Africa Hopes Super Eagles Hold Their Nerve

Published on Tuesday 22nd June 2010 Africa Hopes Super Eagles Hold Their Nerve

The equation for Nigeria is really quite simple. They need to beat South Korea in Durban on Tuesday and hope that Argentina do likewise in their encounter with Greece, sending the Super Eagles through to the second round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

That they are still in the running after two defeats in their opening matches is a massive bonus, as is the fact that Argentina still have something to play for in Group B - a defeat for the South Americans and a win for South Korea could still eliminate Argentina from the finals.

The Super Eagles' Swedish coach Lars Lagerback, who has twice led his native country to the knockout stages of World Cup finals - in 2002 and 2006 - says he is relieved his side still have an opportunity to get out of their group.

"I've never experienced that before, that you have two losses and yet still have a chance to go through," Lagerback said.

"Of course that has helped us a lot to keep focused on what we are doing. So now we are really looking forward to the game and we can really show how good the Super Eagles are, and I think we can play a really good game against the South Koreans."

South Korea beat Greece 2-0 in their opening match, but then suffered a 4-1 loss to Argentina that has left them with a negative goal difference. Lagerback says he expects them to play their usual quick passing game.

"They run a lot, they have good technical skills, and they are also rather quick, and they want to attack," he said.

"Maybe that is one weakness, the only one that I can find, if you win the ball in good positions and then go for it really quickly then maybe they are a little bit unorganised.

"I think that they could be a good style for us to play against, so I'm positive about it, and I think that it could be an interesting game anyway, and hopefully an open and attacking game from both teams."

Following the red card received by Sani Kaita in the defeat to Greece, as well as the injuries to fullback Taye Taiwo and Elderson Echiejile, Lagerback will have to make changes to his defence.

Right back Chidi Odiah is now likely to be moved to the left, skipper Joseph Yobo to the right, with a central defence comprising Rabiu Afolabi and Danny Shittu.

The Koreans know that a draw would be enough to seal their place in the last 16, as long as Greece don't better that result against Argentina, but they insist they will be going for the win in Durban.

"We must win to get to the second round," midfielder Kim Jung-Woo said. "Some people are talking about a draw being enough, but we want to win.

"We must try not to concede a goal, especially early on, and we'll have to be highly organised from the very start to the finish. We'll try to be as strong as possible and win all the duels."

These two sides have not met in senior international football since 2001, but the likes of Onyekachi Apam and Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi will know the Korean style well after losing 2-1 to the country in the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

The physicality of the Nigerians may be too much for Korea, though the pace of the Asian side is something that the ageing and brittle Super Eagles might find difficult to contain.

The match is a classic decider, and all Africa hopes the Nigerians can hold their nerve.


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