Ahn in line for World Cup return

SEOUL, May 1 (Reuters) - South Korea striker Ahn Jung-hwan, whose golden goal knocked Italy out of the 2002 World Cup, could be set for a dramatic World Cup return after making a provisional 30-man squad for the South Africa finals.

The China-based forward, who played his last game for South Korea in a World Cup qualifier two years ago, was named by coach Huh Jung-moo for a May 16 home friendly with Ecuador.

"Every match will be competitive and a scorer will be important," Huh told local media on Saturday. "We have Ahn Jung-hwan, Lee Dong-gook and Park Chu-young to score goals."

Ahn, South Korea's answer to David Beckham, cemented his place as a national idol during South Korea's barnstorming run to the semi-final of the 2002 World Cup and also found the net at the 2006 finals in Germany.

The 34-year-old, now playing for Chinese side Dalian Shide, was named with several European-based players including captain Park Ji-sung of Manchester United, Park Chu-young of Monaco and Bolton's Lee Chung-yong.

"Our team is as strong as any other team in the World Cup," said Huh. "All the players have confidence and fighting spirit. They have a dream and passion and are ready to display their combative spirit."

Former Fulham forward Seol Ki-hyeon, who had recently recovered from knee surgery, was a notable omission, but the Pohang player could yet make Huh's final 23-man World Cup squad.

South Korea face Greece in their opening Group B match on June 12 before playing Argentina and Nigeria.