Seoul, South Korea: These are worrying times for Asia's most successful World Cup team. South Korean fans are proud of seven consecutive appearances at the World Cup but after a third consecutive defeat against an international rival, there is a growing feeling that another trip next year to football's marquee tournament is far from a foregone conclusion.
A crushing 4-0 loss to Croatia in a friendly at London on Wednesday, South Korea's biggest defeat since 2001, would not be a major source of stress had the national team not also lost to Australia in November and Iran in October in performances that were also disappointing.
Currently, the 2002 World Cup semifinalist occupies second spot in its continental qualifying group for Brazil 2014. South Korea is a point behind leader Uzbekistan in Group A, level with Iran and Lebanon. For the 2006 and 2010 editions, the South Koreans qualified with games to spare.