Post-match Analysis (22.40)
Nigeria started strong, playing well and scoring a goal. Due to a flukey goal, they seemed to collapse and give Korea a way back into the match. Korea took this chance and scored a second goal from a set piece, before Nigeria equalised from the spot, as Yakubu converted a penalty.
Nigeria could have won this match though, but Martins and Yakubu proved too wasteful today. Yakubu made up for his epic miss by scoring that penalty, but Martins will probably be haunted for several months by his miss 10 minutes before the final whistle.
Overall, Nigeria finally showed us glimpses of how their true potential, but it was too little and too late to prevent elimination at the hands of the more resilient and energetic South Koreans.
Nigeria disappoints a continent (22.24)
Benquerenca blows the final whistle and South Korea can start their celebrations. Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa weep together. Only Ghana stands a realistic chance of qualifying now.
So close, yet so far! (22.19)
Victor Obinna cuts past a defender and blasts it just a few centimetres wide, twice in short succession. The distance between success and failure can be very small. Incidentally, Argentina bag a second goal versus Greece.
Panic grips the Koreans (22.16)
Nigeria is finally doing the sensible thing, they are exploiting their physical strength and hoofing the balls into the box, which is causing the Koreans to panic a bit and just hoof it back upfront. It's like watching a football match in pinball-mode.
Let the time-wasting begin! (22.13)
One of the few things I dislike in football. Time-wasting. Bah... Just don't do it. You're buying a few seconds for your team, but really, it's not in the spirit of fair play. Just don't simulate injuries. Amazing recoveries tend to take place as soon as the referee gets involved.
Martins fails to cap a fairy-tale fight-back (22.09)
Obafemi Martins picks up a loose ball, evades the off-side trap and... Apparently he is trying to match Yakubu in terms of missing sitters... How can you even get that wide? Not as epic a miss as Yakubu's chance, but still, that should've gone in.
Things get interesting... (22.07)
Argentina just got the 1-0 in versus the Greeks. That means that a single goal for Nigeria is enough to send the African nation into the next round, probably to the delight of the home crowd.
Not enough power! (22.05)
Nigeria uses too much power, South Korea could do with a bit more power. Chungyong Lee tries his luck, but the shot lacks power to surprise Enyeama.
Super Eagles do a Fenix! (22.03)
Like the firebird of ancient myths, Nigeria have risen from the ashes and are back in this game, with some help from a silly South Korean defender. They actually seem to believe in their own team again.
Consequences of that goal (21.59)
Basically, nothing changes. Nigeria get a point now, but South Korea are still secure in second place because Argentina is still tied with Greece. Nigeria need a win themselves and an Argentine win to progress, whereas the current score-line would suffice for South Korea.
Nigeria equalise from the spot! (21.56)
Silly mistake by substitute Nam-Il Kim, who tackles Obasi from behind inside the box. Yakubu makes up for his earlier epic miss and puts it away.
EPIC MISS!!! (21.54)
Yakubu puts Chris Iwelumo to shame with that miss... It was easier to score than miss from that angle. For reference, this is the Chris Iwelumo miss...
Watch yourself, son! (21.53)
Another unnecessary foul by a Nigerian there. Not that bad really, but Ayila Yussuf already has a yellow card to his name and you really shouldn't be barging opponents in the back when you've already been cautioned.
Korea's runners are tearing Nigeria apart (21.51)
Another goalscoring opportunity for the Koreans, as their running players are getting in behind their opponents and the static Nigerian defenders are unable to cope with all the movement in midfield and upfront. Chu-Young Park tests Enyeama again.
Finesse over physique (21.47)
Too much force and power on that move by Yakubu. He tries to cut inside of his defender, which actually worked, but Yakubu uses too much power and loses the ball to a second defender. Finesse is the key word, son, not physique... Less power would've seen you clean through on goal there.
Nigeria's flame looks extinguished (21.45)
Looks like the Nigerians have given up. They seem to have lost the faith and they are allowing the Koreans to run amok in midfield. If I am allowed a bit of word-play, the Super Eagles' wings look clipped, especially now that Kanu is taken off for Obafemi Martins. Lägerback effectively substitutes Nigeria's last remaining creative player for another powerhouse forward.
