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South Korea national football team at the 2006 Football World Cup

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by user Bobo

Having been documented over the last seventy-six years, it's almost flogging a dead horse to say such a thing as this, but it's a well-proven fact that the hosts of a World Cup do go on to do rather well. In 1930 with Uruguay, 1934 with Italy, 1966 with England, 1974 with Germany.. et cetera. This bears no relation to the fact that actually, courtesy of the form book, South Korea's performance shouldn't really have shocked anyone. Statistically, anyway.

The "Red Devils" (not to be confused of course with English superpower Manchester United) were summarily defeated in the semi-final of their co-hosted tournament in 2002, and the international cup with the greatest number of surprises in any national cup's history finished with the all-time world's greatest participant in the World Cup, Brazil, compete against Germany. Even more of a shock is the fact that neither Brazil nor Germany had ever faced each other in the World Cup before.

The current head coach of the South Korean team is Dick Advocaat, the former coach of Holland whose playing career took him to the Netherlands and, in his later days, to United States soccer team the Chicago Sting. Advocaat's record as a player put him across as a temperamental player, but his record of management at the top level, most notably Rangers and most recently (at club level) Borussia Mönchengladbach, is one of strain and yet success.

South Korea's most historic players include Ahn Jung-Hwan, golden goal scorer against Italy in 2002, and Lee Woon-Jae, goalkeeping stalwart who first appeared in the World Cup in 1994.

South Korea began their qualification on February 18, 2004 against the Lebanon, against whom they were victorious by two unanswered goals. They continued to finish runners-up in the third round group stage to the undefeated Saudi Arabia.

Their group sees them paired up with 2002's shock first-round losers France, Switzerland and Togo. Against whose teams it is probably best case scenario to assume two victories out of three games, and hopefully therefore qualification into the next round. Beyond that, however? It's worth keeping an eye on a team who impressed so often four years ago, that they could easily do anything once again despite the lack of home advantage.


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