Park Ji-sung expects Brazil to be in 2018 World Cup final

May 16, 2018
Former South Korean football player Park Ji-sung, who will work as a commentator for local broadcaster SBS during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, poses for a photo during his press conference in Seoul on May 16, 2018. (Yonhap)

Former South Korean football player Park Ji-sung, who will work as a commentator for local broadcaster SBS during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, poses for a photo during his press conference in Seoul on May 16, 2018. (Yonhap)

In this file photo taken June 17, 2010, South Korea's Park Ji-sung (L) chases Argentina's Lionel Messi during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Group B match between South Korea and Argentina in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Yonhap)

In this file photo taken June 17, 2010, South Korea’s Park Ji-sung (L) chases Argentina’s Lionel Messi during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Group B match between South Korea and Argentina in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Yonhap)

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) — Former Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung said Wednesday that he thinks Brazil will be one of the finalists at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Park will commentate World Cup matches next month after he recently signed a deal to work for local broadcaster SBS. When asked about his predictions for the World Cup final, the 37-year-old South Korean said he thinks Brazil, five-time World Cup winners, will be there.

“It’s really hard to predict, but in my head, Brazil is the top contender,” Park said at a press conference in Seoul. “I think it really depends on whether Neymar is on a good form or not. As for their opponents in the final, I have to see the teams in the knockout stage and the brackets.”

Park, who played at three World Cups for South Korea, said Brazil, Germany and France would make the last four.

“I think we can see one unexpected team in the semifinals, so I just want to mention Brazil, Germany and France as possible semifinalists.”

Park said he thinks Egypt could cause some surprises at the World Cup in Russia, with their star player Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool forward took the scoring title in the English Premier League after netting 32 goals. Egypt are in Group A with Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Russia.

“I want to see what Egypt can do at this World Cup with a sensational player like Salah,” he said. “I’m really curious about Egypt’s performance.”

Park also talked about his former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now with Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona’s living legend Lionel Messi.

The former South Korean captain, who faced Messi several times in the UEFA Champions League and at the 2010 World Cup, said the Argentine star will give everything to help his country win the World Cup. Argentina are in Group D with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

“Messi is no doubt the world’s best player, but there’s a trophy that he has yet to win,” he said. “Argentina will have a big desire to win the World Cup when they have a player like Messi. They’ve also had too many runner-up finishes recently, so I think they also have motivation, too.”

Park, however, said he expects Ronaldo’s Portugal to have a tough time at the World Cup. Portugal are in Group B with Spain, Morocco and Iran.

“Portugal and Ronaldo will be hoping to repeat the success they had at the UEFA European Football Championships in 2016,” he said. “But I think it’s not going to be easy for them to keep their winning power from Euro 2016.”

When asked about his thoughts on Asian teams at the World Cup, Park said all four countries — South Korea, Japan, Iran and Saudi Arabia — will have a difficult time. He even said his home country have less than a 50 percent of chance of passing the group stage at this year’s World Cup. South Korea are in Group F with Germany, Sweden and Mexico.

“Most pundits predict that most Asian teams will not make the round of 16,” he said. “I agree with that.”

Park, meanwhile, said he’ll visit Japan in few weeks as a club ambassador for Manchester United. He’ll then visit London before going to Russia for the World Cup.

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