South Korea 'Mourinho' Shin Tae-yong faces FIFA World Cup minefield

South Korea have been dropped into a minefield of a group alongside World Cup holders Germany, Mexico and Sweden.

Published: 31st May 2018 03:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st May 2018 03:20 PM   |  A+A-

South Korean coach Shin Tae-yong (File | AP)

By AFP

SEOUL: South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong has been christened the "Asian Mourinho", but with a fiendishly difficult World Cup assignment the question is: will he park the bus in Russia?

The 49-year-old former South Korea international midfielder has won many admirers with his tactical acumen and charismatic persona since taking over the national team job in June 2017.

And in Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min, Shin has a world-class player and potential match-winner in his ranks.

But South Korea have been dropped into a minefield of a group alongside World Cup holders Germany, Mexico and Sweden.

It was little surprise then that Shin included a "dirty dozen" of 12 defenders in his initial squad in an attempt to keep things tight in Russia, with much of the attacking burden likely to fall on the mercurial Son.

The Taeguk Warriors famously reached the semi-finals when South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup but they struggled in qualifying for this year's tournament -- and a cruel draw did little to boost morale.

One of Asia's brightest footballing minds, Shin has won everything there is to win in his home country at club level, including six K-League titles and an Asian Champions League with Seongnam Ilhwa between 1992 and 2004.

After beginning his coaching career at Australia's Queensland Roar, Shin had caretaker and assistant spells with the national side from 2014 before taking charge last year after German Uli Stielike was sacked.

He ended 2017 by steering the Koreans to the East Asian title in Tokyo, thrashing fierce rivals Japan 4-1 along the way -- always a sure-fire way to win over fans and the notoriously fickle local media.

A sharp dresser likely to give dapper German boss Joachim Loew a run for his money in the fashion stakes, Shin will nonetheless have to cut his coat according to his cloth in order to take his side to the knockout stage for the third time.

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