Korea Puts Up Youngest, Tallest Squad for World Cup

      May 09, 2014 10:54

      The final 23-man roster for next month's World Cup was announced on Thursday by national football team manager Hong Myung-bo.

      "I think Korea has the toughest challenge among all the 32 countries competing in this World Cup, so I thought long and hard about how I could try to overcome the team's weaknesses in finalizing the roster," he said.

      ◆ More Firepower

      Twelve of those called up were part of the team that won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics under Hong's leadership, including striker Park Chu-young of Arsenal, goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong of Suwon Bluewings and defender Kim Chang-soo of Japan's Kashiwa Reysol.

      Key players like Koo Ja-cheol of FSV Mainz 05, Ki Sung-yueng of Sunderland and Kim Young-gwon of Guangzhou Evergrande were also selected.

      Hong Jeong-ho of FC Augsburg and Han Kook-young of Kashiwa Reysol were unable to compete in London due to injuries, but they served under Hong at other points in their careers. As such, 60 percent of the squad have already teamed up with Hong in the past.

      The squad now looks strong in midfield and attack. Lee Chung-yong of England's Bolton Wanderers, Son Heung-min of Bayer Leverkusen, Kim Shin-wook of Ulsan Hyundai and Lee Keun-ho of Sangju Sangmu will all add edge in Brazil.

      Son, who at 22 is the youngest member of the team, may be able to play a similar playmaking and attacking role to that of Park Ji-sung in 2002.

      Left to right, top to bottom: Manager Hong Myung-bo, goalkeepers Jung Sung-ryong, Kim Seung-gyu, Lee Bum-young; defenders Lee Yong, Kim Chang-soo, Kim Jin-soo, Yoon Suk-young, Kim Young-gwon, Hwang Seok-ho, Hong Jeong-ho, Kwak Tae-hwi; midfielders Ki Sung-yueng, Park Jong-woo, Ha Dae-sung, Han Kook-young, Son Heung-min, Kim Bo-kyung; strikers Park Chu-young, Koo Ja-cheol, Kim Shin-wook, Lee Keun-ho; midfielders Ji Dong-won, Lee Chung-yong /Newsis

      ◆ Better Physique

      The average age of the players on the Brazil World Cup team is 25.9, or 1.8 years younger than the players in South Africa four years ago. Before this, the youngest team fielded by Korea was at Mexico 1986 with an average age of 26.2 years.

      The only player over 30 is defender Kwak Tae-hwi of Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia, who is 33. Only five players -- Park Chu-young, Jung Sung-ryong, Ki Sung-yueng, Lee Chung-yong and Kim Bo-kyung -- played in South Africa. None of the defenders have any World Cup experience.

      Park Chu-young is the only one making his third World Cup appearance.

      "The team is young compared to previous squads, but I don't think they are behind in terms of experience and talent," said Hong.

      The average height of the 23 players is 184 cm, 1.7 cm taller than that of the previous squad in South Africa.

      Seventeen players, or 74 percent of the squad, play in overseas leagues. Nine play in Europe.

      This will be Hong's sixth World Cup and second in a managerial role. He featured as a player in 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002, and was an assistant coach for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

      "There is more pressure this time as I'm steering the team now. But with the experience I've gained over the years, I'll do my best to achieve a great performance."

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