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Posted by Daniel Cho on 06/23/2010

We've done it! We have finally reached the knockout stage of the World Cup on foreign soil!!!! We've been waiting for this moment for the longest time. Yes, I am thrilled and yes, I am proud. Extremely. But at the same time, I wasn't too thrilled or proud about some aspects of Korea's game today. It's kind of like a marriage - you love and cherish her, yet there are some things that bother... Oh hi, honey... Oh no, not talking about you... Oh no... Of course, I love everything about you! In fact, you're perfect!!

...OK, where was I?

The two sides fought extremely hard, and provided one heck of an entertaining bout. Even the referee, who was dressed like a cashier at McDonald's officiated the match very accurately and fairly, in my opinion. I also craved a Big Mac throughout the entire 90 minutes - Hmm... is that a subliminal message McDonald's has planted?

My heart does go out to the Super Eagles for giving their all and being super till the very last second. Honestly, I thought Nigeria was the better side, and that they could have easily won 4-2. They seemed to work harder with a bigger sense of urgency, and created a lot more (and better) scoring chances. But luck just wasn't on their side today - Yakubu's miss from a yard out in the 66th minute was a prime example.

Nigeria showed more stability all around, and with the exception of a few stolen balls in their own half, the West African's ball movement seemed comfortable and fluid. On attack, Yakubu and Kanu, as well as the entire midfield worked very well together to make the Koreans sweat a lot - the kind of sweat from running, as well as the kind from being nervous.

What made Nigeria's threat even more dangerous was Korea's mistakes and lapse in defense - we were giving free opportunities as if we were handing out coupons for a Baskin Robbins grand opening. Both of the Super Eagles' goals were gifted by the super bad defense who made things too easy.

The first goal was given away due to Cha Du-Ri's lax mindset in the 12th minute. Instead of simply hustling to clear the ball, he jogged until the ball got close to him. Kalu Uche must have known that Cha is not a natural defender, as he came behind Cha to slam the ball into the net. That wasn't Cha's only mistake of the game, although that was his most prominent booboo/doodoo. He often got involved in attacks as he did for the Greece game, but was late in coming back to defend several times, which caused Korea's defense to spread thin.

There was another scary moment for Korea in the 36th minute, courtesy of Uche, who cannoned a shot from 30 yards out, only for it to ricochet off the post with a BAM! Seriously, 5 seconds prior to this attempt, I saw a gap in defense, and shouted at the screen, "Get on him!!! Get on him!!!", but no~ they didn't listen. That could have put Korea in a 2-nil hole.

The penalty given away in the 69th minute by Kim Nam-Il was the most un-veteran-like move I have seen in a while. Again, a simple, fast clearance could have given the Korean defense a few seconds to catch their breath and settle in their positions. Instead, the 33 year-old former (2006) captain's decision to dribble the ball in Korea's own box led to a penalty, which tied the game at 2-2.

And talk about chances... the 2 freebies granted to Yakubu (66th) and Obafemi Martins (79) were just god-awful, but the Nigerian strikers' failure to finish were even more awful... Yakubu's miss has got to be the miss of the World Cup so far. Again, Korea was incredibly lucky not to lose.

OK, enough about Korea's mistakes. Now let's talk about Nigeria's bads, and Korea's goods.

The downfall of the Super Eagles came in their constant unnecessary fouls. The defense, especially Yussef Ayila and the big Danny "The" Shittu were obviously superior in strength (Shittu was huge like a tree trunk - reminded me of Anthony Mason from the early-mid 90s Knicks), but I found them fouling the much-faster Koreans too many times because of their tardiness in positioning. Naturally, when the axe is struck enough times, the tree will fall. Because of the repeated Nigerian fouls, both of Korea's goals came in set-pieces, and the East Asians took full advantage of this weakness.

Lee Jung-Woo's header was almost identical to the one he scored against Greece; Sneaking up unnoticed from behind to divert Ki Sung-Yong's free kick (from the similar left corner area) must have been in manager Huh's playbook. (Why does the movie Water Boy only come to mind whenever I hear the word "playbook"? Is this an indication that I need to expand my horizon?)

