Team Profile: South Korea
- Coach: Huh Jong-moo
- Goalkeepers: Kim Young-kwang (Ulsan), Lee Woon-jae (Suwon), Jung Sung-ryong (Seongnam)
- Defenders: Kim Dong-jin (Ulsan), Kim Hyung-il (Pohang), Oh Beom-seok (Ulsan), Lee Young-pyo (Al Hilal/Saudi Arabia), Lee Jung-soo (Kashima/Japan), Cha Du-ri (Freiburg/Germany) Cho Yong-hyung (Jeju United) Kang Min-soo (Suwon)
- Midfielders: Ki Sung-yong (Celtic/Scotland), Kim Bo-kyung (Oita/Japan), Kim Nam-il (Tomsk/Russia), Kim Jae-sung (Pohang), Kim Jung-woo (Gwangju), Lee Chung-yong (Bolton/England), Park Ji-sung (Manchester United/England)
- Forwards: Park Chu-young (Monaco/France), Ahn Jung-hwan (Dalian/China), Lee Seung-ryul (Seoul), Yeom Ki-hun, (Suwon), Lee Dong-gook (Jeonbuk)
Style of play: Coach Huh Jong-moo employs a traditional 4-4-2 formation, but preaches fast ball movement at all times, which they use to stunning effect on the counter-attack. Manchester United star Park Ji-sung is given licence to roam from his position on the left side of midfield and push up behind the two strikers, Park Chu-young and Lee Seung-ryul. Ki Sung-yung quarterbacks the midfield from the back, while Park acts as the team's chief playmaker. South Korea uses a series of short and quick passes to move the ball around through the middle, while winger Lee Chung-yong gives the attack some width down the right side.
1st round matches:
- June 12 vs. Greece in Port Elizabeth
- June 17 vs. Argentina in Johannesburg
- June 22 vs. Nigeria in Durban
Projected starting lineup (4-4-2): (GK) Lee Woon-jae - (D) Oh Beom-seok, Cho Yong-hyung, Kim Dong-jin, Lee Jung-soo - (M) Park Ji-sung, Kim Jung-woo, Ki Sung-yong, Lee Chung-yong - (F) Park Chu-young, Lee Seung-ryul
- Quickness - Because of its high-tempo playing style, South Korea will be one of the fittest teams at the World Cup. Team members' overall quickness and ability to run for 90 minutes mean that opponents will have trouble keeping up with them.
- Experience - More South Korean players are plying their trade in Europe' s top leagues than ever before (Park Ji-sung, Park Chu-young to name a few), which means South Korea's national team will benefit from their experience abroad.
- History - South Korea is set to play in its seventh consecutive and eighth overall World Cup, more than any other Asian nation. The South Koreans have been here before, reaching the semifinals on home soil in 2002, and know what the tournament is all about.
- Defence - South Korea's back line is brittle and not at all impenetrable, and often conceded cheap goals in the qualifiers. For a team that prides itself on its speed, South Korea's defence is slow to react to the counter-attack.
- Coaching - Huh Jong-moo lacks international experience at the highest level, and while he's had some success in Asian tournaments, questions remain over his ability to lead his country to victory in a tournament with a higher calibre of opposition.
- No home-field advantage - After bowing out in the first round in four consecutive tournaments (1986 to 1998) the South Koreans made it past the first hurdle and advanced to the semifinals in 2002. But that success came on home soil, and four years later, in Germany, the Asian powerhouse was again eliminated in the group stage. In total, South Korea has only won a single game away from home at the World Cup.
Players to watch:
- Park Chu-young - The glamour boy of South Korean soccer, Park is coming off an impressive season with French club Monaco and scored four times for his country in the World Cup qualifiers.
- Lee Woon-jae - South Korea's veteran goalkeeper, known for his rigorous physical fitness regimen, is still as athletic as he was when helped his country finish fourth at the 2002 World Cup.
- Park Ji-sung - A wizard with the ball who can burn defenders with his speed, the Manchester United star has great vision and uses it to deliver passes to his teammates with pinpoint accuracy in the attacking third of the field.
