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Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

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@King Jeff The Sweden turnip joke was a cheap one, admittedly, but I do like to put a bit of humour into my stories. This one has an especially light-hearted feel to it, thanks in part to CM00/01's quirks.

Having already (more or less) finished writing this story, I don't want to give anything away. What I will say is that Italy are in a very kind top quarter, and that they and Argentina have both been very strong so far. Don't be surprised if they are contesting the Final in a fortnight's time.

Edited by CFuller

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On 08/06/2018 at 17:31, CFuller said:

It does help that I have far too much spare time, but thanks. My stories really are labours of love, and I'd like to think that'll show when we get into the finals. All the fun begins on Tuesday, don't forget!

Apropos of nothing, it's time for a confession. I'd always wanted to do something special for this summer by simulating a previous World Cup, though not necessarily in Championship Manager. I had planned to dabble into YouTube by simulating the whole 1998 tournament on World Cup 98, but I felt this was a better and more enjoyable idea. Besides, I'm far more confident as a writer than as a video creator. Maybe I will one day give YouTube a try, but right now, I feel like I've made the right choice to stick with writing. :)

Great story, again, @CFuller . Just read your Dagenham story (took a while but was brilliant)

That World Cup 98 idea is great too! I spent so many hours on that game! Loved it! :) 

Edited by Jamo1812

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1 minute ago, Jamo1812 said:

Great story @CFuller 

That World Cup 98 idea is great too! I spent so many hours on that game! Loved it! :) 

Nice to hear that you're enjoying this.

World Cup 98 was the first video game I ever owned, so it's very close to my heart. I did actually go ahead with my idea of simulating the whole tournament, but in private. I'm currently midway through Round 2, and the biggest shock so far is that Argentina went out at the Group Stage, finishing behind Japan :eek: and Croatia. England are facing Croatia in the last 16, while Scotland predictably went home early.

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Just now, CFuller said:

Nice to hear that you're enjoying this.

World Cup 98 was the first video game I ever owned, so it's very close to my heart. I did actually go ahead with my idea of simulating the whole tournament, but in private. I'm currently midway through Round 2, and the biggest shock so far is that Argentina went out at the Group Stage, finishing behind Japan :eek: and Croatia. England are facing Croatia in the last 16, while Scotland predictably went home early.

Yeah it was the first video game for me so its very close to me too! Remember it so well, even all the music on it! 

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29 JUNE 2002

The World Cup Group Stage is over, and 16 teams are now preparing to leave the Far East, if they haven't already. Mexico and Paraguay were perhaps the biggest casualties, while fans of co-hosts Japan and South Korea can now watch the tournament without fear of being humiliated further. Scotland came home about as soon as everyone expected, leaving Wales to battle it out on behalf of the United Kingdom.


And so we're left with a sweet sixteen, all of whom are just four knockout matches away from lifting that golden trophy in a little over a fortnight's time. Seconds out for Round 2!


The top quarter is dominated by European teams, and it has a distinctly Slavic feel about it. The odd team out are Italy, who have established themselves as title favourites after 11 consecutive victories in the qualifiers and finals. Perhaps even more impressively, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has only conceded three goals in the process.


The Azzurri have arrived in Yokohama to face debutants Ukraine without three injured players. Christian Vieri is not quite fit after straining his thigh against Bosnia & Herzegovina, while a twisted knee is keeping Francesco Totti out. Their latest injury is to reserve winger Jonathan Bachini, who is unlikely to play any further part in World Cup proceedings after twisting sharply on his ankle in training.


Ukraine left it as late as possible to qualify for the Last 16, so the yellow-and-blue underdogs will be under no pressure whatsoever against Italy. These sides actually met in the real-life 2006 Quarter Finals... but maybe I shouldn't tell the Zhovto-Blakytni what happened. For one thing, they'll have no idea why on Earth I'm talking about a match that'll take place in four years' time.


That's only the second of tonight's opening knockout matches. Round 2 actually begins in Seoul, where Russia take on the Czech Republic. Admittedly, that tie doesn't sound as enticing as it would've been in the 1970s, when the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia were still going very strong. Not being a fan of communism myself, I prefer things as they are now.


Czech supporters certainly aren't complaining about their current team, as a robust defence has got them through a potentially tricky Group B. Mind you, they will need winged wonders Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborsky to spark back into life if there is to be anything like a repeat of Euro '96.


Though Russia were the surprise winners of Group A, I don't make them favourites to win this match. Captain Viktor Onopko is serving a suspension after being booked in his teams' last two fixtures, and his vast defensive experience could be a massive loss.


Round 2


Russia vs Czech Republic - at Chamsil Olympic Stadium, Seoul

Both teams attacked from the start, but it was the Czech Republic who started quickest. Though Jan Koller smashed a shot over the bar in the fourth minute, he did help open the scoring with an assist in the 12th. Koller flicked Karel Poborsky's cross on to David Jarolim, and the Hamburg midfielder drove in his first international goal.


Russia goalkeeper Ruslan Nigmatullin brilliantly denied Marek Heinz and Pavel Nedved over the next two minutes, but one of those Czech stars would still find the net just before the game entered its 15th minute. Heinz attempted to float a cross to Koller at the far post, but his cross was blown straight into the net! The Czech Republic were 2-0 up, and Nigmatullin could hardly believe what was happening!


There would be yet more despair for the Russians on 22 minutes. Vladimir Smicer sent another dangerous cross into their area, where 'King Kong' Koller got above Nigmatullin to head in the Czech Republic's third goal. Was that their Quarter Final place wrapped up already?


Believe it or not, things could have got even better for the Central Europeans on 28 minutes. Captain Nedved half-volleyed Smicer's delivery towards goal, but only a brave parry from Nigmatullin prevented him from making it 4-0.


Russia finally got a chance to attack on 37 minutes. Spartak Moscow striker Alexandr Shirko managed to head home a centre from Vladimir Bestchastnykh, but the goal was ruled out, as he had strayed into an offside position. The Russians would then have left-back Igor Yanovski booked just before half-time for a shove on Koller. Trying to push a 2ft behemoth around is generally not a good idea, Igor...


Russia did buck up their ideas in the second half. The outside of Pavel Srnicek's right-hand post denied left-winger Sergey Semak a goal in the 47th minute. Srnicek would eventually be beaten in the 62nd, as a magnificent solo effort from future Chelsea midfielder and racism denier Alexey Smertin got Russia back within a shout. Mind you, they still needed to score twice more.


A savage strike from Semak could've delivered Russia their second goal on 68 minutes, but Srnicek brilliantly turned it behind. Just a minute later, though, the Russian Bear was slain once and for all. Unsurprisingly, it was Koller who dealt the final blow, smashing an emphatic shot past the onrushing Nigmatullin to give the Czech Republic a 4-1 lead.


The final 20 minutes saw Heinz pick up a yellow card (for pushing Russia centre-half Maxim Demenko) before having a couple of late pops at goal. The second did find the net in stoppage time, but it was disallowed for offside. Nevertheless, Heinz and Koller's devastating partnership had caused havoc in the Russian defence and taken the Czech Republic into the Quarter Finals.


Russia - 1 (A Smertin 62)

Czech Republic - 4 (D Jarolim 12, M Heinz 14, J Koller 22,69)

RUSSIA LINE-UP (4-4-2): R Nigmatullin; D Khlestov, M Demenko, Y Kovtun ©, I Yanovski (Y Nikiforov 62); V Radimov, A Mostovoi, A Smertin, S Semak; V Bestchastnykh, A Shirko. BOOKED: Yanovski 44.

CZECH REPUBLIC LINE-UP (4-4-1-1): P Srnicek; M Fukal (P Gabriel 59), M Nikl (J Novotny 65), K Rada, T Repka; K Poborsky, V Smicer (M Baranek 54), D Jarolim, P Nedved ©; M Heinz; J Koller. BOOKED: Heinz 59.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jan Koller (Czech Republic).


Italy vs Ukraine - at Yokohama International, Yokohama

Ukraine coach Valery Lobanovsky made a surprising call before kick-off, giving Chicago's Ruslan Tschernijenko his World Cup debut up front alongside star striker Sergei Rebrov. Tschernijenko made an impact after just seven minutes, winning a free-kick off Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro. Oleg Luzhniy took the set-piece, with the Ukrainian skipper sending it just wide.


Italy's front two was even more surprising, with Marco Delvecchio and Simone Inzaghi starting instead of Vincenzo Montella and Christian Vieri. Delvecchio would miss a long-range shot at goal after eight minutes, despite a promising set-up from Inzaghi.


The Azzurri's charge threatened to derail itself in the 16th minute, when wing-back Gianluca Zambrotta twisted his knee and had to be replaced with Jonatan Binotto. Lobanovsky took the opportunity to make a defensive change of his own, bringing Dmitry Parfenov on for Eduard Mor at centre-half. He would make another early substitution in the 29th minute, subbing off Andrei Husin shortly after the midfielder had been booked.


Italy looked to take advantage of Ukraine's instability by launching a couple more attacks. Gennaro Ivan Gattuso's low drive in the 30th minute was caught by Zhovto-Blakytni keeper Valery Vorobjov, who turned behind Cannavaro's swerving effort seven minutes later.


Few in Yokohama could believe that Italy hadn't scored in the first half. Binotto tried to put that right four minutes into the second half, but his volley from Inzaghi's flick-on was caught by Vorobjov. Lobanovsky made Ukraine's final substitution shortly after that. Tschernijenko had been as ineffective as many had predicted, though his inexperienced replacement Sergij Levchenko would fare slightly better.


