World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: South Korea knockout bound
Past tournaments: 1954, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
Previous Best: Fourth Place, 2002
How they got here:
Breezed through the third round (they’d received a bye up until that point) of the AFC’s qualification process, winning four and drawing one of their six games.
The Red Devils stuttered slightly in the next phase, qualifying for Brazil in second place behind Iran having lost to both them and Qatar. They’ve won just five of their 15 matches since sealing their World Cup spot, though.
Star man: Son Heung-min (Bayer Leverkusen)
The 23-year-old only scored one goal to help his country reach the summer festivities, but much is expected from the young left winger in Brazil.
Son scored 10 times and assisted four more during the Bundesliga campaign and will be tasked with leading the side’s counter-attacking style from the left.
Under the radar: Kim Young-kwon (Guangzhou Evergrande)
According to Kim’s club coach, Marcello Lippi, the 24-year-old is a future Manchester United centre back.
Adept on the ball, Kim’s long-range passing game can be South Korea’s springboard for their philosophy. Keep an eye out for Kim’s ability to strike the ball if Korea earn themselves a long-range free kick too.
Team nutcase: Koo Ja-Cheol (Mainz 05)
More “team Robbie Savage” than team nutcase, Koo is a wind-up merchant of the blonde-locked Welshman’s ilk.
After sealing the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics, a Japanese opponent described the midfielder as the most annoying player he’d faced. He also got Franck Ribery sent off while playing for Augsburg a few years ago and lured a Wolfsburg teammate into a training ground fight.
Koo smirks as he coaxes a slap out of Bayern Munich’s Ribery:
How far can they go?
Having landed in one of the tournament’s easier groups, South Korea should be confident of reaching the knockout stage for the third time in four years.
Facing either Portugal or Germany in the next round is clearly a daunting prospect but with the skipper of their 2002 adventure, Hong Myung-bo, now managing the side in a fast-paced Dutch-style, a repeat of the Portuguese toppling they achieved on home soil may not be too much of a stretch.
To win the World Cup: 500/1
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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