Progress remains possible for both Korea Republic and Poland ahead of their final Group D encounter in Montreal, but it is not just the game's importance that ought to spark intrigue. With the Koreans noted for pace and technique and the Poles reputed for physical strength and counter-attacks, rarely can two teams with more contrasting styles have crossed paths.
Competition is sure to be fierce as both sides can still qualify for the Round of 16. True, the Koreans have collected only one point so far, however a victory would leave them looking good to progress. A draw would not suffice, on the other hand, but it could well be enough for their opponents, who need to prove they have recovered from their crushing loss to the USA in their last outing. Not that the Koreans have too much to crow about themselves, of course, having recorded a draw and a loss in their two fixtures, despite glimpses of attractive football along the way. Both teams will have to give everything, and will surely be backed all the way by their vociferous fans as they endeavour to keep their Canadian adventure alive.
With left-winger Krzysztof Krol back from suspension, Poland should be at full strength as long as Jaroslaw Fojut recovers in time from the knock he received in the USA match. In the Korean camp, no players are suspended but striker Young Rok Shin is suffering from a broken nose and is not expected to feature.
It will be a special occasion for the goalkeepers in Montreal as Korea Republic's Jin Hyeon Kim and Poland's Bartosz Bialkowski will both be celebrating their 20th birthdays between the sticks.
The last time these two sides met at this level the Poles came away with a 2-1 win that earned them third place at this tournament in 1983. A good omen for the Europeans perhaps, but their Asian rivals will surely prefer to remember the most recent meeting between these teams at senior level: the Taeguk Warriors' 2-0 victory at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
"Every match is a step into the unknown for us. We weren't favourites in this group and we knew all three games would be difficult. We've seen the Koreans' two matches and that's as much as we know about them."Michal Globisz, Poland coach."
We're going to win this game and qualify for
the Round of 16."
Dong Hyun Cho, Korea Republic coach.