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Ki Sung-yueng’s return gives FC Seoul a boost

Posted September. 16, 2020 07:32,   

Updated September. 16, 2020 07:32


FC Seoul’s “master of passing” Ki Sung-yueng, who returned to K League after playing 11 years in Europe, has recovered from his ankle injury and is regaining his sense of passing skills. FC Seoul, which has four wins, one loss, and two draws under the leadership of acting head coach Kim Ho-young, is likely to have a better chance of leaping up the league table thanks to Ki. FC Seoul is ranked 6th in the league with 24 points (7 wins, 10 looses, 3 draws) as of Monday. If they have good results in the remaining two games in the regular season, they have a chance at the Final A Round (five matches), where top six teams in the league square off.

Head coach Kim, who formed a starting lineup with young and fast players to change the team atmosphere, was able to make up for the weaknesses in passing between defensive backs and offensive positions and in double wing offense with Ki’s performance. Jung Hyun-chul and Kim Won-sik, who play as central-midfielders in the 4-2-3-1 formation, have great passion and movement but had difficulties making runs into empty spaces or passing the ball to the sides to avoid thick defense.

Ki proved his worth in the 100th Super Match against Suwon Samsung Bluewings at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Saturday. Seoul made frequent passing errors in the midfield areas in the first half due to Suwon’s pressing defense. But the game completely changed in the second half after Ki came on in the second half. One minute after the substitution, Ki, who started playing on the left side rather than the center, caught the ball near the half line and made a long accurate pass to the right side. After another minute, he made another sharp pass to the right side after exchanging the ball with a Seoul defensive player. When Ki added offensive routes by making passes to the sides, Suwon pulled back their defensive line. From then on, Seoul got back the lead by making smoother passes. Seoul’s ball possession rate, which had been pushed down to 44% vs. 56% at one point in the first half, rose to 74% in the 60th minute. Ki succeeded in 27 out of 28 passes that day, maintaining a balance between offense and defense.

Jae-Yeong Yoo elegant@donga.com