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(World Cup) S. Korea looking to end South American drought in pursuit of knockout berth

16:00 November 23, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

DOHA, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will try to snap their FIFA World Cup winless skid against a South American team when they take on Uruguay to start their 2022 tournament in Qatar on Thursday.

The Taegeuk Warriors have had one draw and four losses against South American foes in their previous World Cup appearances. The last such game happened to have come against Uruguay in the round of 16 at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Son Heung-min of South Korea (R) trains for the FIFA World Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Nov. 22, 2022. (Yonhap)

Luis Suarez scored a brace in Uruguay's 2-1 win then, and the veteran forward is back on his national team this time.

Other Asian teams have long struggled against South American teams. According to FIFA, Asian countries have only managed two wins, three draws and 17 losses against South American foes.

The first win came courtesy of Japan in 2018, when they beat Colombia 2-1. Saudi Arabia got the next one Tuesday with a stunning 2-1 victory over Argentina.

The shock win inspired South Korean players, too.

"As you all know, favored teams can lose, and underdogs can win any day in football," defender Kim Jin-su said at a press conference held moments after Saudi Arabia's victory. "Since Saudi Arabia won as an Asian team, I think there's hope for us, too. We just have to go out and win."

South Korea head coach Paulo Bento (C) watches his players Kim Min-jae (L) and Son Heung-min during a training session for the FIFA World Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Nov. 22, 2022. (Yonhap)

Midfielder Son Jun-ho chimed in: "I could feel that Saudi Arabian players were really driven to win that match. I think their win will fuel all of us in our preparation for the first match."

South Korea have had one win, one draw and six losses against Uruguay. That lone win came in October 2018, the third match under the current head coach Paulo Bento. Hwang Ui-jo and Jung Woo-young scored a goal apiece for a 2-1 win, and both players are on this year's World Cup team.

South Korean players train for the FIFA World Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Nov. 22, 2022. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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