Koo: Kim wrote the script for my winner
Koo Jacheol has revealed that his late winner for Korea Republic against Uzbekistan was the brainchild of substitute Kim Shinwook.
The Taeguk Warriors trailed the White Wolves when Kim was summoned from the bench in the 66th minute. Within 25 seconds it was 1-1. Then, with time running out, Kim produced a towering leap and nodded the ball into the path of Koo with inch-perfect precision for the Augsburg man to raise the roof at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
"I was told to move back to defensive midfield position alongside Ki Sungyueng, and to play a short passing game instead of long balls,” explained Koo. “Kim Shinwook came to me and told me to break forward. He told me that, when Hong Cheol crossed the ball to his head, he would knock it into my path, and that’s what happened.”
The win elevated Korea Republic above their opponents and into second in Group A, one point behind Iran, who drew 0-0 with Syria.
"I didn't think it was going to be an easy game, because the Uzbeks have a solid defence, conceding only one goal in their last five matches,” reflected coach Uli Stielike. “We fell behind against such a defensive team, but now I'm satisfied with my players who have overcome the deficit.
“We didn't lose our calm despite the early setback, and we managed to play our football to claim a deserved win. It was us who controlled the game, although we sometimes lacked the finishing touch."
Korea Republic have competed in an Asian-record nine World Cups, going beyond the group stage twice. On home soil in 2002, Guus Hiddink’s team won a section featuring Portugal, Poland and USA, and incredibly eliminated Italy and Spain before a 1-0 loss to Germany in the semi-finals. Park Jisung inspired the Taeguk Warriors into the Round of 16 in 2010, where they fell to a Luis Suarez-inspired Uruguay.