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Posted by Daniel Cho on 06/19/2010

This is going to be a short post, because the more I write, the more depressed I will get. Also, in Part 1, I said I wouldn't be a sore loser if Korea lost, so I will stick to my word. And even if I wanted to be a sore loser, the match was so one-sided, that I would end up sounding completely irrational. (...You know, cuz I'm never irrational. ...Although, the Lakers do suck.)

We knew this was going to be the most difficult match of the group, and it indeed was (although a loss against Nigeria would prove a bigger nightmare for us). They were better in every sense - number of opportunities, ball possession, composure, luck, even the fans in the stands. The South American giants were simply on a higher plane (not a misspell - they were literally flying) than the Koreans, and made us look silly most of the game. We got ...hmm, what's that word in the English language I'm looking for? ...Oh yes, "Spanked" is the word. Or more bluntly, "Violated". It was like the scene with Andy Dufresne and the Sisters in Shawshank Redemption. (Don't visualize it too much.)

I watched the game at a sports bar in New York's Korea Town, and the mood went from being pumped with loud cheers, to "It's OK, it's OK, we can still get back into this" with uninspired claps, to "Give me another drink."

Lionel Messi lived up to his price tag, and constantly demanded double/triple-teaming, which freed up the many other scoring threats to punish Korea again and again. As a result, Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain came away with a hatrick, and Argentina was even gifted an own-goal by Park Chu-Young. But hey, he couldn't help himself - he's a striker, and likes to score goals.

Despite Lee Chung-Yong's first half injury-time goal (which cheered me up until the start of the 2nd half), I saw that it was going to be a losing fight, if the Argentines kept coming in waves like that.

I've read comments from (you awesome) readers, and various articles (both Korean and non-Korean), pointing out manager Huh Jung-Moo's tactical errors against Argentina. And I felt the same way, as he certainly could have done things differently to better Korea's chances. Then again, if we got lucky and came out with a victory or a tie with the exact same game plan - he would be praised for being a genius and a great tactician.

Let's face it - no matter what formation/approach Huh was going to use, we were going to lose 4 out of 5 times. Plus, Maradona's men came prepared, more determined, and outdid the Koreans in their own strongest department - teamwork. Whenever Korea had the ball, men in sky-blue shirts quickly came to help, and it seemed like the Taegeuk Warriors didn't possess the ball more than 2 minutes at a time. It got so ridiculous and desperate, that the people at the bar were cheering every time we touched the ball.

Javier Mascherano had a huge hand in closing the door on Korea's offense, especially on Park Ji-Sung, who was barely visible the whole match. The Liverpool man read every pass coming, and tackled like a pro to prevent anything from building up.

If I had to pick on one thing Huh Jung-Moo did wrong, it has to be picking Yum Ki-Hoon to start yet again. His presence was disruptive during the Greece match, and here he was again - being subpar. I admit, he did his best, and ran hard throughout the match, but you know the saying, "sometimes your best just isn't good enough"? Well, that applies here - it was so apparent that he was constantly a step or two behind and out of his league. Most of all, his missed opportunity in the 57th minute had to be the most painful moment of the match. What could have been a momentum-shifting game-tying goal (if he simply used the inside of his right foot which seemed like a natural thing to do), became another cause for us to bury our faces and drink more.

If this analysis isn't long or good enough for you, there are plenty of other breakdowns of this match out there, so feel free to browse around - Google news is a good place to start. I'm getting more and more depressed as I type each and every word, so I must stop now.

And thanks to all of you for cheering me up and reminding me it's still not over. But me being down had to do more with the revelation of how much we have left to go in order to become one of the great footballing nations, than the hurdle we just tripped over in advancing to the knockout stage.

I will do a preview of the Nigeria match later, but just want to let you know that I still have (plenty of) hope left in me. Thanks again.


As always, feel free to leave your thoughts. Please be respectful, but do have fun with it!