And I was so happy to see Park Chu-Young's free kick curl in around the wall and into the net, as it was major redemption for him after scoring the own-goal against Argentina.

Lee Young-Pyo, also contributed a lot to the Korea attack, despite launching some (unpowerful) shots which were easily caught. His constant threat on the left wing brought chaos to the Nigerian defense, Korea's first goal was generated from the foul he drew.

Prior to this World Cup, South Korea announced that their main objective was to reach the knockout stage. Well, here we are. But can we go further? Uruguay is a big obstacle standing in the way, and Diego Forlan is one of the most gifted strikers in the world. Judging by the way we played against Argentina and Nigeria, one things is certain: We have a lot of homework to do before Saturday.

But for now, I am celebrating!

Here we are,
Daniel Cho

As always, feel free to share your thoughts here. And remember - please be respectful, but DO have fun!


Posted by miyun on 06/23/2010

It was like walking on thin ice, painful, painful to watch. They better come up with better strategy against URU, we need to play a smarter, more carful and defense needs to be tighter. Before the match, I thought a tie is not enough for me, we don't deserve to advance if we do not win. However, the truth of the matter is, I am very very happy. Yet I also know that we just got lucky this time. Very lucky.

Posted by Michael on 06/23/2010

A very honest and fair assessment of the match.
Nigeria created great scoring chances, and certainly could/should have won the game, but IMO lacked consistency throughout the full 90.
I actually thought Korea were the better side for much of the match... or at least when they were in possession of the ball.

Huh needs to tighten up the back line if Korea are to have any chance against Uruguay. I found my chest tighten and throat go dry every time Nigeria had the ball in the Korea half.
I almost think Korea need to play Chile-style, and constantly attack and press in Uruguay's half. Cho and Lee JS have done what they can w/ their energy and grit, but are far from world-class defenders. Kim Jung-woo has to have a better game as well. He was very careless in possession today.

I'll quit w/ the nitpicking now. Well done to the team today! They certainly made us sweat it out, but did what they needed to do. Goal #1: check. Now shock the world and make another run to the semis!

Posted by Kentaro Matsuura (from jpn blog) on 06/23/2010

Congrats on this historic advancement to the knock-out stages!

Posted by charly on 06/23/2010

Is it just me or do other people also think Kim Nam Il should be benched for the rest of the competition? His shocking moment of idiocy was matched only by Nigeria's impotence when presented with golden opportunities to score. Maybe he's nicknamed the "vacuum cleaner" because he sucks.

And kudos to Park Chu Young for scoring our second goal, but what was up with some of his other attempts? I'm not asking for his shots to break the sound barrier or anything, but homeboy needs to take his vitamins or something because there were some serious weak sauce efforts.

Unless we raise our game significantly and do something about our leaky defense, Uruguay will crush us (in the manner of our pummeling at the hands of Argentina).

Posted by Dana on 06/23/2010

Really good post. Extremely fair & insightful.

Posted by Tim the Aussie on 06/23/2010

I think we (I am Korean/American/Australian) were lucky to get through. But of course that's the way the cookie crumbles...

I think we have a fair chance against Uruguay, but somehow we need to improve our defense. Esp. the goalie -- I am not sure if he is up to snuff!

The unthinkable is that after the round of 16, should we progress, I think our likely opponent is the likes of England (unimpressive thus far) or USA who lack the pedigree...

Go Korea, I'll be routing for you in Sydney.

Posted by Matthew Park on 06/23/2010

I must admit that was an ugly game, but who cares, the result matters. If we play like this, Diego Forlan and Suarez will tear us apart this Saturday, but its better to know now then later. I think this accomplishment has tied the knot on Park ji Sung's career (World Cup Semi Finals, 3 Premier League titles, UEFA Champions League Winner and Runners up and now Round of 16 birth as a Captain. and a whole bunch of other trophies) I want to congratulate the South Korean team, and now we can forget all the bad things and good thing and just play Uruguay with the best ability. I seriously think we have a shot going to the round of 8 if we play a good defensive game. It may come down to penalties.

Posted by korea fanboy on 06/23/2010

Couple things I noticed in this game.

