hwang. Hwang Uijo has proven over and over again why he is the leading scorer of Bento’s system, but Hwang Hee Chan’s recent performances have been far too dominant to be overlooked. In eleven appearances this season, he has scored seven goals and six assists, including a beautiful goal against Liverpool’s Van Dijk which brought back memories of the 2018 World Cup

Hwang Hee Chan was used minimally in the previous qualifying match, and Bento should try to find a way to make better use of his electric play. The only problem is, there is limited room, with Son Heung Min and Hwang Uijo.

Bento may choose to save one of the three for the much anticipated North Korea match. In this case, the lineup would not deviate much from previous ones. However, if Bento decides to use all three superstars for the Sri Lanka match, it will be quite interesting to see what kind of formation he employs. Assuming a 4 back defense, what seems most likely is a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 with Son in the second line. In a recent press conference, Hwang Heechan said that he prefers the striker role over the winger role, but the same probably applies for Hwang Uijo, despite the fact that he has been playing as winger for Bordeaux mostly this season. What is more important than the formation, however, is teamwork. Son’s continuous tendency to play too far from goal with a KNT uniform on must somehow be amended, while also employing a more attack-minded lineup featuring both Hwangs. 

Lee Kangin has been receiving much more playing time recently for Valencia, and scored his first goal. Bento has limited LKI’s minutes so far, and seems to be waiting for the right moment to make him a starter. Is now the time?

Another interesting dynamic is the return of Nam Taehee. Before a long-term injury that kept him out of the Asian Cup, Nam Taehee had started every single match for Bento, and scored this screamer in Bento’s debut match. Bento has many decisions to make as he formulates an attack with Nam Taehee joining numerous young stars such as Kwon Changhoon, Hwang Inbeom, Baek Seungho, Lee Jaesung, and Lee Kangin. 

Assuming that Bento will continue to use his usual starters, Kim Seunggyu should start in goal, with Kim Jinsu, Kim Younggwon, and Kim Minjae making up the defense. Kim Moonhwan, who just returned from injury, should be filled in the RB slot, as he is most likely Bento’s 2022 starting right-back. Jeong Wooyoung and Hwang Inbeom should start again as they have been.

The attack line is quite hard to predict, and it should be interesting to see how Bento formulates an attack versus Sri Lanka with a talented group of players. 

Predicted Lineup:

Kim Seunggyu, Kim Jinsu, Kim Younggwon, Kim Minjae, Kim Moonhwan, Jeong Wooyoung, Hwang Inbeom, Lee Jaesung, Son Heungmin, Hwang Heechan, Hwang Uijo.



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