The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Korea win, but still have work to do
- Match vs Togo
- l Ahn Jung-hwan should have been in the starting XI
Talking Tactics

PK Banerjee

It was third time lucky for an Asian team in Germany, but it wasnít the most convincing of wins for South Korea. In fact, it was only after the Togolese lost a man ' Abalo was sent off on his second booking ' in the 53rd minute that the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists came into their own.

Down by a Mohamed Kader goal after half an hour, the Asian Ďred devilsí struggled to get any rhythm against the robust African debutants.

Their fluent game ' passing, combination play and shooting ' with which they won millions of hearts four years ago, was conspicuous by its absence.

South Koreaís Ahn Jung-hwan (left) celebrates his goal against Togo with teammate Lee Ho in Frankfurt on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Of course, Togoís physical game didnít help the Korean cause. The man Togo relied on the most ' Arsenalís talented medio Emmanuel Adebayor ' was off colour. So skill was at a premium in the Togolese show. They didnít show much footballing intelligence either, often inviting trouble by committing unnecessary fouls.

Still, Togo managed to ward off Korea for the entire opening session which produced the most lacklustre soccer of the meet so far. Advocaatís team couldnít create a single opening, neither did anyone attempt a meaningful shot at goal.

What baffled me was the Dutch coachís decision not to start with Ahn Jung-hwan.

Here is a striker who played a stellar role in Koreaís dream run in 2002. Who will forget his header which knocked out Italy' He may have been sparingly used by Hiddink then, but now he is a matured and established goal-getter.

Advocaat introduced him after the change of ends and Ahn showed why he should have been in the starting XI. His right-footer to the top corner of the second post was a classy effort. It turned out to be the winning strike.

All three goals, in fact, were superbly executed and prevented the game from being dumped into the dustbin as a forgettable affair.

The way Kader trapped the ball with his knee and coolly placed it past the Korean íkeeper was Togoís best piece of football in the entire 90 minutes.

Koreaís equaliser, a curling Lee Chun-soo free-kick which made a mockery of the Togolese human wall, was a beauty as well.

The good thing about Korea was that they learnt from the mistakes Iran and Japan made in the last couple of days.

They didnít take victory for granted, even against a 10-man team, and played safe, sound football in the final 10 minutes or so to protect their 2-1 advantage.

Progress to the knockout stage is, however, anything but assured, what with two tough matches coming up ' against France and Switzerland.

Advocaat will have to pick the right men and inspire his wards, a la Hiddink, if Korea are to come close to matching their 2002 deeds. Iím praying for an encore, but keeping my fingers crossed all the same.

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