World Cup 2014: South Korea preview - Ki and Son must show up

Can South Korea get beyond the Group Stages at this summer's World Cup?

The perception

A technically gifted side capable of an upset on their day, but perhaps lacking physically to impose themselves on stronger teams.

The reality

South Korea scraped through to the World Cup on goal difference after finishing level on points with Uzbekistan in qualifying and below Iran. They have not had the smoothest of build-ups and appear to be a yo-yo team. Defeats against USA, Mexico and Tunisia suggest they will struggle - but Costa Rica and Greece were duly despatched.

The reality is, it depends which Korea turn up.


Excellent side on the ground. They play the ball around with ease and in the heat of Brazil on massive pitches could be a real winner.

Manager Hong Myung-Bo is also a big strength. He has been here before as a player, guiding the side to semi-finals of 2006 World Cup.


The team is lightweight, and in this group that could be telling. Belgium and Algeria in particular have several bruising players with more pace and power than this squad. Russia will also fail to play nice with the South Korea side.

Key Player

Sunderland's on loan midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung has 57 caps for his country and is the pendulum that keeps the side ticking.

His passing ability and Premier League experience could be a massive bonus from the heart of midfield. This is his time to shine.

One to Watch

Son Heung-Min will need to turn up if South Korea are to advance to the next stage. The Bayer Leverkusen forward is a dangerous threat anywhere around the penalty area. His pace and skill could also prove the difference in any tight games, of which there is likely to be three.


A tough group, a lack of strength and inconsistent form - they might have the odd very talented player, but South Korea are unlikely to advance through the group stage.

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