…Devils to play Azzurris of Italy on Thursday.
Korean University student Defender, Seok-Hyun Choi rose above all players using his odontoid bones that is needed for nodding, to heavily nod into the Nigerian net in the 95th minute of Extra Time, a devastating goal that sent the last of the African team standing back home.
Choi who got red carded against Honduras had scored a winner against Ecuador and returned to qualify the Red Devils for the quarterfinal and tonight he shone like the Northern Star to take The Devils into their 3rd semis in the tournament, the first in 1983 and the second at Poland 2019.
Nigerian players fought like they were in a war but the problem of poor marksmanship they had throughout plagued the African nation.
African Champions, Senegal was ousted at the group stage only for Tunisia and debutant Gambia to be edged out and now the most decorated African U20 team, The Flying Eagles of Nigeria.
The Red Devils of South Korea will now march majestically to face the Junior Azzurris of Italy at La Plata on Thursday at 2200 hours.
The real match was very pulsating with the Koreans moving with the speed of lightning but it was like the defence of Nigeria had control of the Morse code to decode the moves of the fleet footed Korean attackers. Morse code designed by Samuel Morse, one of the inventors of the code is a method used in telecommunication to encode text characters.
I cannot immediately verify whether Nigeria went for computerized football as 55 year old Nigerian Coach, Ladan Bosso held a tablet in his hands most time in the game while his counterpart, Eun-jung Him whose son, Joon-Hong Kim is the goal keeper kept shouting from the touch line. Incidentally Bosso led the U20 to Canada 2007 played 0-0 with Chile but after Extra Time he lost Chile 0-4 but this time around he and his players played better but lost.
The Referee, Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez from Spain is a 39 year old Economist who got listed as a FIFA Ref in 2017. He was VAR official at 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Nigeria missed the services of Haliru Sarki who scored the second goal with a flying header against Argentina as he was not found fit during a test yesterday after the knock he received against Argentina.
South Korea was beaten by France 2-1; played 2-2 with Honduras and goalless with Gambia. South Korea spanked China 3-0 and lost to Uzbekistan 0-1 all at the group games. At the round of 16, Korea beat Ecuador 3-2. That means Korea played 4 games in this tournament, won 2, and drew 2 scoring 7 goals and conceding 5 having +2 goals difference.
Nigeria beat Dominic Republic 2-1; shocked Italy 2-0 and bowed to the jinx of Brazil 0-2. Nigeria humbled hosts Argentina 2-0 in the round of 16. Nigeria played 4 games, won 3 and lost 1 scoring 6 goals and conceding 3 having +3 goals difference.
There are four times both teams met. On 15th June 2005 at Netherlands, Nigeria slumped 1-2 to Korea in the second match of their group games. Abwo scored the only goal for Nigeria in the 18th minute while Park ChunYong scored the equalizer in the 89th minute and Baek Ji-hoon scored the winner in 90+2 minutes but Nigeria went to play in the final losing to Argentina with Messi scoring two goals.
There was this friendly of 5th June 2011 that Nigeria won 1-0. In 2013 at the Turkey world cup, Kayode Olanrewaju scored the only goal that made the difference in the 9th minute of a 3rd Group B match played on 27th June 2013. Again in a group E encounter played 4th June 2015 Nigeria walloped Korea 4-0. Saviour scored a brace 48th and 51st minutes; Sokari scored 71st minute and Success put the icing on the cake with 80th minute goal.
The Red Devils of South Korea are in their 15th appearance with their best performance at the Poland games in 2019 when Ukraine defeated the Asian champions 3-1 in the final after the Red Devils had won a slim 1-0 victory over Ecuador in the semifinals. South Korea placed 4th in 1983 at Mexico losing the Bronze to Poland 1-2 AET after losing in the semifinals to Brazil 1-2. There were three appearances in the quarterfinal in 1991; 2009 and 2013.
Nigeria in their 13th Appearance has a long story being Runners-up at the World level twice in 1989 when Nigeria beat USA 2-1 in the Semis with Head Master, Mutiu Adepoju scoring the two goals in the 47th and 93rd minutes and Snow scored for America via penalty in the 52nd minute. Nigeria lost 0-2 to Portugal in the final. The second time Nigeria emerged Runners-up was in 2005 when the Flying Eagles trashed Morocco 3-0 in the semis. The finals were more memorable with Nigeria bowing to Argentina as football wizard, Leo Messi messed Nigeria up scoring two penalties 40th and 75th minute while Ogbuke scored for Nigeria in the 53rd minute. Messi, Mikel Obi and Taye Taiwo dominated the awards at the tournament.
South Korea will meet Italy in the semifinals on Thursday 8th June at La Plata at 2200 hours. The Yankees of USA are meeting Uruguay at 2200 hours to decide who goes into the semifinal to meet Israel on Thursday at 1830 hours at La Plata.
Eniola Olatunji reporting for Patmos Media Line.
The Author, Eniola Olatunji (Formerly Yomi Kassim) has been in the media for some 46 years with vast experience in Radio Sports Commentaries and Newspaper reporting. He worked as Presenter/Producer on many radio stations and Reporter/Editor in some Newspapers,