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South Korea boss Hong Myong-Bo is under pressure to drop misfiring striker Park Chu-Young, with Lee Keun-Ho or Kim Shin-Wook in line to replace him.
Influential trio Koo Ja-Cheol, Ki Sung-Yueng and Son Heung-Min are all one booking away from suspension.
Algeria may select the same side narrowly beaten by Belgium in their opener.
British-based pair Nabil Bentaleb and Riyad Mahrez are again expected to be part of the Desert Foxes’ team.
This is the perceived “winnable” match that both sides will have been eyeing up since the draw was made back in December.
It has taken on extra significance after both threw away leads in their opening matches, especially for Algeria who know defeat will see them eliminated. Yet a win here for either nation will keep their World Cup destiny in their own hands regardless of what happens in the earlier group match between Belgium and Russia.
Tradition favours South Korea, appearing at their eight straight tournament and semi-finalists 12 years ago. However, the form book points toward the improving Algerians, who at 22nd, sit 35 places above South Korea in the Fifa rankings.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s Algeria impressed in their first game. It took highly-fancied Belgium 70 minutes to finally break them down.
The Desert Foxes began the tournament with the least experienced squad at the World Cup, averaging just 16 caps per player.
A mature showing against Belgium belied that fact but the pressure is now on them to turn performances into points as they look to advance out of the group stage for the very first time. Halilhodzic has told his squad: “Now is not the time for crying, this match is decisive.”
Like their opponents, South Korea are building for the future. Fourteen of the squad are 25 or younger. Defensive naiveties, as they showed against Russia, have been their recent Achilles heel.
They have won just one of their last six games (D1, L4) and conceded 12 goals in the process. Hong Myong-Bo, captain and key defender of South Korea’s 2002 semi-final team, has been working hard to try and shore up that issue.
Defender Kim Young-Gwon believes their World Cup opener has improved their match sharpness: “We didn’t have a lot of players with World Cup experience, but after getting the first match out of the way, I think we have regained our confidence”.
- South Korea won the only previous meeting between the nations, a 2-0 victory in a 1985 friendly.
- Park Chu-Young (South Korea) and Essaid Belkalem (Algeria) both played for Watford during the 2013-14 season.
- South Korea have won just one of their last six World Cup group stage games (D3, L2).
- In two previous World Cup games against African sides they beat Togo 2-1 in 2006 and drew 2-2 against Nigeria in 2010.
- They have scored in each of their last five World Cup matches, but have never scored in six successive games.
- The Asian nation have only won five of their 29 World Cup matches (D9, L15). They average a goal per game.
- South Korea have ended the group stage with a record of one win, one draw and one defeat in each of their last two World Cups (2006 2010).
- Algeria are winless in their last seven World Cup matches since beating Chile in 1982 – their only ever victory.
- They had only three shots (including blocks) against Belgium – the lowest tally in the opening round of the group stage.
- The Desert Foxes have scored just two goals in their last 11 hours and 25 minutes of World Cup football.
- Their starting line-up against Belgium consisted of nine players who were born in France.