(ATTN: UPDATES with kickoff times, venues in paras 3-5)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will take on Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana in the group stage of this year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The draw for the Nov. 21-Dec. 18 tournament took place Friday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, the capital city of the host country, Qatar. South Korea, competing in their 10th consecutive World Cup and 11th overall, ended up in Group H.
South Korea, ranked 29th in the world, will open the tournament against No. 13 Uruguay at 4 p.m. on Nov. 24 at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan. Then the 60th-ranked Ghana will meet South Korea at 4 p.m. on Nov. 28, also at Education City Stadium. South Korea's final group match will be against world No. 8 Portugal at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2, back at the same venue.
South Korea are the only Group H team to play all three matches at one stadium. Portugal will play at three different sites.
Qatar is six hours behind South Korea.
South Korea's Portugal-born head coach, Paulo Bento, will be coaching against his native country and five-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo. Bento played against South Korea during the group stage at the 2002 World Cup.
South Korea beat Portugal 1-0 on June 14, 2002, to advance to the round of 16 for the first time. This remains the only meeting between the two countries so far.
South Korea have split six matches against Ghana with three wins against three losses. The two countries have not faced each other since June 2014, when Ghana blanked South Korea 4-0.
South Korea have managed one win, one draw and six losses against Uruguay. And it was Uruguay that knocked off South Korea in the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with a 2-1 victory. Luis Suarez scored both goals in that win, and the striker for Atletico Madrid remains a dangerous offensive weapon at age 35. Most recently, South Korea prevailed 2-1 in a friendly match at home in October 2018.
Portugal, with Ronaldo leading the way, will be favored to win Group H. The Navigators will make their eighth World Cup appearance and will chase their first title in what will likely be Ronaldo's final World Cup appearance at age 37.
Uruguay won the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and added another title 20 years later. This will be their 14th World Cup tournament. La Celeste have reached the knockout phases at each of the past three tournaments.
Ghana will play in their fourth World Cup. The Black Stars are the lowest-ranked nation among the already-qualified teams, though New Zealand, ranked 101st, are still alive in one of the two intercontinental playoffs
South Korea qualified for this year's tournament by finishing second in Group A of the final Asian qualification round, which concluded on Tuesday.
There will be 32 teams divided into eight groups of four, and 28 teams have qualified for the tournament so far, while Qatar received an automatic berth as the host nation and were dropped into Group A.
The remaining three spots will be filled by winners of the European playoffs and the intercontinental playoffs in June.
From the group stage, the top two countries from each group will reach the knockout phase.
South Korea have made it out of the group stage twice, reaching the semifinals in 2002 as co-host with Japan, and the round of 16 in 2010 in South Africa.
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