South Korea Team - 2014 World Cup Betting
Best Finish: Fourth Place, 2002
Manager: Hong-Myung Bo
Captain: Lee Chung Yong
Key Player: Son Heung Min (Bayer Leverkusen)
Group H: With Algeria, Belgium and Russia
In 2002, South Korea (Korea Republic) made one of the most-unexpected deep runs in World Cup history. For good measure, they added a Last 16 appearance at the 2010 Cup. Combine this with the fact that South Korea has now qualified for the world's biggest soccer event eight times in a row and you have the best team in Asian history.
As for how they made their eighth consecutive appearance in the Cup, this team finished 4-2-2 in their AFC fourth-round qualifying matches. This record, coupled with a better goal differential than Uzbekistan, was good enough to earn Group A's second automatic qualifying slot. The one team that really seemed to have the Koreans' number during AFC matches was Iran, which defeated them twice by a score of 1-0.
As these two losses indicate, South Korea is short on top-tier scoring talent. And unlike the best teams at the 2014 World Cup, this squad doesn't boast many players from Europe's best club teams. Son Heung Min is one exception since the Bayer Leverkusen forward is one of the Champions League's most versatile strikers. Min is equally adept at using both feet and shows incredible dribbling ability and composure near the goal – two attributes not seen in a lot of 21-year-old's.
Park Chu-Young is going to be another important player for the Koreans this summer. Many fans questioned if he'd still be selected for the 23-player World Cup roster since Chu-Young hasn't played much for Arsenal lately. But the striker is on the roster, and deservedly so, given that he led the team with six goals in the AFC's fourth round. Also keep an eye on midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng. The Sunderland footballer has all of the vision, technique and passing that you could ask for from a central midfielder.
Will a few really good players mixed with a hard-working squad be enough to push South Korea into the knockout rounds? Their group features a really strong team in Belgium and another solid squad in Russia. But the task of getting out of Group H isn't totally impossible for the Koreans if everything falls into place.