World Cup 2022 team preview: South Korea can cause a stir

The Round of 16 could be the limit for Son Heung-min and co.

South Korea national football team


South Korea are no strangers to the World Cup stage with this their 12th appearance at the finals. In their first five tournaments they didn’t secure a single win.

It wasn’t until the 2002 World Cup that South Korea registered their first victory, where Guus Hiddink managed the nation to extraordinary wins over Italy and Spain in the knockout stages along the way to a fourth-placed finish when they co-hosted the tournament with Japan.

They’ve had mixed fortunes since then, failing to get out of the group in their last two attempts. Pitted in Group H alongside Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana this time around, the Asian Tigers will have their work cut out if they are to progress to the knockout stages. However, with a superstar like Son Heung-Min leading the line, they always have a chance of springing a surprise at the World Cup 2022.

Paddy Power footy trader Brian O’Donnell takes us through their prospects…


South Korea World Cup 2022 qualifying record

South Korea finished second in Group A in their qualifiers, a point behind Iran and 11 points clear of third-placed UAE. They qualified for their 10th consecutive World Cup finals winning seven of their 10 games, losing just once on the final match day against the UAE when qualification to Qatar was already secured. With Iraq, Syria and Lebanon making up the rest of the six-team group, it would’ve been a huge shock if South Korea had failed to qualify.

Who is the South Korea manager?

Portuguese Paulo Bento. As a player, Bento spent his full career in his homeland winning the Portuguese league title in 2002 with Sporting Lisbon. He went on to manage Sporting from 2004-2009. After the 2010 World Cup, Bento was appointed Portugal coach, and at Euro 2012 led his side to the semi-finals and a penalty shootout exit to eventual winners Spain. 

After a disappointing 2014 World Cup where Portugal failed to get out of the group stages, Bento was relieved of his duties. He has been in charge of South Korea since 2018 and will likely meet up with some old friends when South Korea face off against Portugal in their final group game.

Paulo Bento, South Korea manager

South Korea World Cup squad

Around two thirds of the South Korea squad ply their club trade in Asia with just eight in their September international squad playing in Europe. Of those, talisman Son Heung-Min is of course the most well-known but they also have another Premier League forward amongst their ranks – Hee-Chan Hwang of Wolves. 

Hwang has nine international goals in 49 appearances to his name, and is likely to line up alongside Son in the forward line. 

Historically, South Korea generally looked to park the bus and nullify the superior teams they were up against, although they have changed their style in recent years to try and build out from the back and play more progressive football. Perhaps a more balanced approach will be required as back in June they conceded possession far too many times around their own box when Brazil beat them 5-1 in a friendly. If they cut out individual errors at the back, they can hurt any team.

  • Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu, Jo Hyeon-woo, Song Bum-keun
  • Defenders: Kim Min-jae, Kim Jin-su, Hong Chul, Kim Moon-hwan, Yoon Jong-gyu, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Tae-hwan, Kwon Kyung-won, Cho Yu-min
  • Midfielders: Jung Woo-young, Na Sang-ho, Paik Seung-ho, Son Jun-ho, Song Min-kyu, Kwon Chang-hoon, Lee Jae-sung, Hwang Hee-chan, Hwang In-beom, Jeong Woo-yeong , Lee Kang-in
  • Forwards: Hwang Ui-jo, Cho Gue-sung , Son Heung-min

South Korea Key Player

Son Heung-Min is South Korea’s captain and obvious key man. Last season he became the first Asian footballer to win the Premier League Golden Boot and has a decent scoring rate at international level with 35 goals in 104 appearances. He will be the focal point of the team and every one of his team-mates will be looking for him in the final third.

After a slow start to the season, Son scored a hat-trick against Leicester to get his season going before a couple of goals during the international break. The South Korean faithful will be hoping he can continue that rich vein of form into the World Cup.

Son Heung-Min of South Korea

South Korea One to Watch

The 23-year-old versatile midfielder Woo-Yeong Jeong was formerly on the books of Bayern Munich before Freiburg bought him in 2020. He can play as a box-to-box midfielder or wider in a 4-3-3 formation. He’s a regular starter for the Bundesliga outfit and has scored two goals in his nine international appearances for South Korea. As one of the few players featuring regularly in an elite European league, he is one to keep an eye on in Qatar.

South Korea World Cup Prospects

At 250/1 South Korea are amongst the outsiders to go all the way in Qatar. Getting through a tough group with Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana would be considered a success.

They have it in them to cause an upset and Portugal and Uruguay can underwhelm at times on the big stage so it’s certainly not a foregone conclusion that Korea won’t progress. In order to qualify they would need to take at least a point off either of those two teams mentioned and get a win over Ghana and hope results elsewhere go their way. If they are to qualify it will likely be in second position which would set up a Last 16 tie against Brazil where they would be severely up against it to progress. 

South Korea World Cup betting tips

If you fancy the South Koreans to get out of the group – which they have a solid chance at doing – then it’s worth backing them in the ‘Stage of Elimination’ market at The Round of 16 at the bigger price, as they’ll likely face tournament favourites Brazil in the Round of 16. SOUTH KOREA STAGE OF ELIMINATION: LAST 16

South Korea World Cup Winner Odds

South Korea World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 24, 1pm: Uruguay 0-0 South Korea (BBC)

November 28, 1pm: South Korea 2-3 Ghana (BBC)

December 2, 3pm: South Korea 2-1 Portugal (BBC)

December 5, 7pm: Brazil v South Korea (ITV)


*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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