1. We suck at passing. We actually might be better off if our defense just punt the ball to the other side of the field. Our short passes get intercepted way too much and that's what makes our defense so weak. And yeah, Kim Namil was being an idiot for not punting away the ball in the penalty box(reminds me of Sergio Ramos in Spain vs. USA) Lets face it. We don't have the dribbling skills that others do. Don't try to be cute, just punt it away for heaven's sake.

2. Huh Jung Moo is a complete idiot. He didn't make history. The players did. Part of the reason why there were too many bad passes in the latter half was due to weariness. Huh knows how to make 1 substitution every game and that's inserting Kim Namil. Other than that he just watches the team deteriorate as clock nears 90 min, and when it's 87, he decides its time to makes some substitution....I hope he gets sacked after WC.

Having said this, I don't think we'll beat Uruguay.

Posted by Carter on 06/23/2010

That's a great assessment of last night's clash. Maybe it was sheer luck or maybe luck favors the harder working team... seems last night's 2-2 final was apt, both luck and a lot of hard work. Lee Jung-Woo's (missed) header (bouncing off his leg in stride) into the goal was a bit lucky.

Now for Korea's homework.

Korea had better shore up that defense. The mental lapses not withstanding, the leaks are obvious. The same porous defense allowed Greece with limited offense abilities a few chances. The same porous defense allowed Argentina took tak every advantage. And, Nigeria had all their opportunities.

Not clearing the ball in the box and missed passes often led to breaks with midfielders from Greece, Argentina and Nigeria with open runs. It was frightening.

While everyone is happy here in Korea of reaching the next stage, I'll keep higher hopes that a tightened defense will push the team to the semi-final round. Otherwise, the Uruguay game might get ugly.

Posted by Jules on 06/23/2010

Thanks for posting so quickly after the game Dan!

Watching that game was a nerve-wracking experience. I was biting my nails up to the very last second. And I agree that we were lucky to advance. The Nigerians fought back with great fervor and determination, and my heart goes out to them.

That said, the Korean team was stronger in terms of possessions and attacks, and I thought it was a fair result. I was also elated to see Park Chu Young's goal, and the lovely arc it made as it found its way home. I'll bet he's sleeping better tonight.

Thank you Taeguk Warriors!

Posted by Joe on 06/23/2010

Wow. Have you ever seen the Nigerians play that hard as they did during the last 20 mins? Their speed and was a scary sight. Kudos for their all out effort. I know I wanted us to win rather than draw, but whatever, we made it! And the best part is, we scored in every match so far. A few obs: (1)we looked super nervous, but still held it together to score 2; that's a major accomplishment. (2) our defense is what it is. We have two finesse CBs who read the flow well, and two attacking wingbacks. We need to groom a tall/big hardman CB for the next WC (wish Kwak was healthy) and a defensive fullback to complement a wingback. (3) b/c of our defenders, we constantly have holes that Kim Jungwoo needs to fill, so he looks exhuasted. But seriously, he still needs to calm down and pass effectively b/c we're getting killed on the counter. (4) our attacks looked nice and fluid and PCY and Yeom (sorry I doubted you) both had an awesome match. We ran thru the Greek def, let's do the same on Uru!

Posted by Steve on 06/23/2010

Wow, what a lucky result but I definitely went out to celebrate last night. Anyways, here are few things I want to point out:

1. I can't blame Huh for subbing out Yom Ki-Hun (wow, he actually had a decent game although his daft touch annoys me) for Kim Nam-Il. Tactically, this was the right approach (granted he made a very un-veteran like mess of it).
2. Can't say I am comfortable with our GK. Usually, when a defender makes a mistake, GK's should be yelling & directing the defenders but I just don't see that from our GK. Instead, Lee Yong-Pyo is directing & calling plays for our backline... and that really scares me. Ideally, one of the two CBs should be calling & commanding the backline (man, I miss Hong Myong-Bo).
3. I hope Kim Nam-Il starts in the next match. He's a solid player & Korea really needs him against Uruguay. He made one horrible judgement but he deserves redemption (only candidate I can think of that can shore up the backline against Uruguay).

