|Sunday, 5 May 2002|
Soccer World Cup comes to Asia
by Leslie Fernando
Commencing this week, we begin a series in the countdown to the World Cup. So don't miss your copy of the Sunday Observer.
The World Cup is the biggest sporting event on earth and Japan and Korea are preparing to co-host the first cup of the 21st century. Soccer World Cup kisses Asia for the first time.
Thirty two teams including four nations from Asia, Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and China will make their debut in soccer's greatest extravaganza.
At the last World Cup final played at the Saint Denis Stadium, in France on Sunday July 12 1998 France made soccer history when the underdogs beat the defending champions Brazil 3-0 to win the 16th World Cup final before a delirious crowd of 80,000 people.
France had never reached a final before since the beginning of the World Cup in 1930 but they lifted sport's most coveted trophy with two first half goals from Zinedine Zidane and a 90th minute strike from Emmanuel Petit. Ideally on home soil.
Even the 68th minute sending off of Marcel Desaily, for a second bookable offence could not spoil a night which finished with Skipper Didier Dechamps lifting the cup and celebrations breaking out across the country. The host nation fully deserved their ultimate triumph teaching a static Brazil how to play disciplined, attacking football which has characterised their campaign.
Ronaldo, tipped as the star of the final was badly handicapped by an ankle injury and nearly didn't play in a cloud of controversy while Zidane finally showed why he is rated as the world's best midfielder.
Players on both sides burst into tears at the final whistle. French President Jacques Chirac raised his arms in triumph and co-organiser Michele Platani broke into a huge grin.
2. The World Cup matches will begin on May 31 and the final will be played on June 30 at the International Stadium, Yokahama.
The venues for the 2002 FIFA World Cup - Japan - (1) Sappore, (2) Miyagi, (3) Nigata (4) Ibrakai (5) Saitama (6) Yokahama (7) Shizuoka (8) Osaka (9) Kobe (10) Oita. Korea - (11) Seoul (12) Incheon (13) Suwan (14) Daejeon (15) Daegu (16) Ulsan (17) Pusan (18) Jeonju (19) Gwangju (20) Seogwipe.
The World Cup began in 1930. So far only seven teams have won the title and only 11 have appeared in the final, all from Europe or South America.
The World Cup finals 1930 - Montevideo Uruguay: Uruguay 4-Argentina 2. 1934 - Remo: Italy 2-Czechoslovakia 2.1938 - Paris: Italy 4 - Hungary 2 1950: Rio de Janerio - Uruguay 2-Brazil. 1954 - Berne: West Germany 3 - Hungary 2-1958 - Stockholm: Brazil 5 - Sweden 2-1962 - Santiage: Brazil 3 - Czechoslovakia 1 - 1966 - London: England 4 - West Germany 2-1970 Mexico City: Brazil 4 - Italy 1-1974 - Munich: West Germany 2 - Netherlands I - 1978 - Buenos Aires: Argentina 3 - Netherlands 1-1982 Madrid: Italy 3 -West Germany 1-1986 - Mexico City: Argentina 3-West Germany 2 - 1990 -Rome - West Germany 1 - Argentina 0 - 1994 - Los Angeles: Brazil 0 - Italy 0 (Brazil won 3-2 on penalty) 1996 - Paris: France 3 - Brazil 0.
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