In the 2014 World Cup, goalkeeping was one of the Korean National Team’s weakest spots, with Suwon Bluewings’ ‘keeper Jung Sung-Ryong being criticised by many fans of Korean football for his frequent errors.
Jung managed to maintain his first team spot despite a poor season in the K-League, but his performance against Algeria, where he conceded four goals, led to him being dropped.
Up-and-coming ‘keeper Kim Seung-Gyu was selected for the national team’s final game of the World Cup, and made several impressive saves as Korea lost one-nil to the group favorites. The 24 year old Ulsan Hyundai goalkeeper is now looking to make that number one spot his own.
Kim Seung-Gyu has some tough competition in the form of Cerezo Osaka ‘keeper Kim Jin-Hyeon. Both have a similar number of caps, with Kim Seung-Gyu holding twelve caps to Kim Jin-Hyeon’s eleven. The Korean media have been trying to second-guess national team coach Uli Stielike over which of the two will be his preferred number one.
And fans have even made this video comparing the two goalies.
Kim Seung-Gyu played in goal in Korea’s two matches this month, keeping clean sheets in both the friendly against the UAE and the team’s first 2018 World Cup qualifier against Myanmar, although in truth he had little to do in either game. The highlight of his national team career has been his appearance for the Under-23’s in the 2014 Asian Games where Kim kept six clean sheets as Korea won the gold medal on home soil.
Due to his young age, he has made less than a hundred senior appearances in his club career despite being at Ulsan since 2006. In his time at Ulsan he has picked up an AFC Asian Champions’ League winner’s medal, making four appearances in the 2012 ACL that Ulsan won, beating Al-Ahli three-nil in the final.
Kim Seung-Gyu also made the 2013 K-League best XI, and as he gets older, he will be hoping to win this honor again as well as making the national team’s number one spot his own.
Written by Steven Price
Check out more of his work on everything South Korean football at the excellent K-League Footy
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