Japan and South Korea 2002

For the first time in the history of the World Cup, the tournament was hosted in Asia as the finals were awarded to Japan and South Korea.  It was also the first time that two host nations were selected to stage the tournament.  Due to the precedent being set that there could be two host nation qualifiers in the future, the 2002 World Cup would be the last finals in which the holders from the previous tournament would qualify automatically.  This last honour went to France as the winners of France ’98.

The 2002 finals would see two nations qualify for the first time, Senegal and Ecuador and it was the African nation that would create the biggest upset of the tournament.  Their one nil victory over holders France in the opening game, mimicked that of Cameroon in 1990, when the Indomitable Lions defeated reigning champions Argentina. 

However, the biggest drama of the finals took place before a ball had even been kicked.  Unhappy at the training facilities that had been arranged by the Irish Football Association, Manchester United star and Ireland captain, Roy Keane confronted national coach Mick McCarthy.  With neither man wanting to back down and lose face, the situation escalated and resulted in Keane being sent home in disgrace and forever losing the opportunity to play for his country at the very highest level.

The 2002 Brazil World Cup squad, despite being full of hugely talented players, was widely unfancied to perform well at the tournament.  But four years after their final capitulation to France, the boys from Brazil wanted to reclaim their title as the world’s premier footballing nation and in Ronaldo, they had a player seeking redemption after his meltdown before the final match of four years ago.  As well as “El Phenomenon”, coach Luis Felipe “Big Phil” Scolari could call upon the services of another former World Player of the Year Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho as the stand out players in a talented squad.

Brazil began their campaign in group C with an opening match against Turkey.  Surprisingly, it was the side from the Bosphorus that took the lead with Hasan Sas scoring a goal two minutes into first half injury time.  In the second half, the Brazilians responded well and Ronaldo leveled the scores with just five minutes gone in the second half.  It appeared that the game was heading for a draw when Brazil was awarded a penalty and Rivaldo converted it with just three minutes remaining to give Brazil an opening win.  The fact that Rivaldo was still on the field will have irked the European side as he was guilty of one of the worst pieces of play acting ever seen on the football field.  Whilst standing ready to take a Brazil throw in, a Turkish player passed the ball to Rivaldo which struck him on the knee.  The Brazilian then collapsed to the floor clutching his face in agony which resulted in a red card for the unfortunate Turk.  After the match television replays showed the world what actually transpired and it lead to widespread criticism of the Brazil forward.  FIFA acted by giving him a pathetic fine.  The second match, against the People’s Republic of China, was a much more straight forward affair.  The four R’s, Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho (penalty) and Ronaldo all got on the score sheet to give Brazil a victory by four goals to nil.  With qualification already assured it was party time for Brazil in their final game against Costa Rica.  Ronaldo scored twice in the opening fifteen minutes, taking his total to four, to give Brazil a two goal lead which was extended by Edmilson in the thirty eighth minute.  A Paulo Wanchope goal, less than sixty seconds later gave the Costa Rican’s hope of the draw they required to take them through to the second round.  A second goal by Gomez, eleven minutes into the second half, further reduced the gap, but Brazil were in no mood to be charitable and two goals in three minutes from Rivaldo, his third of the finals, and Junior took the game away from Costa Rica and allowed the Turks to overtake them for the second qualifying spot.

In the other groups, defending champions France were eliminated from group A without scoring a goal and only securing a solitary point.  Missing the injured Zidane for the first two matches, they were further hampered by the sending off of star striker Thierry Henry in their second match against Uruguay.  It was Denmark that ultimately topped the group with two victories and a draw, with former Newcastle United flop Jon Dahl Tomasson scoring four of his side’s five goals.  They were joined in the second round by Senegal who followed up their victory over France with two draws.  In group B, favourites Spain cruised through with three victories to match that of Brazil in group C.  They were joined in the second round by Paraguay who finished above South Africa as a result of having scored more goals.

