DURBAN, June 23 – South Korea progressed to the second round of the World Cup for only the second time in eight attempts after a 2-2 draw with Nigeria in their final Group B match here on Tuesday.The result saw the Asian giants, who opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Greece but then crashed 4-1 to Argentina, finish second in the group behind the South Americans, who beat Greece 2-0 to remain unbeaten.
Nigeria, who had lost 1-0 to Argentina and 2-1 to Greece, were eliminated from the World Cup along with the Greeks.
South Korea will face Uruguay for a quarter-final spot while Argentina, who saw off Greece 2-0 in their final group game, will tackle Mexico.
"I am very disappointed," said Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback. "I am convinced that we deserved better in the World Cup.
"When we were ahead we continued to battle and we equalised. But it wasn’t good enough."
The Super Eagles, who have never beaten an Asian side at the World Cup, opened the scoring through Kalu Uche (12) before South Korea hit back in the 38th minute through Lee Jung-Soo.
In a free-flowing game, the Koreans took the lead in the 48th minute through a Park Chu-Young free-kick, but Yakubu Ayegbeni converted a penalty with 20 minutes to play.
The Everton striker, however, was guilty of missing two clear-cut chances, including one sitter, as the game ebbed and flowed from one end to another with attempts aplenty on goal.
South Korea started brightly and Lee Chung-Yong had an excellent chance in the first minute after capitalising on a woeful attempt at a clearance from Rabiu Afolabi.
Against the run of play in the opening quarter, Nigeria’s Chidi Odiah made a determined run down the right flank and squared the ball which Uche tapped in after holding off a feeble defensive effort by Cha Du-Ri.
But South Korea hit back through Lee Jung-Soo, who got around the back of Rabiu Afolabi to scramble the ball past goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama from a Ki Sung-Yeung free-kick.
Almeria midfielder Uche had almost doubled Nigeria’s lead just before the Asian team’s equaliser but his well-struck shot rebounded off the post with Jung well beaten in goal.
South Korea took the lead after Park Chu-Young curled a free-kick around the wall and past Enyeama into far side of the goal.
Some careless defending saw Ayegbeni gifted a chance but Lee Jung-Soo just managed to get back and steal the ball away, and then came the Everton player’s horrendous miss as he failed to bury an inch-perfect Yussuf Ayila cross into the back of an empty net.
Another Nigerian attack did pay dividends, however, as Kim Nam-Il brought down Obasi in the box. Up stepped Ayegbeni to convert the penalty but Nigeria could muster no more attempts on target and the South Koreans went through.