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World Cup 2018: Can Son Heung-Min shine for South Korea in Russia?

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
736   //    04 Jun 2018, 15:52 IST

South Korea v Honduras - International Friendly
South Korea v Honduras - International Friendly

With South Korea taking part in this summer's major tournament could their go-to man, Son Heung-Min be their lifeline?

The excitement of this year's World Cup is only a matter of weeks, or days away if you are desperately seeking it. South Korea qualified for Russia by finishing second within their group of the Asian World Cup qualifiers. Iran won their group and will obviously also take part.

South Korea history

South Korea (also known as the Taegeuk Warriors) are competing in their ninth consecutive World Cup tournament. Although seen as underdogs, they have been consistent throughout the years. Their best finish was back in 2002 when they co-hosted the tournament alongside Japan.

Winning a group which included Portugal, USA and Poland was a huge shock to the whole globe and they were not ones to slow down. Defeating Italy in the last 16 and Spain through penalties during the last eight was a story by itself. Losing to Germany in the semi-finals wasn't a loss at all. Backed by many fans around the world they had moral support.

Fast forward 16 years and we have another tournament ready for even more surprises. South Korea is a nation which is well respected but not considered a powerhouse nation in international football, therefore to play a part in Russia is more of an honour.

Most players within the 23-man squad play in South Korea but for those that play elsewhere, there is a foreign experience they can utilize playing with their national teammates.

Key squad players

The obvious player everybody will look up to is Son Heung-Min. The Tottenham Hotspur winger has been an important player for Mauricio Pochettino, as well as his own nation. Scoring 21 times in 61 international matches is proof of his qualities for club and country.

Alongside him is captain Ki Sung-Yeung. The 29-year-old has already made 100 appearances at international level and continues to represent his nation well.

This isn't just a Korean side that is taking part in the World Cup but a nation willing to cause an upset, so don't be surprised if they take something from Germany, Sweden or Mexico in a difficult-looking Group F.

Beating the odds

Head coach Shin Tae-Yong will be hoping his side can overcome the odds, as they are currently the fourth-least favourites at 750/1 to win the World Cup. Most of us would agree that they probably wouldn't win the whole thing but it wouldn't hurt to have a flutter on them escaping the group.

Also, as the second-least favourite from the Asian sides, they are 4/1 to end up being the most successful Asian side. With Australia, Iran, Japan and Saudi Arabia as the other competing nations, those odds look quite decent.

Back to Son, though. For him to have a good World Cup he will need to score a few goals. Although personally, his main goal is just to help his nation out of their group.

Who knows, even a spectacular World Cup could attract interest to the Tottenham man from elsewhere. There may be some big European clubs sniffing around this summer and being an asset to the London-based club, it could be a big blow to lose Son.

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CONTRIBUTOR
I'm an avid football fan and unfortunate Stoke City season ticket holder. Football is my passion and I live, breathe and talk it 24/7.
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