We have now officially entered June, where one of the largest sport competition in the world is scheduled to take place. Held every four years, this year’s FIFA World Cup will kick off in Brazil on June 12th. The World Cup is one of the most popular events in Korea. Korea’s fourth-place success in the 2002 World Cup, which was jointly hosted by Korea and Japan, is one of the defining moments of Korea’s sporting, if not national, history. The whole nation watched and supported the Korean national team as they played against international opponents, while millions flocked to the streets to cheer them on.
The country turned red, as millions of people wore the traditional color of the national team jersey. The South Korean National Football Team receives tremendous support in Korea, especially so during the World Cup. The national team’s fan base is known as the “Red Devils” (붉은악마). It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that the whole nation will be watching the national team play during the World Cup. However, this year’s match schedules will likely challenge this tradition. The Korean team’s matches are scheduled to take place early morning in Korean time, meaning sleeping hours would have to be sacrificed. It will be interesting to see if the fans’ passion will overcome the desire to sleep! In the latest South Africa World Cup in 2010, the Korean team managed to reach the knock-out stages, or the Round of 16, losing to Uruguay 1:2; consequently becoming knocked-out of the World Cup.
Korea has had a shaky start to the World Cup. In the qualifying stages, Korea barely managed to advance to the World Cup, losing the qualifying group’s first place to Iran and barely beating out Uzbekistan by goal difference. Also, in the latest friendly against the visitors Tunisia, Korea lost 0:1. Having qualified, although none of these impact the actual World Cup, it is worrying to know that the Korean squad is sub-par to expectations. Will they improve, or will it result in an early exit from the World Cup?
UPDATE: Korea also suffered a huge defeat to Ghana on June 10th (KST). Korea lost 0:4. Korea looks quite shaky at the moment.
South Korean National Football Team
FIFA Ranking: 55 (As of June 2, 2014)
World Cup Appearances: 9
Best Result: 4th (2002 Korea/Japan World Cup)
Coach: Hong Myung Bo
South Korea’s 23 men squad All countries participating in the World Cup are required to select 23 players to compete in Brazil. On May 8th (KST), head coach Hong Myung Bo unveiled Korea’s 23-men squad for the World Cup. It is as follows:
As of June 2nd, the 23-men squad is slightly different.Kim Jin-soo has been replaced by Park Joo Ho (FSV. Mainz 05) due to injury. Koo Ja-cheol has been given the yellow armband, being selected to be the captain. It is interesting to note that a significant number of the players selected were also part of the bronze medal-winning team in the 2012 Summer Olympics at London, which was also led by Hong Myung Bo at the time. These players include Jung Sung-ryong, Lee Bum-Young, Kim Chang-soo, Yun Suk-young, Hwang Seok-ho, Koo Ja-cheol, Ki Sung-yueng, Park Chu-young, Kim Bo-kyung and Ji Dong-won. The most controversial selections are Park Chu-young and Yun Suk-young, as they have largely spent the majority of their season warming the benches for their respective clubs. The most notable omission is of Lee Myung-joo (Pohang Steelers), whom many people felt should have been selected to go to Brazil. He has been performing well in the K-league, which is the highest-tier professional football league in Korea.
As shown above, Korea is part of group H. Korea(55) is the lowest ranked team in the group, with Belgium (12), Russia (18) and Algeria (25) all being ranked significantly higher. After all, Korea is the second-lowest ranked team in the World Cup, being just above Australia (59). Based on rankings, and the opinions of experts worldwide, Belgium and Russia are the favorites to advance to the knockout stages. However, it is impossible to know what the future holds. Make sure to support and cheer on the South Korean National Football Team! Match Schedule: Times in Mountain Standard Time (MST) [GMT -6:00]