AFC Asian Cup 2019, Team Preview: South Korea
Two-time Champions South Korea have selected an experienced squad under Portuguese coach Paulo Bento. South Korea have remained unbeaten since the time Bento took over as their head coach and would look to continue the rich vein of form at the Asian Cup.
South Korea received a major boost with the participation of their star player Son Heung-min from Tottenham Hotspur. He will join the squad for their final league match against China according to an agreement with the English side and the Korean Football Association which allowed him to feature during the side’s Asian Games campaign.
South Korea recorded a clinical 1-0 victory over Australia, Kuwait, and Oman in the previous edition of the Asian Cup. They stormed into the finals after getting the better of Uzbekistan and Iraq, before going down to hosts Australia in extra-time to finish as runners-up.
Son Heung-min bagged three goals to be their top-scorer. Along with Ki Sung-Yeung, Cha Du-ri, and Kwak Tae-hwi, Son represented Korea in the 2015 Team of the Tournament.
South Korea became the Champions of the inaugural Asian Cup in 1956, Hong Kong. They have consistently been the top three ranked Asian teams except on three occasions. In 1984, they got knocked out in the group stages held in Singapore and lost in the quarters during the 1996 edition in Emirates and 2004 Championship in China.
With 32 victories from 62 matches along with 16 draws and 14 defeats, The Taegeuk Warriors recorded a win percentage of 52%.
South Korea ended their World Cup on a high after knocking out Germany 2-0 to record their first ever victory over the European giants. Their opening game losses to Sweden and Mexico resulted in their failure to advance past the group stage.
They played 15 International matches this calendar year to record a 40% win percentage which included six victories; five draws, and four defeats. Apart from their victory over Germany, they also got the better of seventh-ranked Uruguay 2-1 in Seoul.
They end this year with a friendly against Saudi Arabia on December 30th.
With 23 goals from 74 appearances Tottenham Hotspur, Son Heung-min remains the top contender for the Player of the Tournament Award. He went about becoming the top Asian goalscorer in the English Premier League after registering 37 goals from 113 appearances. 26-year-old, Son has earlier been a member of Korea’s World Cup, Olympics, Asian Games, and Asian Championships squad.
Donning the role of a Central midfielder, Ki Sung-yueng is the most experienced Korean player having featured for them in 108 Internationals. He is excellent with set-piece opportunities and is reasonably competent from his long-range efforts. He has been playing in the English Premier League from 2012. He plies his trade with Newcastle this season.
Monday, 07 January 2019: South Korea (53) vs Philippines (116) - Al-Maktoum Stadium, Dubai at 19:00 IST.
Friday, 11 January 2019: South Korea (53) vs Kyrgyzstan (91) - Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain at 21:30 IST.
Wednesday, 16 January 2019: South Korea (53) vs China (76) - Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi at 19:00 IST.
Average Age: 27 years.
International Caps: 766.
International Goals: 92.
Head Coach: Paulo Bento (Portugal).
Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-Gyu (Vissel Kobe, Japan), Kim Jin-Hyeon (Cerezo Osaka, Japan), Jo Hyeon-Woo (Daegu FC).
Defenders: Kim Young-Gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande, China), Kim Min-Jae (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Kim Jin-Soo (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Kim Moon-Hwan (Busan IPark), Hong Chul (Suwon Samsung Bluewings), Kwon Kyung-Won (Tianjin Quanjian, China), Jung Seung-Hyun (Kashima Antlers, Japan).
Midfielders: Hwang In-Beom (Daejeon Citizen), Ju Se-Jong (Asan Mugunghwa), Na Sang-Ho (Gwangju FC), Jung Woo-Young (Al Sadd, Qatar), Koo Ja-Cheol (FC Augsburg, Germany), Lee Jae-Sung (Holstein Kiel, Germany), Hwang Hee-Chan (Hamburger SV, Germany), Lee Chung-Yong (VfL Bochum, Germany), Ki Sung-Yueng (Newcastle United, England), Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur, England) (Captain).
Strikers: Hwang Ui-Jo (Gamba Osaka, Japan), Ji Dong-Won (FC Augsburg, Germany).