Good morning/afternoon/evening! The time difference played havoc with my ability to see much the second round of games in South Korea’s Group H: Belgium’s 1-0 victory over Russia kicked off at 1AM Monday morning Korean time while South Korea’s 4-2 defeat to Algeria got underway at 4. I’d been wandering around the coastal city of Samcheok and trekking through a huge (and I mean huge) cave on the Sunday; those times were never going to be do-able.
Not that my weekend was completely bereft of football. I thoroughly enjoyed getting up at 4 on Saturday morning to watch France’s hammering of Switzerland, although I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering when Sissoko is going to start scoring goals like that for us again. I was also happy to add my encouragement for the South Korean national side to a big board that had been erected in a local supermarket. As far as I could see, mine was the only message written in English; I couldn’t resist giving it something of a Geordie flavour. ‘Howay Korea!’ is sure to confuse many a shopper as they pass by.
I also enjoyed seeing a statue that looked quite similar to that of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer set upon the side of a small hill in Samcheok before journeying to the cave. And what a cave it is! It’s so far up a mountain that you need to take a cable car to reach the entrance and absolutely enormous once you get inside. I may or may not have stood on one of the walkways and shouted ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!’
Monday morning brought the scores of the second round of games in South Korea’s group. For those of a Korean persuasion, it doesn’t make particularly pleasant viewing. South Korea look all but out barring a fairly sizeable shock. However, this tournament has had its fair share of those already so let’s not lose heart just yet. What it amounts to is that South Korea must beat Belgium and then hope that the result of the game between Algeria and Russia goes their way, if it does, it will down to goal difference to decide who goes through. Furthermore, with Belgium only needing a point to be sure of finishing top of the group and having been nowhere near as good as people were predicting before the tournament began, might they take their foot off the pedal just enough for South Korea to cause an upset? Fingers crossed.
Anyone who has read my previous posts may remember that I was reticent to throw my support behind a team nicknamed ‘the Red Devils,’ due to unwanted Manchester United connotations. However, a friend informed me that it is not the team who are nicknamed ‘the Red Devils’, but the fans. The team are known as the ‘Taeguk Warriors’, an altogether more acceptable moniker I feel. So, all is not completely lost for the Taeguk Warriors just yet; their qualification will go right down to the last game on Thursday 26th June at 9pm BST (Friday 27th June at 5pm Korean time).
England’s fate, however, is now completely decided. I’m sure you all have your own opinions on what went wrong, but I’m fortunate enough to have a blog on which to voice mine so here you are: the defence is simply not good enough. I don’t rate Cahill and Jagielka as a centre back pairing at all. As Forrest Gump once said ‘that’s all I have to say about that.’
Moving up the field, the midfield partnership of Henderson and Gerrard is incredibly slow
and uncreative for a national side, while Rooney is no more a left winger than I am (and I’m not). Neither full back was offered any protection from those in front of them with the left being particularly exposed as neither Rooney nor Welbeck had any desire to be out there. Is there not a left-footed midfielder in all of England that could have actually given the side some balance?
Finally, the forwards. Rickie Lambert was given a place ahead of Andy Carroll. Hindsight is fantastic, but for me, if you need a goal then Andy Carroll is a better option than Rickie Lambert to bring on with 20/25 minutes to go. The big man holds the ball up, brings people into play and gets goals with both his head and his feet. I’m not denying that Lambert knows where the goal is, his record at club level proves he does, but I just think Carroll contributes more to the build-up play. England weren’t creating the chances that Lambert thrives on, so he contributed absolutely nothing when he came off the bench against Uruguay.
So that’s just about it for another few days. Here’s hoping South Korea pull something out of the hat at the end of the week. Until then, blog on!
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