SAO PAULO – With South Korea's 1-0 loss to Belgium, the last Asian team in contention has bowed out of the World Cup — leaving the continent without a single second-round representative.
Thursday's result caps a dismal campaign for the Asia qualifiers. South Korea joins Japan, Australia and Iran in being eliminated in the group stage. The result marks the first time since 1998 that none of those teams have reached the knockout stage.
South Korea has been to more World Cups than any other Asian team, but has regressed considerably since reaching the semifinals when it co-hosted the tournament in 2002.
South Korea coach Hong Myung-Bo says he thinks Asian football is going through a "transition period" with individual players improving drastically but national teams not yet enjoying the results.