World Cup Team Preview: South Korea Eyes Knockout Stage

South Korea World Cup Team Preview

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The nation of South Korea became soccer crazed in 2002 and now they are making their eighth straight appearance in the World Cup. South Korea finished fourth in 2002 on their home soil after an extra time header by Ahn Jung-hwan beat Italy. They then beat Spain. This performance has raised expectations in South Korea, but now they must face Belgium, Russia and Algeria. Even though the group is tough, a good collection of players, an average finish of 12th over the last three World Cups and belief have South Korea eying the knockout phase.

South Korea will rely on several players from the German Bundesliga. Augsburg, Mainz and Leverkusen have players on the roster. There are a handful of players from various England leagues, but many play for teams in the K League of South Korea. A veteran of the K League, Hong Myung-Bo, was tasked with leading the team’s run just a year ago. He has given many players the chance to make the squad, but favored a small rotation of players for big minutes. Myung-Bo decided to name his final roster even with injury concerns on defense.

There is only one player over the age of 30 on the South Korea team. However, there are five players that were on the 2010 World Cup roster for South Korea. These players will travel to Miami at the end of May and take on Ghana on June 10.

Attack

Kim Shin-wook is not a typical striker in the South Korean system, but brings a physical presence that will be utilized. Meanwhile, Lee Keun-ho is known for dynamic crosses and moments of inconsistency. Ji Dong-won has found a new life at Augsburg and will move to Dortmund next season. Dong-won has international experience at the Olympics and has speed that can concern most back lines.

Midfield

Two Premier League players will feature in the middle. Kim Bo-kyung was outstanding in the Olympics, but has been up and down at Cardiff CityKi Sung-yueng may play multiple roles, but is comfortable on the ball. He is also the set piece taker.

However, it is Son Heung-min who South Korea will depend on to fuel the attack. Heung-min was in the Hamburg academy as a teenager and took a big contract to move to Leverkusen last summer. He is good with both feet and continues to improve.

Defense

Kwak Tae-hwi is the one player over the age of 30 and will be asked to provide leadership from his central defender role. The other options in the back have little international experience and have no idea what it feels like on the World Cup stage. For instance, Hwang Seok-ho has only made three appearances because of a number of untimely injuries.

Queens Park Rangers‘ defender Yun Suk-Young makes the squad at full back with questions on the health of Park Joo-ho.

Kim Seung-gyu is the keeper in waiting, but Jung Sung-ryong should start. Sung-ryong has been prone to glaring mistakes and does not handle crosses well.

Prediction

As stated in the link below, the biggest match for South Korea will be when they face Russia. The winner of this match will move on. If there is a draw, it should come down to a tiebreaker. Russia has more pressure as the next host country. It should be a tight matchup and perhaps one of the best of the group stage. South Korea gets the edge, but gets eliminated in the round of 16.

Douglas Smith is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DFresh39, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

Related:

South Korea Must Beat Russia to Advance
Russia World Cup Team Preview
Belgium World Cup Team Preview

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