Son Heung-min (Getty Images)
The Koreans crashed
out in the first round of the 2014 tournament in Brazil and have their work cut
out to avoid the same fate in Russia, where they have been drawn alongside
holders Germany, Sweden and Mexico.
But they boast genuine
star quality in snake-hipped Tottenham attacker Son, who lit up the Premier
League this season, helping Spurs finish third and secure a UEFA Champions League
One of the best
players to emerge from Asia, the 25-year-old scored 18 goals in all
competitions in a brilliant campaign with the London club and once again
carries the hopes of a nation heading into the World Cup.
South Korea made
history with their astonishing run to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals, but the
current crop of players have struggled to hit those same heights -- or come
single-handedly led the Taeguk Warriors to the Asian Cup final in 2015, where
they lost to hosts Australia, but his eye-catching performances earned him a
move from German club Bayer Leverkusen to Spurs, where the mercurial forward
has been a big hit with supporters.
Son will be desperate
to deliver for his legions of fans in South Korea and has the weapons to pose a
serious threat to Sweden in their World Cup opener on June 18.
realistically also need to take points from Mexico with world champions Germany
awaiting them in their final Group F fixture in Kazan.
Pelted with toffees by
fans in a traditional Korean insult on their return from Brazil four years ago,
they will need star man Son to be on song in Russia to avoid a repeat.