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Korea star fears England in World Cup draw

Celtic's new midfield signing wants to avoid Fabio Capello's team in Friday's World Cup draw in South Africa.

Korea star fears England in World Cup draw

South Korea’s Ki Sung-Yong, Celtic’s new signing-in-waiting, says he wants to avoid England when the draw is made for the 2010 World Cup. Fabio Capello’s team have been named as one of the top seeds for Friday’s draw and - with Sung-Yong keen to see his team through to the second round – avoiding the English is his priority.

Despite naming Steven Gerrard as one of his football idols, he believes that being paired against a “strong” England side would dent his country’s hopes of qualification for the later stages. Yet should the opportunity to line up against his hero arise, 20-year-old Sung-Yong feels the challenge would be beneficial to his development as a player.

“I don’t want England, they are too strong,” he said. “But if I get a chance to play with Gerrard or Lampard – some of the best players in the world – maybe it would be a good chance for me to grow and a good experience for me.”

The South Korean, who has 17 caps for his country, played a key role in guiding the Tigers to their third consecutive World Cup and is expected to feature prominently in the summer tournament. His arrival at Parkhead will also add to the relatively small pool of players from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League who will be given the opportunity to showcase their talents on the world stage.

Sung-Yong started in all eight of his country’s World Cup qualifying games, scoring against UAE and North Korea as they topped their section. With the Koreans’ success in reaching the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup still fresh in many football fans’ mind, Sung-Yong is instead hoping for a kind group – with hosts South Africa picked out of the top pot – to give them a chance of causing further surprises.

The Bafana Bafana are seeded on account of being hosts and Sung-Yong is hoping South Korea are drawn against the team ranked 85th in the world rather than one of the seven football giants beside them in pot one. But if they aren’t so fortunate, the midfielder believes taking on the world’s best players would stand him in good stead for his future career.

“I want to play against teams like South Africa,” admitted Sung-Yong on his arrival in Glasgow. “But if I play teams like Brazil or Argentina it will be a good experience for me and I will grow more and more in the World Cup.”

Sung-Yong jetted into Glasgow on Tuesday night for a medical ahead of his proposed £2 million move from FC Seoul. Barring any unforeseen problems, he should make the switch to the SPL in January and would be available for the Old Firm clash with Rangers on January 3.

With Celtic fans staying away from Parkhead in numbers after some poor performances from Tony Mowbray’s side, Sung-Yong offered hope for a more exciting second half to the season when asked to describe his playing style. Once again, he drew comparisons to Liverpool’s Gerrard and has set his sights on becoming Celtic’s answer to the Englishman.

“I’m a young player,” he said. “I’m energetic. I can run, I can pass, I can shoot: I want to be like Steven Gerrard – he’s my hero.

“I want to score a lot of goals and give a lot of assists to the forward players.

“I’m really excited. Gerrard is the complete player. I’ve got a long way to go but I’ll try to be like him. I’ll be like Gerrard in Scotland.”

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