Raising the bar
South Korea gave Guus Hiddink honorary citizenship after he led them to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals and Nigeria's Yakubu Aiyegbeni will no doubt also have a special place in Korean hearts after his gaffes in front of goal allowed them to make the last 16 this time around.sports Updated: Jun 24, 2010 00:55 IST
South Korea gave Guus Hiddink honorary citizenship after he led them to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals and Nigeria's Yakubu Aiyegbeni will no doubt also have a special place in Korean hearts after his gaffes in front of goal allowed them to make the last 16 this time around.
Korea drew 2-2 with the Super Eagles to seal second spot in Group B and a last 16 encounter with Uruguay on June 26. It marks the first time South Korea have advanced to the second round of a World Cup finals on foreign soil.
They were helped in no small part by some woeful Nigerian finishing, including the miss of the tournament when an unmarked Yakubu somehow managed to sidefoot the ball wide from six metres out and an open goal at his mercy. It was an astonishing miss, one of the worst of any World Cup, and will undoubtedly be replayed in Yakubu's mind and on "Football's Funniest Moments" for years to come.
South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo said his side put themselves under unnecessary pressure but praised their reaction after going behind 1-0.
"Nigeria had quite a few opportunities, Yakubu missed a chance for example," said Huh after the game. "We thought it would be difficult if we conceded the first goal so when it actually happened it was a difficult situation for us.
"But our players managed to keep their cool to get a draw."
"I know my players will not be satisfied with just reaching the round of 16 and we will work harder to reach semis," he said.
Park Chu-Young's goal came from a direct free-kick, the first in 35 games so far played at the World Cup, and Huh admitted that his team had been training with the new Adidas Jabulani ball that has come in for considerable criticism.
The coach warned that second round opponents Uruguay would be a tough proposition.
"They're very strong," he said. "I watched their game against Mexico before coming here for the match tonight.
"They have a very strong striker in Luis Suarez, and they're very strong on the counter-attack so we'll have to be fully prepared for that."
First Published: Jun 24, 2010 00:54 IST