Korea Republic were understandably delighted to reach the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup™ for the second time in their history, following a dramatic 2-2 draw with Nigeria at Durban Stadium. The result also sealed the Asian side their first ever Round of 16 berth in a FIFA World Cup held on foreign soil.
The Taeguk Warriors had to battle hard to hold off an ambitious Nigeria side that believed in its chances right to the end. “We’ve made history today,” skipper Park Ji-Sung told FIFA.com after the final whistle. “We’ve made our way through in a very tough group. It was very tight and apart from Argentina, who were clearly superior, the other three teams all had their chances,” added the Budweiser Man of the Match.
“We almost didn’t make it. We had some tough times against Nigeria, who played an excellent match and fought hard defending their chances until the last gasp. We managed to stay really focused towards the end and kept hold of the ball after they scored the equalizer. That helped us control the run of play until the final whistle.”
For his part, Park Chu-Young considered himself “so lucky to have scored the second Korean goal of the night. It’s great to beat one of the best keepers in this tournament. He didn’t get a good view because there were so many players inside the area. I am really happy tonight and this day is memorable.”
Manchester United striker Park Ji-Sung highlighted the importance of learning lessons from their first-round performances, prior to their forthcoming last-16 showdown against Uruguay, a team that kept a clean sheet throughout the group stage.
“We have gone through difficult situations in this tournament. But we have acquired some experience. We will take on a team whose style is similar to that of Argentina, although they are not as strong. We have to avoid the kinds of mistakes we committed in the first round, or we will be out. We believe we can do it. We have to focus on that game as of this moment. We need to play with a winning mentality if we want to be in the quarter-final.”