‘Cheon Hae-Tae-Pyeong’ Klinsmann “can win with defense now” alone

Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann dismisses ‘defensive anxiety’.

The South Korean national soccer team, led by Klinsmann, drew 3-3 with Malaysia on Friday in their third match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Qatar Asian Cup 2023 Group E at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar.

Klinsmann has described his style of play as ‘attacking’. He wants his team to play a 4-4-2 role, with more players up front and quick attacks to score goals. This naturally leaves the defense thin, which has been South Korea’s biggest problem at the tournament.

South Korea conceded a goal in their first game against Bahrain, and equalized and came from behind in their second game against Jordan. And against Malaysia, they conceded a shocking three goals.

Especially against Malaysia, Korea struggled to counterattack. The Malaysians were able to shake up the Korean defense by pressing forward and counterattacking depending on the situation. Although Kim Min-jae boasts a wide curve, it was difficult for him to cover the entire area by himself.

In tournaments, reliable defense is more important than ever. Scoring goals is important, but conceding first can make the game much more difficult, so it’s important to rely on a solid defense to secure the result. However, South Korea’s defensive woes are not going away anytime soon.

Captain Son Heung-min also pointed out the problems with conceding goals after the Malaysia game. “We need to improve overall,” he said. In the offense, we need to improve our finishing and passing inside the penalty box. We conceded a lot of goals in the group stage, so we need to reduce that.”

Klinsmann, however, disagreed. When asked if it was possible to win the championship with the current defense, Klinsmann said, “Absolutely. It’s definitely possible.” He said that he had to discuss with the players when they conceded a counterattack, but he didn’t see a problem with winning the title.

Along with the defensive tactics, Klinsmann’s selection of players has also come under increasing criticism. He selected a total of 26 players for the tournament, with 23 making the matchday roster.

Instead of increasing the number of sidebacks, Klinsmann selected central defender Kim Ji-soo and wing forward Yang Hyun-joon. There have been some suggestions that he should have picked a different flanker, given his concerns about the defense.


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