SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Arsenal striker Park Chu-young is going to his third World Cup for South Korea despite concerns about his lack of game time in the Premier League.
Hong Myung-bo picked Park among nine Europe-based players in the 23-man South Korea squad he announced Thursday.
The South Korea coach unveiled a youthful and predictable squad — with just one player, Kwak Tae-hwi, older than 30.
The selection of Park has been a point of serious national debate in recent, weeks simply because the 28 year-old forward has played so little for Arsenal since his move to London in August 2011.
A fine goal in his first national team appearance in a year against Greece in March helped him make the cut.
"Among Korean forwards, I couldn't find another attacker to replace Park," Hong said. "I have thought long and hard about this selection and decided on the final list just last night."
Other English Premier League players Ki Sung-yeung and Kim Bo-kyong were also selected.
Park is likely to be the lone striker in Brazil with German-based Son Heung-min expected to appear on the left side of midfield.
There are five survivors from the squad that reached the second round in South Africa 2010, a second ever appearance in the knockout stage in South Korea's eight World Cup appearances to date. Goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryung, Ki, Kim, Park and Bolton Wanderers midfielder Lee Chung-yong are hoping to at least repeat that feat in June.
South Korea's best-ever World Cup performance was in 2002, when it cost-hosted the tournament with Japan and reached the semifinals under with Hong as captain. The 45-year-old Hong also coached South Korea's Under-23 team, containing many of the players in his current squad, to the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics
"Brazil is going to be the biggest challenge," said Hong, who took over as coach last July after Choi Kang-hee guided the team through an unimpressive qualification campaign. "But we go as one team to give the best performance that we can. We have a team with a lot of international experience and we have the players who can show what they can do at the highest level."
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