South Korea’s national coach Friday named a 30-strong advance roster for the World Cup that includes 2002 World Cup hero Ahn Jung-Hwan and 11 other foreign-based players.
“Our team is as strong as any other team in the World Cup finals, because each player has confidence and a fighting spirit,” coach Huh Jung-Moo told a press conference.
“They have a dream and passion and are ready to display their combative spirit.”
Park Ji-Sung of Manchester United, Lee Chung-Yong of Bolton Wanderers, Park Chu-Young of AS Monaco and Ki Sung-Yueng of Celtic were among those included in the preliminary roster.
Ahn is currently in good form with Dalian Shide in the Chinese professional league.
The 34-year-old striker scored three goals in his two World Cup appearances, including the game-winning header in the second-round game against Italy in the 2002 tournament.
South Korea made it to the semi-finals of the 2002 tournament, which the country co-hosted with Japan. In 2006 they were knocked out after a 2-0 loss against Switzerland.
Lee Dong-Gook of Asian champions the Pohang Steelers, who scored the most goals in the Korean professional league last year, also made the list after failing to make the squad in 2002 and 2006.
Former Fulham striker Seol Ki-Hyun missed out due to a knee injury.
Younger players also got the call.
“The combination of young and old players has improved ahead of the World Cup in South Africa,” Huh said.
The youngsters include Kim Bo-Kyung, Koo Ja-Cheol and Lee Seung-Yeoul, who lifted South Korea’s Under-20 team to the quarter-finals at the U-20 World Cup last September.
Drawn in Group B, South Korea will play their first World Cup match on June 12 against Greece. They will meet Argentina on June 17 and Nigeria on June 22.
“Every match will be competitive and a scorer will be important,” said Huh, quoted by Yonhap news agency. “We have Ahn Jung-Hwan, Lee Dong-Gook and Park Chu-Young to score goals.”
A final 23-man roster will be named around May 24 when South Korea have a friendly with Japan, before heading to Austria for a week of training and warm-up matches with Belarus and Spain.