Ukraine midfielder Maxim Kalinichenko was booked on 66 minutes (the match report doesn't say why). He then drew Gattuso into receiving a yellow card of his own six minutes before the end. In between those cautions, 20-year-old Levchenko had a couple of attempts to give the Ukrainians the lead against the run of play. Both were saved brilliantly by Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.


Defences were very much on top in this match, and sudden-death extra-time looked almost certain. Then, two minutes from the end, Vorobjov appeared to bundle Delvecchio over in the Ukrainian area. The Italians being Italian, they furiously surrounded the referee and demanded he award a penalty. As the official in question was NOT an Ecuadorean drug smuggler named Byron Moreno, he obliged.


Vorobjov collected a yellow card before he attempted to stop Inzaghi scoring his first Italy goal from 12 yards out. He could not, and Inzaghi wheeled away in delight after continuing the Azzurri's impeccable record at this World Cup. This was a cruel way for Ukraine to bow out of their maiden finals.


Italy - 1 (S Inzaghi pen88)

Ukraine - 0

ITALY LINE-UP (5-3-2): G Buffon; F Cannavaro, M Iuliano, A Nesta; G Zambrotta (J Binotto 16), GI Gattuso, P Vanoli (J Bachini HT); D Albertini ©, A Cassano; S Inzaghi, M Delvecchio. BOOKED: Gattuso 84.

UKRAINE LINE-UP (4-4-2): V Vorobjov; O Luzhniy ©, V Vashchuk, E Mor (D Parfenov 16), V Skripnik; M Tischenko, M Kalinichenko, A Husin (S Krukovets 29), A Spivak; S Rebrov, R Tschernijenko (S Levchenko 50). BOOKED: Husin 26, Kalinichenko 66, Vorobjov 88.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Fabio Cannavaro (Italy).

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30 JUNE 2002

On this day in reality, Brazil lifted the World Cup for a record fifth time in Yokohama, doing so in style. Ronaldo's clinical double banished his demons from Saint-Denis and made Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn look distinctly human in the process.


The Seleção's virtual World Cup could also end today... if Finland can pull off an almighty shock at Tokyo's National Stadium and send one of the tournament favourites packing in Round 2. Ronaldo and Rivaldo dug their Brazilian compatriots out of an almighty hole in the Group Stage, but now they really cannot afford to lose.


Finland have been amongst the top performers at this tournament so far, winning Group H with seven points from a possible nine. Getting to the knockout stages at the first attempt is not a bad achievement for a country whose most recent contributions to global society have been the electronic music of Darude and the Bomfunk MC's.


Huuhkajat coach Antti Muurinen was still smiling at his most recent press conference, and with good reason, even though he will only have 18 of his 22 players to choose from today. Centre-back Petri Pasanen - who was recently released by Ajax - has been banned for one match after collecting a couple of bookings. Fellow defenders Janne Saarinen and Hannu Tihinen are injured, as is Montpellier's former Stockport winger Jarkko Wiss.


The Finns' neighbours Sweden are also in action, but their chances of progression are arguably even slimmer. They must see off Patrick Kluivert and the Dutch destroyers in Kobe, otherwise they'll be on the first flight to Stockholm tomorrow.


Sweden captain Joachim Björklund bruised his thigh in his team's Group F draw against Belgium. That means his fellow centre-half Patrik Andersson will lead out the Blågult in their latest meeting with another Benelux nation.


The Netherlands have been hotly-tipped to win this match comfortably. Not only have they played some delightful football, but there've been no hints of traditional mid-competition infighting... yet.


Mind you, one thing that will give Swedish fans hope is that the Oranje's results have got progressively worse over the tournament. 2-0 vs Scotland, 2-1 vs Colombia, 2-2 vs Tunisia... could it be 2-3 this time?


Round 2


Finland vs Brazil - at National Stadium, Tokyo

This battle between the newcomers and the ever-presents began with both teams going on the attack. Brazil's Ronaldinho tried a long-range effort in the second minute, only to watch Jussi Jääskeläinen push it behind his goal. A minute later, Simo Valakari was unfortunate to volley Finland's first attempt against the crossbar. Valakari got to the rebound, but Dida comfortably smothered his second shot.


It was Brazil who drew first blood on 11 minutes, as head coach Émerson Leão celebrated a rare goal from his namesake midfielder. Emerson broke into the Finnish area to collect a lofted pass from Seleção captain Ronaldo and power it into the back of the net.


The Brazilians eased up a little after their early opener, but they would lose their lead within four minutes. The defence was caught napping by Tommi Grönlund's delivery into the area, which Jari Litmanen emphatically headed home. Litmanen had surprisingly been chosen to start up front instead of Daniel Sjölund, but he was proving that Finland didn't need their teen starlet.


That equaliser forced Brazil to ramp up the pace again. Right-back Cafú flicked a header against the post after 17 minutes, but his team would have an even better chance to score after 21. Ronaldo was sent crashing into the Finland box by a rash challenge from defender Ville Nylund, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Up stepped Rivaldo, who confidently beat Jääskeläinen for 2-1.


A minute after Brazil's advantage had been restored, their Oviedo centre-half Marinho was booked for upending Valakari. Despite that brief moment of indiscipline, the South Americans managed to stay in front at the break. Things were looking very good for the favourites...


...until six minutes into the second half. Fábio Luciano replaced Marinho in Brazil's defence just after a free-kick was conceded deep in their half. Luciano lined up in the wall, and then watched Teemu Tainio float the ball over him and into the net. Finland had their second leveller, but now they wanted more.


The pressure seemed to be getting to the Seleção's superstars. Ronaldo fired a half-volley over the bar in the 53rd minute, showing just how greatly his lack of match fitness was affecting his finishing abilities. Rivaldo then hit the bar from a 74th-minute free-kick either side of bookings for Finland duo Grönlund and Marko Tuomela.


Then, with barely eight minutes to go in the second half, it all went south for Brazil. Dida's wayward punt was picked up by Grönlund, who chipped it forward to Janne Salli. The Tampa Bay midfielder then crossed to PSV playmaker Joonas Kolkka, whose half-volley rocketed past Dida! Finland 3, Brazil 2!


The Brazilian charge disintegrated entirely in the final minute. Defender Zago was booked for a pull on Finland substitute Fredrick Nordback's shirt, and striker Amoroso then sent a desperate last-ditch attempt wide. When the final whistle blew shortly afterwards, the yellow-shirted players sank to their knees in despair, while those in white celebrated one of THE great World Cup shocks!


Finland - 3 (J Litmanen 15, T Tainio 51, J Kolkka 82)

Brazil - 2 (Emerson 11, Rivaldo pen21)

FINLAND LINE-UP (4-3-2-1 Narrow): J Jääskeläinen; H Ylonen, S Hyypiä ©, M Tuomela, V Nylund (L Mattila 53); T Tainio, J Salli, T Grönlund; S Valakari (F Nordback 84), J Kolkka; J Litmanen. BOOKED: Grönlund 72, Tuomela 76.

BRAZIL LINE-UP (5-3-2 Sweeper): Dida; R Pinheiro; Zago, Marinho (F Luciano 51); Cafú, Serginho; Ronaldinho (Giovanni 66), Emerson, Rivaldo; Ronaldo ©, Amoroso. BOOKED: Marinho 22, Zago 90.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Joonas Kolkka (Finland).


Netherlands vs Sweden - at Kobe Universiade Memorial, Kobe

The Netherlands immediately set out to attack a Sweden team who were determined to shut them out early on. The Oranje's stand-in captain Edgar Davids went very close to breaking their resistance in the second minute, thundering a fantastic shot against the crossbar. His colleague Patrick Kluivert would later have a header tipped away by Mattias Asper in the Swedish goal.


A few more disappointing Dutch shots followed before Asper was next tested midway through the first half. The Wimbledon keeper beat away efforts from midfielders Jannes Wolters and Clarence Seedorf in the 21st and 23rd minutes.


The Netherlands defenders had barely been stretched in the opening half-hour, but two of them would soon be stifled. Centre-half Jurgen Dirkx would be walking a disciplinary tightrope from the 30th minute after being cautioned for a holding foul on Sweden striker Jörgen Pettersson. Shortly afterwards, left-back Winston Bogarde suffered a tournament-ending knee injury, prompting Philip Cocu to come off the bench once again.


Sweden tried to test a weakened opposition backline on 43 minutes, but Kennet Andersson's header did not trouble the target. A minute later, Seedorf showed him how it was done. His ruthless nodded finish from Davids' delivery into the Swedish box sent the Oranje into a 1-0 half-time lead.


Things would only get worse for the Blågult on 56 minutes. More than a third of their starting line-up shared a surname, and it was Daniel who disgraced the Andersson name with an unprovoked shove on Marc Overmars. The Bari midfielder was immediately dismissed, reducing Sweden to 10 men (and just the three Anderssons).


Overmars soon got his own back on the Swedes, whom he made Graham Taylors out of in the 66th minute. Barcelona's dynamic left-winger latched onto club-mate Cocu's flick-on and then lashed it past Asper. Kluivert was clearly not the only Catalan-based Dutchman who could find the net.


The Netherlands went for the kill in the 73rd minute, as Inter's Seedorf eyed up his brace. Asper's fingertip save spared the blushes of a Swedish defence that had looked far from secure.


Sweden's World Cup adventure would end here, though not before substitute winger Sharbel Touma hit the bar five minutes from full-time. While the Blågult had not coped well with losing captain Joachim Björklund to injury earlier in the tournament, the Netherlands did not feel their skipper Frank De Boer's absence quite so keenly. Louis van Gaal's free-scoring team were safely into the last eight.


