Korea Republic will be making their 11th appearance when they participate in this year's edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Although they have never been able to repeat their success at Mexico 1983, where the Red Devils stormed into the semi-finals, the boys from the southern portion of the Korean peninsula will be hoping to transfer their recent continental dominance onto the world stage.
The 11-time Asian champions were forced to battle through arguably their most difficult campaign yet in order to qualify for Egypt. Fitted with a Middle Eastern trio of Iraq, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates in the group stage of the AFC U-19 Championship in Saudi Arabia, Korea Republic were widely tipped to top the group with ease. The South Koreans left it late to beat Syria 1-0 thanks to a last-gasp winner in their opening match. Despite taking an early lead in the following game against UAE, they suffered a shock 2-1 loss after conceding both goals deep into the stoppage time. Cho Dong-Hyun's charges bounced back to defeat Iraq 2-0 in the final group match to reach the quarter-finals.
With the top-four Asian teams to qualify for Egypt, the quarter-final took on enormous importance, especially as it meant a chance to seek revenge on arch-rivals Japan who had eliminated the Koreans at the semi-final stage two years earlier. The Koreans accomplished their mission by beating the Japanese 3-0 in emphatic fashion to book a place in the last four and a ticket to Egypt. The Koreans, though, were to be again knocked out at the semi-final stage, this time by eventual runners-up Uzbekistan.
In March former Korea Republic captain Hong Myung-Bo was appointed as successor to Cho Dong-Hyun, who had successfully guided the young Taeguk Warriors into the finals. During his playing days, the stalwart centre-back was an indispensable member of the national team, for whom he scored nine goals in 135 matches including four FIFA World Cup™ appearances from 1990 to 2002.
After hanging up his boots, Hong continued with Korea Republic's senior side as an assistant to Dick Advocaat at Germany 2006 and Pim Verbeek at the AFC Asian Cup in 2007, before joining the U-23 side to help Park Sung-Hwa at the Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008.
With his experience at the Olympic Football Tournament last year, forward Cho Young-Cheol is a player who has already achieved many things at the tender age of 19. The No10 netted no fewer than ten goals against Guam in the preliminary qualifiers for the Asian championship in November 2007, before scoring the second goal against Japan in a 3-0 win in the crucial qualifying match which earned Korea Republic a berth at Egypt 2009.
Another player to watch is captain Koo Ja-Cheol, who pulls the strings in the middle of the park. Having already won two senior caps earlier last year, the defensive midfielder has established himself in his second year with his club Jeju United as well.
• This year's tournament will be the 11th time that Korea Republic has participated in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
• The best result so far was their fourth place finish at Mexico 1983 and they have never gone beyond the group stage since they reached the quarter-finals at Portugal 1991.
What they said
"This is an important time for me as I'm set to make a coaching debut. Achieving good results at the finals is not my only goal. I will work hard to transform the young players into the stepping stones for the future of Korean football." Korea Republic coach Hong Myung-Bo
|21||KIM Da Sol|
|4||LIM Jong Eun|
|6||HONG Jeong Ho|
|16||JANG Suk Won|
|8||SEO Yong Duk|
|14||MOON Ki Han|
|15||CHOI Sung Guen|
|9||KIM Dong Sub|
|10||CHO Young Cheol|
|11||SEO Jung Jin|
|18||LEE Seung Yeoul|
|20||PARK Hee Seong|
|HONG Myung Bo|