In the friendly between Klinsmann’s and Tunisia, it wasn’t just the forward line that exploded for four goals, but also one player at the back.
Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) is the ‘defensive nucleus’ of Korean football.
Starting in central defence alongside Jeong Seung-hyun (Ulsan), the South Korean defender hunkered down to break up Tunisia’s sharp counter-attacks.
Wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Min-jae frequently displayed his trademark ‘forward defence’ to nullify the opposition’s attacks.
In the 22nd minute of the first half, after coming up to the halfway line and winning the ball with strong pressure, Kim Min-jae supplied a forward pass to Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) to the delight of the fans.
Six minutes later, he overpowered Yousif Masakini in a race for speed as he attempted to sprint down the flank and won another interception.
In the 40th minute, Kim was called into action when Hannibal Mazbari led a fierce counter-attack down the halfway line.
Mazbari was gradually pushed to the side by Kim Min-jae, who kept up his pace, and the counterattack was foiled when the ball crossed the touchline.
After a first-half defensive performance that looked like it had been edited into a ‘highlights’ video, Kim joined the attack in the second half.
In the 21st minute of the second half, Kim’s header from a corner kick hit the body of Tunisian defender Yassine Marja to make it 3-0.
It could have been a goal for Kim Min-jae, but the final decision was an own goal.
A late goal by Hwang Eui-jo (Norwich City) in stoppage time made it 4-0, and Kim revealed in the joint press area that he would rather have a clean sheet than a goal.
“It’s good to have a clean sheet, even if it’s not a goal,” he laughed as he met with the media.
Wearing the armband in place of Son Heung-min, Kim said, “It was decided by the coach. I didn’t feel any pressure because I was a temporary captain,” he said, adding, “The defence is something we talk about among the players. The coaching staff also pointed out that we need to get better, so we are following (the instructions).”
Klinsmann was quick to praise Kim’s leadership in the postgame press conference.
“He (Kim) is a prepared leader who is a leader on and off the field,” Klinsmann said. The younger players learn a lot from the way he approaches his workouts and how he takes care of his body,” Klinsmann said.
Kim has one of the most physically demanding schedules of any player on the national team.
After playing against Freiburg (Germany) in the early hours of the morning on 9 September, Kim was called up by coach Jürgen Klinsmann and returned home to train for the October A match.
He joined Klinsmann’s team immediately and went through a full training session at the Paju National Training Centre (NFC) on the 10th without any rest.
“It’s hard for all players. All the players did a good job, even those who went to the Asian Games and those who played in the K League,” he said. 스포츠토토