Netherlands - 2 (C Seedorf 44, M Overmars 66)

Sweden - 0

NETHERLANDS LINE-UP (4-1-4-1): S Westerveld; M Reiziger, J Dirkx, K Hofland (R Vrede 52), W Bogarde (P Cocu 31); J Wolters; R Makaay, C Seedorf, E Davids ©, M Overmars; P Kluivert. BOOKED: Dirkx 30.

SWEDEN LINE-UP (4-4-2): M Asper; C Andersson, P Andersson ©, O Mellberg, G Sündgren; F Ljungberg, D Andersson, S Schwarz, J Blomqvist (S Touma 56); J Pettersson (C Wilhelmsson 67), K Andersson (M Allbäck 47). BOOKED: D Andersson 56.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Clarence Seedorf (Netherlands).

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I'm guessing Finland were overpowered in this game like the 'Super Greeks' in CM 01/02. Boooo.

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Wow, thought Finland did well to actually get there...but to beat Brazil and get this far..! 😲

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21 hours ago, git2thachoppa said:

I'm guessing Finland were overpowered in this game like the 'Super Greeks' in CM 01/02. Boooo.

Perhaps you have a point, but you of all people should know that anything is possible when it comes to international football in CM/FM. ;)

15 hours ago, argento said:

Finland continue to defy the odds, still can't look past Italy for the whole thing

It's hard to see anyone other than Italy winning the top half now, even though the Netherlands look useful themselves. The bottom half might be a bit more competitive.

2 hours ago, Jamo1812 said:

Wow, thought Finland did well to actually get there...but to beat Brazil and get this far..! 😲

As I've mentioned here before, I have actually seen Finland go further than this in a World Cup. I'd say they simply had a very highly-rated (perhaps overrated) starting line-up in the CM3-era games.

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1 JULY 2002

As we enter a new month, the excitement levels at the 2002 World Cup reach new heights. We've got two dark horses battling each other, after which we'll witness a true clash of the titans.


Let's first have a look at the match in Hiroshima, where Wales are hoping to keep their Far Eastern adventure going for a bit longer. The Red Dragons have become instant fan favourites during their time in South Korea and Japan, in particular Robbie Savage, who has earned the nickname 'Super Angry Mega Long Hair Man'. Admittedly, that moniker sounds rather more poetic in Japanese.


Sadly, Adrian Williams will miss out on tonight's action, having been forced to serve a suspension following his two bookings in the Group Stage. Fellow defender Chris Coleman will also be absent, reportedly after an accident involving a washing machine at the team's hotel. Don't ask.


Standing between the valley boys and the Quarter Finals are Cameroon, who were narrow runners-up in Group D to Italy. Head coach Gabriel Pacheco has done very well to get to Round 2, considering that he doesn't actually exist (so he's a bit like Tó Madeira, or Bosko Balaban). While Pacheco's pragmatism has worked a treat thus far, forwards such as Samuel Eto'o and Patrick Mboma will hope to see more of the ball soon.


As captain Rigobert Song gashed his leg against the Azzurri five days ago, Arsenal right-back Lauren will start in his absence. The captaincy will now be temporarily handed to St-Etienne centre-half Lucien Mettomo, who has thus far quashed speculation linking him with a transfer to Manchester City.


Once those two have finished duelling it out, we'll head over to Ulsan for the main event. Frankly, it's a travesty that they're using the World Cup's smallest venue to showcase Germany vs France. Mind you, this is Championship Manager 00/01, where logic and common sense generally count for little.


France are the reigning world and European champions and are now going for an unprecedented third successive major title. (The Confederations Cup doesn't count, which means they're let off the hook for losing to Brazil in Seoul last year.)


Les Bleus coach Roger Lemerre has had to swap out the suspended Marcel Desailly and the injured Thierry Henry from the starting line-up that lost to Russia last time out. That means Nicolas Anelka will now be partnered up front by Sylvain Wiltord, who made a grand total of two Arsenal appearances last season and hasn't yet featured in the Far East. I bet Nic is delighted...


Germany have also needed to replace a big forward in their XI. The injured Carsten Jancker is bigger than most forwards, so he no doubt took some shifting. We'll now see Sean Dundee and Oliver Neuville leading the German attack, so I'd advise spectators in Ulsan to put their crash helmets on.


Round 2


Wales vs Cameroon - at Hiroshima Big Arch, Hiroshima

Cameroon began positively in Hiroshima, with Samuel Eto'o running past Wales left-back Darren Barnard to go through on goal in the seventh minute. The young Deportivo forward's powerful drive was tipped over the bar by Mark Crossley.


Wales then began to showcase their abilities, with John Oster floating in a couple of dangerous crosses from the right wing. Oster's 16th-minute delivery to the left-sided Ryan Giggs was powered just over the bar, but his next cross three minutes later would be more effective. He found John Hartson, who audaciously chipped Cameroon keeper Alioum Boukar to notch up his fifth World Cup goal and send the Welsh fans wild!


Hartson was unfortunate not to strike again on 28 minutes, when he flicked a Giggs centre against Boukar's goal frame. Crossley had made a big save at the other end a minute earlier to stop Patrick Mboma restoring parity for Cameroon.


Mboma, Eto'o and Joseph-Désiré Job all missed opportunities later on to draw the Indomitable Lions level. They also had star midfielder Geremi booked in the 36th minute and went into the break still trailing 1-0. Was the last remaining African team heading out of the World Cup?


The Cameroonians upped the ante three minutes into the second half. Eto'o weighted a pass to Job, but the Middlesbrough striker couldn't get the job down, as his club-mate Crossley made another big save. Crossley's namesake Mark Delaney then unfortunately twisted his knee in the 53rd minute, forcing Wales boss Mark Hughes to bring on Mark... erm I mean Robbie Savage as a replacement right-back.


Despite that untimely injury to Delaney, the Welsh defence held firm... until the 76th minute. The Red Dragons were less than a quarter-hour away from the Quarter Finals when Cameroon sub Meyong drilled the ball across their area for Eto'o to fire home.


Having got back level, the Africans now wanted to grab a late winner before extra-time. Meyong was set up by another Portuguese-based substitute in the 84th minute, but the young forward could not keep his header from Rudolph Douala's cross on target. This match would be going to sudden death.


There were only a handful of scoring chances during the additional 30 minutes. Meyong had the best of them in the 99th minute, but his shot from a narrow angle was stopped by Crossley. Meanwhile, Wales had a couple of players booked, one of whom - Tottenham midfielder Simon Davies - would limp off injured just before full-time.


With the scoreline still at 1-0, it all came down to penalties. Wales blinked first, as Hartson's opening effort for the Red Dragons was palmed away by Boukar. Cameroon scored their first three penalties, but when Crossley saved Meyong's fourth, the match was on a knife-edge again.


When Cameroon went 4-3 up before Wales' fifth spot-kick, Matthew Jones showed nerves of steel to keep his team in the contest. Geremi then stepped up confidently for the Indomitable Lions, but Crossley pushed his strike away to give the Red Dragons match point. Up stepped Oster with a chance to make himself a Welsh hero... but he screwed his kick horribly wide.


Lauren made no mistake from the next penalty, giving Cameroon a 5-4 advantage. Now it was up to Savage to prolong the shoot-out. The outspoken Leicester icon could not pull it off, blasting the ball over the bar à la Roberto Baggio in 1994 and breaking Welsh hearts. Savage covered his face in despair as the Cameroonians wildly celebrated reaching only their second World Cup Quarter Final!


Wales - 1 (J Hartson 19)

Cameroon - 1 (S Eto'o 76)

[after extra-time, Cameroon win 5-4 on penalties]

PENALTY SHOOT-OUT (WAL, CAM): L Mettomo 0-1, J Hartson saved, S Eto'o 0-2, G Speed 1-2, R Douala 1-3, R Giggs 2-3, Meyong saved, C Bellamy 3-3, Z Epale 3-4, M Jones 4-4, Geremi saved, J Oster missed, Lauren 4-5, R Savage missed.

WALES LINE-UP (4-4-2): M Crossley; M Delaney (R Savage 53), R Page, M Jones, D Barnard (D Partridge 65); J Oster, S Davies, G Speed ©, R Giggs; J Hartson, N Blake (C Bellamy 53). BOOKED: Davies 95, Page 116.

CAMEROON LINE-UP (4-4-2 Diamond): A Boukar; Lauren, L Mettomo ©, J Dika, S Olembé (R Douala 54); P Wome; Geremi, Z Epale; S Eto'o; P Mboma (S Noudou 54), JD Job (Meyong 59). BOOKED: Geremi 36.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon).


Germany vs France - at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan

When three-time World Cup winners Germany battled it out with defending champions France in Ulsan, many expected a classic match between two footballing behemoths. What we got instead was a dreadful slog between the least efficient German team in living memory and a French side that looked like 11 individuals rather than a cohesive unit.


It was France who first managed to string some passes together and go on the attack. Zinedine Zidane found the run of Nicolas Anelka, who was crowded out by German defenders. He then selflessly squared the ball for Ludovic Giuly to drive in a shot that went behind off the bar. It had taken 26 minutes for that to happen.


Germany launched their first assault on the French base after 32 minutes. Les Bleus' debutant centre-half Alain Goma - who recently joined Liverpool from Newcastle for £3.4million, I kid you not - knocked Christian Timm's cross behind to concede a corner. Oliver Neuville sent an inswinger into the box, where Frankfurt's holding midfielder Michael Tarnat leapt up and headed in the breakthrough goal.


France were 1-0 down, and manager Roger Lemerre now needed to draw on all his tactical nous to keep the holders in contention. He made two subs at half-time, and then took a major gamble with his final change in the 57th minute. A bemused Zidane trudged off the field to make way for fellow midfield ace Patrick Vieira, whose first appearance at this World Cup had come much later than expected.


