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Park Ji-sung says S. Korea have less than 50 pct. chance of passing group stage at 2018 World Cup

All Headlines 15:27 May 16, 2018

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- Former Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung said Wednesday he thinks South Korea have less than a 50 percent chance of advancing past the group stage at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

South Korea are in Group F at the World Cup in Russia with Germany, Mexico and Sweden. Park, who will work as a commentator for local broadcaster SBS during the 2018 World Cup, said he thinks South Korea will have a tough World Cup against football powerhouses but that fans should not give up hope on the national team.

"At this moment, I think we have less than a 50 percent chance to get past the group stage," Park said at a press conference at SBS in Seoul. "But there have always been some upsets at the World Cup, and I know fans are also looking for those kinds of upsets this time. I believe the national team's performance can change depending on their preparations and fan support."

Former South Korean football player Park Ji-sung, who will work as a commentator for local broadcaster SBS, speaks at a press conference in Seoul on May 16, 2018. (Yonhap)

Park, who represented the country at three FIFA World Cups and scored at least one goal in each of the three tournaments, said South Korean players should enjoy football's showpiece event.

"The national team has been criticized since the World Cup qualifying round, so I believe the players still have some pressure," he said. "But participating in the World Cup itself is already a big advantage and joy for the players. I hope the players can show their performance at the World Cup."

Park, who hung up his boots in 2014, said the key point for South Korea is their ability to cope with "Plan B" after some core members were ruled out due to injuries. South Korean head coach Shin Tae-yong on Monday announced a preliminary 28-man squad, although he needs to cut five players before submitting his final roster of 23 players on June 4.

"I know that the national team coach had to change his original plan due to injured players, so it's important how he can utilize his Plan B," he said. "It's also important how the team can build up its defensive cohesion."

Park, who is the first South Korean to play in the English Premier League (EPL), said he has big expectations for Tottenham Hotspur Son Heung-min.

"Son has finishing skills, and it's not easy to find a player who can score like that against European teams," he said. "The teams that we meet at the World Cup are strong, so we're not going to have many scoring chances. But a player like Son who has good finishing skills can surely help this team."


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