SPORTS

Korea football coach blames loss to Russia on defensive lapses

By Yonhap
  • Published : Oct 8, 2017 - 08:45
  • Updated : Oct 8, 2017 - 08:45
MOSCOW -- South Korea men's football head coach Shin Tae-yong blamed defensive lapses for the 4-2 loss to Russia in a friendly Saturday.

South Korea gave up two goals and defender Kim Ju-young scored two own goals in the deflating loss at the VEB Arena in Moscow. South Korea's record for 2017 now stands at one win, three losses and three draws, and the team has scored five goals in those seven contests.

This was Shin's third match for South Korea, and first since two consecutive scoreless draws against Iran and Uzbekistan to close out the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, respectively.

Those draws were still good enough to send South Korea to their ninth consecutive World Cup, but Shin's squad needed to do much more against Russia to show angry fans that they're at least headed in the right direction with football's showpiece event only months away.

But the latest loss only illustrated just how far the team has to go.
 
South Korean players (in white) react after Russia opened the scoring in their 4-2 victory in the teams` friendly football match at the VEB Arena in Moscow on Oct. 7, 2017. (Yonhap)

Shin, who was hired in July to replace Uli Stielike, said his players' loss of concentration on defense proved fatal, as did the attackers' inability to convert their opportunities.

"We suffered lapses trying to defend their set pieces, and we must address these issues," Shin said. "In order for us to become a better team, we must also get better at capitalizing on our scoring chances."

For the first time in the national team's history, South Korea assembled an entire squad with players based in foreign leagues. Shin didn't call up players from the domestic K League Classic since their clubs are in the final weeks of the regular season. Also, after local clubs agreed to release their players earlier than scheduled for South Korea's last two World Cup qualifiers, Shin accommodated the clubs' needs this time.

But the move came at a cost.

"Without K League players, we just didn't have enough bodies to deploy on defense," the coach said. "We had two days to work on our back-three system."

With the lack of viable options, Shin was forced to use two veterans out of position. Crystal Palace midfielder Lee Chung-yong and Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao center back Kim Young-gwon both started as wingbacks, their first turns in the position on the national team.

"I think they performed better than I'd expected," Shin said. "But their efforts were overshadowed by the two own goals."

On a brighter note, South Korea finally scored for Shin after two scoreless draws in a row. Defender Kwon Kyung-won, making his international debut, scored his first goal with a header in the 86th minute, and forward Ji Dong-won picked up his first international goal since last October in the dying seconds.

South Korea will next face Morocco in Switzerland on Tuesday, but Shin said he had to review Saturday's loss first before preparing for the next match. (Yonhap)