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South Korea faces Middle Eastern trio for 2014 World Cup in Brazil

South Korea will face Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates in Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

Korea, which is aiming for its eighth consecutive World Cup finals, is in the B group alongside the Middle Eastern countries after the draw in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

The Korean national team, which made it into the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup finals, will be a strong favorite in Group B.

The Korean side lost its most influential player, Park Ji-sung of Manchester United, after he retired from international duty in January. But manager Cho Kwang-rae, who has taken the helm of Taegeuk Warriors since late 2010, has brought young talent into the team, including Hamburger SV striker Son Heung-min and Ji Dong-won of Sunderland.

Twenty teams have qualified for the third qualifying round where they have been divided into five groups of four teams in Saturday’s draw.

In Group A, China is pitted against Jordan, Iraq and Singapore, while Japan, another strong favorite in the Asian groups, is in Group C with North Korea, Syria and Uzbekistan.

Australia, which bids to qualify for a third successive final, is in Group D alongside Middle Eastern powerhouse Saudi Arabia, Oman and Thailand. In Group E, Iran is pitted with Qatar, Bahrain and Indonesia.

The top two countries from each of the five groups will go through to the final qualifying round. In the final qualifying round, the last 10 teams will be divided into two groups of five, and the leading two teams from each group will go through to the finals in Brazil in 2014.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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