For the first time since 1998, South Korea go into a World Cup without a high-profile foreign boss at the helm. Huh Jung Moo, who only got the nod after Gerard Houllier and Mick McCarthy turned the job down, will hope to fare better than Cha Bum Kun, who was sacked midway through France '98 after a 5-0 thrashing from the Netherlands.
Guus Hiddink led Korea to the semi-finals on home turf in 2002 but that is the only time they have gone beyond the group stages. They went Dutch again in 2006, but Dick Advocaat's side were eliminated by Switzerland after holding France and beating Togo. Advocaat later bemoaned an injury to Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung which left the key midfielder short of fitness in Germany. Korean fans will hope history does not repeat itself this year, with star striker Park Chu Young missing the end of the French season due to a thigh problem.
Aim: Huh will be under pressure if the Koreans fail to make it past the group stage.
THREE KEY PLAYERS
PARK CHU YOUNG If the pacey Monaco striker is not fully fit, Korea could struggle to find a cutting edge. Expect plenty of intelligent runs - he has an IQ of 150, placing him in the top 0.1% of the world's population.
PARK JI SUNG Korea's captain has hinted this could be his last World Cup. Nicknamed "Three Lung Park" due to his stamina, something he puts down to the boiled frog juice his father fed him as a child.
KI SUNG YUENG The 21-year-old playmaker will play a pivotal role in South Africa despite having been frozen out at Celtic following Tony Mowbray's sacking. Ki, who is happy to be known as David in Glasgow, has been dubbed the "Korean Steven Gerrard".
HUH JUNG MOO missed out on coaching his country at the 2002 World Cup, losing his job to Guus Hiddink after some poor results. Many fans were underwhelmed by his re-appointment, although Korea's unbeaten qualification campaign eased the pressure on the 55-year-old. He has recalled veteran goalkeeper Lee Woon Jae (aka Spider Hands), who was banned from internationals for one year after leading several team-mates on a late-night drinking spree during the Asian Cup in 2007.
ADOPT THEM BECAUSE...
With star players like Ki, Lee and Park, it won't cost the earth to get a name printed on the back of your replica shirt.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
South Korea's World Cup qualifying highlights
W 4-0 Turkmenistan (H) D 1-1 North Korea (A) D 2-2 Jordan (H) W 1-0 Jordan (A) W 3-1 Turkmenistan (A) D 0-0 North Korea (H) D 1-1 North Korea (A) W 4-1 UAE (H) W 2-0 Saudi Arabia (A) D 1-1 Iran (A) W 1-0 North Korea (H) W 2-0 UAE (A) D 0-0 Saudi Arabia (H) D 1-1 Iran (H) Finished top of group
WORLD CUP BEST
2002: Guus Hiddink's men eliminated Italy and Spain before falling to Germany in the semi-finals. The Koreans made good use of home advantage, although they benefited from some questionable refereeing decisions along the way.
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