Key injuries/squad omissions: Defenders Kang Min-soo, Hwang Jae-won and Cho Won-hee, and midfielders Kim Chi-woo, Shin Hyung-min and Ku Ja-cheol, and striker Lee Keun-ho were all named to South Korea's 30-man preliminary roster before being cut by coach Huh Jong-moo. Strikers Park Chu-young and Lee Dong-guk have been bothered by thigh injuries. Veteran winger Seol Ki-hyeon didn't make the team - he is still recovering from a knee operation. Striker Lee Dong-gook made the final team despite not being fully recovered from a hamstring injury.
Prognosis: Second round. Argentina is the class of Group B, which means South Korea will battle it out with Nigeria and Greece for second place and a spot in the round of 16. The Nigerians should prove to be a tough test for the Asians, which means the June 22 showdown between the two nations in Durban will likely decide who advances to the next round. This could go either way, but you have to give the advantage to the South Koreans, who are a better-organized side and have more experience. That's as far as they will go, though.
ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
- Current FIFA ranking: #47
- Qualification route: In the third round of the Asian qualifiers, South Korea won Group 3 ahead of North Korea (both teams finished tied on 12 points). In the final round, South Korea finished first in Group 2 (16 points) ahead of North Korea (12 points).
- Key to qualification: Grinding out results. Far from spectacular, South Korea efficiently went about its business in earning positive results, and was the only country to finish the Asian qualifiers undefeated (seven wins, seven draws).
- Crucial result: A 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia (Nov. 19, 2008, in Riyadh) was South Korea's first victory over the Saudis in 19 years and sent them on their way to winning their fourth-round qualifying group.
- Qualifying record: 14 games played, 7 wins, 7 draws, 0 losses
- Goals for: 22
- Goals against: 7
- Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Park Ji-Sung (5)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
- Feb. 6, 2008 - South Korea 4, Turkmenistan 0
- March 26, 2008 - North Korea 0, South Korea 0
- May 31, 2008 - South Korea 2, Jordan 2
- June 7, 2008 - Jordan 0, South Korea 0
- June 14, 2008 - Turkmenistan 1, South Korea 3
- June 22, 2008 - South Korea 0, North Korea 0
- Sept. 10, 2008 - North Korea 1, South Korea 1
- Oct. 15, 2008 - South Korea 4, United Arab Emirates 1
- Nov. 19, 2008 - Saudi Arabia 0, South Korea 2
- Feb. 11, 2009 - Iran 1, South Korea 1
- April 1, 2009 - South Korea 1, North Korea 0
- June 6, 2009 - United Arab Emirates 0, South Korea 2
- June 10, 2009 - South Korea 0, Saudi Arabia 0
- June 17, 2009 - South Korea 1, Iran 1
- Number of World Cup appearances: 7
- All-time record: 24 games played, 4 wins, 7 draws, 13 losses
- Goals for: 22
- Goals against: 53
- Biggest victory: 2-0 vs. Poland in 2002
- Biggest defeat: 9-0 vs. Hungary in 1954
- Top scorer: Jung-Hwan Ahn (3 goals)
- Most appearances: Hong Myung-Bo (16 matches)
- Hosted the World Cup: 2002
World Cup track record
- 1930 to 1950 - Did not enter
- 1954 - First round
- 1958 - Did not enter
- 1962 - Did not qualify
- 1966 - Did not enter
- 1970 to 1982 - Did not qualify
- 1986 to 1998 - First round
- 2002 - Semifinals (4th place)
- 2006 - First Round
- FIFA member since: 1948
- Team nickname: Asian Tigers, Taeguk Warriors
- All-time caps leader: Hong Myung-Bo (136)
- All-time leading scorer: Cha Bum-Kun (55 goals)
- Asian Cup Champions: 1956, 1960
- Asian Youth Champions: 1959, 1960, 1963, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1990, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2004
- Cha Bum-Kun: A legend in Korean soccer, Cha Bum-Kun was voted Asian player of the century by the AFC (Asian Football Committee). He was a standout forward in the Bundesliga (German first division) in the 1980s, scoring 98 goals in 300 games.
- Hong Myung-Bo: South Korea's all-time leader in games played with 135, Hong Myung-Bo captained the side to its improbable fourth-place finish at the 2002 World Cup on home soil. Started out as a midfielder but switched to an attacking sweeper later in his career.