S Korea, Ghana target quarter-finals places
South Korea return to their favourite World Cup venue on Saturday seeking a quarter-finals place while Ghana hope to become only the third African team to get that far.sports Updated: Jun 26, 2010 18:50 IST
South Korea return to their favourite World Cup venue on Saturday seeking a World Cup quarter-finals place while Ghana hope to become only the third African team to get that far.
Impressive Uruguay stand between the Taeguk Warriors and a last-eight place in the Eastern Cape city of Port Elizabeth while never-say-die United States are next up for the Black Stars in north-west platinum town Rustenburg.
These matches mark the start of the second round, the first of three knockout rounds leading to the July 11 final at the 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium on a western outskirt of Johannesburg.
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is where South Korea overcame Greece 2-0 through goals from Lee Jung-soo and Park Ji-sung before losing 4-1 to Argentina and drawing 2-2 with Nigeria to finish runners-up.
The Koreans have never got past the first round away from home - they made the semi-finals as 2002 co-hosts - and many pundits believed Nigeria were more likely to progress with the Argentines.
When the Asians and Africans squared off in Durban, Korea fell behind and led before securing the point they needed to achieve their first goal under coach Huh Jung-moo.
"We have achieved our first goal of reaching the round of 16," said the man who is an accomplished changgi (Korean chess) player when not on the football training ground.
"Anybody can guess what our next objective might be, but I know that my players will immediately set a higher target. They will want to get to the semi-finals."
South Korea captain and Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung is under no illusions about the task: "Uruguay have quality, are strong and their group performances were great."
A Uruguay side revolving around striker-cum-midfielder Diego Forlan held 2006 runners-up France, outplayed South Africa and inflicted a first defeat on Mexico while conceding no goals.
Ghana are desperate for success after Africa took a first-round battering with the other five challengers eliminated and Cameroon failed to secure a single point while Algeria and Nigeria got just one each.
While the Black Stars impressed when losing narrowly to Germany, the old African failing of weak finishing was evident and both goals in South Africa have come from Asamoah Gyan penalties.
But Africans are nothing if not positive dreamers and Germany-based defender Hans Sarpei is looking far beyond the United States, who they defeated 2-1 in the group stage four years ago.
"From the beginning of the tournament we were dreaming of the semi-finals and now we have a chance to do it. We are playing very well and can beat anybody," he boasted.
Portugal drew, Spain won and Chile lost as they secured the last three second round places up for grabs on Friday with a David Villa goal for the Spaniards in Pretoria the highlight.
When Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo raced out of his penalty area to clear, Villa volleyed the loose ball into an unguarded net from near the touchline to stake a claim for goal of the tournament.
Spain won 2-1 and 10-man Chile finished runners-up as Switzerland and Honduras drew 0-0 - the same scoreline as Brazil and Portugal, who promised much but delivered only a bad tempered match that triggered boos and whistles.
Ivory Coast scored two early goals en route to a 3-0 win over North Korea, whose much-vaunted defence ended up conceding 12 goals, but bowed out in the first round for the second consecutive World Cup.
First Published: Jun 26, 2010 15:51 IST