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Tough draw will deny South Korea a second World Cup fairytale

| 01.06.2010

Their fourth place finish in 2002 remains one of the World Cup’s unlikeliest success stories, but such glory will prove beyond South Korea this year.

Manager Huh Jung-Moo has named his final 23-man squad, which includes three British-based players, Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung, Lee Chun-Yung of Bolton and Celtic’s Ki Sung-Yong.

Although they shocked Italy and Spain eight years ago, South Korea are unlikely to repeat the feat in Group B, and they are a convincing 2/7 to be eliminated in the group stage.

South Korea will be far from whipping boys for their opponents – Argentina, Nigeria and Greece – but, without the home support they enjoyed in 2002, they will struggle.

They suffered a blip in their last friendly match, as a 1-0 loss to Belarus brought to a halt a four match unbeaten run which included a 2-0 win away to the Ivory Coast.

Despite this recent encouraging form, however, South Korea are still rank outsiders to win their group at 9/1.

They are taking a gamble on the fitness of former Middlesbrough striker Lee Dong-Guk, who has been named in the squad despite suffering from a thigh injury.

Lee, nicknamed ‘Lion King’, has had a mixed international career, as he was dropped by Guus Hiddink for the 2002 World Cup and missed the tournament four years later through injury.

It seems that the nation’s hopes will rest on their captain Park Ji-Sung, one of six survivors from the 2002 squad who reached the semi-finals.

Even with Park’s Champions League and international credentials, though, South Korea, who are 47th in Fifa’s world rankings, will find the task of repeating their 2002 success a bridge too far.

Do you think South Korea can progress from Group B? They are 3/1 to be eliminated in the last 16. See the full stage of elimination market.



Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.