One of Lemerre's earlier subs was Vieira's Arsenal colleague Robert Pires, who was tripped by Neuville in the 58th minute. Neuville collected a yellow card, and Emmanuel Petit stepped up to fire the free-kick towards the German goal. He could only get it as far as Thomas Linke, who made a determined block in the Mannschaft wall.


Sean Dundee - who'd replaced the stricken Carsten Jancker as Germany's target man - had a chance to double his team's lead on 64 minutes. Predictably, his header from Stefan Beinlich's cross was easily gathered by France goalie Fabien Barthez. That was followed over the next couple of minutes by a dreadful miss from Les Bleus winger Stéphane Dalmat and a booking for centre-half Frédéric Danjou.


Dalmat would disappoint the French fans again in the 75th minute, screwing a free-kick well off target. That was the last chance Lemerre's charges had to save themselves. They meekly surrendered their world title, and Germany moved a step closer to regaining their crown for the first time since the year I was born.


Germany - 1 (M Tarnat 32)

France - 0

GERMANY LINE-UP (4-4-2): O Kahn ©; M Rehmer, T Linke, M Happe, S Schnoor; A Zickler (Y Eigenrauch 68), S Deisler (S Beinlich 50), M Tarnat, C Timm (M Ketelaer 75); S Dundee, O Neuville. BOOKED: Neuville 58.

FRANCE LINE-UP (4-4-2): F Barthez; G Guigou (F Danjou HT), L Thuram ©, A Goma, V Candela; L Giuly (R Pires HT), Z Zidane (P Vieira 57), E Petit, S Dalmat; N Anelka, S Wiltord. BOOKED: Danjou 66.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Alain Goma (France).

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Robbie Savage in tears missing a penalty to deny them a quarter final spot is the stuff dreams are made of

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19 hours ago, argento said:

Robbie Savage in tears missing a penalty to deny them a quarter final spot is the stuff dreams are made of

I'll admit I raised a smile when I saw that had happened. It would have been a very good reason as to why (most) people hate Savage nowadays. :D

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2 JULY 2002

Round 2 reaches its conclusion tonight, and our remaining Last 16 have a very South American feel about them. Our rather less exotic friends from Denmark stick out like a sore thumb in a schedule that is otherwise full of Latin flair and vigour.


Denmark aren't exactly the neutrals' favourites in Tokyo following their 3-1 beating of Japan early in the tournament. Back-to-back draws subsequently put the Danish Dynamite through to the knockout stages, which for them will start (and possibly end) at the National Stadium.


Morten Olsen's team are up against another unbeaten team in Uruguay, who emerged as surprise Group G winners, thanks in part to their sensational demolition of Brazil. La Celeste will now set out to continue what is arguably their best World Cup since 1970 and ensure that at least one South American team will be in the Semi Finals.


Our final Round 2 match in Pohang is an all-CONMEBOL affair between Argentina's Loco manager and Colombia's even more Loco team. Form is on the Argentines' side, as they beat Los Cafeteros twice in the World Cup qualifiers either side of a victory in the 2001 Copa America Semi Final.


Argentina didn't concede a goal en route to winning Group F, but they might have some defensive blues this time around. First-choice centre-halves Roberto Fabián Ayala and Walter Samuel are both suspended, which means that coach Marcelo Bielsa has some reshuffling to do with his pack.


There is rather less of a selection headache for Hernán Darío Gómez in the Colombian camp. Only right-winger Tresor Moreno is a definite absentee through injury. Juan Pablo Angel and Leyder Preciado will continue up front, even though neither of them scored against the Netherlands or Scotland in their last two group games.


Round 2


Uruguay vs Denmark - at National Stadium, Tokyo

It was Uruguay who launched the first attempts on goal after 10 minutes. Sadly, there was no Irish jig from Fabián O'Neill after his effort was tipped wide by Denmark goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen. Moments later, Sørensen came up with the goods again to parry a header from Jorge Anchén.


Uruguay's keeper was first called into action after 17 minutes, when Fabián Carini pushed away Danish striker Miklos Molnar's headed effort. The pair would confront each other again in the 33rd minute, when Carini appeared to push Molnar. Carini was very fortunate to get away from that effort with just a booking to his name.


Four minutes before half-time, Álvaro Recoba's determination for Uruguay came into question once again. Having merely stubbed his toe, Recoba decided that he was too badly injured to continue. Andrés Nicolás Olivera came on in place of the Inter cry-baby, and his first act was to set up a scoring chance for Anchén. Sørensen heroically pushed it behind for the Danes.


This was a full-blooded contest, and the temperature only rose before half-time. Denmark destroyer Stig Tøfting pushed Uruguay right-back Washington Tais off the ball near the touchline. Tais then got off the turf to plant a headbutt on Tøfting's forehead. The referee had to break the pair up before they committed GBH on one another, and then showed the red card to both men! As they trudged off in disgrace, Tøfting decided to turn Tais into Sharleen Spiteri's black-eyed boy, just for good measure.


That fiasco meant it was 10 vs 10 for the second half, and perhaps beyond. Olivera set out to give Uruguay the opening goal after 48 minutes, but La Celeste would once again be thwarted by another magnificent Sørensen save. Who needed Peter Schmeichel, eh?


Olivera would have another pop at goal in the 73rd minute, though he missed the target comfortably on that occasion. Still, at least Uruguay were showing some attacking intent. Denmark played like a team who seemed content to coast through the second half, secure a goalless draw, and then up the tempo in extra-time. It wasn't exactly the free-flowing attacking football the Danish Dynamite had become renowned for playing under Morten Olsen's management, that was for sure.


When extra-time did come, Denmark flummoxed us further by slowing the tempo further still. This immensely frustrated the Uruguayan players, not least substitute midfielder Walter Cohelo, who was booked for a clumsy foul in the opening minutes.


Just before half-time in extra-time, Sørensen caught a ferocious strike from O'Neill. This was Denmark's moment to launch a counter-attack. Sørensen quickly punted the ball out right to Morten Wieghorst, whose cross was headed just wide by Molnar.


The Danish Dynamite would attack again on 107 minutes. That time, Jesper Grønkjær crossed from the left to find Molnar, who got above Uruguay defender Martín Alzugaray to win the ball. When Molnar's header bounced past Carini and into the net, he gave Denmark the golden goal that sent them into a second successive World Cup Quarter Final! That was a real heartbreaker for La Celeste.


Uruguay - 0

Denmark - 1 (M Molnar 107)

[after extra-time, Denmark win on golden goal]

URUGUAY LINE-UP (4-2-3-1): F Carini; W Tais, M Alzugaray, P Montero ©, F Bergara; A Fleurquin (W Cohelo 81), G Poyet; J Anchén (J González 74), Á Recoba (AN Olivera 41), F O'Neill; D Alonso. BOOKED: Carini 33, Cohelo 91. SENT OFF: Tais 45.

DENMARK LINE-UP (4-4-2): T Sørensen; T Helveg © (B Zivkovic 66), R Henriksen, S Bidstrup, U Laursen; D Rommedahl (M Bisgaard 60), T Gravesen, S Tøfting, J Grønkjær; M Molnar, E Sand (M Wieghorst HT). SENT OFF: Tøfting 45.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Miklos Molnar (Denmark).


Argentina vs Colombia - at Pohang Stadium, Pohang

Uruguay might have fallen, but there would be one South American team in the Quarter Finals. Argentina were absolutely determined that it would be they who prevailed. Walter Gaitán went for goal in the very first minute, but Colombia goalkeeper Oscar Córdoba parried it behind.


Juan Pablo Angel missed Colombia's first chance on three minutes, flicking wide a cross from Alexander Viveros. A minute later, his Argentine namesake Juan Pablo Sorín went one better. The Valencia left-back got his head to Gaitán's long ball, planting it past Córdoba to put La Albiceleste 1-0 up!


Gaitán would set up another goal after eight minutes, with Argentina captain Gabriel Batistuta the beneficiary of a sublime pass into the Colombian box. 'Batigol' volleyed in his third goal of the tournament, and his team already had one foot in the next round.


Now Gaitán wanted to further assert his dominance by getting on the scoresheet. Villarreal's midfield playmaker would've succeeded in the 19th minute had it not been for Córdoba's quick reflexes. Gaitán had better luck in the 27th minute, latching onto Hernan Jorge Crespo's centre and tucking it away to erase Colombia's arrears to 3-0.


Very little had gone wrong for Argentina, but a mini-disaster struck four minutes before half-time. Midfielder Claudio López pulled up suddenly and gestured that he had to come off with what looked to be a serious ankle injury. A scan after the match revealed that López had strained his ankle ligaments and would need to miss the rest of the tournament.


Colombia needed an early second-half goal to keep their slim hopes alive. Luck wasn't on midfielder Viveros' side, though, when a solo effort in the 47th minute hit the post. On 61 minutes, Viveros chipped a delightful ball to left-winger Andrés Chitiva, who then played it long to striker Leyder Preciado. The Racing Santander man hit it on the volley but never got remotely close to scoring.


There were few other highlights for Colombia in the second half. Angel received a booking in the 57th minute to go with centre-half Álvaro Andrés Mosquera's first-half booking. Los Cafeteros' challenge then disintegrated completely in the closing half-hour as they exited the World Cup with a whimper.


Argentina had now won their first four matches at the tournament by an aggregate score of 12-0. As one of only two teams (along with Germany) not to have conceded yet, Marcelo Bielsa's team were proving themselves to be serious challengers. Could they really win their first World Cup outside the Americas?


Argentina - 3 (JP Sorín 4, G Batistuta 8, W Gaitán 27)

Colombia - 0

ARGENTINA LINE-UP (4-1-3-2): PÓ Cavallero; H Ibarra, C Traverso, G Milito, JP Sorín; J Zanetti; JS Verón, C López (M Posse 41 (K González 80)), W Gaitán; HJ Crespo, G Batistuta ©. BOOKED: Milito 49.

