DURBAN: South Korea have targeted the sometimes fragile Nigerian temperament as a route to victory when a tight World Cup Group B reaches a climax on Tuesday with all four teams still in the hunt for a second round spot.
Despite a thrashing at the hands of Argentina in their last match, victory for the South Koreans at the Moses Mabhida stadium should give them a place in the knockout stage for the first time on foreign soil.
Nigeria must consider themselves lucky to still be alive in the group after two defeats and need a first win over the South Koreans in their fourth attempt, and hope for an Argentina victory over the Greeks in Polokwane.
The Nigerians’ 2-1 defeat by the Greeks came after midfielder Sani Kaita was dismissed for kicking out at Vassilis Torosidis and South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo is hoping to provoke a similar reaction from the West Africans.
“We won’t go out on the field aiming for a draw. It will be a difficult match but we will play a winning game,” he said.
“As seen in the case of Sani Kaita who was sent off the field, we need to put pressure on the Nigerians so that they become agitated and lose their temper. We cannot allow them to play freely on the field.”
After plaudits for the 2-0 opening win over Greece, Huh was heavily criticised for his team selection for the loss to Argentina and is likely to shake things up for the do-or-die final match.
A switch to 4-4-2 would allow him to give striker Lee Dong-guk his first start of the tournament and the inspirational Park Ji-sung to move back out to the wide right position he favours.
Nigeria’s coach Lars Lagerback has maintained his largely closed camp north of Durban but the death threats Kaita received after his red card cannot have helped their mood.
Defenders Taye Taiwo and Elderson Echiejile, who suffered injuries in the match against Greece, are recovering well and could be available for the Tuesday game.
BDST: 1107hrs, June 21, 2010