Korea Republic's captain Park Ji-Sung says their "miracle" run to the FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals in 2002 can happen again in this year's tournament in South Africa.
"2002 was a great victory for us. It was a miracle, and it can happen again," the 29-year-old Manchester United player said Sunday on the eve of a warm-up match against traditional rivals Japan. But he was quick to add that their chances of reaching the semi-finals again were "not a lot."
"So we just concentrate on the second round," he said. "Actually, our goal is to get through to the second round and we don't think about further."
Korea Republic open their 2010 campaign against Greece in Port Elizabeth on 12 June in Group B, which also includes Argentina and Nigeria. Park was a member of Korea Republic's World Cup squad in 2002 when they achieved the best result for any Asian nation in football's premier tournament.
Coached by Dutch tactician Guus Hiddink, they beat powerhouses Portugal, Italy and Spain before going down 1-0 to Germany in the 2002 edition which they co-hosted with Japan. At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the side crashed out in the group stage. They beat Togo 2-1, drew 1-1 with France with Park's late equaliser and lost 2-0 to Switzerland.
The Koreans, appearing in their seventh straight World Cup and coached by home grown Huh Jung-Moo, also feature Lee Chung-Yong, Bolton Wanderers' player-of-the-year, Park Chu-Young of AS Monaco and Celtic's Ki Sung-Yueng.
"Our team is quite well organised as we have young and experienced players mixed well," Park said.