Uli Stielike’s Taeguk Warriors of South Korea are back on the FIFA World Cup Qualifying grind. At Ansan WA Stadium in Ansan, the home of K League Challenge side Ansan Mugunghwa, South Korea host Miodrag Radulović’s Cedars of Lebanon ahead of Korea’s second division opening up shop on the weekend.
Unlike Japan and Australia, among other established sides in the confederation, South Korea are already through to the next stage of qualifying due to the situation regarding Kuwait, to go with a 6-0-0 record with 23 goals forwarded and none conceded. However, Stielike is adamant that the match will be treated with duty and honor for country. In short, it will be just like any other qualifier in the FIFA World Cup cycle. Thailand have replaced Kuwait as South Korea’s next opponent.
“These matches could have no meaning since we have already advanced to the final round of the qualification,” Stielike told the press. “However, we have been playing great since last year, and I don’t want to ruin that milestone by not playing well in upcoming matches.
“I have given them [European-based players] an opportunity. I will see how they perform in answer to my call-up. For the next call-up, we have about two months left. Until then, I will search for players in the K League who have talent to be on the national team.”
“Since this is our first match of the year, we will do our best,” said midfielder Ki Sung-yueng. “We will focus on the match, because that’s our mission.”
Kickoff at Ansan is scheduled for Thursday at 4 a.m. PT/7 a.m. ET. Here are 10 Bold Predictions for the match between South Korea and Lebanon.
- Lebanon will not score in this game.
- Abbas Hassan will make at least four saves.
- Jung Sung-ryong will make under four saves.
- Ki Sung-yueng will score for South Korea.
- Koo Ja-cheol will score for South Korea.
- Lee Jeong-hyeop will score for South Korea.
- Lee Jae-sung will score for South Korea.
- Lee Chung-yong will score for South Korea.
- At least 35 fouls will be whistled.
- Under five cards will be issued.
Call it fine tuning, a free pass, free reign, wood-chopping a la “It’s going down, I’m yelling Timber,” but whatever you do, call this one for South Korea as they finish the second round with a perfect 7-0-0 record. As for Lebanon? They could sneak into the next round but will need to win big against Myanmar on Mar. 29 to do so. Shukraan Jazilaan, Kuwait.
South Korea 5, Lebanon 0