FINISHING second behind Iran and ahead of three nations who have never ventured to a World Cup during qualification hardly warrants much praise, while their recent friendly results won't exactly strike fear into Belgium, Russia or Algeria.


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 250/1 

To win group: 6/1

To qualify: 6/4


Full squad: Sung-ryong Jung (Suwon Bluewings), Seung-gyu Kim (Ulsan Hyundai), Bum-young Lee (Busan I'Park), Jeong-ho Hong (Augsburg), Seo-ho Hwang (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Chang-soo Kim (Kashiwa Reysol), Young-gwon Kim (Guangzhou Evergrande), Tae-Hwi Kwak (Al Hilal), Lee Yong (Ulsan Hyundai), Suk-young Yun (QPR), Joo-ho Park (Mainz), Dae-sung Ha (Beijing Guoan), Kook-young Han (Kashiwa Reysol), Dong-Won Ji (Augsburg), Sung-yueng Ki (Swansea), Bo-kyung Kim (Cardiff City), Chung-Yong Lee (Bolton), Jong-woo Park (Guangzhou R&F), Heung-min Son (Bayer Leverkusen), Kim Shin-wook (Ulsan Hyundai), Ja-Cheol Koo (Mainz), Keun-Ho Lee (Sangju Sangmu), Chu-Young Park (Arsenal).

Manager: Hong Myung-Bo

World Cup record: Fourth (2002), Last 16 (2010)

How they qualified (most recent first): After a bye to the third round of Asian qualifying, they topped a group which included Lebanon, Kuwait and the UAE. That effort took them through to the next stage where they went up against Iran, Uzbekistan, Qatar and Lebanon (again), with the objective to finish in the top two for automatic qualification to Brazil.

It was far from easy - mainly due to two defeats against eventual table-toppers Iran - but in the end they snatched second ahead of Uzbekistan thanks to a nervy 1-0 victory over them in the penultimate round of games.

v Iran (home) 0-1 (HT 0-0)

v Uzbekistan (home) 1-0 (HT 1-0) OG 42

v Lebanon (away) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Chi-Woo Kim 90+7

v Qatar (home) 2-1 (HT 0-0) Keun-Ho Lee 60, Heung-Min Son 90+7 v

Iran (away) 0-1 (HT 0-0)

v Uzbekistan (away) 2-2 (HT 1-1) Tae-Hwi Kwak 44, Dong-Gook Lee 58

v Lebanon (home) 3-0 (HT 1-0) Bo-Kyung Kim 31, 49, Ja-Cheol Koo 90

v Qatar (away) 4-1 (HT 1-1) Keun-Ho Lee 26, 80, Tae-Hwi Kwak 55, Shin-Wook Kim 63

v Kuwait (home) 2-0 (HT 0-0) Dong-Gook Lee 66, Jeun-Ho Lee 72

v Lebanon (away) 1-2 (HT 1-2) Ja-Cheol Koo 21

v UAE (away) 2-0 (HT 0-0) Keun-Ho Lee 88, Chu-Young Park 90+3

v UAE (home) 2-1 (HT 0-0) Chu-Yong Park 50, OG 63

v Kuwait (away) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Chu-Young Park 9

v Lebanon (home) 6-0 (HT 2-0) Chu-Young Park 8, 45+1, 67, Dong-Won Ji 66, 85, Jung-Woo Kim 82

Goalscorers: Chu-Young Park top scored for the country with six goals, although this tally does include a hat-trick in the very first match against Lebanon which was won 6-0. His last goal came in the 2-0 victory away at Iran in the first group stage. Dong-Gook Lee and Keun-Ho Lee both netted four each.

Half-time/full-time: Only three of Korea's eight wins came when they led at half-time. Eight matches were level at the break - six of which being goalless - while they only trailed twice after 45 minutes, going on to lose one of those and drawing the other.

Perhaps worthy of note is the number of late goals scored by the team - eight coming from the 80th minute onwards including four in stoppage time Clean sheets: Korea only kept five clean sheets throughout the lengthy qualifying process and shipped 11 goals over the course of the 14 games. Not exactly a glowing reference for their defence compared with other sides in this World Cup finals group.

Win to nil: The Koreans registered five wins to nil - the same five games in which they kept their only clean sheets as there were no 0-0 draws.

Cards: Counting reds as two, South Korea games produced 55 cards. Korea received just 19 of these - all of which yellows.

Other competitive internationals (most recent first): Despite having home advantage, South Korea failed to win a game at last year's East Asian Cup finals. They finished third of the four teams involved.

v Japan (home) 1-2 (HT 1-1) Il-Lok Yun 32

v China (home) 0-0 (HT 0-0)

v Australia (home) 0-0 (HT 0-0)


Build-up: It's fair to say Korea's friendly results in the build-up to the World Cup have been rather inconsistent, with some decent results such as victories over Switzerland, Costa Rica and Greece mixed in with defeats to Croatia, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, USA and Tunisia.

At least they've been able to play plenty of games together to build a real team spirit which could be potentially valuable against an inexperienced tournament side such as Belgium.

v Tunisia (home) 0-1 (HT 0-1)

v Greece (away) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Chu-Young Park 18, Heung-Min Son 55

v USA (away) 0-2 (HT 0-1)

v Mexico (neutral) 0-4 (HT 0-2)

v Costa Rica (neutral) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Shin-Wook Kim 10

v Russia (neutral) 1-2 (HT 1-1) Shin-Wook Kim 6

v Switzerland (home) 2-1 (HT 0-1) Jeong-Ho Hong 59, Chung-Yong Lee 87

v Mali (home) 3-1 (HT 1-1) Ja-Cheol Koo 38, Heung-Min Son 47, Bo-Kyung Kim 57 v Brazil (home) 0-2 (HT 0-1)

v Croatia (home) 1-2 (HT 0-0) Keun-Ho Lee 90+4

v Haiti (home) 4-1 (HT 1-1) Heung-Min Son 21, 73, Ja-Cheol Koo 50, Jeun-Ho Lee 58

v Peru (home) 0-0 (HT 0-0)


Team verdict: Finishing second behind Iran and ahead of three nations who have never ventured to a World Cup during qualification hardly warrants much praise, while their recent friendly results won't exactly strike fear into Belgium, Russia or Algeria.

However, scorelines in friendlies shouldn't hold that much weight and perhaps we could put the lukewarm qualification campaign in a pretty easy group down to a degree of complacency.

What we can't ignore is the number of games this squad have played together over the past few years, which should give them a notable - albeit often underestimated - edge in terms of bonding and team spirit, while their friendly programme has ensured they've pitted themselves against a number of sides who will be heading to the World Cup this summer.

A number of their players also have experience of playing at a high level in Germany and England so let's not be naïve enough to think they're out of their depth.

Far from it. I can see them coming storming out of the blocks in a bid to catch Russia cold, and even if they fail I fancy them to beat Algeria and then potentially shock Belgium in what could well be a qualification decider.