South Korea - a look at the Group H outsiders
South Korea struggled during qualifying but have a quick young team that could shock Belgium and Russia in Group H.
Last Updated: 10/06/14 2:25pm
Back for an eighth successive tournament, South Korea reached the second round in 2010 and will be looking to repeat that feat in Brazil.
Qualification was an arduous affair as the Taegeuk Warriors lost both home and away to Iran, stumbled to a 1-1 draw against Lebanon and sneaked into the finals on goal difference ahead of Uzbekistan. Coach Choi Kang-Hee quit as a result of several poor performances and was replaced by former national team captain Hong Myung-Bo in June 2013.
Despite these setbacks, South Korea have an exciting young team who should be able to thrill fans in Brazil with their counter-attacking style. Bayer Leverkusen youngster Son Heung-Min is a player to watch, while former Sunderland striker Ji Dong-Won is set to join Borussia Dortmund this summer after impressing in the Bundesliga with his displays for Augsburg. South Korea don't always get it right, but if they click in June a place in the knockout rounds is up for grabs.
South Korea's Group H fixtures
1. Tuesday June 17th: South Korea v Russia - Cuiaba (23.00)
2. Sunday June 22nd: South Korea v Algeria - Porto Alegre (20.00)
3. Thursday June 26th: South Korea v Belgium - Sao Paulo (21.00)
Coach: Hong Myung-Bo
A veteran of four World Cups as a player, Hong captained South Korea to fourth place when they hosted the tournament with Japan in 2002. The 45-year-old was a talented defender in his playing days, and that has helped him stiffen up a back-line that was often susceptible to set-pieces in qualifying. Hong prefers a quick counter-attacking style, but has suffered mixed results in his short reign. Following friendly victories over Greece and Switzerland it looked as though the team were heading in the right direction, but they have also been on the receiving end of 4-0 thrashings by Mexico and Croatia.
Star man: Ki Sung-Yueng
The midfielder's loan from Swansea to Sunderland was largely seen as a success, but he hasn't played since April owing to a nagging knee injury. Ki is a calm presence in South Korea's midfield, responsible for dictating play and beginning fast counter-attacks. He may be only 25, but there are just two players in the squad who have more caps.
Tournament best: Fourth, 2002.
Goalkeepers: Jung Sung-ryong (Suwon Bluewings), Kim Seung-gyu (Ulsan Hyundai), Lee Bum-young (Busan I'Park).
Defenders: Hong Jeong-ho (Augsburg), Hwang Seo-ho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Kim Chang-soo (Kashiwa Reysol), Kim Young-gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Kwak Tae-hwi (Al Hilal), Lee Yong (Ulsan Hyundai), Yun Suk-young (QPR), Park Joo-ho (Mainz).
Midfielders: Ha Dae-sung (Beijing Guoan), Han Kook-young (Kashiwa Reysol), Ji Dong-won (Augsburg), Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea), Kim Bo-kyung (Cardiff City), Lee Chung-yong (Bolton), Park Jong-woo (Guangzhou R&F), Son Heung-min (Bayer Leverkusen).
Forwards: Kim Shin-wook (Ulsan Hyundai), Koo Ja-cheol (Mainz), Lee Keun-ho (Sangju Sangmu), Park Chu-young (Arsenal).
British based players: Yun Suk-Young (QPR), Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea), Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton), Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff), Park Chu-Young (Arsenal).
Sky Bet odds: 500/1
South Korea are odds-against at 9/5 to reach the knock-out stages for a third time in their last four attempts and 40/1 to repeat their semi-final run from 2002 on home turf. Chu-Young Park is considered their most likely top scorer at 5/1 despite struggling for match time since joining Arsenal two years ago.