|Korean fans celebrate after a goal at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)|
Groans and sighs of relief were mixed among South Korean fans on Wednesday as their national team played to a 1-1 draw against Russia in their first World Cup Group H match, a better-than-expected result.
Despite the early commute hours, nearly 50,000 South Korean fans gathered in front of giant outdoor TV screens set up in the central Gwanghwamun Square and southern Yeongdong Boulevard areas, two major street cheering spots in Seoul.
The street cheering squads erupted with joy and yells when South Korean substitute Lee Keun-ho scored the match’s first goal in the 68th minute after a scoreless first half.
The festive mood gave way to groans when Russian player Aleksandr Kerzhakov leveled the score only six minutes after.
Without further goals, the game ended in a tie, letting South Korea and Russia both stand second in the Group H standings in football’s quadrennial showcase.
South Korea will next face Algeria in Porto Alegre on Sunday, while Russia will take on Belgium on the same day in Maracana.
South Korean fans tried to put up with a sense of frustration, saying the 1-1 draw against Russia is a result better than expected.
“I had imagined a scoreless tie, but both teams played really hard,” Kim Dae-whan, a 62-year-old small business owner who joined the street cheering, said. “It’s not a disappointing result and I believe we will win the next game without fail.”
“It seems our team put up a good defense. I hardly expected any goal would be scored,” Lee Bo-ram, a college student who took to the street with her younger sister, said.
“This game even more increased expectations for the next game,” she said, hurrying to go to school after the game.
A score of star entertainers and cultural figures joined the cheering squads on social network services, sending out messages of support and encouragement.
Lead vocalist Minah of the four-member Girls Day said in her posting after the game that “Korean players have done their best. They were fabulous. I will cheer for you more and more.” (Yonhap)