Group B's early pacesetters meet at Ellis Park knowing that a second victory could potentially seal their progress to the last 16. Argentina and Korea Republic won their respective opening games against Nigeria and Greece although both have different goals for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, with the South Americans' sights fixed firmly on a third title and the South Koreans chasing qualification for the knockout rounds for the first time beyond their own shores.
The matchArgentina-Korea Republic, Group B, Johannesburg (Ellis Park), Thursday 17 June, 13.30 (local time)
The two coaches are no strangers to each other having featured in their teams' meeting at Mexico 1986, where La Albiceleste ran out 3-1 winners. South Korean coach Hun Jung-Moo had the unenviable job of man-marking Diego Maradona that day – a thankless task for anybody in a tournament where today's Argentina coach inspired his country to their second FIFA World Cup triumph.
Twenty-four years on, they cross swords again with Huh hoping for a different outcome as he bids to become the first homegrown coach to lead Korea Republic into the last 16. Argentina are 41 places higher in the FIFA/Coca Cola World Ranking but Korea Republic have proved in the past they are more than capable of springing surprises, a fact borne out when they beat Italy and Spain to storm into last four on home soil in 2002.
Their 2-0 victory over Greece on Saturday should ensure confidence is high in the Korea Republic camp although betterin an Argentina side including the likes of Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Juan Sebastian Veron is evidently a more awkward proposition. Although Maradona's men beat Nigeria by just a single goal, the victory margin would have been greater had it not been for Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama's brilliant Man of the Match performance.
Players to watchLionel Messi v Park Ji-Sung
After doing everything but score against Nigeria, Messi will hope for better luck in front of goal in his team's second outing at Ellis Park. If Messi is pivotal to Argentina's hopes, the same can be said of Park Ji-Sung, who underlined his talismanic status against Greece by sealing Korea Republic's victory with a wonderful solo strike of which Messi himself would have been proud.
The stat
4 –
Argentina have reached four FIFA World Cup Finals, beating the Netherlands in 1978 and West Germany in 1986 but losing out to Uruguay in 1930 and the Germans in 1990. Korea Republic finished fourth on home soil eight years ago which remains the best-ever result by an Asian team on the world stage.
What they say"Comparing ourselves with other teams, we have played some of the best football in the competition and created more chances than anybody else so far. Now we need to take the games as they come. We are still one of the favourites and that is why we are here – to win this World Cup," Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina forward.
"To be honest we are a little nervous heading into the match-up with Argentina as they have some of the world's best players. But we are not intimidated by their qualities and we have unwavering confidence in ourselves. They may boast Messi, but we can count on captain Park Ji-Sung to lead us to a good result," Kim Nam-Il, Korea Republic midfielder.
Voice of the fans"Argentina is an incredibly strong team for Korea Republic. However, the game of soccer is full of possibilities and Korea is notorious for pulling magic out of thin air. This will be a fantastic game to watch," user Jook Yuh.
The questionCan Messi open his scoring account in South Africa? Can Korea Republic build on the promise of their opening win and create a surprise against the fancied Argentines?