In a decisive game versus South Korea, Nigeria failed to make the difference. Nigeria have only themselves to blame. The Super Eagles had their chances but failed to take them as the hard working Taeguk Warriors progress to the second round.
It was make or break for Nigeria as they locked horns with South Korea on Tuesday. Assuming all went well in the Argentina-Greece game, the Super Eagles only needed to win to book their ticket for the second round of the 2010 World Cup. Thus becoming the first, and possibly only, African team to make it through the group stage.
South Korea started better in Durban with lashes from Chung Young Lee (2’) and Ki Sung-Yueng (7’) but Nigeria drew the first blood. 12th minute : Chidi Odiah does really well to bustle his way down the Nigeria right and from about eight yards out Kala Uche does brilliantly to get in ahead of Cha Du-Ri and direct the ball past Jung Sung-Ryong.
Despite Yakubu’s best attempts, the Super Eagles fail to find the net a second time. In fact, they step back and let the Asians take the best of them. 38th minute : Free kick for the Taegeuk Warriors. Ki Sung-Yeung curls in the free-kick and Lee Jung-Soo sneaks in at the back post to head the ball on to his foot and into the net. 1-1 at half time.
But the Asians added another one in the second side of the break. From 20 yards out, left of centre, Park Chu-Young curls into the far corner past the outstretched arm of Vincent Enyeama (49’, 2-2). What a huge turnaround. Nigeria were dominating, but lapses in concentration have proved very costly. They keep giving free-kicks away around the edge of the area and now they’ve been punished for it.
Luckily for them, Nigeria have a chance to pull back. 66th minute : Yussuf Ayila crosses from the Nigerian left and it beats Jung Sung-Ryong, falling perfectly into the path of Yakubu three yards out. In front of an open goal, he slots wide. It’s not just the miss of this World Cup, it is the miss of ANY World Cup.
But Lars Lagerbäck will pray the Gods a few minutes later when Chinedu Obasi is clattered down by a terrible tackle by Kim Nam-Il. Yakubu makes up for Ayila’s mistake by sending the keeper the wrong way.
In the dying minutes, Obinna (90’) and Martins (80’) try to find that vital goal but fail to find the target.
Nigeria dominated early on but South Korea did well to come back into the match. It was a loss of concentration that cost Nigeria their lead. Too many mistakes, too many fouls (three yellow cards for Nigeria) cost the Super Eagles a place in the second round.