Five Questions the South Korean Football Team Needs To Answer
Heading into their recent trip to South Africa and Spain, the South Korean football team was riding high.
Having finished qualifying for the World Cup with an undefeated record and only losing one game in 2009, it looked like nothing could stop the Koreans.
However, days after the end of their trip, it appears that some of the wind has been taken out of their sails.
Despite having a record of 3-1-1, this road trip seemed to create more questions than answers ahead of both the 2010 World Cup and the East Asian Championship next month.
In this slide show, we'll take a look at five of those questions.
Can the Forwards Actually Score?
The most disturbing trend of the South Korean's road trip was their lack of scoring prowess.
Despite having a plethora of opportunities to score, not one striker was able to find the back of the net in any of their three International matches.
In fact, the team's forwards were out-scored by the team's defenders by a tally of 2-0 in those games.
Despite an overtime win against Latvia on Jan. 22, Coach Huh was quoted as saying "while (Latvia) played tight defense, my players still failed to score despite creating chances...It was pitiful that they lacked sharpness and focus in front of the goal."
Obviously not the type of positive words you like to hear from the team's coach after a victory.
If they are to succeed in this year's World Cup, the forwards are going to have to start creating goals from their chances in front of the net.
Can They Handle the New Football?
Made by Adidas, the Jabulani ball is the official football of the 2010 World Cup.
According to Adidas' claims, the Jabulani ball is the most accurate ball ever made, combining a larger striking surface with a number of groves and excellent grip.
However, any new ball requires an adjustment period, and the South Korean team was not able to adjust to the intricacies of the ball quickly enough to perform to their expectations against Zambia.
Of course, over time, they will become more experienced with the ball, but until they do, it might be a rocky road.
Can They Handle the Altitude?
The main goal of the South Korean side's trip to South Africa was to help prepare them for the high altitude of some of their South African matches.
Topping out at an altitude of 1694 meters (5,558 feet) above sea level, their match in Johannesburg, South Africa against Argentina in June will pit them against a side who frequently plays matches at that altitude.
In order to have any chance against the South American team, the Koreans will need to have experience playing in such thin air.
However, after 10 days of training at Rustenburg, the team looked sluggish and under-prepared against Zambia and two South African club teams, going 1-1-1 in three matches.
If they are to succeed in South Africa this summer, they will need to to quickly get adjusted to the high elevations.
Can They Play Anything Other Than 4-4-2?
Since taking over as the coach of the South Korean National team in December 2007, Coach Huh has exclusively used the 4-4-2 formation with his team.
However, going into the World Cup, he is correct in realizing the need to utilize a variety of formations heading into the tournament.
So, during the recent trip, Coach Huh twice tried to change the formation, utilizing a 3-5-2 formation against Latvia and Platinum Stars FC.
Unfortunately, the team did not respond well, drawing against Platinum Stars FC, a club team, and squeaking out a victory against Lativa in the final minutes.
In order to succeed in South Africa, the Taeguk Warriors will need to learn to successfully play in formations other than 4-4-2.
Will European Club Players be able to Mesh with the Korean Club Players?
As often happens this time of year, the South Korean side found itself without any of its European club players during its recent trip.
This meant that some of their top players, including Captain, Park Ji-Sung, were not able to train with their team in South Africa.
Will these players be able to adjust to the higher elevations of South Africa?
Will they be able to successfully move into a 3-5-2 formation, despite limited practice with their teammates?
And lastly, how will the lack of recent International appearances affect the chemistry of the team heading into the World Cup?
All of these, and likely more, need to be answered before June 12, 2010.