Jung Sung-ryong – 5.5
Decision-making and reaction time continue to be problematic areas for the Seongnam shot-stopper. Although he did well to prevent a second goal after stopping Karim Fard’s strike after the Iranian had jumped on a horrific Kim Jung-woo error, he arguably shouldn’t have come out on the first goal and displayed questionable judgment the few times Iran threatened from set-pieces. Does not inspire confidence.
Hong Jeong-ho – 7 (Man of the Match)
Never really troubled by the Iranian attack and dealt with threats from set-pieces superbly. Did very well considering the gaps left behind out wide that Iran countered into. Came so close to opening his account for the national team with a powerful header from a Ki Sung-yong corner kick. Superb in the air and looks to be a decent prospect in defense.
Lee Jung-Soo – 6
Reluctant to revisit the libero role from the Nigeria match. Didn’t push up enough, perhaps wary of Iran’s speed on the counter, and consequently limited the efficacy of the midfield to find outlets for attack. Looked fairly comfortable for long stretches of the game.
Kim Young-kwon – 6.5
Did well with Hong Jeong-ho to cover gaps at the back but looked somewhat unsettled when Iran was in possession, perhaps more indicative of his lack of experience on the international stage than anything else. Look to be a fine prospect for the national team defensive line.
Choi Hyo-Jin – 6.5
After arguably producing the MOTM performance against Nigeria, the combative rightback put in a fairly unbalanced performance. Was caught out far too high up the pitch by the speedy Shojaei and was MIA when defensive cover was required. In offense, produced some good forays into Iranian wide areas and produced an excellent cross on a counter that Park Ji-sung should have done better with.
Ki Sung-Yong – 5
Insipid. Form has waned considerably since his move to Celtic and questions surrounding lack of fitness persist for the young midfielder. Set-piece delivery was generally poor and often dwelt on the ball for far too long; lost possession a number of times. Replaced at half-time. Off-pitch media ruckus surrounding Neil Lennon comments and status within Celtic cannot have helped and the player himself looks distracted and in need of inspiration. Needs to regain confidence and form quickly or should be dropped for a better, in-form alternative against Japan.
Yoon Bitgaram – 5
Disappointing performance after impressing against Nigeria. The young Gyeongnam maestro went invisible for long stretches as he struggled to cope with the physicality of a compact but resolute Iranian midfield. Muscled off the ball quite a few times and was given the hook at the stroke of the half.
Lee Young-Pyo – 5
Like Choi Hyo-jin, pressed far too high up the pitch when defensive cover was necessary leaving gaps at the back. The attack-minded veteran often stayed up to put pressure on the Iranian players on the ball consequently allowing Iran to exploit the width and counter into space. Made a terrible error reminiscent of gifting Park Ji-sung the ball during his Tottenham days — a weak back-pass that allowed Shojaei to score.
Park Ji-Sung – 6.5
Cut a frustrated figure with an invisible central midfield pairing and little protection from the referee. Ghotbi’s strategy of double-teaming and going in hard on Park Ji-sung gradually unsettled the otherwise unflappable captain and the lack of midfield support often found the Manchester United man dropping into the defensive midfield position to receive the ball and play it out wide. Was dismayed both by the reluctance of referee to hand out earlier yellow card to Nosrati and own failure to convert a two decent opportunities carved out by Choi Hyo-jin.
Lee Chung-yong – 6
Looked at odds with having to play in an attacking trident from the get-go. Never really imposed himself on the match and missed one of the best opportunities early in the match. Some brief periods of clever play, including a gem of a cross to Park Ju-young, were interspersed with longer stretches of ineffective hustle. Still seems jaded from the World Cup and perhaps frustrated with the lack of width in the manager’s formation.
Park Ju-Young – 6.5
Could have (and should have) had an assist as early as the 3rd minute if his brilliant throughball had been converted by Lee Chung-yong. Had some incisive passes, one that found it’s way through the Iranian defense to Choi Hyo-jin cutting in from out wide that resulted in a terrific opportunity for Park Ji-sung. Missed his own terrific opportunity, arguably the best chance of the match, after Lee Chung-yong’s terrific pass found the Monaco man beating the offside trap but failing to beat goalkeeper Rehmati from only a few yards out.
Park Joo-ho – N/A. Hardly any time to impress, let alone run.
Cha Du-ri – 5.5. Dealt well with Shojaei and nullified his attacking threat after coming on. Decent attacking runs sabotaged by poor passes into no man’s land. Continues to show troubling habit of allowing players cutting in wide to get goal-side.
Kim Du-hyeon – 5. Missed two half opportunities and didn’t look quite up to stuff, although somewhat understandable given his sabbatical from the team.
Kim Jung-woo – 5. Terrible mistake almost gave Iran a second if not for Jung Sung-ryong’s solid stop. Very little to offer going forward.
Cho Young-cheol – 5. Sprightly and injected some energy into a tepid attack but, for the second game in a row, doesn’t look quite ready for the national team.
Seok Hyeon-Joon – 5.5. Only given ten minutes or so to impress and didn’t really offer much to an effete Korean attack although did win the ball in the air in some dangerous positions and his physicality seemed to trouble the otherwise stalwart Iranian CBs.
Cho Kwang-rae – 5. Obdurate insistence on passing game paid very few dividends and was outfoxed by his Iranian opposite. Some pretty passages of play were few and far in-between and were overshadowed by the glaring invisibility of the midfield and inability of the Korean attack to put away golden chances. A more in-depth tactical analysis of Cho’s formation and player selection will be available shortly. Watch this space.
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