Factfile on South Korea, who are in World Cup Group H
Best World Cup performance: Fourth place in 2002.
Other honours: Asian champions in 1956, 1960.
FIFA ranking: 28.
Main clubs: Jeonbuk Motors, Ulsan, FC Seoul, Pohang Steelers.
How they qualified: South Korea finished second behind Iran in Asian qualifying Group A.
Coach: Paulo Bento, 53, was appointed in 2018. The former international midfielder started his managerial career with Sporting Lisbon in his native Portugal. Coached Portugal from 2010 to 2014 and had spells in Brazil, Greece and China, before South Korea came calling. Bento was in charge of a Portugal team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that boasted Cristiano Ronaldo, but they failed to get out of the group stage, having been thumped 4-0 by eventual champions Germany and held 2-2 by the United States. He lasted just one more game, a 1-0 home defeat to Albania in a European Championship qualifier, before he was sacked. Will be eager for revenge when South Korea face Portugal in Group H.
Key player: Son Heung-min is the undoubted star man but his World Cup is in doubt after suffering a serious facial injury for Tottenham Hotspur against Marseille in the Champions League. He had surgery last Friday to fractures around his left eye socket but Spurs and South Korea are keeping tight-lipped about his Qatar hopes. He will be a huge miss if he is ruled out. The Spurs forward is captain of his country and their talisman. Son has scored 35 times in 104 appearances for South Korea. He shared the Premier League golden boot with Liverpool’s Mo Salah last season as joint top-scorer with 23 goals.
Expectations and key players according to Daeryeong Kim, Korea Football News:
“In this World Cup, South Korea’s goal is to advance to the round of 16. Of course, it will not be easy. South Korea will have to compete with Uruguay and Ghana for second place. Ghana has no star players and lacks organisation and teamwork, so I think South Korea can win. It seems that the outcome of the match against Uruguay will determine whether or not to advance to the round of 16.”
“The key player is, of course, Heung-Min Son. But this is a fact that everyone knows. With he expection of Son Heung-min and Kim Min-jae, I can pick Hwang In-beom as key player. He is currently in the best condition in South Korea’s midfield position, and has good technique and running stats. I can say South Korea’s attack starts from Hwang In-beom’s toes.”
November 24: Uruguay v South Korea.
November 28: South Korea v Ghana
December 2: South Korea v Portugal.
Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-Gyu, Jo Hyeon-Woo, Song Bum-Keun.
Defenders: Kim Min-Jae, Kim Young-Gwon, Kwon Kyung-Won, Cho Yu-Min, Kim Moon-Hwan, Yoon Jong-Gyu, Kim Tae-Hwan, Kim Jin-Su, Hong Chul.
Midfielders: Jung Woo-Young, Son Jun-Ho, Paik Seung-Ho, Hwang In-Beom, Lee Jae-Sung, Kwon Chang-Hoon, Jeong Woo-Yeong, Lee Kang-In, Son Heung-Min, Hwang Hee-Chan, Na Sang-Ho, Song Min-Kyu.
Forwards: Hwang Ui-Jo, Cho Gue-Sung.
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