Korea Republic (also called South Korea) will by no means be push-overs at this year’s World Cup, having qualified for their eighth consecutive Mundial. However, it will be hard for the Red Devils to replicate their best-ever fourth-place finish when they hosted the event 12 years ago.
Qualification: W 4, D 2, L 2
Previous World Cup appearances: 8
Best World Cup finish: Fourth place (2002)
Current FIFA ranking: 57
Coach: South Korea's record appearance holder Hong Myung-bo took over as head coach in June last year, and will bring vital World Cup experience, having captained the side that made the semi-finals in 2002. The 45-year-old is in his first stint in charge of a senior national team, having previously coached the South Korean U20 and U23 sides.
Captain: Koo Ja-cheol was handed the armband ahead of Brazil 2014, and although just 25 years old, the talented midfielder has the respect of all his team mates since debutising for his country six years ago. Currently plying his trade for German club Mainz, Koo has spent the last three years in Europe, and will use his experience abroad to lead his side in Brazil.
Key player: Korea Republic’s star midfielder Lee Chungyong will lead his nation at their eighth consecutive World Cup – an Asian record – hoping for a consistent showing in Brazil.
Usually deployed at right wing for both club and country, the talented 25-year-old combines pace and skill to menace opposition defenders, and is often the start of his team’s offensive plays.
Beginning his career for local club FC Seoul, Lee spend five years playing his trade in South Korea before agreeing terms with current English club Bolton Wanderers for a reported fee of R39 million. The winger had a stellar first season in England, featuring in 30 matches for his club as he went on to win a host of awards, including Bolton’s Player of the Year, Players' Player of the Year, and the Best Newcomer award.
However, the “Blue Dragon’s” career hit a speed-bump after suffering from a broken leg in 2011, ruling him out of action for almost a year. Critics believe Lee never fully-recovered from his injury, having lost has sharpness with inconsistent displays since returning to the Trotters’ team in 2013.
Despite his naysayers in England, Lee continued to excel for the Korea Republic, making his debut in a World Cup qualifier against Jordan in 2008. Despite their Round of 16 exit in South Africa 2010, Lee was a key player for his side, scoring two goals on his way to being named as one of the top 10 rising stars of the tournament. A month after making his 50th appearance for his country last year, Lee was given the captain’s armband in a friendly against Switzerland and is set to lead his side in Brazil.
Key fixture: The South Korean’s final group fixture against Belgium could be a must-win for the Asians to qualify for the Last 16.
18 June, 00:00 Russia vs Korea Republic
22 June, 21:00 Korea Republic vs Algeria
26 June, 22:00 Korea Republic vs Belgium
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