It was a roller-coaster night in Durban with both side’s having the chance to go through assuming that Argentina beat Greece.
Diego Maradona’s side duly did the business with South Korea’s qualification hanging in the balance until the final whistle with the African’s knowing that one more goal would take them through with just three points.
Nigeria had taken a 12th minute lead through Kala Uche but the Korean’s levelled through Lee Jung-Soo with Park Chu Young putting the Korean’s in front four minutes into the second half.
Everton striker Yakubu missed a Van Vossen like chance to equalise in the 66th minute but stepped up to level the scores from the penalty spot three minutes later.
There was no further scoring with the final whistle blown after three minutes of injury-time to the delight of the young Celt and his team-mates.
Ki admitted: “It’s a real surprise for South Korea to qualify for the next round ahead of a side like Nigeria, who are a very nice team.
“All of our players, all over the pitch, played very well, and we’re looking forward to the next round.
“For Korean football, in sixty years we never qualified for the second round in a foreign competition, but we’ve made it. This means we’ve made history for Korean football, so we’re very proud of ourselves.
“The coach told us we had to go out and win, because a draw meant having to wait for the result against Argentina. Of course we could have won the game, but we made a few mistakes. Anyway, we are happy.
“I want the Asian teams to get to the second round. For now Asian football is improving more and more, and I think that Korea are one of the best teams in Asia. If Japan can qualify for the second round, too, that’s great.”
Korean coach Huh Jung-Moo, who played in the 86 World Cup in Mexico said: “I knew it would be difficult if we conceded an early goal, but the players reacted very well.
“Their penalty made it more difficult for us mentally as well. Asian football is on the up. But there’s still a gap between us and the rest of the world, and we need to work harder to close the gap. Against Nigeria, for example, we had many chances and played attacking football even when we were leading.”
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