2010 FIFA World Cup: Next Stop, Knockout Time

So I’ve been uber-hyped over the last of the team games.  Why? If anyone is keeping tabs on my recent posts, it’s because I’ve been jiving to some Asian love.  My wholehearted support goes out to South Korea and Japan for this year’s FIFA World Cup soccer championships.  Here’s a recap of an eventful week, with both South Korea and Japan moving on to the next Round of 16, the Knockout Round.

Die hard RED Fans like me... Difference only they're Korean, I'm not =)

Taeguk Warriors lookin' proud and sexy on the green fields

This past Tuesday, June 22 was the South Korea vs. Nigeria game at Durban, South Africa.  I was on Tumblr, tumbling away with up-t0-date posts whenever Korea scored a goal, until I had to go to work.  Anyway, it was a thrilling match where the Koreans played incredible offense and the Nigerians put in a great effort up to the end.  So by half-time, South Korea tied it up to 1-1 with Nigeria.  I was practically holding my breath for the entire first half, when Nigeria was up 1 goal, and pumping my fists every time Korea scurried near their goal. Then, minutes into the second half, Park Chu-Young succeeded on a free kick, bringing up the volume to 2-1.

Big Oomph... Ouchies

Playing rough with the goalie...

SK getting near the goal!

And right past the goalie's grips

GOAL!!!

Racing through the wind to tell his team... 1 step closer to victory

The morale thermometer just spilled over

Looking like sour grapes already

Here’s a snippet of my ridiculous Tumblr posts…

YES Korea scores!!! (6.22.10)

What a wonderful first half!  Korea scores 1 goal, now tied 1-1 with Nigeria… KEEP UP THE SPIRIT and you will have Victory in your hands

WHOA… I’m bouncing to this game now (6.22.10)
Well, here are my minute-to-minute posts as I watch this exciting South Korea vs. Nigeria game… CHU YOUNG!!! scored a goal on a free kick.  Boy did the ball zip past the goalkeeper and right across the edge of the post!…

OMG, 2-1 SOUTH KOREA… this is rocking… I love how ESPN keeps replaying that glorious moment in slow motion~

AND… VICTORY KOREA!!! (6.23.10)
So I had to miss the last half hour of the South Korea vs. Nigeria game because I had work 4:30 pm.  I was bummed for a little bit, but Korea has WON!!!

I finished watching what I recorded, and it was a tie 2-2.  Now, Argentina beat Greece, so they automatically advanced.  But Korea pulled through, with a tie and advancement to the Round of 16. Very exciting moment.

** FIRST ADVANCEMENT TO ROUND OF 16 ON FOREIGN SOIL FOR SOUTH KOREA… Now their next game is against Uruguay, so we’ll see how this plays out.

Oh, just so I have a little bit of American pride, US has advanced along with Great Britain, just barely.  Lucky geese.  ~woot~

"I'm the King of the World!"

Bummed out

The Lone Ranger... Nigerians are out, 3rd African nation out before 2nd Round

With the final 2-2 draw, the Asians make it to the next round, along with the top winner Argentina. Now, Saturday’s game will pit South Korea against scary Uruguay.  MAJOR MATCH to look out for!  But, South Korea is strong, so Uruguay will not beat down their unity and confidence.  According to FIFA.com, the upcoming match should be interesting because Uruguay looks formidable based on previous encounters, all of which South Korea has lost.  Tomorrow’s game will be a rocky battle for the South Koreans.  While SK has appeared weaker on the defense against Argentina and Nigeria and suffered the worst defeat in 12 years (4-1 against Argentina rings a depressing bell), the team has already proven themselves well on the world stage, as they have reached the 2nd round for the first time on foreign soil.  Last time, for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea/Japan, the South Koreans made as far as the semi-finals.  Let’s cross our fingers and arms in support for another Korean victory!

Go REDS, FIGHTING~ Let’s cheer for their defense play

Viva Japan!!

Team Japan

And lastly, just yesterday, Thursday, June 24, was the Japan vs. Denmark game.  With a 3-1 win over Denmark, Japan moves on as the runner up behind Netherlands to the 2nd Round.  There were 2 beautiful free kick goals by Honda and Endo by half-time and a fine finish by Okazaki in the second half.  Kudos to goalie Kawashima, who defended his post bravely.  Then, Tomasson was blocked on a penalty kick, but scored on a quick rebound.  That was unfortunate, but by then, pressure was still on the Danish to clear away 3 more goals to seal a victory, which looked unlikely by the final whistle.  Like SK, Japan has also made the Round of 16 for the first time on foreign soil.  And the Blue Samurai emerged strong, with 3 goals in one match, the first time hitting a high in a FIFA World Cup game.

Now, Japan faces Paraguay next Tuesday, June 29.  This should be an interesting one, since neither team has ever entered the quarter-finals.

The Lone Italian

It’s been a strange year in South Africa indeed.  The North Korea, ranked 105, was game enough to qualify for a spot this year since 1966.  #1 Brazil took a good while to score against North Korea.  Spain, ranked #2 after Brazil, lost to Switzerland.  Most surprisingly, for the first time in soccer history, 2006 winner Italy and runner-up France both were ousted this week before the Round of 16, both ranked in the top 10.  The favorites faced a shocking defeat.  France encountered their own internal problems and mishaps, weakening group dynamics and losing perspective in play.  Now on Thursday, Italy bowed out early to noobies Slovakia, catching an early plane goodbye.  Thus far, South Korea and Japan are on the roll, both ranked in the 40s, beating out higher ranked teams.  Let the Asian Domination continue to rumble…

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