Saturday, June 5, 2010
Group B: South Korea
South Korea are a team that is haunted by the past. In the 2002 World Cup they played hosts and shocked the world by reaching the semi-finals. Trust me, a lot of us still can't believe it! This is because at the next finals in 2006, they crashed out in the group stage. Being constantly belittled by their "one-off run" the South Koreans are aiming to prove the world wrong, and this year, they could.
Being placed in Group B makes the South Koreans seem like an underdog team. Argentina are the clear favorites, Nigeria will likely have a lot of fan support, and Greece play some solid soccer. However, this is a good thing, because the Koreans now have two things going for them: 1) The element of surprise, and 2) They want to upstage North Korea.
With most of the world expecting little from the team, they have the ability to come out firing on all cylinders, and because of this they will score some surprising goals while they run around the defense of other teams. Compound this with the desire to do better than North Korea, who the nation is still technically at war with, and the South Koreans will be a force at this years finals, and I do expect them to shock the world by reaching the second round. Unfortunately, once there, they will face some stiff opposition against France who, at least on paper, will beat the Koreans.
Ji-Sung Park (pictured) of Manchester United is far-and-away the teams best player. Although not known for scoring many goals at his club, he has a flair for making amazing assists. He will be the architect for the two strikers. If their touch on the ball is good, expect a couple breakaway goals go storming past the defense.
Park-Chu-Young scored plenty of goals in qualifying (through free-kicks and run of play). Playing his club ball for Monaco in France he has the experience to go up against some of the world's best defenders and keepers.
My Prediction: Second Round