South Korea World Cup qualification was secured for their ninth consecutive appearance at the tournament thanks to a 0-0 draw away to Uzbekistan. It was a game that saw them spurn a host of chances against largely inferior opposition.
It was also a game that summed up their away performances in the World Cup qualifiers. The Red Devils were unable to show the attacking prowess of their namesakes in Manchester. They scored in only one of their five away games in qualifying. That match was against Qatar – the lowest-ranked team in their group.
Home form was what ultimately dragged Shin Tae-yong’s side over the qualification line. Fans will look back to November 2016’s 2-1 victory over the Uzbeks. They went behind and needed an 85th minute winner from Augsburg’s Koo Ja-cheo to give them a vital three points.
That win was one of four home victories in qualifying – all by a one goal margin. So, if you fancy them to win any of their three World Cup 2018 group games against Germany, Sweden or Mexico, then a one-goal winning margin bet is probably the way to go.
Fifa Ranking: 59
Tournament Best: Semi Finals 2002
South Korea World Cup Finals Appearances: 9
The Red Devils currently sit 59th in the FIFA World Rankings, nestled in between Norway and Albania.
South Korea were once as high as 17th at the end of 1998. In a year when they appeared in a World Cup which saw them eliminated at the group stages. If you’re a fan of omens, one of their defeats in that group was a 3-1 defeat to Mexico, with two goals from Luis Hernandez. Mexico boast a striker called Hernandez 20 years on, and if you’re so inclined, a repeat result is 16/1* with.
Their semi-final appearance in the 2002 Japan-South Korea World Cup is the furthest they have ventured in the tournament.
Before a penalty shootout win over Spain in the quarter-finals, South Korea stunned the world with an extra-time win over the highly-fancied Italians. Ahn Jung-Hwan’s 117th minute header won it late on, and his goal didn’t go down at all well with his Serie A employers Perugia. The Italian side duly cancelled his contract within 24 hours, claiming he had “ruined Italian football.”
A 1-0 defeat to Germany in the semis plunged them into the third-place play-off, where they fell victim to the quickest goal in World Cup history from Turkey striker Hakan Sukur after just eleven seconds. The Red Devils went on to lose the game 3-2.
South Korea World Cup – Russia 2018
South Korea find themselves in a group that has something of a Europa League feel to it. Germany should find the group easy enough to negotiate, but in Mexico and Sweden, the Koreans are in a halfway house between a group of death and an easy passage to the last 16.
- 18th June: South Korea vs Sweden – 1pm kick off UK time
- 23rd June: South Korea vs Mexico – 4pm kick off
- 27th June: South Korea vs Germany – 3pm kick off
Their ability to keep games tight could prove a valuable asset in their opening World Cup game against Sweden. The first round of group games are traditionally cagey, so 21/10* for a draw between these two, and a stalemate that’s under 2.5 goals at 27/10* (both with ) look like two solid bets.
With Germany on the horizon, South Korea-Mexico will be the crunch game of the group. I’m expecting an attacking approach from the Mexicans after what should be an opening day loss to the Germans, and this could well play into South Korean hands. As the game wears on, gaps in midfield will appear for the likes of Son Heung-min and Koo Ja-cheol to exploit, and with that in mind, I’m going for the draw-South Korea double result at 7/1* with.
If you were to pick any time to face the Germans, then last up would be the best. Joachim Low’s side should have qualification wrapped up, and a draw would probably guarantee top spot in Group F. You can get as high as 11/2* for a stalemate that should give both sides what they need out of the game.
South Korea World Cup – Key Players
Much, if not all of the country’s hopes lay on the shoulders of talismanic Tottenham winger Son Heung-min (below). Son’s seven goals in World Cup qualifying mean he accounted for nearly 70% of the South Korean goal tally.
Swansea City’s Ki Sung-yueng is the country’s captain, and his experience in three consecutive relegation scraps in the Premier League could prove vital when the going gets tough in Group F.
Another midfield source of inspiration could be found in the aforementioned Koo Ja-cheol, who plies his trade in the Bundesliga with Augsburg. Koo also boasts eight years experience in the German top flight with the likes of Wolfsburg and Mainz. 19 goals in 65 appearances at international level is impressive going for a centre midfielder, and his knack of getting on the end of things could come in handy.
And for lovers of obscure Premier League players, may I point you in the direction of 38-year old striker Lee Dong-gook. Lee had an unsuccessful two-year spell at Middlesbrough in the mid-2000s when he failed to score a single league goal. He has no such problems in South Korea football’s J League, where he has notched nearly 250 domestic goals.
South Korea World Cup Best Odds
If you fancy it to be a South Korea World Cup triumph they are priced as high as 750/1* to go all the way. However, better value can be found in them to qualify from Group F at 13/5* with. Germany are certainties for top spot, but Korea, Sweden and Mexico could all take points off each other. We’re backing South Korean durability over Mexican flair and Swedish conservatism.
South Korea World Cup Recommended Bets
|2018 World Cup||South Korea Win||750/1*|
|2018 World Cup||South Korea Win||500/1*|
|2018 World Cup||South Korea Win||500/1*|
*Odds at the time of writing. Subject to change.