On a gruelling mission

Asia’s most accomplished side, South Korea, embarks on a difficult mission with one of the youngest squads in the 2014 World Cup.

South Korea’s eighth consecutive World Cup appearance was not its easiest. The Taeguk Warriors finished second, behind Iran in the AFC qualifiers and grabbed the last automatic spot on goal difference. The team’s inconsistent performance in the qualifiers cost manager Choi Kang-Hee his job.

Former skipper and one of the stars of South Korea’s 2002 World Cup campaign, Hong Myung-Bo, took over as the chief coach.

A suspect defence and one-dimensional attack were South Korea’s weaknesses in its qualifying campaign. Hong brought changes to the team and the formation, but didn’t taste instant success, winning only one out of his first seven games in charge. However, a stoic performance during a 0-2 loss to Brazil in a friendly and impressive wins over Mali (3-1) and Switzerland (2-1) have brought in fresh hopes.

Hong is expecting his European based players to come good in Brazil. With an average age of 25, South Koreans have their task cut out in Brazil. Drawn in Group H, along with Belgium and Russia, which are ranked higher, and Algeria, the South Koreans seem buoyed by their improved showing in the recent months.