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Guide to South Korea at the 2022 World Cup

From Paulo Bento naming and explaining his squad selection to a look at the opposition and interviews, and anything in between absolutely all of our South Korea at the 2022 World Cup content all in one place. Last update: Thursday 1st December, 18:07 KST.
Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

Match Previews & Korea's Adversaries

South Korea vs Portugal

South Korea heads into their final group match against Portugal on the heels of a 3-2 loss to Ghana, which saw them erase a two-goal deficit in the second half, but ultimately come up short at the final whistle.  There are several considerations to be mulled over ahead of the final group stage fixture, including potential permutations which could see Paulo Bento's men through if they manage to do the impossible and take all three points from the match.  KLU's Branko Belan takes a closer look at what to expect.

Read in full here

Ghana Preview here
Uruguay Preview here

KLU Pod South Korea Vs. Portugal Preview + Ghana Defeat Reaction

After a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to Ghana in their second game, South Korea head into their final World Cup group match facing Portugal knowing only a win will do along with help from elsewhere. 

Listen here

Korea's World Cup Adversaries: Portugal

The 2022 FIFA World Cup continues to shock and surprise many fans from across the world. It is now time for the Korean Republic to look to add to that list as they are set to take on Portugal in the third and final Group H match.

It has been a bittersweet time for Korea in this World Cup. What started in a positive stalemate against Uruguay was then followed up by a painful 3-2 loss to Ghana in the last game. It is do or die for Korea in their final group stage game. A win is a must and other results must also go their way. Michael Redmond looks at what is in store for Korea in this one.

Read in full here

Ghana here
Uruguay here

More Portugal stars could miss clash with South Korea: Reports

A handful of Portugal stars could miss the team's final 2022 FIFA World Cup Group H clash with South Korea on Friday due to injury or risk of suspension, according to local media outlet Correio da Manhã.

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Paulo Bento to serve touchline ban for South Korea vs. Portugal

In what could be his last match as manager of South Korea, Paulo Bento will serve a touchline ban for his team's final FIFA World Cup Group H clash against Portugal on Friday. Bento was shown a red card by English referee Anthony Taylor after the final whistle of Korea's 3-2 loss to Ghana.

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Other Articles

Cho Gue-sung is attracting interest from Europe, says Lee Young-pyo

Former South Korean international Lee Young-pyo says that he has been contacted by a big club in Europe about striker Cho Gue-sung.

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South Korea's record in World Cup group stage openers

South Korea's World Cup group opener record reads three wins, two draws, and two losses from their 10 previous finals. Their last win in a World Cup group opener was in 2010 - a 2-0 victory over Greece thanks to goals from Lee Jung-soo (pictured above) and Park Ji-sung. Korea had won the two previous group openers, too, and went on a run of four unbeaten from 2002 to 2014 with three wins and one draw from their group openers, the run came to a half at Russia 2018 with a 1-0 loss to Sweden.

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South Korea Squad for the World Cup

Paulo Bento: "These are the 26 players we selected for the World Cup. Before I answer your questions I would just like to say that we have another player that will go with us to Qatar, that is Oh Hyeon-gyu (Suwon Bluewings). He is not in the list, are already talked with him, we explained the situation. He's going to Qatar to make part of the group, training with the team. If everything goes well as we expect and as we wish, he will stay out of the list in case something happens with some player that is connected with his position he will be in the final list."

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Cho Gue-sung (R) comes on to replace Hwang Ui-jo (L) in Korea vs Uruguay (by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

What's next for the players who miss out on the World Cup?

“Kim Eun-jung's advice: "The way I would look at it is, all players dream of going to a World Cup but not all players are able to do that. Don’t be disappointed, get your heads down for your clubs, train and work as hard as you can and another chance will materialize later.”

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South Korea's World Cup Squad Numbers

The squad numbers for South Korea's 2022 World Cup squad have been revealed. Cho Gue-sung has been given the number nine shirt, Yoon Jong-gyu number two, Lee Jae-sung number 10, and Lee Kang-in number 18. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors midfielder Paik Seung-ho with eight and the Ulsan Hyundai trio of Jo Hyeon-woo, Kim Young-gwon, and Kim Tae-hwan with 21, 19, and 23 respectively have the same numbers they use at club level. For Kim Young-gwon it's the same number he was given at the 2018 World Cup. As too Kim Seung-gyu (1), Son Heung-min (7), Hwang Hee-chan (11), and Hong Chul (14).

