Kuala Lumpur: Korea Republic are set for a stern challenge at the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia, after being placed alongside Germany, Mexico and Sweden in Group F following Friday's draw in Moscow.
The-AFC.com spoke to Paul Neat and Ryan Walters, two ardent fans of the Taeguk Warriors, who shared their thoughts on the team’s opponents and their chances of progressing in the tournament.
Q: How would you rate your opponents in Group F?
A: Germany would be the clear favourites in any group that they are placed in. Coming from Pot 4, Korea Republic would never stand a realistic chance of winning the group so they should focus on the next strongest opponents, Mexico.
Korea have a good record against Mexico, having beaten them thrice in six matches.
Sweden are easily the team that Korea know the least about. Their Group F opener will mark the first time these sides have met competitively.
In three previous friendlies, Sweden have had the advantage but the most recent of those matches was well over a decade ago.
Q: Which player are you most worried about facing?
A: Although there is talk of Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning for Sweden, Korea Republic would do well to focus on a man plying his trade in Asia, Al Ain’s Marcus Berg, who was the top scorer for the Swedes in World Cup qualifying with eight goals. Mexico's Javier Hernandez and Hirving Lozano are also world-class attacking threats.
Going into the final group game against Germany, Korea Republic may need a result in order to advance and Manuel Neuer, who is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, could have a lot to say about that.
If the Taeguk Warriors are to advance, it could come down to goal difference. For a Korean side that has struggled to score, Neuer alone could shut them out.
Q: How would you rate your team's chances in light of the draw?
It is key for Korea Republic to come into the final game against Germany with four points on the board. That might not be as difficult as the odds or the FIFA rankings will suggest. If they pick up a win before the final group game, they might stand a chance of progressing.
It is not an ideal draw for Korea Republic by any means, but it is nowhere near impossible.
Group stage schedule
Sweden v Korea Republic
June 18, 2018 (15:00)
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
Korea Republic v Mexico
June 23, 2018 (18:00)
Korea Republic v Germany
June 27, 2018 (17:00)
Photos: Lagardère Sports, AFP