2010 World Cup to be a Korea Highlight? Huh Knows!

THE 2010 World Cup is only months away, and the excitement around the planet is bubbling to the surface. Whilst millions of footie fans will be debating which heavyweight will lift the prestigious trophy, a dark horse from the far-east has a chance of causing some major upsets – South Korea.

So why do the Taeguk Warriors stand out over other Asia and Oceania minnows?

Firstly, they have a fantastic manager in Huh Jung-Moo. Huh has worked with the national team since the late 80’s and has managed South Korea on three separate occasions. He has been at the KFA (Korean Football Association) as a technical advisor as well as being heavily involved in youth football. Huh knows the entire infrastructure of the KFA and has personal influence in all sectors. The internal respect for him is total and universal, unlike the hierarchy of most FA’s, where uninspiring management and director-coach clashes lead to in-fighting and huge distractions, resulting in poor performances on the pitch (such as Maradona with Argentina or Domenech with France).

Huh Jung-Moo: The 2009 ‘AFC Coach of the Year’ has instilled a superb winning mentality to the South Korean side.

Form is a vital factor in success. South Korea will arrive in South Africa having not lost a competitive match since Huh took charge in December 2007. They topped their qualification table and will be brimming with ambition ahead of the tournament. Where as teams like New Zealand scraped through (beating Bahrain 1-0 in a two legged play-off), the Taeguk Warriors fought off all competition and will feel confident of competing against star-studded teams like Argentina.

Champions League Winner: Park Ji-Sung, a huge asset to South Korea, and a figure of envy for other Asian sides.

Over the past two decades, South Korea has invested heavily in it’s infrastructure with the KFA creating a host of youth academies (including the Yong-In Academy where Huh worked for three years at the start of the Millennium). Today, South Korea boasts the best crop of young players in all of Asia. 20-year-old Ki Sung-Yong is the 2009 ‘Asian Young Player of the Year’ and is touted as a future superstar. The majority of the national team play in the rapidly improving K-League whilst a handful of players, such as Park Ji-Sung and Park Chu-Young, have made the leap to Europe to play in The UEFA Champions League.

Something which can’t be underestimated is the Korean Republic’s history in the tournament. Their fairytale run to fourth place in the 2002 World Cup captured the public’s imagination, raising the bar significantly for Asian teams. When the pressure is on this summer, the Taeguk Warriors can rely on later stage experience to help them progress, an advantage that no other far-east team has the joy of knowing.

Heroes: South Korea celebrate their inspiring victory over Italy in 2002.

Australia are ambitious but inexperienced, Japan are a handful but inconsistent, North Korea are a total unknown and New Zealand have no pressure on them. But it’s the explosive potential of South Korea that means they could stand out in South Africa. Winning the World Cup would take divine intervention from Buddha himself, but another semi-final appearance isn’t beyond the boys from the East.

Huh said recently: “For us, who we get in the draw is not a big deal; we just want to win against each team we play.” And it is this determined attitude that could see South Korea shock the soccer establishment this summer.

2 Responses to “2010 World Cup to be a Korea Highlight? Huh Knows!”

  1. Usain Kabba Says:

    Title = pure genius.

  2. Challenge Feedback Says:

    Great article, very interesting to read, well backed up by facts about South Korea.
    Was a shame that since the draw had been made by the time you submitted your article that you did not talk about who South Korea would be facing in their group.

    In Group B are; Argentina always a force when the tournament arrives, Nigeria a threat especially with the tournament based in Africa and Greece, 2004 European Championship winners, can’t be discounted. I wonder if South Korea will even get out of their group, would have been nice to hear something about that.

    By my count, excluding quotes and captions, you were about 6% over the word count, at 532 words, which cost you a mark

    All in all a very good article, well done on winning the task.

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