Minjae, why are you here now?

Returns to national team after six months…leads clean sheet and plays ‘world-class defense’

The first Asian defender to be named to the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or, which is awarded to the best soccer player, Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) was in a class of his own. He returned to the national team after a six-month absence and played a key role in two consecutive clean sheets.

The South Korean men’s national soccer team defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 in an exhibition match on Sept. 13 at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England. The Koreans held on to a 32nd-minute goal from Cho Kyu-sung (Meatwillan) to secure the win, but it was far from a walk in the park. Despite being out-shot 18-7, the team struggled in terms of quality of play, with several poor passes giving their opponents scoring chances.

It was Kim Min-jae who completely prevented these mistakes. He was able to predict the opponent’s passes, run ahead of them, and utilize his long legs to intercept them, continuously disrupting the Saudi attack. When he was frustrated by the lack of offense, he dribbled himself to create chances.

The second half, in particular, was a one-man show for Kim Min-jae. At the start of the second half, Kim quickly moved up to the left front and won a corner kick, and then moved to the back of the defense to intercept the opponent’s passes. In the 28th minute, Saudi Arabia’s Ali Hajazi found space in the back of the Korean defense, but Kim Min-jae was able to cover the ball with his body to deny him a chance. Despite the fact that most of the Korean players were visibly slowed down in the second half due to lack of stamina, Kim threw himself into the fray and showed great determination to stop all Saudi attacks.

Upon his move to Napoli (Italy) ahead of the 2022-2023 season, Kim had a tremendous season, leading the club to its first Serie A title in 33 years. A number of big clubs were interested in him before the start of the season, and he eventually moved to the pride of German soccer, Bayern Munich. On July 7, he became the first Asian defender to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or.

Kim, who was criticized for comments suggesting he might retire from the national team in March, missed the June A match to undergo military training. South Korea conceded in both of their June A matches without Kim, exposing their defensive fears and failing to win a single game.온라인바카라

With Kim back after a six-month absence, the team did not concede a single goal in the two A matches, although there were some shaky moments. The performance of Kim Min-jae, who played full-time in both games, was crucial.

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