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World Cup pre-game: Russia vs. South Korea

Both Russia and South Korea want the crucial early-game points in Group H. Korea was thrashed 4-0 by Ghana in its last World Cup warm-up and the Koreans will have to find their feet early on in this one.

Both countries hoping to draw 1st blood in Group H action

South Korea's Song Heun-Min is hoping his country can turn a few heads and produce a miraculous run like 12 years ago. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

Group H: Russia vs. South Korea

  • June 17, 6 p.m. ET
  • CBC TV, live streaming at cbc.ca/fifaworldcup

​What's at stake

Each team wants crucial early-game points in Group H.

Korea was thrashed 4-0 by Ghana in its last World Cup warm-up. The Koreans have to find their feet — and their confidence — again in this opening match.

Impact players

  • Russia: Alexander Kerzhanov. This seasoned striker holds the all-time goal record in the Russian Premier League. He will be key in Russian attacks.
  • South Korea: Son Heung-Min. A young midfielder, he is versatile in playing wide and in going forward with confidence.

What to watch for

Defence can be an issue for Korea, a weakness that Russia will want to exploit under Capello, who instills a high work-rate among his players.

These teams have played only once — Russia won 2-1 in a friendly last year. So they’ll spend some time feeling each other out as this game evolves.

They said it

  • “You have to play a system according to the type of players that you have,” Fabio Capello told FIFA.com.
  • "It`s true the Russian team are quite technical and strong. Maybe the Russians are physically stronger than Asian sides like us but we are well prepared for this game, we`re focused," Korean defender Lee Yong told india.com.

The Big Number

5 — A Russian player, Oleg Salenko, holds the World Cup record for scoring five goals in one game — a 6-1 drubbing of Cameroon in 1994.

Obligatory fun fact

South Korean coach Hong Myung-Bo, 45, helped lift the South Koreans over Spain in penalties at the 2002 World Cup, sending the surprise country to the final four. 

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