The first round of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan reflected a changing football world as upsets and surprises thrilled right from the start. In the end however, it was two familiar faces, Germany and Brazil, who played for the world championship, and it was the South Americans who won their unprecedented fifth FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo, who suffered a famously poor final four years earlier, was the hero for the Seleçao, scoring both in the 2-0 victory. He ended up with eight goals in the tournament - the most in a FIFA World Cup since Gerd M?ller scored ten times at Mexico "70.
The tone of the group stage was set in the opening match as African debutantes Senegal shocked the holders France with an impressive 1-0 victory. Les Bleus never really recovered from the loss, failing to escape Group A without even mustering a goal. Though the disappointment was extreme for the French, it was a wonderful match and tournament for the Senegalese. The Lions of Teranga made it to the second round, beating Sweden on a golden goal, and then only fell to a Turkish golden goal in the quarter-finals.
Group D also saw a monstrous upset as the United States opened their tournament by beating fancied Portugal 3-2. The Golden Generation of Portuguese came back to beat Poland, but then fell to the group?s other surprise package, Korea Republic, as another high-profile European power went home far earlier than expected.
Europe got its revenge in what was termed ?The Group of Death,? where England and Sweden went through at the expense of powerful Argentina and always dangerous Nigeria. The most hotly anticipated match of the entire opening stage was perhaps the Argentina v. England rematch in Sapporo, Japan. England captain David Beckham, who was sent off in the corresponding contest at France ?98, successfully put his ghosts to rest as his penalty kick was the only goal in the always fascinating confrontation between the teams. Argentina, a pre-tournament favourite for many, could only manage a draw in their last match against the Swedes, and they joined the ranks of big-names on their way home earlier than expected.
Did You Know?
Brazilian captain Cafu became the first man to play in three FIFA World Cup final matches. Though he was often overshadowed by the flashy skills of the ?Three R?s?, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo, not to mention Roberto Carlos on the opposite flank, Cafu played every minute of every match for the Seleçao, and his marauding up and down the right flank was one of their biggest strengths.
Another first was the pairing in the final. Amazingly, the FIFA World Cup?s two most successful teams, Brazil and Germany, had never met each other at the tournament, not until their 87th and 85th matches respectively. The third-place match also featured a remarkable first, as Hakan Sukur?s goal for Turkey against Korea Republic came after just 11 seconds - the fastest ever scored in the finals.
Fantastic finals for first co-hosts
While the knockout rounds followed a more predictable pattern than the startling group stage, co-hosts Korea Republic did their best to keep the dream alive. In the Round of 16, they faced illustrious Italy and claimed an electrifying 2-1 victory from Ahn Jung Hwan?s golden goal. Even more unlikely was what followed next -- a penalty shootout win in the quarter-final over hardened and excellent European side, Spain.
A 1-0 loss in the semi-final to Germany could not dampen the incredible enthusiasm of the Korean people, who flooded the streets like a sea of red during and after every match. The first FIFA World Cup hosted in Asia, fellow co-hosts, Japan were busy having a party of their own. The frenzied blue hoard no doubt helped the Japanese on the way to a first-ever victory at the finals. That the three points came against a mature and expert Russian team is testament to the growth of football in the Far East.
Impressive Turkey knocked out the Japanese in the second round on their way to the semi-finals. The previously unheralded Eastern Europeans showed that they meant business in their opening 1-2 loss to Brazil. Despite the late winner from Rivaldo, the eventual champions had very little on the Turks, who were both physically sturdy and technically adept.
Turkey snuck into the next round, at the expense of Costa Rica on goal difference, where they eliminated the Japanese and crowd-favourite Senegal before again falling to Brazil in a tight, single-goal match - this time 1-0.
Germans work way into final
Traditional powers Germany were actually not on the tongues of most as favourites before the tournament. But in typical Germanic fashion, they recorded three consecutive 1-0 victories over their rivals in the knockout rounds to book a spot in their seventh final.
They first beat Paraguay 1-0 on an 88th-minute Oliver Neuville strike. They then road a first-half Michael Ballack tally and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn?s form into the last four, holding off a particularly impressive USA team in the quarter-finals. They then held characteristically rigid in the face of huge supporter pressure against Korea Republic in the semi-final. Kahn again proved himself the most dominating goalkeeper in the world, and Ballack again scored the only German goal - though his booking in the match deprived the Europeans of their inspirational leader and goal scorer in the final.
Ironically, it was the previously flawless Kahn who gifted Ronaldo the final?s decisive opener. That single mistake was quickly dampened in the memory however by ?The Phenomenon? and his Brazilian team mates showing that they still comfortably lay claim to planet football?s greatest team. A Kleberson run and a brilliant Rivaldo dummy freed up just enough space for Ronaldo, who - powerfully, simply - stroked the ball past Kahn.
After a full month of passion, filled almost without cease by unforeseen heroes and even more unexpected victims, the finals ended with its most familiar conclusion - the yellow-clad South Americans holding aloft the FIFA World Cup trophy. By claiming their fifth world championship at Asia?s first finals, Brazil kept alive their extraordinary record of having won the FIFA World Cup on every continent that has hosted the event.
|adidas Golden Shoe winner||RONALDO (BRA) 8|
|adidas Golden Ball winner||Oliver KAHN (GER)|
|FIFA Fair play award||Belgium|
|FIFA Award for the Most Entertaining Team||Korea Republic|
|Yashin Award for the Best Goalkeeper||Oliver KAHN (GER)|