World Cup Retrospect – Japan and South Korea 2002

As the 2010 World Cup approaches, A Different League looks back at all the action, drama and exhilarating matches from past World Cup tournaments. The 2002 World Cup was packed with drama, excitement and sheer entertainment.

The first World Cup of the new millennium dawned in the east as the first version of the tournament to be held in Asia with Korea and Japan hosting. The Asians had caught World Cup (and David Beckham) fever, embracing the feel and enjoyment of the competition. Shock results were spread all across the group stages.

The tournament kicked off with Group A as defending champions France were beaten 1-0 by Senegal in the Seoul – Papa Bouba Diop scoring the only goal with a memorable celebration, rallying his team to dance ceremoniously around his jersey. The high hopes of the French were rested on hero of 1998 Zinedine Zidane, who had just completed a personal quadruple including the Champions League. Zidane missed out on the first two games but returned for the third. However, Les Bleus were not firing on all cylinders and were eliminated in the group stages failing to net a single goal. The shocking elimination was followed by further surprises as the Danish and newcomers Senegal qualified at the expense of France and two-time champions Uruguay.

The disbelief continued as Argentina fell at the first hurdle in Group F after losing to a vengeful England and drawing to Sweden in the Miyagi Stadium. The Three Lions had drawn their first match against Sweden but went into their encounter against the South Americans with an air of unfinished business after the Beckham-Diego Simeone incident in 1998. The captain’s penalty swept away memories of his turbulent time in France and gave England a chance to qualify ahead of Argentina. The USA played their part in a five goal thriller against Portugal in Group D, going 3-0 up in 30 minutes. They progressed to the knockout stages with South Korea. The Koreans had been something of a surprise package, and being one of the host nations surely boosted confidence and expectations, but the management of Guus Hiddink gave considerable flair and attacking prowess. In the process they played out a highly controversial match against Italy to reach the quarter-finals. Ahn Jung-Hwan, who at the time played for Italian side Perugia, netted the winner in extra-time to send the Italians home. The next day Ahn’s club contract was terminated by Perugia owner Luciano Gaucci. The Koreans progressed and became the first Asian team to reach the semi-finals, beating Spain on penalties.

Turkey were another surprise package, seeded in Group C with the mighty Brazil. Hasan Sas put Turkey ahead before Ronaldo equalising through an outstanding goal, leaping with both feet to slam home Brazil’s first goal of the tournament emphatically – leaving commentators to proclaim “Brazil are back…and so is Ronaldo!” The match was not to finish without a talking point as Rivaldo’s theatrics caused uproar when he fell to ground holding his face as the ball struck his thigh, resulting in a £4,500 fine by FIFA. The Turks had put up a mighty fight but the match ended with the man-of-the-moment Rivaldo taking a penalty that sealed a 2-1 win. Turkey advanced from the group stages along with the Brazilians, where they beat Japan in the last-16, Senegal in the quarter-finals and met Brazil once again in the semi-final, which the Sele

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