Ahn saves South Korean blushes versus Togo
FRANKFURT, June 13 (Reuters) South Korea were given an almighty scare by Togo today before a second-half revival earned them a 2-1 victory to launch their World Cup campaign.
Substitute Ahn Jung-hwan rifled home the winner in the 72nd minute after debutants Togo had been reduced to 10 men in their Group G clash at the Waldstadion.
Togo's preparations for their first World Cup had bordered on a soap opera, with globetrotting coach Otto Pfister quitting on Friday over a squad pay row before making a U-turn yesterday.
Confusion still reigned about who was coaching the African side in the hours leading up to kickoff and the sense of farce continued inside the stadium when the Korean anthem was played twice before Togo's was heard before the start.
Togo's colourful contingent of fans might have feared the worst but instead their team went for the Koreans in lively fashion.
Mohamed Kader Coubadja shot over from a narrow angle after 11 minutes and the French-based forward caused panic in the Korean defence every time he got the ball.
DEADLOCK BROKEN It was no surprise when he broke the deadlock after 31 minutes.
Taking a pass neatly on his thigh, he sped into the right side of the penalty area, steadied himself, then fired a low shot into the corner of the net.
Togo almost went further in front four minutes before halftime when Yao Senaya's curling free kick was tipped over the bar by Lee Woon-jae.
Korea coach Dick Advocaat sent on forward Ahn at the start of the second half, although it was Togo who continued to impress as Coubadja forced another fine save from Lee.
Ahn sliced a shot wildly over the bar after 50 minutes as the Koreans finally began to gather some momentum.
The match swung in South Korea's favour within the space of two minutes, though.
In the 53rd minute Togo skipper Jean-Paul Yaovi Abalo Dosseh was shown a red card for bringing down Park Ji-sung on the edge of the area and from the resulting free kick Lee Chun-soo curled a delightful free kick past Kossi Agassa.
The goal sparked a wave of Korean pressure, with Park at last displaying the dazzling runs that made him so popular at Manchester United last season.
Togo gallantly went for the win despite being a man down, but they were sunk when Ahn picked up a loose ball and advanced to fire an unstoppable shot past Agassa.
Togo's defeat means all four African debutants at the World Cup have lost their opening matches.
REUTERS PDS ND2130