World Cup Team Profile - Korea Republic
Coach: Hong Myung-Bo
Captain: Koo Ja-cheol (FSV Mainz 05)
Full Korea Republic Roster
The Road to Rio: The Koreans faltered in the third round, particularly on the road, losing away to both Kuwait and Lebanon and were even in a position on the final day of that stage to potentially not go through. Still, a 2-0 win over Kuwait in Seoul coupled with a surprising win for the Emirates over Lebanon ensured them a berth in the final round of Asian qualifying and top of the group.
In the fourth round, too, the Korean team cut their qualification fine. They struggled against Iran and the surprisingly strong Uzbekistan team, managing just one win out of the four combined contests. A June 4 draw against Lebanon in Beirut actually left the door open for the Uzbek team, but they were unable to pour in enough goals against Qatar on June 18 (they did manage five, though they would have needed seven) to overcome the Koreans on goal-differential.
Qualification wasn’t pretty, but Korea still managed its ninth ticket to the World Cup, easily the most amongst Asian nations.
Last World Cup appearance: South Africa 2010 (Round of 16)
First World Cup appearance: Switzerland 1954 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 8
Best World Cup finish: Fourth Place (Korea/Japan 2002)
After a second place finish in their group at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Korea was eliminated in the Round of 16 by Uruguay.
Son Heung-Min was an important player for Bayer Leverkusen during their Champions League run and will be counted on to create offence for his national squad as well.
The 21-year-old midfielder could make his mark at this tournament and be part of an improving Korean squad both now and in the future.
Sunderland’s Ki Sung Yeung will also have a part to play in the middle for Korea; he showed much improvement in England’s top league this season and will hope to carry that form into the biggest tournament in the world.
Hong Myung-Bo will lead a team that while low on top end talent, will be high on effort in Brazil. He was the captain of the 2002 Korea Republic team that rode the momentum of playing at home into a fourth place finish.
Replicating that type of success might be out of reach but they could see themselves into the second round if they can take care of business against Algeria and get a result against Russia.
It will be a tough road but if they can stick to their system they might still be alive when the tournament is reduced from 32 to 16 teams.