Korea Republic coach Huh Jung-Moo warned that his players would not content themselves with having achieved their primary FIFA World Cup™ goal of progressing to the second round.
A 2-2 draw against Nigeria on Tuesday was enough to see his side, previously 2-0 victors over Greece before being routed 4-1 by Argentina, progress to a round-of-16 match as Group B runners-up against Group A table-toppers Uruguay in Port Elizabeth on June 26.
But Huh said captain Park Ji-Sung and his team-mates would now be targeting a semi-final berth. "We have achieved our first objective of reaching the round of 16," Huh said. "After that, anybody can guess what our next objective might be, but I know that the players will immediately set a higher target. They won't be satisfied now with just having progressed. They will want to get to the semi-finals."
The South Koreans' advance into the second round is their second time in eight FIFA World Cup appearances, the last time coming at home in 2002. "It's the first time we reached the second round at an away World Cup. I'm very proud and very happy," Huh said. "I feel my players played to their full potential and were not intimidated."
Park added: "It's a first for us to qualify away from home and we're very pleased to have done it here in South Africa. All the players know how tough it is to do, but I'm very proud of the players at having done so."
In an end-to-end contest with chances aplenty, Nigeria opened the scoring through Kalu Uche (12) but then South Korea scored either side of half-time through Lee Jung-Soo and Park Chu-Young before a Yakubu Ayegbeni penalty (69) drew the two sides level. "When we conceded that first goal, we thought it might be difficult, but the players managed to stay cool and get the draw," Huh said.
Park Chu-Young's goal came from a direct free-kick, the first in 35 games so far played at the FIFA World Cup, and Huh admitted that his team had been training with the new adidas Jabulani ball. "We trained a lot for free-kicks," he said.
Huh 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."