Saturday, June 12, 2010

South Korea into last 16 at World Cup with 2-2 draw with Nigeria

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Players of South Korea celebrate after the 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match against Nigeria at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, South Africa, on June 22, 2010. The match tied 2-2.

DURBAN, South Africa, June 22 -- A 2-2 draw with Nigeria sent South Korea into the next round of World Cup on Tuesday in the South African port city of Durban.

It was the first time for Taeguk Warriors to sail into the top 16 of World Cup on foreign soil. South Korea was among the top four in 2002 World Cup.

Prior to the duel, Taeguk Warriors have accumulated a total of three points in their two group matches: a 2-0 victory against Greece and a 4-1 defeat by World Cup favorite Argentina. The draw gave the Asian team the second place in Group B of the tournament.

The other berth of the group to march into the knockout stage went to Argentina which beat Greece 2-0 in another group match in Polokwane, the north of the host country.

Argentina wrapped up their group matches with consecutive three wins: 1-0 win against Nigeria, 4-1 against South Korea and 2-0 against Greece.

Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama told reporters after the match, "I am feeling so bad for Nigeria, and just want to apologize. We have fought hard in this game."

He added that he wanted to say sorry to his "country and the whole continent."

The ball fell to midfielder Kalu Uche in the 12th minute from Chidi Odiah on the very right edge of the pitch. Uche net the ball in when South Korean players failed to take proper defending measures.

The man replaced his injured brother Ikechukwu Uche to be capped in the national squad for the World Cup.

South Korea brought an equalizer in the 38th minute as Lee Jung-Soo transferred a free-kick of his teammate, talented midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng to a successful header by using the porous defense of the Super Eagles.

It was the second FIFA World Cup goal by Lee. He also net the opening goal against Greece and was the third South Korean player to score multiple goals at one tournament after Hong Myung-Bo in 1994 and Ahn Jung-Hwan in 2002.

Nigeria was denied by the right post in the 36th minute when Uche tried to smash one in. The ball came back off the left-hand post of South Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong.

Park Chu-Young left the Super Eagles mired in a disastrous start after the interval. His direct free-kick over 20 meters from the goal made the ball bounce in the penalty box and fly into the far corner of the net in the 49th minute.

Nigerian forward Yakubu Aiyegbeni wasted a precious chance in the 66th minute when the ball fell into his path. The striker finished his move with a surprising blunder and slotted wide just in front of the net.

Aiyegbeni made up his mistake three minutes later with a penalty by sending the South Korean goalkeeper into the wrong way.

Both squads wasted plenty of chances later to break the deadlock. Obafemi Martins got rid of the pursuit of South Korean defenders in the 80th minute. He hurled the ball wide in a face-to-face duel with goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong, dashing the last hope of the Super Eagles to progress into the knockout stage.

Mexico and Uruguay have secured their berths in top 16 of the global football showpiece in earlier Group A matches.

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Kim Jung-Woo (R) of South Korea vies with Nigeria's Yakubu Ayegbeni during their 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, South Africa, on June 22, 2010.

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Nigeria's Obafemi Martins (R) reacts during the 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match against South Korea at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, South Africa, on June 22, 2010. The match tied 2-2.

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