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South Korea face Brazil on Monday evening searching for the nation’s first World Cup knockout stage victory in two decades.
In front of a raucous home crowd – and some infamous refereeing – South Korea reached the stratospheric heights of the semi-finals in 2002. Germany prevented the Taeguk Warriors from reaching the final where Brazil were waiting.
20 years on, here’s the XI Paulo Bento may field against the Selecao.
GK: Kim Seung-gyu – Surprisingly overlooked for Jo Hyeon-woo at the 2018 World Cup, South Korea’s well-established number one has held off any challenges this winter.
RB: Kim Moon-hwan – The fullback’s spell at LAFC was prematurely concluded in March as he returned to the K League in search of a spot in the national team. That decision ultimately paid off – here he is – but Kim missed out on LAFC’s MLS Cup victory in November.
CB: Kim Min-jae – After just eight weeks in Italy with Napoli, Kim was voted Serie A‘s Player of the Month.
CB: Kwon Kyung-won – When he joined China’s Tianjin Tianhai for €10.5m in 2017, he became the second-most expensive Korean player ever. Kwon has played for four different clubs since without commanding a single transfer fee.
LB: Kim Jin-su – The adventurous left-back has taken more touches in the opposition penalty area than his own at this tournament.
CM: Hwang In-beom – A broken toe in training ensured that Hwang was back in South Korea when Russia invaded Ukraine. The tense political standing in the region prompted a move to Olympiacos. “I would never have imagined I’d find myself living and playing in Greece,” Hwang admitted.
CM: Jung Woo-young – Known as ‘Big Jung Woo-young’ because South Korea’s squad also contains (Little) Jeong Woo-yeong, whose name is pronounced exactly the same despite the different spelling.
CM: Lee Kang-in – Emerged into the public sphere on the Korean TV show Shoot-Dori when he was just six.
RW: Lee Jae-sung – The 30-year-old forward has been keeping a detailed World Cup diary on his personal blog.
ST: Cho Gue-sung – A dedicated camera trained on Cho just sitting on the bench topped more than seven million views. South Korea’s number nine has attracted so much public attention he reportedly had to turn his phone off because the influx of messages on social media were keeping him up.
LW: Son Heung-min – After losing to Ghana in South Korea’s second group game, Son broke down in tears (though that didn’t stop one member of the opposition coaching staff from snapping a selfie). The game against Portugal also ended in waterworks but for all the right reasons.
Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!
If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!
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