SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) — A majority of South Koreans expect their national football team to reach the round of 16 in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, while picking Bundesliga player Son Heung-min as the greatest white hope, a poll showed Thursday.
At a draw last week, South Korea ended up in Group H along with Belgium, Algeria and Russia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. South Korea will make its eighth consecutive appearance in the quadrennial football showcase.
According to the survey conducted by Gallup Korea of 902 citizens here, 69 percent expressed their satisfaction with the results of the draw, with 6 percent saying the grouping will be unfavorable to the Korean team.
Some 81 percent forecast that the Korean team will advance to the round of 16, the poll showed. The figure was 23 percentage points higher than the portion in the same poll in June, indicating that fans here have become more optimistic as Group H appears to be relatively wide open for their team.
The ratio of the respondents who anticipate the team will advance to the quarterfinals and the semifinals reached 26 percent and 8 percent each.
South Korea made an unlikely run to the semifinals at the 2002 World Cup, which it co-hosted with Japan, and that remains its best finish at the event. At the previous World Cup in South Africa in 2010, South Korea reached the round of 16 but lost to Uruguay 2-1.
South Korea is currently 54th in the FIFA rankings, the lowest among the four in Group H.
Belgium is the highest-ranked nation in Group H at No. 11, followed by Russia at No. 22 and Algeria at No. 26. The top two countries from each of the eight groups will advance to the knockout stage.