South Korea never looked quite comfortable in their 2-4 shocking defeat against Algeria.
South Korean manager, Hong Myung-bo, got his tactics all wrong for this game as Algeria dominated all of the first half.
Algeria made five changes from their defeat against Belgium and it paid dividends against the Koreans. And as for the Koreans, Hong opted to go with the same line-up when they played against Russia and was heavily punished for not having a set game plan against Algeria.
The Koreans started very sluggishly and their passes were not crisp which allowed Algeria to press on and attack at will. Algeria created numerous chances in the early minutes, but was not able to finish their chances. Korea allowed Algeria to attack as they did not pressure them at all whenever Algeria had the ball. And even when Korea retained possession, they were not able to keep it and turn the ball over numerous times.
And Algeria took full advantage of the turnovers and created many chance and their persistence paid off.
Islam Slimani was able to get in between the defenders and finish with the right foot in the 26th minute. It was a great long-ball in behind the Korean defense from Algeria and Slimani was able to get to the ball first and score.
And Algeria wasn’t done there.
Two minutes later, Algeria was able to earn a corner and score once again to lead 2-0 in the 28th minute. It was a great cross by Abdelmoumene Djabou toward Rafik Halliche who headed home his first goal of the tournament. It was also a very poor goalkeeping by the Korean keeper, Jung Sung-Ryong as he misjudged the flight of the ball and was unable to punch it, allowing Halliche to get a free header on the ball for a simple finish. The Korean defensive marking was also very questionable as they were all standing still watching the ball and did not even contest for the header.
A very deserving lead for the Algerians, but they weren’t done yet.
The Algerians attacked constantly and they got another long-ball service toward the Korean defense. The Korean defender, Hong Jeong-Ho, was able to get a head on the ball, but was unable to clear it properly. It landed right at Slimani who picked out an open Djabou who slotted in the third goal of the game in the 38th minute.
Another defensive mistake by the Koreans as the Korean defenders were all ball watching, once again, and did not mark properly, allowing Djabou to find space and score an easy goal.
To make matters worse, not only does the score line properly reflect how poor the Koreans played in the first half, but the stat-line also reflects how poorly they’ve played.
Their offensive statistical category was all zero as they had zero shots in the first half, an unimaginable statistic in the biggest stage.
Korea’s lack of concentration and inexperienced back-line was very obvious from the start and the turnovers really hurt Korea. They looked very nervous going into the game and it really showed in their first half performance.
That’s not to take away from Algeria’s very deserving lead as they dominated the first half in superb fashion. Algeria wanted the ball more and was better prepared for this game.
After a disastrous first half performance, Korea needed to step up big time in order to limit the damages already done.
South Korea did not have a shot in the game until the 50th minute. But, that first shot turned into a goal when Korean star striker, Son Heung-Min, was able to bring the Koreans back into the game. A great finish by Son through the legs of the goalkeeper and it seemed like the Koreans were not going to go down without a fight.
A quick and a badly needed response got the Koreans right on track, but it was too little, too late.
Few minutes later in the 62nd minute, one of Algeria’s few attacking threats in the second half sealed the game completely. A great finish by Yacine Brahimi ended all hopes of a miracle comeback for the Koreans. It was a great build up play by the Algerians as they moved the ball well and a couple of give and go’s allowed Brahimi to find space and score their fourth goal. The Koreans were once again ball watching and allowed the Algerian player to waltz in through the defense.
South Korea managed to get one more goal back in the 72nd minute when substitute, Kim Shin-Wook, headed down a long-ball to Son, but was not able to get a shot off. Instead, the ball trickled toward Lee Keun-Ho and crossed the ball to Koo Ja-Cheol who scored for their second goal of the game.
South Korea finally had a sense of urgency in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to try and salvage a draw. The three goals they conceded in the first half were too much for the South Koreans as they slumped to a 2-4 defeat.
The four goals that Algeria has scored are the most goals scored in a single game by an African nation in a World Cup. They now have a chance to move on to the round of 16 for the first time in their history of the competition.
As for the Koreans, Hong got his tactics all wrong from the beginning.
He should have started Kim, instead of Park Chu-Young, because Park was non-existent all game and does not bring much to the table for the Koreans. As for Kim, he brings an aerial threat in which the Algerians are clearly not comfortable dealing with because ever since Kim entered the game, he won every single header. Hong should have known this after Algeria played Belgium because after Marouane Fellaini was introduced, Algeria failed to cope with his aerial threat and eventually gave up the equalizer.
Same goes for Kim. If it wasn’t for his aerial threat, their second goal would not have come about because Park would not have been able to win the header. Hong’s failure to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of a team has been detrimental, but there are other areas of concern for the team.
The midfield, especially, did not help out the defense and that allowed the Algerians to expose the inexperienced back-line and score. The lack of concentration and motivation from the team is a huge concern as the team is in need of a true leader to lead the Koreans out of the group stages and in the near future.
Another major concern is the full-back position. Lee Yong and Yoon Suk-Young were dreadful against Algeria. They could not make the simple passes, head the ball, or make runs to allow support or space for the attacking players. Even worse is their inability to defend, allowing opposing players to attack at ease. It is curious to know what the tactics were behind their lack of support given to the wing players, but in this day in age, full-backs need to be utilized as an attacking option. They kept watching plays develop instead of contributing during attacks and their failure to support made the attacking players to try do too much. Korea does not have the type of players that can beat players one-on-one and they need the support in order to be effective.
Son, the only player who played great, tried to make something happen numerous times, but with the lack of support coming from the full-back position made him try to do too much and eventually lose the ball.
There’s absolutely no movement off the ball in the team because the players are just standing around waiting for the ball to come to them. That is unacceptable in this level and Hong must make drastic changes against Belgium. But, his inability to make changes at the right moment definitely showed his inexperience as a head coach as well.
It’s a win or go home scenario now for South Korea against Belgium, and Hong must start players who are determined and have the passion to win, rather than start players because of their name value.