Posted by keomeri on 06/23/2010

It was a good game and a draw is a fair result. Remember - Korea also missed some pretty easy chances - chungyong lee in 2nd minute and chuyong park when he only had the goalie to beat in second half after yeom crossed (yeom's only good moment of the game). Missing is part of the game. Korea drew not because of luck but because Nigerian strikers just suck.

Anything after round of 16 is gravy. I think we should congratulate the players. Now that players have nothing to lose, they may let loose and play a more confident game. Korea got into quarters in the recent U-17 and U-20. We have more players playing in Europe. I think 2014 in Brazil - we can do better!!!

Posted by cee on 06/23/2010

One thing that i noticed in all 3 group matches is our players play with more confidence only after they score a goal. They were not really in sync until much later in the game. I don't know if this is a mental problem but i hope that the taeguk warriors can play with more confidence!! I was also happy to see Park Chu Young redeem himself from playing so terribly in the first two games. I hope that he will continue to play the way he did so that we have some hopes of beating URU or at least not being embarassed! That being said there are still huge problems with our defense! Watching the Nig v. Kor game almost gave me a heart attack! Cha DuRi needs to stay back where he belongs as a defender. Yeah i get it that he used to be a striker but now he is not so he should work harder to stick to his role and stop being so greedy to get a goal in. The goal keeper needs to get his act together too. Nigeria had WAY to many chances to score. almost makes me wish for Lee Woon Jae to come back...

Posted by sam on 06/23/2010

First of all, Congrats! to all Koreans. As an Asian (Japanese) myself, Korea making it to the knock-out stage is a pride shared by all of us.

The Taeguk Warriors did their job. With some silly defensive mistakes and all, the objective was fulfilled. Must say that God was on the Asian side, since any of the shots by the Nigerians after the penalty goal could have gone in, and nobody to blame for.

Forlan is an impressive weapon for the South Americans, but Korea has Captain Park. The true ammunition of Uruguay is their "gut" (they call it "garra") and perseverance combined with a truely diciplined defence. Speculating only to contain them could lead to a big disaster for Korea.

I live in South America so my heart is divided for this match. Of all the deceptive displays seen in this WC, the South American football in general has been, as of now, the most amusing presentations by far!

Lets continue to edit history! Good luck to all, and thank you Korea for making us proud!

Posted by Joe on 06/23/2010

No Lee Woon Jae please! Any other country would've axed him immediately after what he did in Indonesia. His conditioning and reflexes are terrible now, and he's at an disadvantage with crosses. I think Park Chu Young has played extremely well in every match so far. It's ashame that he doesn't have a true No. 9 to play alongside him. If we had Jung Dae Sae, they would have been absolutely devastating. Here's to hoping Suk Hyun Joon will seize his chance at Ajax next season and develop quickly once Luis Suarez gets sold after the WC. Other than that, Cha DR better keep his concentration levels up. I don't mind him bombing forward, but in the leadup to the Yak miss, he was late in switching off to cover his wing. I feel bad for Kim Nam Il, but seriously, just blast it forward next time in the box. What was he doing trying to dribble it out? And like others said, I don't think the substitution was bad b/c other than him, who else do we have to play CDM? And I want to see the 21yr old subs!

Posted by Sal on 06/23/2010

Yay, Taeguk warriors!

For the next game against Uruguay, I hope we can work on our defense and stop making silly mistakes.

That being said, everyone keeps talking about Yaku missing a sitter. But didn't the ref call offside even before he attempted the shot and so it wouldn't have mattered anyway whether or not he made it in?

Posted by Steve on 06/23/2010

@ Joe

Yea, I def. don't want a GK change either. However, I want to see some feisty edge within his game. He is way too passive for my liking. Look at Gigi Buffon or other top GKs in the world. They are yelling & ordering directions non-stop. A good GK isn't about stopping shots, but someone who can manage his defense in front of him.

On another note, I really want to see Ki Sung-Yong further up the pitch as an attacking midfielder. He can dictate the play & is certainly a better candidate to link up with Park Chu-Yong in the hole position. His defensive duties are not only burdening him, but it is hindering his game. Look at Steven Gerrard for England, his form is suffering because he is playing out of position.

