When Uli Stielike picked Park Chu-young for the friendlies against Jordan and Iran, he undoubtedly made the single most controversial decision since taking on the post of head coach for South Korea. While the German made it clear that he wanted to test Park out for himself, fans did not expect to see him in the squad this soon after the striker’s abysmal performance during the 2014 World Cup.
In the match against Jordan, Park failed to prove his critics wrong. His pedestrian performance was not enough to compensate for the disappointment he generated during the World Cup this summer.
Currently a striker for Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab, Park to some extent displayed the potential which once lured Arsenal. Stielike was positive about his display as well, saying: “forwards are normally evaluated based on the number of shots and goals, but overall, Park put in a decent performance.”
“He should be praised for remaining calm throughout the match and controlling the ball well. He was physically fit as well.”
Indeed, Park’s ability to link up with midfielders was quite notable; he created a few good chances through deft one-touch passes or a back-heel pass to his teammates which contributed towards building up the team’s offense.
However, he seemed to abandon his threatening instinct whenever he was in the box. He was rather helpless inside the penalty area as he could not break through Jordan’s defense at all. As Park is a striker rather than a playmaker he was unable to support his colleagues, and his lone shot of the night (one of South Korea’s 12) was insufficient from a player expected to take on attacking duties. He failed to inspire as a true supporting act for his teammates, leaving the eventually victorious side still in need of a playmaker.
South Korea have one more friendly against Iran before the 2015 Asian Cup kick off. The Reds are desperate for the first win in Tehran and Stielike has affirmed his resolve, calling this friendly “an opportunity to pay [Iran] back.” It may also be the last chance for Park to regain his place in the national team, which would require a far superior display than the one against Jordan.