South Korea-Nigeria Preview
By MIKE LIPKA
(AP) -- Neither South Korea nor Nigeria had much to be happy about following its second Group B match, but there may be a lot to look forward to for either nation if it can win Tuesday's opening-round finale.
Without a point through two games, Nigeria still could advance to the round of 16 with a victory, but the Taeguk Warriors will also be pushing for a win that would all but assure them a spot in the knockout stage.
South Korea's 2-0 win over Greece on June 12 has the team in good position even after Thursday's 4-1 loss to powerful Argentina, which leads the group with six points.
"I didn't expect us to lose by such a large margin, but everything will go down to the final group game," South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo said. "This defeat is a great lesson and we must learn from it when we play against Nigeria."
Greece and South Korea are tied for second with three points and an identical goal differential, although the Taeguk Warriors hold a slight edge in goals scored and would likely advance with a victory.
Considering the Greeks will be underdogs against the Argentines, a draw may be enough for South Korea to reach the knockout stage. The only previous time the nation has done so, it was the co-host along with Japan in 2002.
Nigeria did not win a game then and has six losses and a draw in its last seven World Cup matches since beating Bulgaria in 1998.
But the Super Eagles limited Argentina to one goal in their opening loss and held an early lead Thursday against Greece following Kalu Uche's 16th-minute strike.
That was before midfielder Sani Kaita received a red card - and a suspension for Thursday's game - for kicking a Greek defender after the ball had gone out of bounds in the 33rd minute.
Playing short-handed, Nigeria conceded a pair of goals to lose 2-1, and Kaita has received more than 1,000 death threats via e-mail.
"It looks like even if we win the next one, we're not going to qualify, so practically we are out of the tournament," Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo said after the match.
Another look at the table may have changed Yobo's mind.
If Nigeria wins and Argentina defeats Greece, the Super Eagles would end up in a three-way tie for second place with the Greeks and South Koreans, advancing by virtue of the goal-differential tiebreaker.
"The positive thing is that we still have a chance of qualifying, although we need a helping hand from Argentina," Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback said. "We need a fresh start, and we'll do that by beating Korea Republic."
South Korea has two wins and a draw in three previous meetings with Nigeria, although none have come during World Cup play.
Updated June 20, 2010