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Korea Republic (South Korea) and Japan were selected by FIFA as hosts for the 1st World Cup of the 21st Century. It was the first time ever that 2 countries jointly hosted a FIFA World Cup as well as the first time that the World Cup was held in Asia.

However due to the historical rivalry between these two nations which led to many problems in organisation FIFA has changed it’s policy to not accept any joint bids for hosting the World Cup in the future. Problems that arose from the co-hosting between Korea and Japan included which country’s name should appear first in the naming of the World Cup ie Japan-Korea or Korea-Japan, where the opening ceremony and finals should be held. The fact that the names of the mascots were too Japanese was another problem that arose. However after all these squabbles the World Cup went off quite well.

In qualification, defending champions France, did not have to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, but this would be the last time that the defending champions were granted automatic qualification for the next World Cup. Australia, who did not qualify for the World Cup, produced the biggest ever World Cup winning margin by crushing American Samoa 31-0 and Australia’s Archie Thompson in the same match also broke the record for most goals scored by 1 person in a match. Thompson scored 13 goals. Ronaldo scored a hatrick of penalties against Argentina in the qualifiers and so did Switzerland’s Turkyilmaz against Faroe Islands. The biggest surprise was that The Netherlands failed to qualify for the World Cup.

The official mascots of the 2002 Korea & Japan FIFA World Cup were the Spheriks, Ato (Orange), Kaz (Purple) and Nik (Blue). These computer generated figures collectively represent a fictional football sport called “Atomball”. Ato was the coach while Kaz & Nik were the players.

The Official World Cup ball for the 2002 World Cup was the Adidas Fevernova. It had thicker inner layers to increase accuracy during flight.

As co-hosts two of the seeded spots available went to Korea & Japan. The others went to Defending Champions France, South America Giants Brazil & Argentina as well as former 3 time World Cup Winners Germany & Italy. Spain was the other seeded nation.

Group A featured defending champions France. In the opening game between the French and African first time World Cup participants Senegal, Senegal stunned the French and won the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Bouba Diop.

Denmark in the other game won their opener 2-1 against Uruguay. The 2nd round of games finished all square with the French and Uruguay playing to a goalless draw, however Thierry Henry, France’s star striker was sent off and would miss the final game, and Denmark and Senegal playing to a 1-1 draw. In the final round of games Senegal and Uruguay drew 3-3 with Senegal leading 3-0 at half time thanks to Bouba Diop scoring twice before the South Americans mad a spirited come back to level the match at 3-3. However Uruguay needed to win the game and were eliminated. France needed to beat the Danes 2-0 to ensure qualification but lost the game 2-0 instead and were eliminated in the 1st Round while Denmark qualified top of the Group. The performance by France as defending champions was the worst ever by defending champions at the FIFA World Cup. Brazil in 1966 were the only other defending champions to be eliminated in the 1st round but they managed to win 1 game. The French came into the tournament as one of the favourites with the likes of Zidane, Vieira, Desailly, Thuram, Lizarazu, Barthez, Petit & Henry in their team, all of whom were instrumental in their success in 1998. Trezeguet & Henry were both top scorers in the Serie A and FA Premiership respectively, yet France were eliminated without even scoring a goal. It seems the injury that kept Zidane out for the first 2 games and only appearing as a sub in the final match against Denmark was a huge blow to the French. The poor performance by the French led to FIFA implementing a new rule in qualification which was that Defending Champions now h
ad to qualify for the next World Cup and were not given an automatic spot.

Spain dominated Group B by winning all 3 of their games, 3-1 against Slovenia, 3-1 against Paraguay and 3-2 against South Africa. The Spanish were undoubtedly looking good as one of the favourites to go all the way. South Africa and Paraguay played to a 2-2 draw in their first game thanks to a late Quinton Fortune equaliser from the penalty spot. South Africa took that momentum into the 2nd game where they beat Slovenia 1-0 while Paraguay were beaten 3-1 by Spain. In the final round of games South Africa twice equalised against the Spaniards before Raul scored a 56th minute winner. Paraguay came from a goal down against Slovenia to win 3-1 and qualify ahead of South Africa on goals scored.

After our first performance in 1998 at the FIFA World Cup South Africa was expecting to do better here in 2002 and qualify for the knockout rounds. Under Coach and SA Football Legend Jomo Sono we drew our first game with Paraguay 2-2 twice coming from behind, first through Aaron Mokoena and a late penalty equaliser from Quinton Fortune.In our 2nd game we beat Slovenia 1-0 thanks to an early Siyabonga Noimvete goal. With the likes of our 1998 World Cup players Pierre Isa, Quinton Fortune, Benni Mccarthy & Captain Lucas Radebe as well as new talents Sibusiso Zuma, Siyabonga Nomvete & Macbeth Sibaya we were looking good going in to the final round of games. We had 4 points and a positive goal difference while Paraguay had 1 point and a negative goal difference. Although we were playing Spain the fact that they had already qualified worked in our favour.