Aggressive Korean fore-checking (21.42)
So what if they're not the strongest in terms of physique? I love this tireless running from the Koreans. Combined with a lot of tenacity, they are making life hard for the Nigerian defenders, forcing them to hoof the ball clear instead of proper build-up play from the back.
Consequences of that second Korean goal (21.40)
Well, that goal sees South Korea comfortably in second place in this group, whilst Nigeria slump to nil points in this tournament. Poor performance by the African side.
Unnecessary fouls by Nigeria cost them dearly (21.38)
Oh man, I was typing that Nigeria are making a lot of unnecessary fouls and that it costed them a goal already and then Chu-Young Park curls a free kick past the wall and the keeper to make it 2-1 to South Korea. Needless to say, the foul that gave away the free kick was an unnecessary one.
We're out of beer... The match is not very interesting at this point, so let's focus on the more important and pressing issues here... Why is the beer gone? Who will run to the shop and get some more? Dilemma's, dilemma's...
What's up with all the hugging? (21.33)
Okay, I understand it's team-building stuff and all that, but if you have to do that now, it seems a bit late...
Half-time Analysis (21.28)
I was going to say I liked the way Nigeria were playing. They were improving, involving Kanu in the game more and creating a few more chances, including Uche's shot off the post.
Kanu was playing in a sort of trequartista role as the central player in a band of three behind the deep striker Yakubu. It suited him. He lost a bit of space, but he has the technique, experience and vision to hold up the ball and create through balls for his team-mates, as his pass to Uche proved, who then hit the post.
After the flukey South Korean goal however, Nigeria collapsed and the Asian side was improving with every passing minute. The Korean runners were getting more and more dangerous, because the defenders are midfielders are too static.
Instead of tracking their markers, they remain in their position and let the Koreans get in behind them, in space with no direct opponent, which is where the Koreans can exploit their stamina, pace and technique.
Nigeria need to sort their stuff out and get back to how they were playing initially. They really should try to involve Kanu a lot more, as he appears to be their most creative player at the moment. Uche and Obasi should keep the pitch wide, to maintain pressure on the Korean defence and create space for other players to move into.
Silly Nigerians... (21.18)
The referee gives you one last free kick before the half-time break. So what you want to do is hoof that thing into the box and try and force a goal. What you shouldn't do however is play it short, because the referee will end play if he sees no immediate goalscoring opportunity. Silly mistake.
Consequences of that flukey equaliser (21.16)
Forgot to do this earlier, again... Anyway, the equaliser sees Nigeria back into last place in the group, whereas South Korea rises to second place with the same goal difference as Greece, but since the Koreans beat Greece, they move into second place in the virtual rankings.
Nigeria has collapsed a bit (21.13)
Not a very strong side when it comes to the mental aspect of the game... They concede one flukey goal and they seem to collapse like a house of cards in a storm. Shambles. Korea is taking over this match.
Looking back at that goal, epic fail by Nigeria (21.10)
Having seen the replays, South Korea's goal becomes even more funny. You have all these tall and strong Nigerian defenders, waiting for a cross. All they have to do is track their markers and they will win the duel and clear the ball. Instead, the defence remains static, enabling South Korea to use their main weapon, running players, to surprise Nigeria in a set piece situation, where Nigeria's superior length and strength should have counted.
Equaliser for South Korea (21.08)
Bit of a comical goal there. Jung-Soo Lee tries to head in a cross from a free kick but instead hits the ball with his shin. The ball rolls past Enyeama as it comes off Lee's shin. Guess he won't mind though.
Oh and Obasi is suspended for his next World Cup game. He fouled Young-Pyo Lee for the free kick that preceded the equaliser.
Saved by the post (21.06)
Kalu Uche just hit the woodwork with a nice shot from just outside the box there. Also, it would appear that Nwankwo Kanu is playing as Nigeria's creative player here in a sort of trequartista role, as the central player in a band of three behind deep striker Yakubu.
