After narrow defeats to Mexico and Sweden, South Korea trainer Shin Tae-yong summed up his team’s position neatly, describing them as”a drowning man clutching at a straw.” The late heroics of Germany’s Toni Kroos against Sweden spared Shin’s side the ignominy of elimination with a game to spare, but only a win on Wednesday afternoon and also a success for Mexico against Sweden provides them any prospect of advancement.
Although South Korea are competitive in the tackle and willing to cover lots of ground, they have struggled to develop any attacking effort. A magnificent late strike from a mostly isolated Son Heung-min against Mexico has been the sum total of their offensive efforts so far, and they did not even manage a shot on goal within their Group F opener from Sweden.
Opta tell us that South Korea have lost their past four games at World Cup finals, equalling their worst ever sequence. It’s also worth noting that they have lost their last two World Cup games from Germany, a set match in 1994 along with the semi-final in 2002.
South Korea’s cause will not be helped by skipper Ki Sung-yeung’s loss to injury, and full-back Park Joo-ho is still sidelined. Shin must find a way to get Tottenham forward Son more support in assault – he had eight shots against Mexico, and carried the entire offensive weight on his shoulders.
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