Posted by Matthew Park on 06/19/2010

Man, I feel you. This pain won't go away. I woke up hopefully feeling refreshed and forgotten, but the first image I got when I opened my eyes is Lionel Messi just tearing up our offense. I feel like all the game hype got to the players especially our defense. I think the Greece game kind of made us feel overconfident, and made us feel like some European powerhouse squad. But in the past, it is our underdog mentality that helps stick in games. As I keep thinking about it, maybe a 4-1 loss is not that bad at all. Imagine if we tied 2-2, and then lost to Nigeria because of super overconfidence. And Greece and Argentina moved on. 2006 repeated. Park Chu Young better play with a chip on his shoulder, and Captain Park better show up for this game. I want to see a convincing win against Nigeria, not a tie that makes go to the round of 16 then I will still be disappointed and feel not deserving. I want a win.

Posted by Roberto on 06/19/2010

I think your views are admirable. No excuses. Perhaps you hoped for too much but that's what the World Cup is about. I think, as an Argentinian, we have the pedigree to beat all. I for one was a little critical of the missed chances. I'd like to say the the keeper had a lot to do that but after the Nigerian keeper did the same, i am wondering if we are bashing that beach ball into obvlivion and not the net. Here in Sydney, I was watching surrounded by many Korans at their best behaviour and were very honorable in defeat. Wish I could say for other fans. Good luck in the future.

Posted by Carter on 06/19/2010

Korea needs a win, an outright win, against Nigeria. Plain and simple. No point in getting to the Round of 16 without the confidence and verve that the Taeguk Warriors had shown on the pitch against Greece.

My only complaint is that defensive midfielder Kim Jung Woo is a huge liability, when he taketh he giveth the ball away. His touches led to waves of Grecian and Argentinian midfielders powering thru, running by him, as he desperately tried to chase them down. Not unlike the Celtics desperately trying to chase down the 2010 World Champion Los Angeles Lakers.

So often, when up against a top tier team, it's frustrating when the thought creeps in... our backline of the Taeguk Warriors aren't professional fullbacks but instead are converted midfielders who neither have the technical tackling abilities nor the pace required to keep up with high-octane forwards and midfielders.

Keep hope alive for Nigeria, if the Lakers can come back from 13 down in the 3rd quarter...


Posted by edward on 06/19/2010

while i'm not a football novice, i'm also not a seasoned veteran of the game. perhaps for this reason i have this irksome question that keeps coming up: in watching these matches and prior world cup matches, why does it seem that every match seems to feature a no-brainer goal that goes awry? South Korea-Greece, Park-chu-young missing 2 point blank goals; SK-argentina, yum-ki-hoon as described above; nigeria-greece, nigeria's counter-attack with the 2-on-1 that was shanked. These players must have taken those types of shots tens of thousands of it the speed of the ball? is it the glare of the spotlight? is it trying too hard? is it wrong for me to be as uh-gool-heh (translation: frustrated/regretful) about yum-ki-hoon's miss as i am, given he had only the keeper to beat with ample time? the what-if's never end. But if these shots are more difficult than i could imagine, maybe i can tame my frustration (yeah right...). I still believe in han-gooks!

Posted by daniel kim on 06/19/2010

Argentina IS better than us and deserved to win. However, the score did not reflect the quality of the korean side. Argentina was lucky with the first three goals (not saying the win was luck or that we were better just saying) When the luck goes to the underdogs (us) like in 2002 we can eke out victories. When it goes the other way.....4-1 :( Congrats to argentina they are a great side. to look on the bright side, this may be a wake up call to try to fix our weaknesses and mistakes for hopefully more games :)
the chaminator should start and leesueng yeoul or lee dong gook instead of yeom. (i agree with your point about yeom--lots of heart but if you're in the k-league at shows.) hope captain park shows up next game :)

Posted by Jules on 06/19/2010

A latin-american friend translated some of the commentary coming in from South America during the game. Some of the more notable ones were: "The Koreans look scared." (ouch!) "Where is the Korean offense? It looks like they are staging counter-attacks.", "You can't win fĂștbol by playing a defensive game." Those statements made me wonder if it was indeed, Huh's strategy that contributed greatly to our downfall, or if we simply got crushed by better players.

