The team: Korea Republic’s qualifying campaign was a bit of a debacle as they flattered to deceive and came perilously close to not making the plane to Brazil. A shock loss to Lebanon during the third round group stage put them at risk of elimination and cost coach
Cho Kwangrae his job. New coach Choi Kanghee guided Korea to the next qualifying round, but still they struggled, suffering two defeats to Iran and costly draws with Uzbekistan and Lebanon. After scraping through, another new coach in Hong Myungbo was appointed, and he has turned to youth in a bid to arrest the team’s recent slump.
The coach: Hong Myungbo
As a stylish defender, Hong Myungbo amassed a national team record 135 caps during a 12-year international playing career. He has been involved in the Korea Republic coaching set-up on-and-off since 2009, including spells as assistant manager, before taking the top job in June 2013.
Key player: Son Heungmin
Bayer Leverkusen forward Son Heungmin will be a handful for opponents this summer due to versatility. The 21-year-old has a quick turn of pace, can use both feet and is clinical in front of goal.
World ranking: 55
World Cup appearances: 8
Previous best: Fourth place in 2002
Qualification: Second in group
Form (qualifiers): WWDLWWDL
Fixtures: June 18 vs. Russia; June 22 vs. Algeria; June 27 vs. Belgium