South Korean forward Koo Ja-Cheol and teammates train at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

SAO PAULO-South Korea is Asia’s last hope in the World Cup, but it is only hanging on by the skin of its teeth, much like Luis Suárez(allegedly).

The bare facts: South Korea is bottom of Group H and needs to defeat the unbeaten Belgians by at least two goals and hope Russia narrowly beats or draws with Algeria.

Russia, under the World Cup’s highest paid manager Fabio Capello, is one of the dullest teams in Brazil. So if it does get the better of Algeria, the game will likely be a low scorer.

That is encouraging for South Korea, but the Taeguk Warriors are still very much on the verge of going out of the competition. Belgium, while not performing as well as expected, is top of Group H with two wins from two games and is likely to beat the Koreans. It has some world class players. Russia is also overdue goals, no matter what Capello does.

South Korea’s standing in the group suffered heavy damage in its 4-2 loss to Algeria on Sunday. Africa’s top team blew the South Koreans away in 12 minutes in the first half when it scored three goals. Prior to that blitz, Algeria had only scored two World Cup goals since its exit from the 1982 tournament, including one in its opening match here against the Netherlands.

In a World Cup of shaky defending, the performance by the South Korean backline against Algeria was as wild as a jelly on a heated trampoline. It was uncool and all over the place. Two of Algeria’s goals came from long balls from its own half.

And in the first game against Russia, South Korea was pretty toothless, much unlike Luis Suárez (allegedly). Hong Myung-bo’s men only got on the scoresheet because of a howler by Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

This tournament is a far cry from South Korea’s run to the semifinals when it was joint host in 2002.

Asia’s other teams have all been eliminated from this World Cup. Iran, the top-ranked side in the Asian Football Confederation, lost 3-1 to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday even as Reza Ghoochannejhad scored Iran’s only goal of the tournament. That meant each of the 32 teams at the World Cup had scored in the tournament for the first time since 1998. But it couldn’t keep Iran in.

Japan’s campaign ended in a whimper with a 4-1 defeat to Colombia, while Australia also was blown away 3-0 by Spain in its last game. The Socceroos at least put in stirring performances in their other Group B matches against Chile and the Netherlands.

The South Korean team unfortunately hasn’t given its fans much to cheer about. South Korea’s coach Hong has plenty to chew on, much like Luis Suárez (allegedly). He needs a big performance from his star midfielder Son Heung-min and a much better display by his defense if South Korea has any chance to progress. But the likelihood is slim.

For the latest news and analysis,