Park: We have high expectations
© AFP

Park Ji-sung hopes to replicate his heroics of 2002 when Korea Republic face Nigeria in today's crucial Group B showdown in Durban.

Eight years ago, the Manchester United midfielder scored the winner in a 1-0 triumph over Portugal in their final group game to progress to the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup™. Korea Republic are looking to again make it to that stage, but for the first time on foreign soil and will need the inspiration of captain Park if they are to get there.

"We have high expectations," Park said. "I believe we are more than capable of overcoming the pressure. We have the ability to show our full potential on the pitch. We want to win and we don't want to miss any opportunities. We are all going to do our best, just as we did back in 2002."

Korea Republic are second in Group B alongside Greece, with both sides on three points. They know that victory over Nigeria would secure a place in the next round, provided Greece fail to beat group leaders Argentina in the other pool game.

"I have told my team-mates that there is going to be a lot of pressure," Park added. "But we have to play to our full potential. My team-mates have to be confident because in the case of Nigeria, they are in the most precarious situation in the group."

Park believes his side are unlikely to be surprised by Nigeria, and for good reason.

"We have to have a lot of experience," he said. "We have a lot of players that are playing in Europe and now we know how to play with and against African players. I think we have accumulated experience. African teams are strong and fast and their main strength is their physical condition."

One of the Nigeria players Park knows well is Portsmouth striker Kanu. The Nigeria captain missed the Super Eagles' opening two defeats in Group B but could feature against South Korea.

"Kanu is an influential player for Nigeria," Park said. "Nigeria have a lot of good strikers so I'm not surprised that he has not been able to play so far."

Nigeria, meanwhile, go into the match looking for their first win in the tournament after two straight defeats.

"We are all united and looking forward to the game," midfielder Dickson Etuhu said. "Results have not gone our way so far but we can make it right. We just have to worry about ourselves and not about our rivals. The important thing for us is to play well and, if we do that, there is no reason why we cannot win."