Last 16 would be sweet for Park
South Korea v Greece: Today, 12.30pm, ITV1
Saturday 12 June 2010
The South Korea captain, Park Ji-sung, is determined he will not be heading back to Manchester from South Africa after the group stage.
Only once in their World Cup history have the South Koreans made it to the last 16, and that was when they co-hosted the tournament with neighbours Japan back in 2002.
Park, the Manchester United player, will lead his country into their opening Group B battle with Greece at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth today knowing an improvement on that record will be a big ask with Argentina and Nigeria in their group. However, that is exactly the midfielder's aim as he and his team-mates attempt to rekindle memories of eight years ago. "We hope it will be the first round of 16 we will have reached away from Korea," he said. "My objective for this World Cup is that round of 16. I am not thinking of anything else but that."
In the short term, however, Park's focus will be purely on the task of getting the campaign off to a winning start, and he is not allowing anything to interfere with his own personal preparation. "I don't think about the past. We have to look forward and what is most important for the team is to find a way to win against Greece," he said.
Like United's Park, Park Chu-young of Monaco, Celtic's Ki Sung-yueng, Bolton midfielder Lee Chung-yong and striker Lee Dong-gook, who had a spell at Middlesbrough earlier in his career, have experience of European football, and that could be vital against Otto Rehhagel's men.
Greeks depleted at the back
Greece's chances won't be helped by news that centre-back Vangelis Moras will miss the match despite having recovered from a groin injury. Moras had been receiving daily physiotherapy to try to overcome the injury. Tests on Wednesday showed he was fully recovered, but he said it was too early for a World Cup match. "I don't want to risk it," he said. "I want to be fit for Nigeria."
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