Iran became the leader in Group A, to which South Korea belongs, in the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Iran beat Syria 1-0 in their opening Asian Qualifiers on Friday.
Iran, which is thought to be one of the strongest in Group A, could not easily defeat Syria. It was a hard win with shot attempts of 10-7. With the United Arab Emirates drawing 0-0 with Lebanon, Iran became the group leader with three points and South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon came in second with one point each. As it turned out that even Syria, which suffered one loss, is not a pushover, South Korea is put under heavy pressure after its draw with Iraq.
All the other teams in Group A aside from South Korea are from the Middle East. South Korea has shown weakness in away games in the Middle East since they are played in hot weather with a huge time difference. This is why South Korean players need to increase their physical strength. Above all, South Korea is expected to play a difficult match with other Middle Eastern teams, which are likely to use similar tactics with Iraq, as it failed to find a way to neutralize Iraq’s tactic that focuses on counterattacks after a tight defense. When South Korea played against Lebanon in the second round, the Middle Eastern team played tight defense similar to Iraq, preventing South Korea from getting their own way.
South Korea’s head coach Paulo Bento is sticking to build-up play, which refers to building attacks from midfielders, but the tactic slowed the speed of the entire team with its build-up process. Attackers were often isolated when passes to the right, left, and the front got blocked under intense pressure in the midfield area. Furthermore, opponents would figure out South Korea’s attack patterns, such as participation of wing-backs in attacks and block them.
“Ball passes in attacks were not fast enough and we tried to break the balance of the opponent with penetration but failed,” Coach Bento said. If similar plays are repeated, Bento’s tactics, which once caused a heated debate, could be criticized once again. The South Korean national football team needs to break away from the repeated patterns and employ faster and new tactics.
Won-Hong Lee firstname.lastname@example.org