In our encounter with Spain we came back twice to equalise before Raul scored Spain’s 3rd goal just before the hour mark. At this time Paraguay were losing 1-0 to Slovenia as well as being down to 10 men, and it looked as though we were going to qualify for the next round. Paraguay however came back against Slovenia to take a 2-1 lead. As the games were being played at the same time, with just 5 minutes to go Spain led South Africa 3-2 and Paraguay led Slovenia 2-1 which meant that South Africa would qualify ahead of Paraguay on goal difference. Coach Jomo Sono went on the defensive in order not to concede further goals which would result in Paraguay qualifying but a late goal from Cuevas meant that Paraguay ousted South Africa on goals scored and qualified along with Spain for the next round.

I could not understand Jomo’s tactics of going defensive when he knew that we needed to draw the game after Paraguay had taken a 3-1 lead over Slovenia. Whether or not he knew what was required it was disappointing watching South Africa sit back and not go for an equaliser knowing that we would be eliminated if we did not score. Disappointing end to a World Cup campaign which could have seen us qualify for the next round. World Cup 2002 did however give us our first and only World Cup victory to date against Slovenia. A slight improvement was made from 1998 in that we scored more goals, achieved more points and were minutes away from qualifying for the knockout phase.

Group C featured one of the favourites Brazil. After being humbled by France in the finals back in 1998 Brazil were looking to go one better this time round. In their opening match against Turkey they won a close encounter 2-1 thanks to a late penalty winner from Rivaldo. Turkey were down to 9 men before the game finished however Alpay’s red card was questionable as it resulted from a clash between himself and Rivaldo, after which Rivaldo played up the challenge to be more than it actually was. Alpay then went on to shake the hand of the ref to show his disapproval.

Brazil went on to win the Group convincingly with a 4-0 hammering of new comers China and a 5-2 victory over Costa Rica with Ronaldo scoring twice. Ronaldo had a new hairstyle with a triangular tuft of hair on the front of his head and the rest shaven off as his son mistook him for Roberto Carlos. Turkey finished 2nd behind Brazil after they drew 1-1 with Costa Rica and beat China 3-0 to qualify ahead of the Costa Ricans on goal difference. China’s coach for the World Cup was Bora Milutinovic who was coaching his 5th different nation at the World Cup finals which is a record for a coach at the World Cup.

Group D featured co-hosts Korea who began their tournament on a positive note with a 2-0 victory over Poland. In one of the many surprises at the World Cup USA shocked Portugal by taking a 3-
0 lead. Portugal got a goal back before half time and another with 20 minutes to go but USA held on for a memorable victory. 2 own goals were scored in this game one by Costa of Portugal and the other, quite a spectacular strike by Jeff Agoos of USA.

Portugal however bounced back in superb style crushing Poland 4-0 thanks to a Pauletta hatrick while USA and Korea played to a 1-1 draw. Poland already eliminated played for their pride and beat USA 3-1 in the final game. Portugal needed a victory in their final game against Korea to ensure qualification while Korea needed a draw to ensure they qualified as the final round of games were played at the same time. In a controversial game Korea produced the first of many shocks by beating Portugal 1-0 and qualifying top of the Group and eliminating big guns Portugal in the Group Phase. Portugal were reduced to 9 men by the end of the match.


Group E’s opening games resulted in Ireland and Cameroon playing to a 1-1 draw. In the build up to the tournament Captain Roy Keane was sent home by the Irish as he had a bust up with coach Mick Mccarthy.

In the other opening game Germany were rampant against a hapless Saudi Arabia side. Miroslav Klose scored a hatrick and Germany blasted the Saudis 8-0 in the biggest World Cup Victory since 1982. The poor Saudis had no clue on how to defend against the Germans in the air which resulted in the way in which Germany scored most of their 8 goals.

Germany and Ireland then played to a 1-1 draw while Cameroon beat Saudi Arabia by a single Eto goal to nil. Ireland then beat Saudi Arabia 3-0 to qualify 2nd behind the Germans who beat Cameroon 2-0. The Africans who had lit up the World Cup in 1990 & 1994 were eliminated in the first round after a disappointing campaign. Saudi Arabia were the worst performers in the 2002 World Cup losing all 3 of their games, scoring no goals and conceding 12.

