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Hong hints at defensive focus against Russia

Hong's side will open their FIFA World Cup campaign against Russia in Cuiaba having lost four of their past five matches, conceding 11 goals in that period, and South Korea's coach wants to strengthen his team's defence at the Arena Pantanal.

After South Korea's most recent fixture - a 4-0 friendly defeat to Ghana in Miami - Hong promised to 'fix' his team's defensive woes, claiming they had not 'systematical errors'.

But the 45-year-old coach seemed to reverse his position on Monday, hinting that a more conservative approach may be required against Fabio Capello's Russia.

"Obviously, the first match will have a huge impact on our team the rest of the group stage," Hong said after South Korea's training session in Cuiaba.

"It'd be nice if we can win the first match but it's also important to play not to lose."

South Korea have generally had the better of the possession stats in their six international fixtures this year but have struggled to convert that into goals.

Against Ghana, the Asian nation had 60 per cent possession but managed just one shot on target, while in their 2-0 loss to the United States in February, they took eight 13 shots to five but lost 2-0.

In their most recent victory, South Korea won 2-0 over Greece in March with 56 per cent possession and 10 shots to 11.

If Hong sticks with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, he is likely to select a forward quartet of Park Chu-young, Son Heung-min, captain Koo Ja-cheol and Lee Chung-yong, who have an average age of less than 25-years-old and 48 international goals between them.

Hong remains confident his attacking group, which also includes Ji Dong-won, Lee Keun-ho, Kim Bo-kyung and Kim Shin-wook, will perform in Brazil.

"We have a young team with plenty of energy," Hong said.

"They may be young but they don't make immature decisions on the field. I trust that they will make great decisions."

He added: "Our finishing touch around the goal will determine the winner (against Russia). I expect our offensive players to score in this World Cup."