By Tony Ubani, in South Africa
Huh Jung-moo is prepared to send 2002 World Cup hero Ahn Jung_hwan into action against Nigeria if he has any concerns that his South Korea lineup can’t secure its own fate in South Africa.

FINAL SUPPER....Nigeria’s coach Lars Lagerback (L pointing) speaks with his players, during a training session at Umhlathuze Sports Complex in Richads Bay, 160kms north of Durban on June 21. Nigeria faces South Korea today in Durban on June 22

South Korea can advance to the next round by defeating the winless Nigerians at Durban today . Anything less will mean the South Koreans chances of progressing will depend on the outcome of Argentina’s match against Greece in another Group B match.

“What’s more important than the other match is that we play well and get a good result,” Huh said Monday.
He is even prepared to use Ahn, who is not yet fully fit after recovering from injury, as a late substitute if the South Koreans need a goal.

Ahn famously eliminated Italy with a golden goal in the round of 16 in 2002.“His physical condition wasn’t that good but it’s improved enormously,” Huh said, “and if the team needs him I think he can play a decisive role.”

Unless Greece upsets Argentina or secures a high_scoring draw, the South Koreans will need only a draw against Nigeria to make it through to the next round.

Huh said he would be monitoring the other group match as his team plays Nigeria in Durban but will aim for victory regardless of what is happening between Greece and Argentina.

“We are going to play a game that we can win,” he said.Six of South Korea’s squad now play in Europe and the best_known, Manchester United midfielder Park Ji_sung, said that will help the team tackle Nigeria.

“We have a lot of players playing on European teams so now we know how to play with African members and also against them,” he said. “We have accumulated quite a lot of experience.”

The Koreans are playing in their seventh consecutive World Cup but have never made it out of their group except when they reached the semifinals when they co_hosted the tournament in 2002.

Then, coached by Dutchman Guus Hiddink, the run sparked delirious celebrations across South Korea and turned Hiddink into a revered national hero.

Now Huh wants to prove his team can advance from group play away from home, too.
“This is our wish and desire, so we really are going to fight hard,” he said.

South Korea will have to put in a much stronger defensive performance than it did against Argentina, when it was overwhelmed in losing 4_1.

“The game against Nigeria will not be easy … players must do more than they did in the last match,” Huh said.
“We left them a backdoor open for attack,” he said. “We will be more solid and better organized in the last game.”
Even though Nigeria has lost both its games so far at the World Cup, it could still reach the round of 16 by beating South Korea.

“The positive thing is that we still have a chance of qualifying, although we need a helping hand from Argentina,” coach Lars Lagerback said. “We need a fresh start, and we’ll do that by beating (South Korea).”

Nigeria is among the African teams that have disappointed at a World Cup in which they were expected to shine on home soil. The African teams have only one win between them from 12 games.

South Korea will be aiming to reach the round of 16 a day after North Korea was eliminated from the tournament following a 7-0 thrashing by Portugal.

The Nigerians are eager to make up for their 2_1 loss to Greece, in a game turned by the 33rd_minute expulsion of Nigeria midfielder Sani Kaita for a senseless sideline foul when he kicked out at an opponent.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.