South Korea scraped into the 2018 tournament, behind the play of Son Heung-min.
South Korea World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide
South Korea vs Sweden (18th June)
After a tough qualifying campaign and some poor results in the World Cup friendlies, South Korea face Sweden in their opening game of the tournament. Match Preview here
South Korea Starting XI: 23 Cho Hyun-woo, 2 Lee Yong, 6 Park Joo-ho (12 Kim Min-woo 28), 7 Son Heung-min, 9 Kim Shin-wook (15 Jung Woo-young 66), 11 Hwang Hee-chan, 13 Koo Ja-cheol (10 Lee Seung-woo 73), 16 Ki Sung-yueng, 17 Lee Jae-sung, 19 Kim Young-gwon, 20 Jang Hyun-soo
Sweden Starting XI: 1 Robin Olsen, 2 Mikael Lustig, 4 Andreas Granqvist, 6 Ludwig Augustinsson, 7 Sebastian Larsson (13 Gustav Svensson 81) , 8 Albin Ekdal (15 Oscar Hijlemark 71), 9 Marcus Berg, 10 Emil Forsberg, 17 Viktor Claesson, 18 Pontus Jansson, 20 Ola Toivonen (22 Isaac Kiese Thelin 77)
Sweden 1 South Korea 0
Sweden: Granqvist 65pen
South Korea: none
Sweden won their opening game for the first time since 1958 after edging out South Korea thanks to Andreas Granqvist’s VAR-awarded penalty in the second half.
The Swedes had fashioned the better chances in the first half but lacked a cutting edge as they tried to find a way past Korea’s third-choice keeper Cho Hyun-woo.
Granqvist, the Swedish captain, dispatched the spot-kick in confident fashion and it was fitting that a defender scored the only goal of such a tight game.
Young substitute Lee Seung-woo gave Korea a lift in the final quarter but they failed to unlock a Swedish defence that was missing Victor Lindelof, a late withdrawal with a virus
Matter of fact
This was the 100th World Cup match featuring an Asian side.
VAR was used to award the game’s only goal. The referee had a clear view of what was an obvious penalty, prompting suggestions and concerns that he had ducked out of the decision, preferring to rely on the VAR calling back the decision.
Possession (%): 52/48
Goal attempts: 15/5
Attempts on target: 5/2
Pass accuracy (%): 84/78
Distance covered (km): 102/103
South Korea World Cup Guide
South Korea qualified for the 2018 World Cup, but that is about the only positive thing that can be said about the final round of the campaign. In their 10 games the Taeguk Warriors won just four and picked up a single point in five games on the road. That they qualified says as much about the failings of others as it does about Korea.
Key Moments in Qualifying
Koo Ja-cheol scores with five minutes left to give Korea, smarting from defeat by Iran, a come-from-behind win against Uzbekistan.
There is massive pressure on coach Uli Stielike after Korea lose in China – a first competitive defeat against their neighbours.
Stielike is fired after Korea lose 3-2 to bottom team Qatar, in which serious injuries to Son Heung-min and Ki Sung-yeung make matters worse.
Under new coach Shin Tae-yong, Korea have to win in Uzbekistan, but they draw 0-0. The players wait on pitch for news that Syria haven’t won in Iran before the celebrations can begin.
South Korea World Cup Group
South Korea World Cup Friendlies
South Korea played several friendlies at the start of 2018. First, they beat Moldova, and then drew with Jamaica at the end of January. Then on the 3rd of February they beat Latvia. On March 24th they then lost to Northern Ireland 2-1, and Poland 3-2. Then in May and June they beat Honduras, lost to Bosnia-Herzegovina, drew with Bolivia, and then lost to Senegal on the 11th.
- 27th January – Moldova (won 1-0)
- 30th January – Jamaica (drew 2-2)
- 3rd February – Latvia (won 1-0)
- 24th March – Northern Ireland (lost 2-1)
- 28th March – Poland (lost 3-2)
- 28th May – Honduras (won 2-0)
- 1st June – Bosnia-Herzegovina (lost 3-1)
- 7th June – Bolivia (drew 0-0)
- 11th June – Senegal (lost 2-0)
South Korea World Cup Fixtures
Shin Tae-yong, age 48 (11.04.69)
A tough-tackling midfielder who led Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma to victory in the 2010 Asian Champions League after retiring. In charge of Korea’s team at the 2016 Olympics and the 2017 Under-20 World Cup – tournaments that started well before ending in disappointment.
Son Heung-min is the focus of the team’s attacking efforts.
Approaching 100 caps, midfielder Ki Sung-yeung is a calming influence. Koo Ja-cheol offers aggression and goals from midfield when fit.
Lee Chung-yong didn’t appear in any qualifiers this year as a lack of playing time with Crystal Palace in England hurt his chances.
There are high hopes for busy striker Hwang Hee-chan who has settled into life in Europe with Red Bull Salzburg.
South Korea World Cup Squad
Final 23-man squad –
GOALKEEPERS: Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Kim Jin-hyeon (Cerezo Osaka), Cho Hyun-woo (Daegu FC).
DEFENDERS: Kim young-gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Jang Hyun-soo (FC Tokyo), Jung Seung-hyun (Sagan Tosu), Yun Yong-sun (Seongnam FC), Oh Ban-suk (Jeju United), Kim Min-woo (Sangju Sangmu), Park Joo-ho (Ulsan Hyundai), Hong Chul (Sangju Sangmu), Go Yo-han (FC Seoul), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors).
MIDFIELDERS: Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea City), Jung Woo-young (Vissel Kobe), Ju Se-jong (Asan Mugunghwa FC), Koo Ja-cheol (FC Augsburg), Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Seung-woo (Hellas Verona), Moon Seon-min (Incheon United).
FORWARDS: Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Hwang Hee-chan (FC Red Bull Salzburg).
South Korea World Cup Injuries
Park Joo-ho went down with a hamstring injury.
The Unanswered Questions
Who will be in charge?
Ever since qualification was achieved there have been rumours of Guus Hiddink making a return – and they have been favourably received by most of the public. The Dutchman is highly unlikely to return, but Shin Tae-yong will be under pressure if poor results continue.
Will the European-based players get more games with their club sides?
The likes of Lee Chung-yong at Crystal Palace and Ji Dong-won at Augsburg have not appeared much this season and they will need more playing time with their club sides if they are to make the plane to Russia.
Will Toni Grande make a difference?
With many thinking there was a need for some foreign knowhow, former Spain and Real Madrid number two Toni Grande was appointed as assistant in November. And he has much work to do.
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