There’s nothing funny about a moderate and economically-successful country, especially when their next door neighbor is the Mike Tyson of Asia. So let’s just get right to it:For the past three decades Korea has been one of the most consistent teams in the world, making it to the last seven World Cups and going undefeated in qualifying during this campaign. You know what you get with Korea, namely, a frenetic pace of play and workmanlike approach. The Koreans have three or four very good players who could prove to be difference makers in the group stage, but very little depth or playmaking behind them.
Nickname: Taegeuk Warriors aka Tigers of Asia aka Red Devils aka Dirt McGirt aka Ol’ Dirty Chinese Restaurant
Best Player: Park Ji-Sung, MF, Manchester United
Outlook: Park Ji-Sung is a legend in Korea and has enjoyed a career filled with international and club success. Expect the midfield maestro to play a part in nearly every goal the Tigers score. Park Chu-Young (AS Monaco) is a versatile attacker who can set up his teammates and score on free kicks, two ultra-important qualities for World Cup play. Lee Keun-Ho can play striker or winger and provides pace while Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton) is a 21-year old wildcard of a winger who could provide a spark late in matches.
Defensively their rock is Lee Woon-Jae, who will travel to South Africa for his legendary fifth World Cup as Korea’s goaltender. The 37-year old may have lost his ability to make acrobatic saves, but he will take command of the defense and keep them organized. Former Tottenham defender Lee Young-Pyo is one of the fastest players in the tournament and can neutralize any counter-attacks by the opposition.
Most Famous Citizen: Hines Ward. The Steelers receiver was given a heroes welcome when he returned to Korea after winning the Super Bowl in 2006 . With the exception of a few dirty hits, Ward is one of the only Steelers to not have his reputation tarnished via some kind of criminal or sexual scumbaggary. So uhhh…keep up the good work Hines.
Prediction: If Korea’s stars are able to make a few plays against Nigeria and Greece, expect them to finish second in the group and advance to the knockout round. Their ceiling is low, as anything more than a round of 16 loss would be a shocker, but simply advancing would be a great accomplishment for Asia’s finest squad.