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Luck of the (World Cup) Draw
Koreans are smiling, but Americans are not
By Lee Kyutae
Korean soccer fans are smiling, but the Americans are not after the FIFA World Cup drawing on Friday.
At a Brazilian resort town, Korea drew Belgium, Algeria and Russia in the group stage at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The United States, however, were drawn into the ’Group of Death’ – with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana.
South Korea, making its eighth consecutive World Cup appearance, is currently 54th in the FIFA rankings – the lowest among the four in its group.
Belgium is the highest-ranked nation in Group H at No. 11, followed by Russia at No. 22 and Algeria at No. 26.
South Korea has never beaten Belgium, with a draw and two losses. South Korea has defeated Algeria in their only meeting, but lost to Russia 2-1 in their first-ever showdown last month in Dubai. Russia had fielded only two regular starters for that match, as they were mostly testing out their younger players.
Still, the Koreans are happy to have avoided powerhouses like host Brazil, defending champion Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands.
The U.S. was not as lucky. Germany is always a threat to win it all, and Portugal has one of the best players in the world in Cristian Ronaldo. Additionally, Ghana is the same team that knocked out the U.S. during the past two World Cups. “We hit the worst of the worst,” said U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann. In addition to the quality of their opponents, the U.S. will also face a brutal travel schedule: the team will be based in São Paulo and will log a whopping 8,866 flight miles as it crisscrosses the country for games in Natal, Manaus and Recife.
Spain will open their title defense during 2014 World Cup play with a rematch of the 2010 final against Netherlands, while hosts Brazil kick off against Croatia.