Diego Maradona's two-time world champions are next on the agenda for South Korea who are buzzing after opening their South Africa 2010 account in the best possible fashion with a convincing 2-0 win over UEFA Euro 2004 champions Greece. Now Argentina lie in wait at Soccer City on Thursday before they conclude their first round obligations against Nigeria -- who were beaten 1-0 by Argentina later on Saturday -- on June 22.
Saturday's win at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela bay stadium, which has lifted them to the top of Group B on goal difference, has given renewed hope and credence to South Korea's claims on a last 16 place. The Koreans' speed, sharp tactics and hunger had Greece in all sorts of trouble.
Lax defending contributed to the first goal when the Greek defence failed to deal with Ki Sung Yueng's freekick from beside the left corner flag. The ball skimmed over the heads of the Greek defence for Lee Jung Soo to volley in at the far post. The Koreans wrapped up a deserved three points early in the second half when captain Park Ji Sung beat off defenders Avraam Papadopoulos and Loukas Vyntra and slotted the ball past keeper Alexandros Tzorvas.
Coach Huh Jung-Moo was careful to make sure his feet didn't leave the ground afterwards, although his delight at the result was plain to see. "This is only the start. My team played well, we prepared thoroughly, I'd like to congratulate them. It's win number one but we have to continue to grow. My heart is filled with happiness, now we have to prepare for the next game.
"Argentina are one of the candidates for the title, they have a lot of good players, but I have told my players to remain confident. No matter how strong they are, if we do what we have to do, we can manage to grow. Just because it's Argentina one shouldn't be defeatist."
Huh, the first Korean to coach the national side in over a decade, suggested his team could have swelled their goal account even further against the Greeks. "If we'd been a little calmer we could have had more goals. We weren't perfect but my players lived up to expectations. I had a meeting with my team before we left our hotel this morning and told them that if we scored first not to stop attacking. We passed the ball round very fast, and very accurately, we played to win."
Park, the influential Manchester United midfielder, was another refusing to be intimidated by the identity of their next rivals. He said: "Argentina are the strongest side in the group and could be finalists. But we thought about them when we played Spain in a pre World Cup friendly...the unexpected can always happen..we're looking forward to it."