Korea Republic did not get off to a perfect start in Group H, but they will look to take the positives from their hard-fought 1-1 draw with Russia in Cuiaba into Sunday's meeting with Algeria.
Korea's captain Koo Jacheol has played under coach Hong Myungbo for several years in youth championships and at the 2012 London Olympics, where they won a historic bronze medal. Hong has shown his confidence in Koo by giving him the captain's armband as well as having him play in a more advanced midfield role.
Koo spoke exclusively with FIFA.com about his changing role in the team and what qualities set the Taeguk Warriors apart.
FIFA.com: The match against Algeria is just around the corner. As captain, do you feel any added pressure?
Koo Jacheol:Things like morale and the preparation, that are not in the hands of the coaching staff, are my responsibilities. If I observe the players and I control them, so to speak, to make sure that they enter the match together, then I think we will get a good result against Algeria. I don't feel especially pressured or overwhelmed by the responsibilities.
*You have participated in the youth World Cup, the Guangzhou Asian Cup, and the London Olympics as a captain and taken on a role as a leader for this generation of Korean footballers. How do you feel about the term "Hong Myungbo's Children"? *
The fact that the term has emerged shows that the media has been following our progress. I have never thought of ourselves as Hong Myungbo's children. I can't deny the fact that we have spent a lot of time together, however. I have good memories of being on this team. I am optimistic about his ability to bring the team together and lead it well.
You have played different positions throughout your career. Now you play as an offensive player. Which position fits you best?
The moment I quit football and am free of pressure, I will be able to say which position was the position I prefer. When I was a defensive midfielder, I was able to play confidently. I am confident in my current position as well. I feel sometimes that I still can't quite shake off the style of play from those two different positions.
*It appears that your role is that of a playmaker. In the previous match against Russia, and leading up to the match against Algeria, do you feel there's enough support in midfield and going forward? *
I think it depends on how the match pans out. For example, if we have good build-up play from the defence and our players gain confidence with the ball, then it will give me more options in different positions. If our opponents put us under pressure and our defenders are struggling to cope, I will try to use the space behind their lines. Furthermore, I try to make sure that our defensive midfielders don't feel isolated in their defensive play.
Hong Myungbo always emphasizes teamwork. As a captain, what does teamwork mean to you?
Aside from the time with Hong Myungbo, my time at the Asian Cup was an honourable moment and we had great matches. But after the tournament, I don't have any memories about the team. With that in mind, I will try to do my best and be willing to make sacrifices for the team. I think it will increase my pride in the team. To feel that pride, it makes you try your best. That is what sets our team apart. Even outside of football, that is something that will remain as a good memory. I think that is the idea behind Hong Myungno's concept of teamwork.