Enyeama nearly does a Higuita (21.02)
Rene Higuita was an eccentric Colombian goalie, the guy who did the Scorpion-kick on Wembley. He was also single-handedly responsible for Colombia's elimination from the 1990 World Cup, when he decided to dribble with the ball against Cameroon. Roger Milla robbed him and scored the winner... Nigeria's Enyeama almost did something similar there, but he corrected his mistake at the cost of a yellow card.
Three Lee's, two Park's... (21.00)
Just realised that Korea have three Lee's and two Park's on the pitch. Good thing the commentator mentions their first names as well, or it could be very confusing as to which Lee is passing it to which Lee or Park.
Yakubu tries to go through a defender (20.58)
Pretty much illustrates my earlier observations. Yakubu chases after a pass and tries to muscle his way to the ball. No flair or anything, just brute force. Also, the Nigerians are not out-pacing the Koreans, they're just a bit stronger.
Nigeria in control (20.53)
Nigeria are bossing the Koreans around. They have to be mindful of the fast Korean break-aways though, but overall, the African side looks in complete control of this match. Shame really, they won't be looking to score a second goal at this rate.
Physique vs stamina and technique (20.50)
From what I've seen so far, the Nigerians rely on their physical presence to create chances. Not much flair or creativity to their game, just wam-bam, find the quickest way towards the goal and go through a defender if necessary.
South Korea looks better technically. Some nice and intricate passing at times. Combined with their tireless running, this looks rather nifty. Unfortunately, they seem lost when they get into a duel with the Nigerians, who look to be too strong in terms of physique. The Koreans get muscled of the ball a lot.
Consequences of that goal (20.47)
Oh yeah, forgot to add this before... Nigeria are now tied on points with South Korea and trailing Greece by a point. Their goal difference is equal to the Greeks though, so if Argentina score against Greece, Nigeria qualifies for the next round, provided they actually win this game versus South Korea ofcourse.
Why are they attempting a cross?! (20.45)
Those Nigerian defenders are huge, muscular and bulky... The Korean strikers are fast and agile, but not really strong in the air... So why on earth are the Koreans trying to send high crosses into the Nigerian box? Not the best game-plan really... Did they hire Domenech to do their tactics?
Super Eagles get the first goal! (20.42)
A deflected cross by Odiah is tapped in by Kalu Uche, who managed to sneak in front of his defender and score. Again, not the result of a wide attack and a through ball but a Nigerian dribbling past and sometimes nearly through his opponents.
Running all over the shop (20.38)
Crazy little Koreans are running tirelessly. They may not have the physical strength the Nigerians have, they make up for that by never giving up and just running around a lot, putting pressure on who-ever has the ball.
Tame start by Nigeria (20.33)
I expected more fireworks from Nigeria, who just started rather conservatively to the match. Their wide players look dangerous when they get the ball, but are ineffective so far because they run with the ball a lot instead of being fed through balls. As predicted, Nigeria is missing a creative midfielder.
Updated line-ups (20.23)
Okay, Livescore.com updated their line-ups, so I'll just add that in here.
[ 4-2-3-1 ]
[ 4-4-2 ]
My expectations (20.21)
Nigeria need to attack and win if they want to stand a (slim) chance of progressing past the group stage, which means Korea might get a chance to hit the Nigerians on the break. With all the pace in their midfield and forward line, that could just prove to be a very effective strategy.
On the other hand, the impressive physique of the Nigerian forwards could be very difficult to defend for the physically less impressive Korean defenders. Obafemi Martins and Yakubu Aiyegbeni are not just fast but strong as well, they could just muscle their way through a defence.
All in all, it should be a tight game and most certainly an exciting one as neither team can afford to kick back and not play for a win.
Some Nigerian Trivia (20.14)
Did you know that...
- Nigeria is one of the more successful African nations in the World Cup?
- Lars Lägerback is nicknamed "Lasse"? No, not Lassie, Lasse...
- Nigeria is nicknamed the Super Eagles? That's right, with added superpowers. Not quite sure what they are, but the name sounds impressive.
- Nigeria was the first African nation to win a major international trophy when they won the 1996 Olympics?
