Our readers pick South Korea for World Cup honours

Asia’s best chance of reaching the World Cup final lies with South Korea, but New Zealand will be lucky to score.
The South Korean squad
The South Korean squad

South Korea will do Asian football fans proud at the World Cup in South Africa this month, according to respondents to our most recent web poll.

Almost half our readers picked the South Koreans to outperform other Asian rivals -- Australia, Japan, New Zealand and North Korea -- at the finals, which kick off this Friday when hosts South Africa take on Mexico. The Koreans are favourites among the Asian teams at the bookmakers too, but the bookies don't fancy them to make it to the quarter-finals thanks to a tricky draw that pits them against previous champions Argentina, former European champions Greece and African favourites Nigeria.

South Korea is carrying good form into the tournament, though, and is the only team to arrive in South Africa with an unbeaten qualifying record. Some optimists are even hoping for a repeat of the country's semi-final appearance at the 2002 World Cup, which Korea co-hosted with Japan.

According to the odds, there is little to separate South Korea and Australia, but not according to our readers. While 49% chose South Korea to perform best at the finals, just 26% voted for Australia -- a margin far wider than the betting suggests.

New Zealand and North Korea are the two lowest-ranked teams at the World Cup and got little support from our readers, with just 5% and 8% respectively. Britain's Ladbrokes is quoting the Kiwis at 2,000/1, which sounds like an invitation for the 11 people who voted for them in our poll to put their money where their mouse is.

That leaves Japan, which polled 13% of the vote. In a group with Holland, Cameroon and Denmark, the Japanese ought to be happy if they leave with a consolation point from the opening round.

For the overall tournament, the odds are on a Spain-Brazil final with the Europeans emerging triumphant.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.

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