COLOMBIA LINE-UP (4-4-2): O Córdoba; RE Martínez, J Bermúdez, ÁA Mosquera, B Sinisterra (VH Marulanda 64); GA Víctoria (H Ricard 57), FE Rincón ©, A Viveros, A Chitiva; L Preciado, JP Angel. BOOKED: Mosquera 19, Angel 57.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Walter Gaitán (Argentina).


Quarter Finals


5 July - Czech Republic vs Italy (in Tokyo, JP)

5 July - Netherlands vs Finland (in Pusan, SK)

6 July - Germany vs Cameroon (in Seoul, SK)

6 July - Argentina vs Denmark (in Seoul, SK)


Japan's first (and only) Quarter Final sees the Czech Republic try to stop the runaway train that is Italy. We'll then have a meeting between underdogs Finland and the Netherlands' traditional underachievers. In the bottom half, Germany and Argentina will be expected to battle through their Quarter Finals, though Cameroon and Denmark could each put a few obstacles in their way.

Edited by CFuller

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Another one of those delightful little scheduling quirks for Seoul to get two quarter-final fixtures on the same day, eh? I'm thinking Italy Argentina final. 

As an old guy, this story has been just delightful to read. So much nostalgia and so many great names! It also made me realize how little I remember about the tournament itself -- sadly, my only lingering memories were the farcical refereeing in the Korea games, Senegal beating France, Robbie Keane being brilliant (but I might be totally off on that), and Beckham scoring against Argentina. I'm curious how 16 years of hindsight has changed my perspective so I'm going to dive into some highlights on YouTube in the next few days. 



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4 minutes ago, King Jeff said:

Another one of those delightful little scheduling quirks for Seoul to get two quarter-final fixtures on the same day, eh? I'm thinking Italy Argentina final. 

As an old guy, this story has been just delightful to read. So much nostalgia and so many great names! It also made me realize how little I remember about the tournament itself -- sadly, my only lingering memories were the farcical refereeing in the Korea games, Senegal beating France, Robbie Keane being brilliant (but I might be totally off on that), and Beckham scoring against Argentina. I'm curious how 16 years of hindsight has changed my perspective so I'm going to dive into some highlights on YouTube in the next few days. 

As I mentioned before, one of the Seoul venues (Chonan) was actually given the wrong city in the database, hence some amusing... as you say, scheduling quirks.

2002 was the best tournament I've ever experienced as an England fan, with Beckham's penalty vs Argentina being the highlight (Owen never dived, honest :D). The Quarter Final defeat to Brazil was a little disappointing (how could anyone forget Ronaldinho's free-kick goal?) but I've never been more proud of the team since. Hopefully that'll change over the coming days (cue defeat to Colombia tonight).

And yes, Robbie Keane was brilliant for Ireland, and the support they got was fantastic. As John Motson said after one of his goals, "LOOK AT THESE SCENES! JUST LOOK AT THESE SCENES!"

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5 JULY 2002

After three weeks of almost non-stop football, it was about time we had a bit of a break. We've had two days off to recharge our batteries, during which I've been watching a bit of Wimbledon tennis. Now, though, the football resumes just in time to stop us watching Tim Henman choke on another Semi Final at SW19.


We're at the Quarter Final stage of this sporting extravaganza, and two European teams will book their last-four places tonight. Will it be business as usual for the big boys, or will there be a shock or two?


Curiously, only one of the Quarter Finals is being played in Japan, with the rest being spread across South Korea. The odd one out is in Tokyo, where Italy are widely expected to continue their Serena... erm, I mean serene progress. Sorry, I've still got Wimbledon on the mind.


Playing the Daniela Hantuchova role - and attempting (probably in vain) to prevent the new favourites from reaching the Semi Finals - are the Czech Republic. That's quite apt, as Hantuchova is Slovakian. (I'll stop with the tennis references now, I promise.)


Many say that the Czechs have Milan Fukal chance of beating the Italians, but I wouldn't be so dismissive of them. They have a bevy of Serie A aces in their ranks, with Pavel Srnicek, Tomas Repka, Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborsky all expected to start. They will know about all the strength and weaknesses in the Azzurri squad.


That's the second Quarter Final. The first is in Pusan, where I fear Finland's dream run at their debut World Cup might be drawing to a close. Captain Sami Hyypiä strained his calf in training a few days ago and will unfortunately miss the rest of the tournament. A centre-half of his exceptional quality will be almost irreplaceable as far as the Finns are concerned.


Hyypiä's injury is great news for the Netherlands, who also have a defender on the sidelines after Winston Bogarde twisted his knee in the Round 2 win over Sweden. I know which one I could more happily live without.


The Oranje have scored two goals in each of their previous four matches at this tournament. Against a thinner Finnish defence, I fancy Louis van Gaal's team to go double-Dutch again, if not triple-Dutch or even quadruple-Dutch. Imagine that as a skipping-rope game!


Quarter Finals


Netherlands vs Finland - at Pusan Stadium, Pusan

Netherlands winger Marc Overmars quickly made his mark on proceedings, causing Finland a couple of early problems. In the fourth minute, he was tripped by midfielder Tommi Grönlund, who received a yellow card. A minute later, Grönlund was forced to concede a corner, which Overmars whipped into the box for returning Dutch captain Frank De Boer to head home.


The Oranje pursued another goal in the eighth minute, but striker Patrick Kluivert's excellent solo run with his shot being turned away by Finland keeper Jussi Jääskeläinen. The Bolton shotstopper also denied Clarence Seedorf from distance in the 13th minute and kept out Andy van der Meyde's free-kick seven minutes later.


The flying Finns quickly countered afterwards, and Teemu Tainio's shot in the Dutch area was diverted behind by the fingers of Sander Westerveld. Grönlund sent in a hanging-ball corner, and Finland's stand-in skipper Jari Litmanen rose above De Boer to power in an equalising header.


Losing their lead briefly shook the Netherlands up. Westerveld had to stop his Liverpool club-mate Litmanen from sending the Oranje 2-1 behind with a brilliant save on 31 minutes. Five minutes later, a pull on Grönlund's shirt saw Dutch defender Kevin Hofland go into the book.


By the 40th minute, though, things were looking up for Louis van Gaal's team again. An excellent passing move by the Total Football specialists ended with van der Meyde weighting a fantastic through-ball to Overmars in the box. The wing wizard smashed it low and hard into the net, and the 2-1 scoreline at half-time was in the Netherland's favour.


Seedorf looked to make it 3-1 to the Dutch on 49 minutes, only to see Jääskeläinen get his gloves to the shot just in time. The action switched back to the other end five minutes later, when Westerveld stopped a couple of shots from Finland midfielder Fredrick Nordback, who had just come off the bench to replace Tainio.


Daniel Sjölund had also entered the fray for the Huuhkajat early in the second half. The teenage striker would not make as much impact as he had done in the Group Stage. In the 77th minute, though, Sjölund appeared to have been brought down in the Dutch area by Anfield colleague Westerveld. The referee decided to wave play on instead of awarding Finland a penalty that could've drawn them level.


There was another big call for the ref to make on 81 minutes, as Jääskeläinen wiped Seedorf out when the Inter midfielder was clean through in the Finland box. This time, the official did point to the spot before reaching into his pocket and showing Jääskeläinen the red card!


As the Finns had used all their substitutes, 6ft 5in striker Mika Kottila was chosen to go in goal in place of the disgraced Jääskeläinen. His first task was to try and save Hofland's penalty, but the cunning PSV centre-half sent him the wrong way. 3-1 to the Netherlands.


The match was pretty much over from that point. Hofland and Seedorf each missed the target in the closing stages, but that didn't matter, as the Oranje were through to another World Cup Semi Final. A fantastic debut campaign from Finland ended here, though they can return to Helsinki with their heads held high.


Netherlands - 3 (F De Boer 5, M Overmars 40, K Hofland pen81)

Finland - 1 (J Litmanen 21)

NETHERLANDS LINE-UP (4-1-4-1): S Westerveld; M Reiziger, J Dirkx, F De Boer ©, K Hofland; J Wolters (P Cocu 51); A van der Meyde (A Bruggink 69), C Seedorf, E Davids, M Overmars; P Kluivert (R Makaay 58). BOOKED: Hofland 36.

FINLAND LINE-UP (4-1-3-2): J Jääskeläinen; H Ylönen (H Tihinen 53), P Pasanen, J Salli, V Nylund; T Grönlund; J Litmanen ©, S Valakari (D Sjölund 53), T Tainio (F Nordback 53); M Kottila, J Johansson. BOOKED: Grönlund 4. SENT OFF: Jääskeläinen 81.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Marc Overmars (Netherlands).


Czech Republic vs Italy - at National Stadium, Tokyo

A very early Italian attack was disrupted when wing-back Paolo Vanoli was pulled back by Czech counterpart Milan Fukal. The yellow card came out for Fukal, and Italy's fit-again striker Christian Vieri fired the subsequent free-kick against the outside of the post.


Another Czech Republic would go into the book after just six minutes. Vanoli reacted angrily to being fouled close to goal again, prompting Czech keeper Pavel Srnicek to mindlessly charge out of his area and push the Fiorentina left-back away! A mini-scuffle ensued, but the referee swiftly regained control of the situation. He then showed Srnicek a yellow card, which could easily have been red on another day.


Italy captain Demetrio Albertini sent a diving header wide of Srnicek's goal on 24 minutes, but one of his colleagues would use their head to greater effect just before the half-hour mark. Vieri had the beating in the air of Czech defender Tomas Repka when he got to Gennaro Ivan Gattuso's long through-ball. Big Chris put in a big finish, and the Azzurri led 1-0.


