South Korea: Condescend to them at your own peril

Korea was the biggest surprise of the 2002 World Cup that they co-hosted with Japan.

Written by Siddhartha Sharma | Updated: June 12, 2014 12:46 pm
South Korea, 55 in the FIFA rankings, have an average age of 25.9, one of the youngest. (Source: Reuters) South Korea, 55 in the FIFA rankings, have an average age of 25.9, one of the youngest. (Source: Reuters)

Among the 32 teams that will be vying for the football World Cup in Brazil, Korea is second from bottom in the FIFA rankings at 55th, and are only above Australia.

But their competitors will take them lightly at their own peril. Despite their rankings suggesting that they will struggle to make the tournament each edition, let alone have an impact in it, Korea have not missed entering the last eight editions.

In fact, Korea was the biggest surprise of the 2002 World Cup that they co-hosted with Japan. They topped their group ahead of the likes of Portugal, before knocking out Northern Ireland and then future world-beaters Spain. It took Germany to knock them out in the semifinal, and that too by a solitary goal.

This edition, however, they will be far from home comforts. For most of the Korean players, this could be the first time that they will play in South America. Since Korea played their first international match in 1948, they have only played once in South America, and that too recently — in February 2002. Even in that game, an match against Uruguay, they lost 2-1.

Finally, this Korean side is also one of the youngest sides of the tournament with an average age of 25.9.

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