Koreans want to repay fans
© Getty Images

Korea Republic want to beat Uruguay in their FIFA World Cup™ last-16 meeting on Saturday to say thanks to all the fans back home who have endured sleepless nights to support the team.

It was 3:30 am local time in Seoul when Tuesday's closing group game against Nigeria kicked off and Korea Republic coach Huh Jung-Moo said he and his players were indebted to the late night support from the other side of the world.

"All of our players have made it to the last 16 thanks to hard work and effort, and we don't want to rest on our laurels. We want to make it into the quarter-finals to repay all of our fans and spectators back home in South Korea who are spending their nights cheering us on."

Bleary-eyed Korean fans erupted with joy as their team won through to the last 16 for only the second time in eight attempts with the 2-2 draw with Nigeria. Undeterred by the dead-of-night kick-off, an army of red-shirted supporters packed venues nationwide to watch the Taeguk Warriors.

Police said 500,000 fans nationwide, more than half of them in Seoul, watched the game in public on giant TV screens, with countless others tuning in at home. Fans, many sporting red plastic horns, packed City Hall plaza in central Seoul and surrounding streets.

All of our players have made it to the last 16 thanks to hard work and effort, and we don't want to rest on our laurels.
Huh Jung-Moo, Korea Republic coach

Their reward was Saturday's date with Uruguay. Huh, speaking at the eve-of-match press conference, said: "I don't know who will win, Uruguay are a tough team, but we are also a tough team and we'll do our best to make it into the next round."

Huh then turned to one of Korea Republic's weak points, a defence which has leaked six goals in the first round. That could be a major issue on Saturday against an Uruguay side that have yet to concede once in South Africa.

"Uruguay do have a very good defence, in contrast we've let teams score against us. But we've scored too, we'll just have to compensate by scoring two goals for each one conceded." Huh suggested Saturday's game was too close to call. "We can't be sure about the outcome - we have a 50-50 chance to win."

Whoever prevails on Saturday will face the winner of the last-16 match between the United States and Ghana, meaning at least one surprise semi-finalist at this FIFA World Cup of upsets.