With his team already in control, Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni opted to make a couple of early substitutions. In the 31st minute, he riskily replaced holding midfielder Alessandro Nesta with enigmatic teenage striker Antonio Cassano. The Bari prospect went on to set up a scoring opportunity in the 39th minute for Gattuso, which Srnicek saved. Prior to then, Trapattoni had taken off defender Mark Iuliano for winger Jonatan Binotto.


The Azzurri's greater emphasis on attack would pay off after 44 minutes. Not long after being pushed by Czech Republic youngster Tomas Rosicky (who was booked as a result), Vieri decided to push his opponents around again. Vanoli lifted a long ball into the box for Cassano, whose cross was then nodded into the net for Vieri's 20th Italy goal.


It was Czech Republic 0, Christian Vieri 2 at half-time. Italy's star striker could have wrapped up his hat-trick four minutes into the second half. Unfortunately, he put his free-kick just over the bar after Cassano had been fouled by Karel Rada.


The Czechs then made a triple change, with Jozef Chovanec perhaps hoping that one of his substitutes would stick the ball into the net. Vladimir Smicer did that in the 54th minute... but the Liverpool forward inadvertently deflected a Vieri free-kick into his own net! That was the first own goal of the 2002 World Cup, and it had surely brought the Central Europeans' adventure to an end.


Pavel Nedved never gave up on the situation, though. The Czech captain struck an excellent volley from Vratislav Lokvenc's lofted pass in the 64th minute, giving Gianluigi Buffon his first save in the Italian goal. The Parma gloveman would also keep out a Lokvenc half-volley in the dying moments.


A couple more bookings were handed out before the match came to its inevitable conclusion. Rada was cautioned on 74 minutes for backing into Cassano, whose team-mate Binotto saw yellow 10 minutes later after pushing Nedved. It was all smiles for Cassano, Binotto and co at full-time, though, as a 3-0 victory put Italy within touching distance of another World Cup Final.


Czech Republic - 0

Italy - 3 (C Vieri 29,44, V Smicer og54)

CZECH REPUBLIC LINE-UP (4-4-2): P Srnicek; M Fukal, T Repka, K Rada, M Nikl; K Poborsky (R Latal 50), T Rosicky, P Berger (J Koller 50), P Nedved ©; V Lokvenc, M Heinz (V Smicer 50). BOOKED: Fukal 1, Srnicek 6, Rosicky 41, Rada 74.

ITALY LINE-UP (5-3-2): G Buffon; D Adani, M Iuliano (J Binotto 37), F Cannavaro; C Panucci, A Nesta (A Cassano 31), P Vanoli; GI Gattuso, D Albertini ©; S Inzaghi, C Vieri. BOOKED: Binotto 84.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Christian Vieri (Italy).

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6 JULY 2002

We found out yesterday that Italy and the Netherlands will face each other in the first Semi Final at Korea/Japan 2002. Now the question is... will contest the second Semi?


Argentina will certainly fancy their chances after coming through the first two rounds without conceding a goal. Marcelo Bielsa must be feeling blessed that he is coaching the likes of Juan Pablo Sorín and Javier Zanetti right now, and so he should be. In just 16 years' time, he'll be in miserable West Yorkshire attempting to build a half-decent second-division defence with Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi.


Left-winger Claudio López has been one of the outstanding players at this tournament. Unfortunately, he will play no further part in it, having strained his ankle ligaments during La Albiceleste's Round 2 victory over Colombia in Pohang.


Argentina are now in the Seoul 'suburb' of Chonan for what they hope will be a straightforward Quarter Final win against Denmark, who have already matched their best-ever performance at a World Cup. Four years ago, the Danish Dynamite pushed Brazil all the way in France, before being edged out of their last-eight encounter by the odd goal in five.


Denmark's hopes of going a step further have been hampered after real-life Mitchell brother Stig Tøfting was suspended following his clash with Uruguay's Washington Tais last week. On the other hand, his absence has also considerably reduced the chances of another South American being rushed into A&E with a broken nose.


The last of our four Quarter Finals will take place in actual Seoul. Cameroon's Indomitable Lions have represented their continent with pride so far, though they needed a penalty shoot-out - and the intervention of Robbie Savage - to beat Wales in Round 2. One more win would make them the first African team to reach a World Cup Semi Final.


Behind the scenes, though, there has been some discontent in the Cameroonian camp. Predictably, a huge row has broken out between the team and the FA over win bonuses, with the squad's youngest players Samuel Eto'o also being its loudest voice. Eto'o and co even threatened to go on strike... until Puma offered them $250,000 each and pledged to design another ground-breaking kit for the 2004 African Cup of Nations.


With that in mind, it's difficult to see Cameroon ending Germany's slow but steady advance towards global glory. Like their Argentine counterparts, the Mannschaft have still not conceded any goals in the tournament, with captain Oliver Kahn looking impregnable between the posts.


The Germans' problems have come at the other end, where they've only scored three times thus far. Coach Rudi Völler is hoping to sort out the disconnect between the midfield and the attack by dropping one of his strikers a bit deeper. That means Christian Timm will come in as an attacking midfielder, sitting just behind lone centre-forward Sean Dundee. You know, that plan could actually work...


Quarter Finals


Argentina vs Denmark - at Chonan Stadium, Seoul

Denmark kicked off the game with a promising attacking move after seven minutes. Ruben Bagger elegantly took the ball up the left flank before crossing to striker Miklos Molnar, whose diving header was not quite so graceful. The same could be said about some of the Danes' tackling, but I'll get to that a bit later.


Argentina's first opportunity to attack came three minutes later. Gabriel Batistuta won a free-kick after his shirt was pulled by Danish defender Stefan Bidstrup. The set-piece was taken by Juan Sebastián Verón, and then parried by Thomas Sørensen. Denmark's goalkeeper was also equal to another set-piece - taken that time by Walter Gaitán - in the 12th minute.


Having been warned for his earlier foul on Batistuta, it was no surprise to see Bidstrup pick up a yellow card for obstructing the Argentine goal machine again. That was in the 17th minute, and a second Dane was cautioned just two minutes later. Midfielder Thomas Gravesen was pulled up for pulling back on the shirt of Argentina's captain Diego Pablo Simeone, who was making his first appearance at this tournament after recovering from a calf injury.


Denmark skipper Thomas Helveg was next to go in the book in the 26th minute, shortly to be followed soon followed by Bagger. Then, on 38 minutes, Sørensen brought down Batistuta in the penalty area. An increasingly irate referee pointed to the spot and then brought out his yellow card for the FIFTH time.


Batistuta might have been a penalty master, but he wouldn't take this spot-kick. Instead, Simeone passed the ball on to Lazio striker Hernan Jorge Crespo, who stepped up and fired it to the keeper's right. Unfortunately for him, Sørensen went the same way, and his parry was followed by a second save in quick succession from Albiceleste anchor Javier Zanetti.


Both teams missed scoring chances shortly before half-time. Bagger put a 41st-minute volley wide for Denmark, while Verón's audacious attempt for Argentina two minutes later was similarly wayward. The opening period would end in more South American disappointment, as a clumsy tackle from Walter Samuel ensured that the Danes wouldn't have a monopoly on yellow cards.


Argentina's frustration continued in the second period, with Crespo striking the crossbar shortly after the resumption. On 53 minutes, Gaitán found space to volley Zanetti's flick-on towards goal, only to put it narrowly over the bar.


Shortly Simeone was booked in the 57th minute for a push on Denmark winger Dennis Rommedahl, Crespo was taken off and replaced with Martín Palermo. The Villarreal striker and penalty-phobe had his first attempt on goal after 70 minutes, but his header was diverted wide by Sørensen. That was the second of three saves in as many minutes by the brilliant Danish number 1, who also frustrated Gaitán and Verón.


A third Albiceleste player saw yellow in the 83rd minute, as Zanetti was booked for a holding foul on Peter Sand. It now looked like Argentina would be taken to extra-time at best, but worse was to come for them five minutes later. Goalkeeper Pablo Óscar Cavallero struggled to secure a deep cross from Denmark substitute Morten Wieghorst, and his fumble allowed Molnar to pop up and volley in another late winning goal!


When the final whistle blew, the Danish Dynamite exploded with joy, having secured a historic World Cup Semi Final place! Their victory also ensured that there would be no South American teams in the last four line-up, with Argentina once again falling short. Questions will surely be asked of head coach Marcelo Bielsa when the Albiceleste return home.


Argentina - 0

Denmark - 1 (M Molnar 88)

ARGENTINA LINE-UP (4-1-3-2): PÓ Cavallero; H Ibarra, RF Ayala, W Samuel, JP Sorín; J Zanetti; DP Simeone © (K González 64), W Gaitán, JS Verón; G Batistuta, HJ Crespo (M Palermo 57). BOOKED: Samuel 45, Simeone 57, Zanetti 83.

DENMARK LINE-UP (4-4-2): T Sørensen; T Helveg ©, R Henriksen, S Bidstrup, U Laursen; D Rommedahl, T Gravesen (M Wieghorst 57), P Sand, R Bagger; M Molnar, E Sand (A Bjerre 64). BOOKED: Bidstrup 17, Gravesen 19, Helveg 26, Bagger 34, Sørensen 38.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Thomas Sørensen (Denmark).


Germany vs Cameroon - at Chamsil Olympic Stadium, Seoul

Germany were slight favourites, but the fact that Sean Dundee was leading their attack must surely have given Cameroon real hope of causing an upset. Goalkeeper Alioum Boukar certainly didn't look too concerned when he caught a long-range shot from the South African-born German striker in the second minute.


