Be careful what you wish for!

December 10, 2013

With Korea, Belgium, Russia, and Algeria all screaming for joy

after the 2014 World Cup draw, something has to give;

A favorable drawing also means there are no excuses for not advancing

2014 World Cup draw has Korean fans screaming for joy. (Yonhap)

The 2014 World Cup draw has Korean fans screaming for joy. (Yonhap)

 By Lee Kyutae

Expectations just got higher for Hong Myung-bo. (Yonhap)

Expectations just got higher for Hong Myung-bo. (Yonhap)


Koreans are thrilled with the 2014 World Cup draw. So are Belgium, Russia, and Algeria, all of whom say they are very happy to have drawn into the same group H (for Happy?) together, so what gives?

They can’t all be lucky, as only two will advance, but all four believe they were fortunate enough to be given one of the easiest routes to the last 16 they could have possibly wished for. It was almost funny to see members of all four camps celebrating with high fives immediately after the draw.

It goes to show you just how much respect (or lack thereof) they have for each other, and perhaps it’s the strongest indication of how weak the group really is.

Koreans are even saying it’s possibly the best draw they’ve ever had entering the World Cup, but unfortunately, all three of their opponents feel the same way.

Belgium manager Marc Willmots tried to say all the politically correct things, but he could not hide his enthusiasm. He ended up giving bulletin board material to Korea by saying Korea is fast and technically sound, similar to Japan, but just a cut below Japan. He then went on to add, “There are no world class players within our opponents.”

Russia’s manager Fabio Capello sounded even more confident. “Everybody is saying that Belgium are the favorites in our group, but I feel that it’s Russia who are the true favorites,” Capello was quoted as saying by Sport Express Daily.

In regards to Korea, he said, “Korea are also very serious opponents. My friend (Alberto) Zaccheroni, who is coaching Japan, has advised me to be very careful with them. And I’m set to study their style thoroughly.”

But, he has reasons to be confident against Korea, as his squad had just beaten Korea in a friendly match where he fielded only two of his regular starters to test out younger players.

Koreans have often singled out Algeria as the weakest opponent. Algeria was seemingly on all Korean soccer fans’ wish list going into the draw.

The Algerian team’s Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic described Korea as a fast team and noted that his squad tends to struggles against fast teams. But how do they really feel? They were also seen high-fiving each other.

Algeria is equipped with Sporting Lisbon forward Islam Slimani and Valencia midfielder Sofiane Feghouli.

A perceived favorable drawing is also a double-edged sword, however. Belgium’s Premier League duo, Vincent Kompany (the Manchester City captain) and Romelu Lukaku (a striker for Everton), were quick to point out that favorable draw means that their side will have no excuses and no place to hide should they fail to reach the last 16, and Korean manager Hong Myung-bo is probably in the same boat.