I am going to re-watch the game, as painful as it will be, to see what really happened. The first half was a nightmare, but looking back on it objectively, I don't think it was a good display of the team's potential.

Posted by Jennifer Lam on 06/19/2010

We, Asians, are so proud of the Koreans. Argentines are a class of their own so there is nothing too bad about losing to them. Anyone who has watched the game must applaud the Koreans, who being the underdogs, fought like they were the main football nations. I am speaking this with respect. I am Chinese and I often wonder why you guys can fight with this unyielding spirit while we so often lack. Anyway, I am praying for the Koreans to get to the next round and I am confident that you guys will. It will be heartbroken if you guys don't, not just for you, but also for the Asian people.

Posted by Joe on 06/19/2010

Thanks to Sani Kaita, we ended the day where we started, so we're fortunate. As long as we make it to the next round, we should consider this a great lesson for our defenders and GK. Here's a few observations:(1) We never got to implement our tactics b/c of the own goal. We naively started pressing high and attacking too far up the pitch. JSP was playing far too high up as a defensive forward. I wish he stayed back more and Ki pushed up. (2) Yeom was terrible and should sit from now on. I agree that he ruined our flow again.(3) All our defensive problems started and ended with Oh. He looked scared, and created chaos.(4) Our defenders, other than LYP are good at blocking out squads that play one-two touch or route one, but lacked confidence/experience to deal w/ 1v.1 situations of flair footballers from SA. Then again, this was Messi and Tevez at their best. (5) Jung got an education that money can't provide from the best strikeforce in the world. Hope he uses the experience wisely...

Posted by sam on 06/19/2010

How's the hangover, D? We missed you!

I agree with most of your analysis, especially the fact that we saw a super "teamwork" from the Argentinian side. Monster players + unselfish and diciplined teamwork + faithful to an offensive attitude = Bloodbath for the underdogs

Could Koreans have done something better? Probably yes! Would the result have been different? Probably no. Tactical and Strategical mistakes from the Korean side? Probably yes! If fixed, would the result have been any different? Probably no

What do most of the underdogs "need" in order to achieve a good result besides "dicipline, attitude, perseverance?" I think that the answer is: That "drop" of luck?

My team, Japan, would have never beaten Cameroon without a little luck despite all the effort and dicipline.

Is it sad to accept the difference between "Monster" Teams and "Good" Teams? Yes... And usually, denying this reality leads to disastrous results.

One more important game to go! Lets go!!

Posted by Steve on 06/19/2010

I must say, the attacks on Park Chu Young is unfair. He is leading the line fantastically for Korea with clever movement, link-up play, & is holding the ball up well. Yes, he certainly missed some "sitters" & as a striker, he should be judged by goals.. but he is certainly doing everything else right.

The own goal against Argentina is just unfortunate.. but really, Oh Bum Suk is the real culprit as he gave up possession & gave up a stupid, ticky-tacky foul to Tevez.

My thoughts on Oh Bum-Suk's inclusion over Cha Du-Ri: I know nothing about him, but based on my research.. he is better at tracking back to defend. I thought Huh made the right switch (although, I preferred Kim Dong Jin & switch Lee Yong Pyo to right), but it completely backfired. Huh should have recognized his mistake, and Oh Bum Suk should have been subbed out at half-time.

Posted by Sebastian Garcia on 06/20/2010

Thanks for sharing your views on the game with us, Dan.

Let me give you the view from an Argentine point of view.

Things would have been very different without that incredible miss by YUM Ki-Hoon. Panic would have hit us and momentum would have been with you. That should have never been 1-2 in the score. The only reason you were was because of DEMICHELIS' mistake. But then again...we shouldn't have been up 1-0 if it wasn't for your gift! I'm getting confused now! haha!

Apart from the plays that ended in goals, I think overall, Argentina played a better game and that's why I think we won it.