Undoubtedly the Group of Death at the 2002 World Cup featuring favourites Argentina, African Giants Nigeria, England and Sweden. Argentina were expected to qualify from this Group and Nigeria were tipped to edge out the Europeans and qualify with Argentina. Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 thanks to a Batistuta winner. England and Sweden played to a 1-1 draw. In another tense encounter between the 2 rivals Argentina and England a David Beckham penalty was enough to give England the victory against Argentina in their 2nd game.

Sweden beat Nigeria 2-1 thanks to a Henrik Larsson brace. Fancied Nigeria were eliminated before they even played their final game against England. Argentina needed to beat Sweden in their final game in order to qualify but were held to a 1-1 draw by the Surprise Swedes who qualified top of the Group. Claudio Cannigia became the first player ever to be sent off from the bench without even playing. Nigeria salvaged some pride by holding England to a goalless draw. Sweden qualified along with England and the mighty Argentines were eliminated in the first round providing yet another shock first round exit along with defending champions France and Portugal.


Italy began their campaign with a 2-0 win over World Cup debutants Ecuador thanks to a Vieri brace. Mexico beat 98 semi-finalists Croatia 1-0 and followed it up with a 2-1 victory over Ecuador to ensure qualification for the next round. Croatia bounced back from their loss to Mexico to stun Italy 2-1 in yet another upset. In the final round of games Italy snatched a late equaliser against Mexico thanks to Del Piero which allowed them to qualify 2nd along with Mexico as Ecuador beat Croatia 1-0.


Japan the other co-hosts of the tournament were looking to match Korea and also qualify for the next round. Drawn with Belgium, Russia and Tunisia they perhaps had an easier passage then their co-h
osts Korea. In an entertaining opening match they drew 2-2 with Belgium while Russia beat Tunisia 2-0. Japan then beat the Russian 1-0 while Tunisia held Belgium to a 1-1 draw. Japan then beat Tunisia 2-0 to qualify top of their Group while Belgium beat Russia 3-2 to also qualify for the next round.

In the Round of 16 Brazil beat Belgium 2-0 with Rivaldo and Ronaldo scoring and remained the only team to have won all their games at the World Cup. This was after Spain the only other team to win all their games defeated Ireland on penalties after playing to a 1-1 draw after extra time. Germany edged Paraguay 1-0 thanks to a late Neuville winner while England breezed passed Denmark 3-0. African Surprise package Senegal beat Sweden 2-1 with an extra time golden goal from Henri Camara.

USA shocked fellow North Americans Mexico 2-0. Co hosts Japan’s World Cup campaign came to end as they lost 1-0 to turkey. However the likes of Junichi Inamoto, Hidetoshi Nakata and Shinji Ono had become legends in their host nation of Japan as well as known in the World of Football.

Well after the likes of Argentina, Portugal & France were surprisingly eliminated in the Group Phase the upsets seemed to continue. Turkey, Senegal and the USA finding themselves in the quarterfinals. Korea were looking to go one better then their co-hosts Japan but they were up against the Italians. After just 4 minutes Korea were awarded a penalty but Ahn Jung Hwan’s effort was saved by Buffon.

Vieri then gave Italy the lead early on. Italy held on to the lead but with just 2 minutes to go Seol of Korea equalised. The officiating during the game left much to be desired as Italy felt that many decisions were going in favour of the hosts Korea. Italy had goals disallowed that were questionable. In extra time Italy’s Totti got sent off for a second bookable offence. The Koreans capitalised on their numerical advantage and Ahn Jung Hwan scored the golden goal winner for Korea to qualify for the quarterfinals. Having already eliminated Portugal and now the Italians hosts Korea were becoming perhaps the biggest surprise package of all. The Korean fans celebrated the victory as if they had won the World Cup.

For the first time ever at the FIFA World Cup the quarterfinals had teams from 5 different confederations, USA from CONCACAF, Brazil from South America, Senegal from Africa, Korea from Asia and Germany, Turkey, Spain and England from Europe.
In perhaps the most anticipated quarterfinal of all, England took on Brazil. Michael Owen gave England the lead half way through the first half before Rivaldo equalised on the stroke of half time. Early in the 2nd half Ronaldinho scored from a free kick and England keeper David Seaman was left dumbfounded. Just a few minutes later Ronaldinho given a straight red for a challenge that deserved not more than a free kick. Brazil however held on to win the game and Ronaldinho’s ban was cut from 2 games to just 1 game which meant that if Brazil won their semi-final tie he would be available to play in the final.

Michael Ballack struck the only goal for Germany in the quarterfinal match against USA to reach the semi-finals, but not without incident as Frings of Germany seemed to make a goal-line clearance with his hand which resulted in no penalty for the USA. Senegal’s world cup dream came to an end as Turkey’s Ilhan scored a golden goal winner for Turkey to continue their World Cup surprise and reach the semi-finals.

