Asia’s most accomplished national team has qualified for seven consecutive World Cups. This year, the Taeguk Warriors are determined to improve on their fourth place finish in ’02.
Country: Korea Republic
Team: Taeguk Warriors
Colors: Red and white
Korea Republic was among the first teams to book their tickets to South Africa, after making it through the qualifying stage without a loss. However, the competition in Group B is much tougher than the opponents they faced during the qualifying rounds.
Good thing the Taeguk Warriors are up for the battle. What the players lack in size and skill, they make up for in heart and determination. No matter what the score, they play all out for 90-plus minutes. Korea Republic is better equipped than they were in ’06, when they were knocked out early. The Taeguk Warriors are hoping to play the upset card and make it past Group B.
Key Players: Ji-Sung Park, Chu-Yong Park and Woon-Jae Lee
The success of this team will hinge on the performance of their aging goaltender, Woon-Jae Lee. Lee was magnificent in ’02 when he helped Korea Republic claim fourth place; but he was in poor form in ’06.
With a lot of questions marks on the team’s playmakers, the offense will rely on Ji-Sung Park and Chu-Yong Park. Without the solid supporting cast that surrounds him at Manchester United, Ji-Sung Park will have to pick up the bulk of play in the midfield, freeing Chu-Young Park, Korea Republic’s top forward, to score when given the opportunity.
Key Matchup: Korea Republic vs. Argentina
The Taeguk Warriors’ tricky pace may present difficulties for an Argentina side that tends occasionally to fall asleep on defense. This game will be full of fast play on both sides, since both teams are small and agile. The game is set up perfectly for Korea Republic to pull an upset.
Prediction: Too many gaps remain unfilled in the stat sheet. With only a handful of game changers, Korea Republic faces an uphill battle. Their high pace style could make things interesting at first, but unless they put a lot of balls into the net, don’t expect them to advance.
Related link: World Cup 2010 Countdown