Posted by Young on 06/23/2010

nice job on the blog, daniel.

man, the mistakes on defense is almost inexcusable. seriously, i would take them out of the lineup for that.

having said that, offense looks dangerous and i think we have a good shot against Uruguay (who are playing quite well.)

someone tell me where i can get a (non-fake) jersey or something!

Posted by Seung Han on 06/23/2010

What they need to do is bring on Kim Dongjin since he was playing great during the friendly leading up to the World Cup. Than finally get Yeom Kihun off the field by moving Cha Du-ri up to Lee Chung-Yong and let Lee Chung-Yong take onto the role that Yeom Kihun was playing...

Posted by sam on 06/23/2010

I just read a curious article:

Korea, Uruguay, United States or Ghana... According to the match-ups that follow, ONE of these four teams is destined to reach the Semi-finals!

Amazing!... no? Who would have thought??!!

Anyone up to making an objective (un-biased) prediction???

Best Regards to everyone!

Posted by Hans on 06/23/2010

Good analysis, Dan! He's my little brother, everyone! So proud of him! I want to embarrass him so much in public! OK, enough.

Another awesome thing is Korea got much better for finishing second in the group than Argentina got for winning it. Argentina have to beat Mexico, then face the winner of Germany-England, while Korea faces Uruguay (about the same as Mexico) then (hopefully) winner of USA-Ghana.

Posted by C.H. Chung on 06/24/2010

USA-Korea quarterfinal would be the greatest.

Posted by Huran on 06/24/2010

Lee's missed header isn't really a missed header as he was only trying to show his gratitude for giving him the chance to score with an Eastern traditional bowing.

Defense needs to be faster with their offside traps.
but let's collect the a few goals from Uruguay early then worry about defense.

I wanna see an all-attacking team against Uruguay
let's go with Ahn JH, Lee YP, Cha DR, Lee JS at the back
Lee DG, Gi SY, Yum GH in mid and Park JS, Park CY, Lee CY in front.

Posted by Joseph G on 06/24/2010

Awesome victory! Asia is so proud of South Korea! (Though I think we really got lucky on the win) A win is a win, so go ahead and do your best. Go go go!!!

Posted by Rap on 06/24/2010

"Dreams Come True" - World Cup Summary

[DCT Press International]

After exchanging scoring chances with no results, Korea scores in the final minutes to beat Uruguay 1-0. After a match marred by fouls and red cards against Ghana, a battered US team faces Korea in the round of eight to lose in a surprisingly one-sided game, 3-1. Brazil easily handles Holland to reach the semifinals to play what they think is cakewalk game, but is held to a frustrating draw and loses in a shootout. Korea, now the THE Cinderella team of all time, faces Argentina in the finals, the same team that trounced them in the group stage 4-1. However, the tables are turned this time as Korea scores a stunning upset, beating Argentina 2-1 to win the WC (Messi is out because of injury in the previous game, which frees up JS Park to score the game winner).

Posted by Steve on 06/24/2010

@ Sam

Objective opinion? I think that's too much for me to conjure up..

However, Uruguay is the clear favorite and after that, I'll take my chances on Korea over USA & Ghana.

Posted by Smith on 06/25/2010

Korea made it, yes they were lucky but not many really come thru. They team has strong bond between the players and team work shows. I would also have to stress the point out on the Korean's defense. They are quick and very smart but they don't get good positionin against the oppenents mostly because of Korea players size. I think if they work together as a group more with the back line and the goal keeper has better communication where they have to set up I think they will perform bette in terms of defence side.

My prediction for Ur. vs Sk. is 2-1 or 1-2. Ur. has a strong team, based on this World Cup. Koreans are very smart and quick. This game I believe is goin to be very painful to watch because it could shift very quick in either side everytime. I wish Korea would win and US to win.
Friend of mine in Korea sent me a video of Korean fans, and wow i was impressed of their fans. Hope the Red Devils would capatalize their small mistakes from 3 games and beat Ur.

Posted by Matthew Park on 06/25/2010

@ Rap, if what you say happens, I will personally come find you and bow down in the front of your doorstep for 1 week straight. But lets just get past by Uruguay first.

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