Korea Republic
© AFP

The past
Asia’s most successful side with 12 continental titles, the Korea Republic U-20s best showing on the world stage was at Mexico 1983, when, inspired by Shin Yonho, they reached the semi-finals before being edged by eventual champions Brazil. The East Asians have also made it to the FIFA U-20 World Cup’s last eight on another two occasions.

The present
With the majority of the team hailing from a series of university sides, forming the core are a quartet strutting their stuff in the K-League. Skippering the Reds is Busan I’Park goalkeeper Lee Changkeun, who conceded just four goals as they regained their Asian title. Jeonbuk Motors Kimhyun is a formidable striker, while Lee Gwanghun bosses the midfield alongside Kim Seungjun and Kang Sangwoo, both of whom scored twice during qualifying.

The future
Turkey 2013 marks the South Koreans 13th appearance in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, with their debut dating back to Japan 1979. Indeed, coach Lee Kwangjong's charges sealed their sixth consecutive qualification, this time as Asian champions, having drawn one and won five in the 2012 AFC U-19 Championship, including defeating Iraq on penalties in the final as they recaptured the continental laurels which they conceded to Korea DPR in 2006. Aside from their technical and tactical qualities, Korea Republic’s youngsters impressed particularly with their strong mentality, which had carried them through a series of stern tests including battling from behind to equalise against Iraq in regular time of the final, before prevailing 4-1 on spot-kicks.