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Team-by-team guide: 2022 South Korea World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. This is for Group H's South Korea.

South Korea World Cup 2022 Preview

World Cup appearances: 11th 

Best finish: Fourth place (2002) 

How they got here: South Korea achieved automatic qualification by finishing second in AFC Group A behind Iran. 

Coach: Paulo Bento (Portuguese) 

Strongest XI: (4-3-3) Kim Seung-gyu; Kim Jin-su, Kim Min-jae, Kwon Kyung-won, Kim Moon-hwan; Hwang In-beom, Jeong Woo-yeong, Lee Kang-in; Son Heung-min, Hwang Ui-jo, Hwang Hee-chan

Injuries: Captain Son Heung-min recently fractured his eye socket but he's good to go.

What's to like: Son is now the "masked tiger" with his protective gear, and as long as he's out there, the Taegeuk Warriors can score on anyone. But the Tottenham star isn't the only South Korean shining in Europe right now: 21-year-old Lee Kang-in has put in some great performances for Mallorca in LaLiga, and Napoli leads Serie A with center back Kim Min-jae regarded as the finest defender in Italy at the moment.

This is South Korea's 10th straight appearance at the finals, so they've got that experience going for them, and if there's anyone who can prepare for Portugal, it's Paulo Bento — the 53-year-old manager was in charge of Portugal for four years (including the 2014 World Cup). The group looks tough on paper, but this is a weaker Ghana than previous World Cup editions, an aging Uruguay and maybe Bento has the secret to the Navegadores.   

What's not to like: South Korea lost to the UAE and drew with both Iran and Iraq in qualifying. More recently, they got hammered by Brazil (5-1) and drew with Costa Rica (2-2). Portugal and Uruguay are both notoriously difficult to break down at major tournaments, so chances will be at a premium for South Korea. They don't seem to matchup well in the midfield with any of their group stage opponents.   

Everything depends on Son in attack, but he recently said "it's tough for me to say right now that I will play every game" because of his injury. If he's not at 100 percent, the Tigers of Asia have no chance.  

X-Factor: Kim Min-jae. He's got a set piece goal in him. 

Best hair: Jo Hyeon-woo

Embed from Getty Images

Most likely to fuck it all up: Hwang Ui-jo. The striker is carrying terrible club form (13 appearances this season and zero goals) into the tournament. 

What will make this a good World Cup: South Korea fell at the group stage in 2014 and 2018, so a return to the knockout round is the goal. 

Bonus prediction: Pepe elbows Son in the eye socket. 

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