52nd Minute, Park Ji-Sung, South Korea v Greece, World Cup 2010 Group Stage
South Korea’s success in the 2002 World Cup in their own country raised expectations to unrealistic levels. The success was a perfect mix of a talented group of players, home advantage, a top class coach and good degree of fortune all coming together at the right time. Since then they won the East Asian Cup in 2003 and later in 2008 but have failed to get to the final of the Asian Cup in that time and they didn’t get out their group in Germany in 2006 despite winning their first World Cup finals match outside of Korea.
Under the guidance of Huh Jung-moo South Korea went 27 games unbeaten in the lead up to the 2010 tournament. The side was led by Park Ji-sung, by far the biggest star South Korea have produced, a player who has won numerous titles with one of the biggest clubs in the world. The other players looked up to him and Park looked to lead by example. Their group contained Argentina, Nigeria and Greece. They weren’t favoured by many observers to get out of it.
In their opening match against Greece they got off to the perfect start after just seven minutes when centre back Lee Jung-soo scored with his head. A perfect through ball from Park Ji-Sung set Park Chung-young on his way but the star striker was unable to finish and it remained 1-0 at the break.
Park Ji-sung becomes the first Asian player to score in three World Cups with this superb goal…
What Happened Next?
South Korea won 2-0 and drew against Nigeria which meant they came second in the group and played Uruguay in the second round. Two Luis Suarez goals either side of a Lee Chung-Yong strike gave Uruguay a place in the quarter final and left South Korea to lament poor finishing and bad defending.