Dundee and Sebastian Deisler each sent headers off target during the opening 15 minutes. The former did have another pop at goal on 16 minutes, but Boukar beat his shot away before Cameroon full-back Salomon Olembé cleared. This was Olembé's 30th cap for Cameroon, at the age of just 21. African national teams do play A LOT of football, to be fair.


The Mannschaft cranked up the pressure on 34 minutes. Central midfielder Stefan Beinlich and Jens Jeremies exchanged a string of passes before Jeremies pumped the ball into Cameroon's box from 30 yards out. Waiting there was right-winger Deisler, who forgot about the various physical and emotional problems he will endure later in his career when he volleyed in a stunning opener.


Germany would carry a 1-0 lead into the break, though not before Dundee had a chance to enhance it in the final minute of the first half. The Hamburg powerhouse took the ball past Olembé on his way to the area, where he struck a shot with the outside of his foot. It looped over the bar, so it must have been a pretty awful sidefooted shot.


Olembé had a disappointing attempt at goal himself in the 56th minute. The Nantes left-back's free-kick was blocked by Germany right-back Silvio Meißner, for whom this was his first contribution to the match after coming on as a substitute for Marko Rehmer.


Oliver Kahn remained unbeaten in the Mannschaft goal, and he wouldn't have to make a single save on his way to keeping a fifth consecutive clean sheet. He did catch a very long clearance from Cameroon midfielder Geremi in the 59th minute, but that was only after counterpart Schnoor had stopped Stefan Schnoor from doubling the Germans' advantage.


As Cameroon's hopes ebbed away, Germany looked to effectively secure victory by scoring again. On 61 minutes, Deisler skilfully played the ball past Cameroon striker Patrick Mboma before striking the ball with fury. Boukar did incredibly well to keep it out of his goal.


Germany did wrap up a 2-0 victory in the 80th minute, though it took a huge slice of good fortune. Beinlich lifted a corner into the Africans' penalty area to Dundee, who attempted to head the ball square to Jeremies. Jean Dika managed to get a block in, but the Atlético Madrid centre-half succeeded only in diverting the ball into his own net.


The Indomitable Lions were no more, meaning that Pelé's prediction of an African World Cup winner will take at least another four years to come to pass. For now, we can confidently assume that the trophy will fly back to Europe after the Final on 14 July.


Germany - 2 (S Deisler 34, J Dika og80)

Cameroon - 0

GERMANY LINE-UP (4-4-1-1): O Kahn ©; M Rehmer (S Meißner 56), T Linke (J Nowotny 56), M Happe, S Schnoor; S Deisler, J Jeremies, S Beinlich, M Ketelaer; C Timm; S Dundee.

CAMEROON LINE-UP (4-4-2 Diamond): A Boukar; Lauren, L Mettomo ©, J Dika, S Olembé; P Wome; Geremi, Z Epale; S Eto'o (Meyong 67); P Mboma (R Douala 61), JD Job.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sebastian Deisler (Germany).


Semi Finals


9 July - Italy vs Netherlands (in Seoul, SK)

10 July - Germany vs Denmark (in Tokyo, JP)


An all-European Semi Final line-up promises plenty of excitement. Italy are rightly regarded as favourites, as they've won all their matches within 90 minutes so far and have scored plenty of goals in the meantime. Mind you, the Netherlands are also looking very sharp and will feel that they can progress to a third World Cup Final. Their meeting in Seoul could be a tasty one.


Tokyo hosts the second Semi, which involves a sleeping giant and an emerging force. Germany have become renowned for doing the minimum required to reach the last four, so don't expect them to stray from their pragmatism now. They certainly can't get complacent against Denmark, who've beaten the odds (not to mention Argentina) to confirm their presence over the final weekend.

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Italy v Holland be massive, two of the best sides so far, should really be the final. Italy still to win the whole thing

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On 07/07/2018 at 16:48, argento said:

Italy v Holland be massive, two of the best sides so far, should really be the final. Italy still to win the whole thing

Yes, it's a shame that one of them won't be in the Final. I can see the winner going all the way, even though Germany are well-organised and Denmark have caused a couple of upsets.

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9 JULY 2002

In four years' time, 9 July will become a very significant date for Italian football fans. Helped by Zinedine Zidane's bone-headed decision to butt a former Everton defender in the stomach, Italy will win the World Cup for the fourth time... but could they actually reach that landmark sooner?


The Azzurri have refused to relent in their pursuit of their first world title in 20 years, justifying their tags as favourites at Korea/Japan 2002 by winning five matches on the trot. They are now just one more win away from reaching a sixth Final (Roberto Baggio would rather forget the last one).


Italy were arguably at their best yet when despatching the Czech Republic in their Quarter Final. They have arguably been made even stronger by the return from injury of Roman warrior Francesco Totti, who could well join several of his opponents at Barcelona in the near future. Alternatively, he could stay at the Olimpico for another 15 years and win almost nothing in that time. It's a tough call.


The only team who can keep Italy out of the Final now are the Netherlands, who have followed up their 1998 heroics by reaching the last four. The next step for captain Frank De Boer is to emulate Johan Cruyff in 1974 and Ruud Krol in 1978, by guiding the Oranje into the decisive showdown.


Normally by now, you'd have expected the Dutch players to have been at each other's throats and quite possibly back home in Amsterdam. In fact, they've been gelling together harmoniously throughout the past month. The only disagreement in the camp so far has been between midfielder Edgar Davids and striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, over whether Barnet are a bigger club than Northampton.


One minor disappointment for coach Louis van Gaal is that he won't have Chelsea defender Winston Bogarde back from his knee injury quite yet. Bogarde was a mainstay at Stamford Bridge last season, and his impressive performances in the Far East have sparked speculation that Glenn Hoddle will shortly offer him a new contract.


This first Semi Final takes place in Seoul and is - in fact - the last match at this World Cup to be played on South Korean soil. Pohang was meant to host the 3rd Place Playoff, but Korean officials were so incensed that their team wasn't fudged into the knockout stages that they've told Japan to host it instead.


Semi Finals


Italy vs Netherlands - at Chamsil Olympic Stadium, Seoul

The Netherlands were renowned for playing in an attacking manner, but Italy had also developed a surprising penchant for free-flowing football in recent years. Giovanni Trapattoni's team won a corner as early as the third minute, but the fit-again Francesco Totti's delivery was easily cleared.


In the 9th minute, Azzurri captain Demetrio Albertini pumped the ball upfield to striker Vincenzo Montella, who was back in favour with Trapattoni. The Roma hitman could have had his fifth goal of the tournament, but his header was comfortably caught by Sander Westerveld in the Dutch goal.


Montella and Albertini reversed roles for Italy's next attack on 20 minutes. Montella skipped past Oranje defender Jurgen Dirkx and drifted out wide before aiming a centre into the six-yard box. Prowling there was Albertini, who stuck a bullet header in at the near post to leave Westerveld comfortably beaten. As expected, Italy had opened the scoring.


Things got a little more troublesome for the Italians later in the first period. Montella was booked in the 23rd minute, and another clumsy Azzurri foul eight minutes later gave the Netherlands a free-kick in a promising position. Edgar Davids' attempt was blocked by wing-back Christian Panucci.


Both teams then had volleyed attempts on goal. After 33 minutes, Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert fired Andy van der Meyde's chip goalwards, only to send it flying into the hands of Gianluigi Buffon. Christian Vieri came even closer to scoring for Italy in the 38th minute, but his spectacular half-volley came back off the crossbar.


A couple more attempts came Vieri's way as the match was about to enter its 40th minute. Vieri jumped with Netherlands left-back Kevin Hofland to get his head to a flick-on from Montella. Though Westerveld parried the initial effort, Vieri reacted quickly to cut the rebound and drilled it in from a tight angle. He was now level with Montella on four goals, and Italy were 45 minutes from the Final.


The Netherlands struggled to make any dents on their opponents' 2-0 advantage early in the second period. Often so clinical for club and country, Barcelona ace Kluivert was frequently shut out in Seoul by some excellent Italian defending. Albertini did a particularly great job of keeping Kluivert in check, though he was booked in the 56th minute for holding onto his shirt.


It wasn't until the 65th minute that the Oranje mustered their next shot at goal. Right-back Michael Reiziger's header was picked up by midfield master Clarence Seedorf, who hit the ball low and hard but couldn't keep it on target.


Four minutes later, Italy went for the kill. Montella picked up the ball deep in Dutch territory and put a cross into the box. Up rose Totti, whose header Westerveld did excellently to catch.


The Netherlands then put even more emphasis on attack as time began to run out on their pursuit of an elusive world title. Davids and Seedorf would each miss the net in the 75th and 80th minutes, with the latter going rather close from 20 yards out.


On 87 minutes, Italy sensed a chance to launch a counter-attack and put the result beyond any doubt. Vieri headed a Montella cross at goal but was once again denied by Westerveld, without whom the Netherlands would surely have suffered a heavy defeat. He was even under consideration for the 'man of the match' award, which ultimately went to Montella for his brace of assists.


Reiziger had also had a great game for the Netherlands, and his best moment came in the penultimate minute. His excellent centre from the right was smashed into the Italian net by Seedorf, whose strike was realistically never going to be more than a consolation.


Italy held on for a few minutes of injury time before the final whistle blew. The Azzurri would now contest their sixth World Cup Final and pursue a record-equalling fourth title. For the second global finals in a row, the Netherlands had to go in the 3rd Place Playoff.


