Not coming to Park the bus - South Korea World Cup Preview
South Korea will make their eighth successive World Cup appearance at Brazil. The Asian side have competed in the competition since 1986, having also made a single appearance in 1954. Their highest finish is reaching the Semi-Finals in the 2002 when they hosted it alongside Japan.
How they qualified
South Korea qualified through the Asian section of the qualification system. In the third round, they were placed in Group B, and won the group comfortably. This meant that they were automatically put through to the fourth round, where the winners and runners up of the five groups in round three, were put into two groups. The winners and runners up of the two groups automatically qualified for the World Cup. The two third placed teams faced each other to determine who will go through to the Intercontinental playoff. South Korea were runners up in Group A, finishing 2 points off first placed Iran and only finishing above third place Uzbekistan on goal difference.
23 Man Squad
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).
£8 Million rated Son Heung-Min will be the player that South Korea will look to if in doubt. The 21 year old moved to Bayer Leverkusen this year and has enjoyed a decent first season for them, scoring 10 goals in 31 matches. He mainly plays as a second striker, dropping in behind the striker but he can also play on the left side of midfield. He often uses his pace and shooting ability to cut inside from the left, or run from deep to create chances.
Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung has spent this season on loan at Sunderland. The playmaker can be a real threat for his natonal side as his passing abilities and decision-making can create chances at will for them. Ki has shown his abilities since his Celtic side and as the 25 year old reaches his peak, he is very rare to see him lose possession.
Striker Park Chu-Young has failed to impress for Arsenal since joining them in 2011, having just seven minutes of league action for Arsene Wenger’s team. However, he has impressed for his national team, playing his part in qualification. So, he could be vital for them if on form.
It is also worth looking out for QPR Left-Back Yun Suk-Young. The pacey full-back can cause problems for any defences down the left, and he has brilliant crossing abilities.
South Korea find themselves in Group H of the competition, alongside Algeria, Russia and Belgium. From South Korea’s point of view, they will feel confident in trying to scrape into second place. I think it will be difficult for them to win the group, but second place is definitely not out of the question, if they use their youngsters wisely.