Sarah Almas: South Korea is the football superpower of Asia. Those who have earned their respects in international football. Now no European or strong Latin country dares to “spoof” Asian football. The achievement of which is South Korea.
South Korea’s success in football:
In 1988, South Korea participated in the first FIFA recognized match. The opponent was Mexico. That match was part of the London Olympics in August. South Korea won the match 5-3. Choi Seong-gon scored the first international goal for South Korea in the 13th minute. South Korea’s first international tournament ended with a humiliating 12-0 defeat to Sweden, who won that match and reached the quarter-finals.
Despite being the superpower of Asia, South Korea has won the continental title only twice. That too in 1956 and 1960 AFC Asian Cup. After reaching the final four times, they did not get the title.
South Korea won the Afro-Asian Cup in 1987. Won Asian Games gold three times. In addition, played semi-final in CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2002. South Korea has won the most East-Asian Football Championship five times.
South Korea in the World Cup:
South Korea is the first independent Asian country to participate in the World Cup in 1954. The experience of South Korea in that event held in Switzerland is terrible. The Asian giants, who failed to score a single goal in two matches, conceded the ball 16 times. In the first match, Puskas and Kocsis’ Hungary gave 9 goals to Korea. Turks scored 7 goals in the second match. Two hat-tricks were made against Korea in both matches.
South Korea’s next World Cup participation was in 1986. Since then, they have not missed the main stage of any World Cup. In their first match in the 1986 World Cup, South Korea lost 1-3 to Argentina. Park Chang-sun scored his World Cup debut goal for South Korea in the match. And in that event, South Korea drew 1-1 against Bulgaria. Which is their first point in the World Cup. In the last match, Korea lost 2-3 after a great fight with Italy. Departed from the World Cup. However, this year’s farewell was not as shameful as the debut.
South Korea has played the World Cup 10 times. More than any country in Asia. In total, South Korea played 34 matches in the World Cup. 6 wins, 9 draws and 19 losses. 34 goals were scored for them and 70 against.
Hong-Myung Bo has played four consecutive World Cups for South Korea since 1990. The maximum number of matches played is 16. Son Heung-min, Park Ji-sung and Ahn Jung-hwan have three goals each in the World Cup.
The Asian continent hosted the World Cup for the first time in 2002. Joint host Japan-Korea. The Koreans stunned everyone by reaching the semi-finals on their own soil. In the group stage, South Korea beat Poland 2-0 in the first match. This is South Korea’s first win in the World Cup. Which comes 48 years after the first World Cup participation. Korea drew 1-1 with the Americans in the second match and defeated Portugal in the last group match. Goes up to knock out as the best team in the group.
Italy lost 1-2 to South Korea in the knock out phase. Even in the quarter finals, they beat Spain in a tiebreaker and gave surprise after surprise. South Korea made history by becoming the first and so far the only team in Asia to enter the semis.
However, in the semis, South Korea lost to Germany’s Balak with a great goal. Turkey defeated them in the qualifying match. Despite finishing the World Cup in fourth place, South Korea said that Asian football is on the rise.
South Korea reached the knock out stage in the 2010 World Cup. Although they had to lose to Uruguay. The last time in 2014 and 2018 was farewell from the group stage. But they beat Germany 2-0 in their last match in Russia. The rate at which the champions of 2014 had to depart from the group stage.
Road to Qatar:
South Korea was the top team in the ‘H’ group of the first phase. The other four teams in the group were Lebanon, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Sri Lanka. North Korea pulled themselves out of the qualifiers due to the coronavirus. As a result, the group becomes a group of four. South Korea won 5 out of 6 matches. The draw was a match, against Lebanon. They advanced to the next round with a maximum of 16 points.
12 teams were divided into two groups for the next stage of selection. Iran and South Korea qualified directly from Group A in Qatar World Cup. South Korea, which is in the second position of the group, has won 7, drawn 2 and lost 1 in 10 matches. Son Heung-min scored the most 7 goals for the country in the qualifiers.
South Korea’s Big Stars and Risks:
South Korea’s biggest star is undoubtedly Son Heung-min. At the age of 30, he became Asia’s best ever forward. Even, he is one of the best in the world today. Not only in the box as a forward, but also as an equally skilled midfield player. His long-range shots are capable of surprising any opposing goalkeeper.
In 2008, Son’s career started in the Hamburg junior team. Senior debut in the same team since 2010. Played in another big team of Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen. Since 2015, he has been in the English giant Tottenham.
He scored 186 goals in 515 matches in his club career. He was joint top-scorer with Mohammed Salah in the EPL last season with 23 goals. He scored five goals in 19 matches this season. His number of goals in 104 matches for the country is 35. In 2022, he scored five goals in eight matches in the national team jersey.
South Korea’s success in Qatar World Cup depends on Son Heung-min. But recently he got a big injury. Although he has been placed in the final squad of the World Cup, but it is doubtful whether he will be able to play from the first match. And even if you can, how much you will be back from injury, it is also a matter to be seen.
Coach and Recent Performance:
Among other South Korean stars who play for Napoli are Kim-Min Jae, Mallorca’s young midfielder Lee Kang-in and Olympiacos forward Hwang Ui-jo. Besides, goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu is a symbol of dependability.
Paulo Bento has been the coach of South Korea since 2018. who is portuguese has also worked for the Portugal national team from 2010-14. Korea won 34 out of 53 matches under him. 12 draws and 7 losses. The Red Devils of Asia won the East-Asian Championship in 2021.
At the beginning of 2022, South Korea defeated Iceland 5-1 in a friendly match. Defeated another European member Moldova 4-0. South Korea has played a total of 16 matches this year. 11 wins. South Korea has been defeated by big teams like Iceland (twice), Chile, Egypt, Iran and Cameroon. But they lost to Japan, United Arab Emirates, Brazil. In which 0-3 to Japan and 1-5 to Brazil was not acceptable. Besides, South Korea drew against Paraguay and Costa Rica.
World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers – Kim Seung-Gyu, Jo Hyeon-woo, Cha Bum-kun
Defense – Cho Yu-min, Hong Chul, Kim Ji-seok, Kim Min-jae, Kim Moon-hwan, Kim Tae-hwan, Kim Young-gwon, Kwon Kyung-won, Yoon Jong-gyu
Midfield – Hwang In-beom, Jung Woo-young, Kwon Chang-hoon, Lee Jae-sung, Lee Kang-in, Paik Seung-ho, Son Jun-ho
Forward – Cho Gue-sung, Hwang Hee-chan, Hwang Ui-jo, Jeong Woo-yeong, Na Sang-ho, Son Heung-min, Song Min-kyu
Target for World Cup:
Group H with South Korea, Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana is a death trap. South Korea’s first match is against Uruguay on November 24. South Korea have lost six of their eight matches against two-time World Cup champions Uruguay. Only one win. It was in a friendly match in 2018. In addition, South Korea has lost twice in the World Cup.
In the second match, South Korea will play against Ghana on November 28. Statistics of both teams are equal. Nine wins by four. A draw. The two teams have never met on the World Cup stage.
South Korea’s opponent is Portugal on December 2. The two teams have met only once in the past. In the 2002 World Cup. Korea defeated strong Portugal 1-0 in their own soil.
Portugal and Uruguay are stronger than Korea in the group. But the Red Devils of Asia have a record of defeating Spain, Italy, Germany and even Portugal on their own day. Therefore, it will not happen at all if South Korea rises from the ‘H’ group to the knock out stage.
The rise of South Korean football since 2002. Who can now regularly beat any big team. Earlier, they have historical success on Asian soil. It is not strange for them to come close to that success in Qatar.