Group D contained further shock results.  In the opening games, South Korea overcame Poland by two goals to nil and this was followed up by the USA defeating one of the pre tournament favourites, Portugal.  At one stage the United States lead by three goals to nil and were 3 – 1 ahead at half time.  A second half own goal gave Portugal a lifeline, but they were unable to grasp it.  In the second round of matches, Korea and the US drew and Portugal redeemed themselves with a four nil thrashing of Poland.  However, they came a cropper of a turbo charged, super fit Korean side backed by fanatical home support to be eliminated and despite losing to Poland the USA progressed as runners up to Korea.  In group E Germany thrashed Saudi Arabia eight goals to nil and topped the group thanks to a further win and a draw.  Despite the loss of their talisman and star player Keane, the Republic of Ireland drew strength from adversity and came from behind to draw their first two matches, including a 92nd minute Robbie Keane equalizer against Germany which had coach McCarthy dancing on the touchline.  A routine 3-0 defeat of the Saudi’s sent them through as runners up.

Group F was dubbed “The group of death” as it contained Argentina, England, Sweden and Nigeria.  Argentina was regarded as the second favourites for the finals and came into the tournament highly confident. Things weren’t as rosy in the England camp.  Under the leadership of Sven Goran Eriksson there were fitness doubts over key players David Beckham, Paul Scholes Michael Owen.  Yet another shock occurred as Argentina was eliminated largely thanks to a David Beckham penalty in the second match.  Seeking redemption after his red card against the Argentines in France, the England captain slammed home a penalty on the stroke of half time.  A further draw with Sweden was enough to eliminate the South Americans.  The Scandinavian nation topped the group with England qualifying in second place.  In Groups G and H, Mexico, Italty, Japan and Belgium qualified respectively, with three time champions Italy advancing thanks to a late goal from Alessandro Del Piero.

In the second round Brazil was drawn to face Belgium.  In past World Cup’s the European’s had been a good footballing side, but those days were a long way behind them.  Despite the difference in ability of the two sides, it took the Brazilians three quarters of the match to find the opening goal with Rivaldo netting his fourth of the finals to give Brazil the lead.  The match was made secure with three minutes remaining, when Ronaldo, not wishing to be outdone by his team mate, scored his fifth to give Brazil a victory by two goals to nil.

In other matches, Germany defeated Paraguay thanks to a late goal from Oliver Neuville, England breezed past Denmark 3-0, African nation Senegal continued their dream debut by eliminating Sweden by two goals to one thanks to a golden goal from Henri Camara, The United States continued their good run of form by eliminating qualification rivals Mexico and host nation Japan saw their tournament end at the hands of Turkey.  The real excitement of the second round came from the matches between Spain and Ireland and Italy and co-hosts Korea.  In the first match, big favourites Spain took an eighth minute lead with a goal from Fernando Morientes.  Despite good pressure from the Irish, this lead lasted until the 90th minute when Fernando Hierro was penalized for preventing Niall Quinn attacking the ball in the penalty area and Ireland was awarded a penalty.  Robbie Keane held his nerve and converted to send the match into extra time and his manager into raptures once again.  After a tense period of extra time, the match was decided by penalties and the Spanish held their nerve and ran out 3-2 winners.  In the second match, controversy reigned as the co-hosts eliminated thrice winners Italy.  After the match the Italians pointed out a number of errors committed by the match referee Byron Moreno.  The Korean side was awarded a dubious penalty, which they contrived to miss, a Korean player managed to escape elbowing an Italian without even a booking and yet Italian Francesco Totti was booked for diving, despite it being a foul, and was sent from the field as a result of picking up his second yellow card.  The Italian’s then had a “golden” goal disallowed in extra time, for reasons that no one seemed sure about.  Despite the Italian’s crying foul, it was their own mistakes that cost them a place in the quarter finals.  The Italian’s took the lead in the 18th minute and held onto it until uncharacteristic poor defending allowed the Koreans to level.  Hurt by their sloppiness, the Italian’s charged down to the Korean end and Christian Vieri, who had so far scored four goals for the Azzurri, missed a chance that must still haunt him to this day.  The match went into extra time and Ahn Jung-Hwan, who played for Italian side Perugia, netted a golden goal to send the Italians home.  Jung-Hwan’s chairman came out and publicly stated that the Korean would never play for Perugia again, before changing his mind the next day.

