World Cup Preview – Group B – South Korea

I’ve been waiting all week to write this preview – absolutely can’t wait! Not! This preview really has been a struggle.

THE BASICS

• Nickname: Taeguk Warriors
• Colors: Red and white
• FIFA Ranking: 47
• How They Got Here: Went undefeated in the semi-finals and finals of Asian qualifying.
• World Cup Pedigree: 8 World Cups (including every one since ’86); finished fourth in 2002 (when they were co-hosts).

THE PLOT

The glory days of ’02 seem to have passed by with little noise. The squad looks decidedly weak in key areas. They lack the quality European footballers that most other sides have a smattering of at the very least. The South Koreans have a reputation as hard working, supremely fit and industrious, but they’ll be undone by a tad of physicality. They also have plenty of pace at their disposal and will fancy their chances against the Greeks and try to snatch draws against the other two fancied sides. The nation is completely football mad and a sweeping wave of euphoria could help them. They’ll be desperate to supersede whatever their Northern partners achieve.

THE DIRECTOR

Huh Jung-Moo

I’m not gonna lie here – I don’t have a clue about this bloke. But not to worry, I’ve done a little research. Apparently he used to play for PSV in the Netherlands, becoming one of the first major exports from the far East. They’ll probably be dreaming of wonder boss Guss Hiddink making a dramatic return to the helm – and maybe this will be their best chance.

LEADING MAN

Park Ji-Sung

Park has become a mainstay at Man United and is regularly used in the big games by Sir Alex. He’s a likeable fellow – typically Asian – polite, small, crafty and always one to keep his emotions in check. The fact that he plays for the Reds and comes from the part of the world that offers the biggest consumer market on the planet, makes his shirt one of the most widely sold of any player. He is unspectacular and incredibly efficient, which fits the mould of the archetypal South Korean. (I apologize in advance for the horrible music. The video is quality though.)

SUPPORTING CAST

Park Chu-Young (forward, AS Monaco) is renowned as a free-kick specialist and this will be one of their main sources of goals. He’s known to hit them with his right or left.  He isn’t just in the side for dead balls, either, he’s one of the fastest players at the tournament. A true speedy gonzalo. Lee Young-Pyo (left back, Al-Hilal [Saudi Arabia]) has had stints at Tottenham and (Korean favourite) PSV and his move to the Arabs must be for a final big payout. He’s a true veteran and is renowned for – you guessed it- his pace. He could trouble the Argentinians on the counter or with wide sweeping runs. Or maybe not… Lee Woon-Jae (goalkeeper, Suwon Bluewings) It’s worth mentioning this guy – he’s participating at an incredible 5th World Cup. He must be bored of it by now…

GET YOURSELF LABELLED AS “THE HOTTEST PROPERTY”

Surrounding Park Ji-Sung in the midfield will be a duo of very talented British-based midfielders, Ki Sung-Yueng and Lee Chung-Yong. These guys look to have the goods, particularly Chung-Yong who seems a talented poacher. He was signed out of absolutely nowhere by Bolton and Megson, and featured in yours truly’s fantasy team for periods of the EPL.  Sung-Yueng has been dubbed “The Korean Gerrard” and plays for Celtic. Unfortunately, the Korean Gerrard is not really of a similar ilk. In Korea, these two players are dubbed the “double dragon” and the pressure on their shoulders at this tournament and into the future is nothing short of immense.

THE LIKELY VILLAIN

Young-Pyo

Unsure who to pick, the only real dirt I could find on the squad centred around this guy. In 2006, he allegedly requested the authorities to drop all Buddhist players in favour of Christians. Sounds like North Korea to be honest.

FORMATION

The team will play a tight 4-3-3 that isn’t as attacking as it sounds. they focus on possession football looking to constantly pass and move and pass and move. It won’t be like Barcelona possession football, but it does the job.

THE STRIP

IT’S SORTA LIKE…

“I Am Legend”

Park Ji-Sung, like Will Smith, is the only big-name player in this production. If you’d like to make a joke about Argentina and zombies, the floor is all yours.

TRAILER

USELESS TRIVIA

The South Korean national anthem, “Aegukka (Patriotic Song),” was sung to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” until 1937 when it received it’s own original score.

THE FAIRYTALE SCRIPT

There are a few options here: A match up with North Korea would simply be too much to handle for many Koreans and fortunately for them, the chances of this happening are negligible at best. The most popular player in Europe/Latin America/Western World in Lionel Messi will hopefully swap shirts with the pride and joy of the East in Park Ji-Sung when the teams face off on June 17. Rest assure, there will be more than a few flashbulbs exploding. This will be a true fairytale moment.

FINAL VERDICT

The Koreans will fancy there chances to get out of the group. They have been granted a dream group. They won’t have to worry about too much physicality (all these teams seem to have been lumped into group D) and will favour their fitness against the likes of Nigeria, Greece and Argentina. You just never know with this type of team. If their passing is really “on” then they could control the ball for long periods against better sides. They’ll trouble others with their exceptional pace out wide and could be a surprise package in 2010. However, after their run in 2002, maybe it’s someone else’s turn to make a good run – maybe Australia?

Decent quality midfield + unprecedented home support + plenty of speed + relatively easy group – untested against quality opposition – lacks a real game breaker = Will probably finish with one win, one draw and one loss – it’ll come down to goal difference in this group and maybe the Africans (at home) will get the nod.


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6 thoughts on “World Cup Preview – Group B – South Korea

  1. gk says:

    south korea will not progress through the group stages.
    the team seems to revolve around man united midfielder park, however, a rather ‘not so good season at manchester united’ doesnt give me any confidence in him. i dont understand why ferguson plays him in the big matches, especially in the champions league. yes he works hard on the pitch, however he doesnt have that spark. he never sparked for united, therefore i constantly question his ability and whether he will make some impact at the world cup. doubtful.

    • passthesugar says:

      gk,

      South Korea surely have some chance to get out of this group. They should win against the Greeks and anything could happen from there.

      I suppose time will tell…

      • gk says:

        even greece will be a hard game. i still do believe that the buzz of euro 2004 remain ringing in their ears. it will be very interesting to see how maradona will carry argentina as they did not have a comfortable qualifying process.
        my tip for going through the group stages is argentina and nigeria.

        will be interesting to see what happens…

    • MV says:

      GK you wanna know why Park starts for Man Utd? Its plain and simple. Asia is full of money and people who are desperate to see their stars on the big stage. No greater evidence than the fact that asia gets consistently the biggest viewing numbers for the world cup final. What greater a publicity stunt than to have a south korean being a star in the biggest league in the world.

      • passthesugar says:

        MV

        Sir Alex is all about success on the park – you’re making a big big statement!

      • gk says:

        MV, I acknowledge your statement and have had much thought about it. However I still can’t understand why it has any relevance. Why is it that the most popular player in Asia will have a massive impact with the support behind him behind a television screen from his home fans? Asia are football mad, but what does publicity have to do with anything?
        Let me ask you something, every time you shout or cheer at the television screen, do you believe that they can hear you? I don’t think so… so why does your statement have any relevance?

        Lets have a look at this so called ‘star’ of Asia.
        Games Played for Manchester United: 102
        Goals Scored for Manchester United: 16
        That is not a very convincing statistic.

        So why does he start for Manchester United in SOME of the large games?
        – He is a workhorse
        – Poor depth in the squad
        – Why are their rumours for Manchester United to spend big and Rooney publicly stating that “Manchester need more world-class talent”, hence a world-class midfielder.

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