- Nwanko Kanu was present in that 1996 squad and is still active for the national side?
Some South Korea Trivia (20.03)
Did you know that...
- South Korea have never progressed from the first round of the World Cup outside of their own country? Indeed, the only time they progressed from the group stage was in 2002, under Guus Hiddink, but they had the home advantage back then.
- right-back Cha-Du Ri is the son of Bum-Kun Cha, South Korea's all-time top goal-scorer with 55 goals? Guess he isn't much like his famous father in terms of goal-scoring.
- Woon-Jae Lee, South Korea's 37 year-old goalkeeper, has been part of the national team selection since the 1992 Olympics? So he's been with the team for nearly 2 decades now...
- South Korea shares a nickname with Manchester United? Like Man Utd, South Korea are referred to as the Red Devils. Alternatively, some fans refer to the team as the Tigers of Asia.
Nothing to do with the match but still... (19.48)
Okay, I actually found this hilarious. They showed it again in the previews on the Dutch TV, two Algerian fans playing with their vuvuzela. Bit like Laurel and Hardy there. Still cracks me up. Guess that means I'm a bit childish. Pfah. All men are if they're watching 22 other men chase after a ball.
Reactions to the predicted line-ups (19.35)
Well, I have to say I like the look of Nigeria's line-up. Odemwingie is a proper winger, so him and Taiwo could do really well together if they can link up down that left flank. I'm not so sure about Obasi, who seems like more of a striker than a winger, which means Odiah could be left exposed. As stated before, the team also lacks a creative presence in midfield, but the sheer physical prowess of their forwards could prove to be too hot to handle for South Korea.
Not sure what to say about the Korean line-up. I don't really know most of the players. I am happy to see Du-Ri Cha though, as I like the way he handles himself in the Bundesliga. Not quite sure about what the Korean forwards can do, I imagine their main power lies in midfield.
Predicted line-ups (19.20)
As always, from Livescore.com, so don't harass me if they are horribly wrong.
[ 4-4-2 ]
[ 4-4-2 ]
South Korea Preview: A very fit squad (19.06)
The Koreans need at least a draw from this match, and that's if they are relying on Argentina to beat Greece. I'm sure they'd prefer a win to be dead certain of qualification for the next round.
What I noticed mostly about the Koreans during the first two matches, was their stamina. They have a load of energetic midfield runners, capable of running around for 90 minutes. The team seems to lack players to directly participate in the process of scoring goals and preventing goals being conceded though.
Most people in Europe and the America's will only know Ji-Sung Park and Young-Pyo Lee from their stints in the Premiership. Well, as said before, it's players like that who characterise South Korea. Energetic and hard-working, but not world class.
South Korea surprised me when they outclassed Greece, running amok in midfield and basically playing very organised and concentrated. They then got overrun by Argentina. When they were forced to attack, Argentina exploited the space and countered their way to a 4-1 win, which was harsh on South Korea.
I'm not 100% sure what to expect of them in terms of strategy and tactics, but this is a side which always gives 200% out there and is very disciplined and organised. Combine that with their superb stamina and they can cause trouble for any side in the world.
Nigeria Preview: Qualification will be difficult (19.06)
Nigeria manager Lars Lägerback is faced with a tough task. His team has 0 points so far, but they can still progress. His team need to beat South Korea and rely on Argentina to beat the Greeks. It's not entirely impossible, but it will certainly be a difficult one for the Swede and his Nigerian Super Eagles.
A Swede training an African nation may seem like an odd combination, but in reality, it really isn't. Sweden, like Nigeria, likes to play in a rigid, well-structured formation, relying on a combination of physical strength and footballing finesse.
Nigeria has strikers to get on the end of chances, but will those chances be created in the first place? Nigeria, like almost every African side in this competition, lacks a real play-maker and have struggled for that reason. Losses against Argentina and Greece both happened because the team failed to create a lot of chances.
I reckon they will try to physically overpower their opponents in a sort of Blitzkrieg offensive, before dropping back to counter-attack. Not sure that strategy will work for the Super Eagles though, since, as I said before, they really lack midfield creativity.