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Son Heung min leads South Korea to reach heights in Qatar World Cup 2022

Chuck Blake

Updated: Oct 31, 2022 03:22

Korea Republic aim to reach heights of 2002

south-korea-national-football-team

Korea Republic enter tenth consecutive World Cup

Paulo Bento is the longest-serving head coach in the history of the national team

Tottenham Hotspur superstar Son Heungmin captains the side

    Korea Republic made it to the knockout stage for the first time since co-hosting the event in 2002 when they advanced to the round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

    The nation then won a bronze medal at the Olympics in 2012, but this achievement was not carried over to the senior team, which went on to experience a period of inconsistency and sometimes chaos, as evidenced by the appointment of six different coaches between South Africa in 2010 and Russia in 2018. Son Heungmin's ascent to superstardom, however, was insufficient to turn around the team's fortunes as they failed to advance past the group stage in either Brazil 2014 or Russia 2018.

    However, the latter tournament did offer a ray of hope, particularly in their championship game, known as "the miracle of Kazan." The Taegeuk Warriors faced the defending champions Germany after suffering back-to-back losses in Group F against Sweden and Mexico. But all all odds, the Asian team managed to win 2-0, restoring some of their country's respect. The team is now determined to atone for those repeated failures and perform admirably once more as they begin their last preparations for Qatar.

    Clevpicks.com will introduce you the South Korean national football team...

    Korea Republic's Group H fixtures

    24 November

    Uruguay-Korea Republic (16:00 local time, Education City Stadium)

    28 November

    Korea Republic-Ghana (16:00 local time, Education City Stadium)

    2 December

    Korea Republic-Portugal (18:00 local time, Education City Stadium)

    Paulo Bento's approach and tactics

    The co-hosts of the 2002 World Cup made history in their last Group D encounter against Portugal by being the first team to move to the round of 16. This was made possible in large part by the dismissals of Joao Pinto and Beto as well as a magnificent goal from Park Jisung. Who would have imagined that midfielder Paulo Bento, who played for the Portuguese team that lost, would lead the Taegeuk Warriors 16 years later?

    He has been the head coach of the national team for the most time—more than four years—in the organization's existence. Ironically, Bento will have to face his own nation during the group stage in Qatar since his final match as a Portuguese international was that group match against the team he is presently coaching in 2002. Bento still hopes to guide his team into the knockout round despite the increased pressure.

    The coach, however, faced harsh criticism three years ago after Korea Republic's elimination from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup following a 1-0 loss to Qatar in the quarterfinal. His critics said that the team lacked rotation and that he only selected his favorite players. His rigid strategies were being questioned only six months into this position. When the squad lost convincingly 3-0 on the road to Japan in a 2021 friendly, there was even more unhappiness among the supporters and the media.

    However, the club pieced together a run of victories as their fortunes improved once the AFC qualifications for Qatar got underway. On matchday 9, they defeated their bitter rivals IR Iran at home for the first time in eleven years, capping off the turnaround. The Taegeuk Warriors' ultimate second-place performance in Group A allowed them to clinch a spot in Qatar.

    Then, in July of this year, his squad lost another 3-0 match to longtime rivals Japan at the EAFF E-1 Football Championship (formerly known as East Asian Football Championship), which featured a team primarily made up of K-League players. In order for his charges to play at their peak in Qatar, Bento must now boost morale once more.

    Bento like to use a holding midfielder who can build from the back by letting full-backs advance, typically choosing a 4-1-3-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation. Attacking midfielders up front serve as the link to the final third of the field by gliding easily between the flanks and the middle of the field. It is necessary for forwards to make persistent runs and yank defenders from their positions. The coach frequently uses an asymmetrical system to try and control possession; this worked effectively for the squad during AFC qualifying. It will be intriguing to see if the same strategies can be used in Qatar against the top teams in the globe.

    Paulo-Bento

    Key player: Son Heungmin

    Who would have guessed that the winner of the English Premier League's Golden Boot last season and the FIFA Puskas Award for 2020 would be from a tiny East Asian peninsula? After leaving FC Seoul, Son started his football career in Europe with Hamburg's youth squad. He is currently without a doubt Asia's best player. Son, the first player from the continent to win the Golden Boot in the Premier League, will lead his team in his third World Cup.

    Son, who scored in the aforementioned "miracle of Kazan," took some getting used to playing for Bento. Son typically plays as a lone striker in Bento's system, either as one of two center forwards or as a wide attacker. His time on the ball and goal total plummeted as he became the exclusive target of the opposing defense. Son, however, has increasingly become more influential and has been putting on the kinds of displays seen with his club Tottenham Hotspur ever since forwards like Hwang Uijo and Cho Guesung emerged for the national side. Son still has great speed, fantastic shooting ability, and a strong eye for goal at the age of 30.

    He has long been the team's dead ball specialist, despite it not always being clear how to use him to his best advantage. His 35 goals (in 104 appearances), four of which came from free kicks, tally with Ha Seokju's previous national record. Son has increased his free-kick usage this season despite not having previously taken any for his club. If he can capitalize on some of the set-piece opportunities that will undoubtedly present themselves to him in Qatar, Son will further cement his developing status as a dead-ball specialist.

    Son-Heungmin

    One to watch: Jeong Wooyeong

    Recent World Cups saw young Korean players struggle to make a significant impact, maybe as a result of the pressure to succeed. Fans of the team have high hopes for the players since the glory years of the 2002 World Cup. Others have struggled to give their finest performances while under the spotlight, while some have learned to bear the strain and become household names. Therefore, it makes sense that any promising young Korean talent who wants to succeed must be able to flourish despite being subjected to constant scrutiny from fans and the media.

    Son is a prime example of someone who can ignore public pressure and give strong performances. Jeong Wooyeong falls under that category as well. Similar to Son's early move to Hamburg, the 23-year-old joined the Bayern Munich youth team while still a teenager. He made his first appearance for Munich's first team during the 2018–19 season, however he transferred to Freiburg before the 2019–20 season in pursuit of more playing time.

    Jeong was hampered by injuries following his transfer, but he overcame these setbacks and eventually found his confidence by making a crucial contribution to Korea Republic's victory at the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship. At Freiburg, he played first-team football and made a key contribution to the team's finish as runners-up in the 2022 DFB-Pokal. He hasn't been a guaranteed starter this year, but he constantly helps the club out while he's on the bench.

    Jeong, who has nine caps and two goals for his country, is typically used as an offensive midfielder or a shadow striker rather than as a flank forward. Due to his persistent effort, forward press, off-the-ball movement, and rushing into space, he can be a very potent weapon off the bench when opponents are worn out. Indeed, Son's assist allowed him to be the beneficiary of his first goal for the senior team. He may not be ready to start in his maiden World Cup, which will be held in Qatar, but he is unquestionably capable of having an impact and altering the outcome of a match.

    Jeong-Wooyeong

    Korea Republic's World Cup record

    In 1954, the Korea Republic has the historic distinction of becoming the first independent Asian nation to take part in a World Cup.

    Although they were co-hosts with Japan in 2002, Korea Republic's World Cup history will always be associated with their run to the semifinals in that year. Prior to it, the Red Devils had never previously advanced past the group stage. That World Cup raised the bar for subsequent competitions and turned the peninsula into a soccer-obsessed nation.

    Since then, they have fallen short of those high expectations, however their run to the round of 16 in South Africa 2010 was commendable given that they managed to get past a group that included Argentina, Nigeria, and Greece.

    Qatar 2022 will be the country's 11th total and tenth consecutive World Cup appearance.

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