Best of luck for your next match. We'll definitely try to beat Greece so don't expect any complacency from Argentina in that match. That means you would just need a draw to advance. I think you can make it.

Posted by Sal on 06/20/2010

I still feel upset about Korea's big loss to Argentina, but I guess it is time to move on and prepare for the very important upcoming game against Nigeria. I know you were initially rooting for Oh Bum Seok to start, but now that almost everyone agrees using Yum Ki Hoon and Oh Bum Seok was a mistake, I'd love to hear your thoughts on better alternatives. I've read many people suggesting Lee Dong Gook and Park Chu Young, with Ahn Jung Hwan as the joker card. I feel very, very nervous about Lee Dong Gook but we don't have that many options available. I'm getting more and more pissed that Huh didn't bring Lee Keun Ho to South Africa.

Posted by Joe on 06/20/2010

I was there red-faced in France 98 (with friends from Italy, oh the irony) when Hiddink's Holland destroyed us 5-0. That was the worst day ever; it was a comprehensive mugging and my Italian mates taunted me rentlessly. This felt different. We were flat, and the OG killed us, but we fought back and lost big b/c we gambled. The scoreline was unkind. And it's unfortunate, b/c I thought we had a chance w/ the holes in the Arg defence and midfield. But in the end, when Tevez plays that well, he allows Messi to be that much more devestating. Very few defences can stop Arg's front four when Tevez plays is on song like that. So don't be disheartened. Our defenders are products of footballing academies and not the streets and it showed. We can stop a Euro or African squad, with organization. But we have trouble with a well organized South American set up with flair footballers of the highest calibre. We still have an excellent squad and will do well. Let's make it to the next phase first

Posted by Steve on 06/20/2010

I really want to see Korea start with 4-3-3 in defense, & switch to 4-2-3-1 on attack. This is something I wanted to see against Argentina but I think it'll be great against Nigeria as well.

In 4-3-3, a CDM will fill the gap in front of the two CBs (Kim Nam Il), as it switches to 4-2-3-1, Ki Sung Yong will push up as AM to support Park Chu Yong, with two full-backs pushing up/overlap to support the two wingers. The two CMs (Kim Nam Il & Kim Jung Woo) will stay in the half-line & cover for the gap/space left behind by the full-backs. This means Ki Sung Yong will be the engine & key... I really think Korea should be built around his talent.

And as for starting RB.. I'll go with Cha Du-Ri for his offense. For subs, Lee Dong Gook & Lee Seung Ryul(Ahn Jung Hwan better not see the field) for the two defensive CMs if we are chasing the game. If we are protecting a lead, I'll take out Cha Du-Ri for Kim Dong Jin to shore up the backline.

Posted by miyun on 06/21/2010

i too watched this game here at K-town in NYC and was deeply disappointed and ended up loosing my voice later that day. i too agree if yum made the shot, it would have changed everything - the pace, the flow, the moral, the spirit of the game etc., with which we could have had a better result. in the end, i think everyone agrees that the Argentineans were just a better team, hands down, at the end it was humiliating to watch, we barely seem to be able to be able to possess the ball. i really wish we could have hold the 2-1 and i would have been still very very proud of our team. having said that, i was truly impressed by the Argentineans, the teamwork, the fluidness of their passes and they are one of my favorite team. Messi played up to his reputation (i decided to name my next pet Messi).
However, i am still very hopeful after having watched ITA and NZL today, it is a proof that anything is possible in this world cup. !!!!fighting!!!! DAE.HAN.MIN.KUK. clap clap clap.

Posted by DH on 06/21/2010

It's time to come out with all guns firing for the Nigeria game. The pleasantly surprising Greece win, the embarrasing Argentina loss, none of it matters going forward. I believe in our team and we will prevail tomorrow. Fighting, Korea!

Posted by Jamie SF on 06/21/2010

Chin up! Forget about the last game. You have the teamwork, speed, heart, and skill to advance. Now go get Nigeria!

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