Well if Turkey was a surprise semi-finalist hosts Korea pulled off another miracle, this time against Spain. Having held the Spanish out for 120 minutes, although Morientes scored a legitimate goal which was disallowed as the linesman judged Joaquin to have taken the ball out of play in the build up to the goal but the replay clearly showed it did not. In the penalty shoot out both teams scored their first 3 penalties. Korea then scored their 4th penalty, while Joaquin who had a brilliant game missed his spot kick and Korea converted their final kick causing yet another upset and so become the first and only Asian team to reach the semi-finals at the World Cup.

In the semi-finals hosts Korea were looking to cause yet another upset but the Germans held their nerve and won the game 1-0, with Ballack once again scoring the winner. Ballack and Germany may have celebrated the victory, but Ballack who picked up a yellow card, his 2nd in 2 games, meant that he would miss the finals.

In a replay of their first round match Brazil took on Turkey. Ronaldo scored the only goal of the game to take Brazil through to their 3rd consecutive World Cup Final. Turkey had once again bean beaten by Brazil.

In the third place playoff Turkey’s Hakan Sukur scored the fastest goal ever at the FIFA World Cup in just 11 seconds (10.8 exact time) to give Turkey a very early lead.

Korea equalised but Turkey then took a 3-1 lead before half time. Korea did managa a late stoppage time consolation but Turkey finished 3rd and their performance at the World Cup was a surprise just like their opponents Korea. Japan may have had their stars but Korea as a nation were there to support their hero’s who surpassed all expectation and reached the semi-finals against all odds beating Portugal, Italy & Spain along the way. The likes of Park Ji Sun & Lee Young Pyo went on to play in the premiership for Manchester United & Tottenham Hotspurs respectively with Park still a regular player for Manchester United winning Premier League Titles as well as the UEFA Champions League with them. Not only did Korea & Japan successfully host the 2002 FIFA World Cup they also performed beyond their expectations on the field.

The first ever World Cup Final to be held in Asia was to be contested by the World Cups 2 most successful nations Brazil & West Germany both playing in their 7th World Cup Final. This match was surprisingly the first and only ever meeting between these 2 World Cup Giants. Brazil were the favourites as they won all of their games on route to the final and with the talents of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Luccio, Cafu and the return of suspended Ronaldinho. Germany, although a World Cup seed and Powerhouse, were un-fancied before the start of the tournament as they suffered a 5-1 defeat to England in the qualifiers and were not the force of before. They however made it to the finals when all the other giants failed. Oliver Khan in goal was one of the main reasons for their road to the finals conceding just 1 goal throughout the tournament. However star player Michael Ballack was suspended for the finals and this was undoubtedly a blow for the Germans. Ronaldo of Brazil with 6 goals and Mirsolav Klose of Germany with 5 were battling it out for the Golden Boot Award.

The final took place at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan and the referee was none other than Italy’s Pierre Luigi Coligna.

The first half produced no goals. In the 2nd half, Germany’s star keeper Oliver Khan made a blunder spilling a Rivaldo shot straight into the path of the deadly Ronaldo and the deadlock was broken with Brazil taking the lead with 20 minutes to go. With just over 10 minutes to go Rivaldo once again linked up with his strike partner Ronaldo who scored his eighth and Brazil’s 2nd of the match to seal the match and Brazil’s 5th title.

With minutes left Denilson came on to replace Rivaldo and holds the record for the most appearances as a substitute 11 at the FIFA World Cup. In the closing moments Denilson entertained the fans by displaying his skills and so keeping the ball away from the Germans.

Cafu, Brazil’s captain became the first and only player to play in 3 World Cup Finals following on from 1994 & 1998.

Brazil had won their 5th title and in so doing kept their record of winning a World Cup on every continent it was played on so far, North America, South America, Europe and now Asia.

Ronaldo with his 8 goals won the Golden Boot and was sensational for Brazil. Ronaldo’s new hairstyle leaving s small tuft on the front of his head instead of remaining clean shaven was because his son mistook him for Roberto Carlos.

Oliver Khan conceding 3 goals, 2 of which came in the finals, and keeping 5 clean sheets won both the Lev Yashin Award as best goalkeeper as well as the Golden Ball Award for best player of the World Cup. This was the first and only time that a Goalkeeper had won the Golden Ball Award. Ultimately Oliver Khan, Michael Ballack and Germany were deflated after the loss.

A total of 20 stadiums were used at the 2002 World Cup, 10 in Korea and 10 in Japan which is the most ever used at the FIFA World Cup.



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