South Korea manager Shin Tae-yong was highly critical of his side’s lack of attacking sharpness in their opening match of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, which they lost 1-0 to Sweden.
Captain Andreas Granqvist converted from the spot in the second half following Kim Min-woo’s challenge on the Swede, with a penalty awarded after VAR consultation.
Speaking after the game, and quoted by the Independent, Shin expressed ironic sympathy for Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen, commenting that he ‘probably became bored’. Shin also added, ‘I think we became too subdued.’
Few who watched the match in Nizhny Novgorod would disagree. If the Swedes had been more clinical in front of goal, they could potentially have hammered the lacklustre Koreans.
Before the match had even kicked off, it was tainted by controversy – as reported in the Guardian, Sweden manager Janne Andersson apologised for spying on the Koreans while they were training. Shin explained that his players had used different shirt numbers to confuse the Swedes, because ‘Europeans can’t tell our players apart by their faces’.
Nevertheless, Shin was magnanimous in defeat. Speaking to reporters, and quoted by Sports Mole, he was full of praise for the Swedes, saying: “In the second half we made some adjustments to concentrate on our speed and managed to find opportunities, but Sweden played really well.”
Shin also seemed to attribute Sweden’s success to their height, explaining: “Among the 32 teams at this World Cup, Sweden are one of the tallest. They are able to take advantage of this and their physical condition.”
After losing to Sweden, South Korea seem unlikely to progress from Group F, as they still have to play Mexico and holders Germany. Nevertheless, Shin refused to dwell on the disappointment of Monday’s defeat, preferring to focus on his side’s clash with the Mexicans on Saturday.
“Now our attitude is that we have to prepare ourselves very well for the match against Mexico,” he insisted, adding: “They are going to be a formidable opponent. We have to find our own way to face them.”