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Squads Announced for South Korea's 2022 World Cup Group H Opponents

South Korea's Group H opponents Uruguay, Ghana and Portugal have all announced their squads for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Who's in? There are a total of 1,183 caps earned in the Uruguay squad with the average at 45.5. Korea took on Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup Round of 16 and lost 2-1. Luis Suárez scored twice that day while Cavani and Godín also played.

South Korea last played Ghana in 2014 in the build-up to the World Cup that year. Jordan Ayew scored a hat-trick. There are a total of 441 caps in this Black Stars squad with an average of 16.9 per player.

For Portugal, as expected, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes are in, as is Pepe who at 39 and with 128 caps is among the most experienced players. Only captain Ronaldo has more with 191.

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Son Heung-min says he's not ready to head the ball, but does he need to?

"I can’t head the ball yet and I haven't tried yet. It’s only been 10 days since the surgery and that’s not a long time. I don’t have any problem with running. I trained with the club just two days before arriving here and I was able to complete my sprint training without any problems."  

But, how often is Son actually expected to head the ball? According to the Premier League's own statistics, Son has scored just four headed goals in 245 league appearances for Tottenham. With 96 goals scored in the Premier League, that's just 4.2% of his total.

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South Korea's K League players at World Cups 1986-2018

Paulo Bento's South Korea squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar contains 14 K League-based players, more or less the average since 1986. But which South Korea squad had the most K League-based players, and contributed the most? 

 In the nine previous campaigns, there has been an average of 14.66 K League players involved in the 22 or 23-man squads. 

The fewest was six in 2014 when South Korea finished bottom of their group having picked up just one point. The most was at Italia '90 with 20 while in 2002, when Korea made it all the way to the semifinals, there were 15. 

In terms of the players who actually make it onto the pitch, on average, 60% of starters have been K League players and 60% of the substitutions made have been K League players coming on. The 1990 and 1994 World Cups had the most K League starters with 80% while the lowest was 2014 with just 15%.

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The K League United Podcast

South Korea vs Ghana Preview

Uruguay Match Preview

Reaction to Paulo Bento's Squad Announcement

Full episode available here

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Analysis of South Korea's World Cup Squad

Not many of South Korea's squad for Qatar 2022 have World Cup experience, just eight in fact with 16 set to compete at that level for the first time. Three players have been to more than one World Cup, namely Kim Seung-gyu, Kim Young-gwon, and Son Heung-min.

The average number of caps among those eight players is just 3.38 with Kim Young-gwon earning the post at six and Kim Seung-gyu the fewest with just one. Both have been to two World Cups but in the case of Kim Seung-gyu, the second (Russia 2018) was spent watching on from the bench.

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Player Profiles

K League Internationals: South Korea's World Cup Goalkeepers

Jo Hyeon-woo rose to fame during the last World Cup after making a string of impressive saves during South Korea's group stage campaign. Jo, while playing for Daegu FC, made his South Korea debut in November 2017 under Shin Tae-yong in a 1-1 draw against Serbia. His first cleansheet came against North Korea in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship two months later. He has gone on to make 22 caps and keep eight cleansheets. 

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K League Internationals: South Korea's World Cup Defenders

The most experienced of the K League contingent with 96 caps, Kim Young-gwon is expected to slot in alongside Kim Min-jae at the heart of South Korea's defense. The 2022 season Kim's first in K League having spent his career abroad, starting with FC Tokyo and Omiya Ardija in Japan. The Jeonju-born centre back then spent a six-year, trophy-laden spell in the Chinese Super League with Guangzhou Evergrande where he won multiple league titles, cups, and AFC Champions Leagues. 

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K League Internationals: South Korea's Midfielders and Forwards

Kwon Chang-hoon has been an established name in this South Korean side for some time now, making his international debut way back in 2015, yet finds himself only now heading to his first World Cup. Kwon made his professional club debut back in 2013, coming through the ranks at Suwon Samsung Bluewings and found himself in the K League's end-of-year Best XIs for both 2015 and 2016. His performances were enough to earn a move overseas, signing for Dijon in 2017 before moving to Freiburg in 2019. 

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2022 FIFA World Cup: Made in K League

Although Kim Min-jae began his football career with Gyeongju KHNP in the National League (third tier), he made his name in K League with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. He burst onto the scene with the Green Warriors that year, making 29 league appearances and scoring two goals to help Jeonbuk win back the title. It would be the first of two titles Kim would win while at Jeonju Castle, the second came the following season before moving to Chinese Super League side Beijing FC. While in K League, Kim was named in the Best XI for two years straight. 

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