Brazil’s quarter final would see them line up against England.  The game was played at 15:30 local time which was an advantage to the South American’s but it was England that took the lead first.  A defensive mistake allowed Michael Owen to capitalize and he stole in to give England a precious lead.  After the previous match over Denmark, the England fans had begun to believe and once again were doing the conga in the aisles as they felt it might be their time.  This was not to be.  On the stroke of half time, David Beckham, still worried about his previously broken foot, jumped out of a tackle that gave Brazil possession on halfway.  Ronaldinho surged deep into the England half, drew a couple of defenders and played in Rivaldo who finished past ‘keeper David Seaman.  The goal just before the break broke English spirits.  In the second half, Ronaldinho netted Brazil’s second and decisive goal.  In what will be debated for years to come, the cheeky Brazilian lobbed the ball over Seaman’s head from about forty yards.  Whether he did it on purpose remains to be seen.  This further demoralized the English and despite the sending off of Ronaldinho, they were unable to rouse themselves into finding an equalizer and Brazil marched further on.

In other matches, Germany defeated the USA, thanks to a single goal from Michael Ballack.  The USA could feel aggrieved as they were denied a blatant penalty in the last minute of the match.  Turkey kept their dream alive as well as ending the fairy tale debut of Senegal after a “golden” goal from Mansiz, four minutes into extra time.  In the last quarter final, more controversy surrounded Korea as Spain had two perfectly fair goals ruled out.  Both sides could find a winning goal in regulation or extra time and it was the hosts that held their nerve to triumph in the shoot out by five penalties to three and became the first Asian nation to reach the semifinals. 

In the semifinals, Brazil was paired with group opponents Turkey, whilst the hosts faced thrice winners Germany for the right to contest the final.  In their semifinal against the Turks, the match was even tighter than the group clash.  The European side had grown in confidence the further they progressed through the tournament and held Brazil until half time.  Four minutes into the second half, a brilliant piece of improvisation from Ronaldo gave the four times winners the lead.  Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to beat Turkey ‘keeper Rustu with a conventional finish he toe poked the ball which gave him the element of surprise and Brazil the opening goal.  The Brazil star’s sixth goal of the finals was enough to win the match and send the South American’s through to their seventh final.  In the other match, over one million home fans crowded the main square in Seoul to watch their heroes fight for a place in the final.  Unfortunately for the South Korean’s they came up against a Michael Ballack inspired Germany.  Having received a yellow card early in the second half that would rule him out the final, instead of retreating into his shell like Paul Gascoigne did in 1990, he ensured his team mates would have the chance to emulate the Germany teams of old.  With fifteen minutes remaining, he scored the only goal of the game that would end the fairytale run of the South Korean’s and send the German’s through.

In the third place match, the hosts faced Turkey.  Aging talisman Hakan Sukur set World Cup history by scoring the fastest goal in the history of the finals to put the European side ahead after only eleven seconds.  Korea responded well and was level only eight minutes later when Lee Eul-Yong found an equalizer.  The scores remained level for a matter of minutes and Ilhan Mansiz put Turkey back in front with only twelve minutes gone in the match.  Mansiz’s second goal put the Turk’s further in front and this lead would prove decisive and despite a late consolation goal by Song Chong-Gug, it was the European side that would finish third.

In the final two of the three most successful sides in the history of the finals, Brazil and Germany, met at the International Stadium Yokohama to contest the seventeenth World Cup final.  Despite holding seven World Cup titles the two sides had never met in a final match before.  This match would banish Ronaldo’s memories of the final of four years ago as he put in a man of the match performance.  Despite the scores being tied at half time, the German’s were hanging on and not really creating chances.  Before the match Oliver Kahn had been awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and his safe hands had kept his side in it as long as possible.  After half time, it was a mistake by Kahn that gifted Brazil the opening goal.  Unable to hold onto a shot by Rivaldo, the loose ball bounced back into the path of Ronaldo who slotted home to give Brazil a precious lead.  The goal was harsh on Kahn who had played so well throughout the finals but the match was wrapped up again by Ronaldo who received a pass from Rivaldo and side footed home from the edge of the area to put Brazil in an unassailable position.  The German’s were unable to strike back and Brazil were crowned World Champion’s for a record fifth time.  Brazilian right back Cafu became the first player to play in three consecutive finals and Ronaldo, who scored eight times, was the first player to win the golden boot with more than six goals for twenty eight years.

Statistics:
Matches: 64
Goals: 161 (average 2.52 per match)
Attendance: 2 705 197 (average 42 269)
Golden Boot Winner: Ronaldo (Brazil) 8
Golden Ball Winner: Oliver Kahn (Germany)
Fair Play Award: Belgium

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