Italy - 2 (D Albertini 20, C Vieri 40)

Netherlands - 1 (C Seedorf 89)

ITALY LINE-UP (5-3-2): G Buffon; F Cannavaro, M Iuliano, A Nesta; C Panucci, GI Gattuso, P Vanoli (J Bachini 61); D Albertini ©, F Totti; C Vieri, V Montella. BOOKED: Montella 23, Albertini 56.

NETHERLANDS LINE-UP (4-1-4-1): S Westerveld; M Reiziger, J Dirkx, F De Boer ©, K Hofland; P Cocu; A van der Meyde, C Seedorf, E Davids, B Zenden (J Wolters 49); P Kluivert.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Vincenzo Montella (Italy).

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10 JULY 2002

South Korea have been excellent co-hosts at this World Cup, but now their work is done. We're in Japan until the end now, starting with the second Semi Final. Italy have already ensured that they will play in the Final at Tokyo's National Stadium on 14 June, and their prospective opponents are there right now to determine who will face the Azzurri.


Germany are slight favourites to win tonight's Semi, even though they've assembled arguably the worst Mannschaft team anybody has seen since 1908. If the back four didn't keep building brick walls between themselves and Oliver Kahn before matches, they would surely have been packing their beach towels a long time ago.


Since their third group game against Morocco, the impenetrable Germans have faced just three shots on target over the course of 270 minutes. They have also scored five goals since being gently reminded by FIFA officials that they were allowed to put the ball into the opposition's net.


Rudi Völler experimented with a 4-4-1-1 in the Quarter Final win over Cameroon, but he's now going back to a bog-standard 4-4-2. That means a recall for Oliver Neuville, who is one of the Mannschaft's top scorers in this World Cup (then again, so is Jean Dika). Neuville's strike partner Sean Dundee, on the other hand, has scored as many goals during the tournament as I have.


The Germans' opponents in this last-four contest are Denmark, who will hope for a repeat of their most recent high-profile meeting. That was at the 1992 European Championship Final in Gothenburg, where future Arsenal great John Jensen inspired the Danish Dynamite to a stunning 2-0 victory. I don't think we'll ever see such a big shock in European international football again.


Denmark's Class of '92 have now retired and gone back to painting their living-room walls, but a new team of icons has emerged. A couple of late goals from the extremely fit Miklos Molnar stunned Uruguay and Argentina earlier in the knockout stages. Thomas Sørensen has also impressed with some superb goalkeeping, while Stefan Bidstrup and René Henriksen have formed a formidable central defensive partnership.


The Nordic underdogs have Stig Tøfting back from suspension and ready to hack down the first German player who happens to carry the ball in his direction. Tøfting's fellow midfield hardman Thomas Gravesen is one of five Danish players who are carrying yellow cards from previous matches and risk being banned for the Final if they pick up another. I somehow don't expect Gravesen's eyes to well up like Paul Gascoigne's if he sees yellow again.


Semi Finals


Germany vs Denmark - at National Stadium, Tokyo

Germany seemed very determined to get the first goal early on in this Semi Final. However, there were a few complications. For one thing, they had Sean Dundee up front - a man who hadn't scored in any of his previous seven Mannschaft. For another, he and Oliver Neuville would need to beat Denmark's Thomas Sørensen, who'd proven himself to be one of the standout goalkeepers at this tournament.


Denmark were happy to go on the attack themselves, albeit in a more direct manner than the short-passing Germans. In the 22nd minute (yes, that's how long it took to deliver the first highlight), their striker Ebbe Sand was held back as he tried to latch onto a long ball. The yellow card quickly came out for Germany defender Thomas Linke and then went back into the referee's pocket, never to be seen again.


Sørensen's impeccable record in the knockout rounds would go missing nine minutes later. Germany's breakthrough came from a sizzling pass into the Danish area by Alexander Zickler. Dundee and Sørensen both went after the ball... but much to everyone's surprise, it was the Hamburg forward who came out on top! A stunning header broke Dundee's international duck at just the right time!


Germany started to show a more patient approach after going 1-0 up. They were happy to protect their lead and only launch a counter-attack when Denmark were clearly exposed. The Mannschaft's chance to double their lead would come two minutes before half-time.


VfB Stuttgart right-back Silvio Meißner took possession and then dribbled about half the length of the pitch before crossing into area. Neuville tried to get to the ball, only to be knocked to the turf by Danish defender René Henriksen. Despite German protests, the referee waved play on.


Another chance would arise for Neuville 11 minutes into the second half. A delightful passing move ended with substitute left-winger Marcel Ketelaer putting a low cross to the near post. Neuville was lurking in just the right place to trap the cross and power it past Sørensen for 2-0!


Neuville's goal was just his sixth in 34 caps for Germany, which showed just how poor this particular Mannschaft team generally was up front. Coach Rudi Völler's haul of 47 goals in 90 caps came in the 1980s and early 1990s, and he now wanted to see a repeat of those glory days. Instead of becoming even more conservative than usual, Völler encouraged his players to continue taking the game to their Danish opponents.


When Michael Tarnat was fouled by Denmark left-back Ulrik Laursen close to goal in the 73rd minute, Germany had an opportunity to go 3-0 ahead. Substitute wideman Sebastian Deisler took the free-kick, but he floated it wide.


Deisler would fire another free-kick towards goal on 78 minutes. Dundee was clattered by Denmark's midfield hooligan Stig Tøfting, who was back from suspension after reportedly threatening to whack Uruguay's Washington Tais with a baseball bat. Tøfting would probably have got a crowbar out had Deisler scored from this free-kick, but it was deflected wide by Laursen in the Danish wall.


Across the pitch, the Danish Dynamite just couldn't light their fuse. They could only muster three shots at goal in this Semi Final, and the last of them was fired against the post by Stefan Bidstrup with six minutes to go. The Leicester centre-half had more attempts on goal than strikers Sand, Miklos Molnar and Peter Møller combined. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a bridge too far for Denmark's underdogs.


Oliver Kahn's sixth straight clean sheet was as easy as they came, and the Germany captain would have more reason to celebrate when the ref called time. The Mannschaft were through to their first World Cup Final since reunification, and they were also on course to become the first team to lift the trophy without conceding any goals!


Germany - 2 (S Dundee 31, O Neuville 56)

Denmark - 0

GERMANY LINE-UP (4-4-2): O Kahn ©; S Meißner, T Linke, M Happe, S Schnoor; A Zickler (M Ketelaer 55), Y Eigenrauch (J Jeremies 60), M Tarnat, S Beinlich (S Deisler 55); S Dundee, O Neuville. BOOKED: Linke 22.

DENMARK LINE-UP (4-4-2): T Sørensen; T Helveg ©, R Henriksen, S Bidstrup, U Laursen; D Rommedahl, T Gravesen (M Wieghorst 55), S Tøfting, J Grønkjær; M Molnar, E Sand (P Møller 60).

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sean Dundee (Germany).


3rd Place Playoff


13 July - Denmark vs Netherlands (in Yokohama, JP)


The Netherlands' entertainers are battling for bronze for the second successive World Cup, having once again failed to go all the way. They will be slight favourites to take 3rd place in Yokohama, though it won't be easy. Denmark have one of the strongest defences at the tournament and will fancy their chances of capping off their World Cup in style.




14 July - Italy vs Germany (in Tokyo, JP)


In a repeat of the 1982 World Cup Final, Italy and Germany will duel for the right to call themselves the best international football team on the planet. It's almost impossible to predict whether the unstoppable Italian force or the immovable German object will survive their confrontation. What I can safely say, though, is that it should be a cracker.

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It's taken a while to get caught up on this one after a bit of time away while the World Cup has been on. It's been a epic tale Chris, and has clearly been a labour of love for you. I'll be amazed if this isn't the running a few awards later in the year. Well done mate.

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13 hours ago, neilhoskins77 said:

It's taken a while to get caught up on this one after a bit of time away while the World Cup has been on. It's been a epic tale Chris, and has clearly been a labour of love for you. I'll be amazed if this isn't the running a few awards later in the year. Well done mate.

Thank you, Neil. Not long to go now until it's all over...

I made sure I had almost the whole story written up before the World Cup started and am now simply putting the finishing touches on it. I've enjoyed it a lot, as you can tell, and I won't rule out going back to another retro CM/FM to simulate another historic tournament in the future.

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13 JULY 2002

The 2002 World Cup has entered its final weekend, and we're less than 48 hours away from learning who will leave Japan with the trophy. While Italy and Germany make their final preparations for the Final in Tokyo, attention now switches to who will join them on the medal rostrum.


The Yokohama International Stadium hosted the real-life Final, where Ronaldo took advantage of some un-German goalkeeping from Oliver Kahn to win a fifth World Cup for Brazil. That didn't happen in this universe, of course, and Yokohama will instead stage the 3rd Place Playoff tonight.


The favourites to take the bronze medals are the Netherlands. The swash-buckling football of Marc Overmars and co has captivated audiences in the Far East and on television. In fact, both the BBC and ITV have run out of classic Dutch rock (by Focus and Golden Earring, et al) to soundtrack the Oranje's exploits. They have now turned to the arguably less thrilling music of Alice Deejay instead.


The Netherlands have already scored 12 goals - the joint-second highest total at this World Cup, alongside Argentina and Finland. Three more strikes for them would put them level with their Semi Final conquerors Italy prior to tomorrow's Final.


Inter midfielder Clarence Seedorf and Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert have three goals apiece so far and are still just about in contention for the Top Goalscorer award. Two more for either man would equal the tally of Wales' John Hartson, but they'd need at least a hat-trick to stop him from taking the Golden Boot home to Bradford. That award would go nicely on John's mantlepiece with Eyal Berkovic's front teeth, I might add.


Attempting to stop the Dutch masters from painting a masterpiece in Yokohama are underdogs Denmark. Inspired by goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen and a rock-solid defensive line, the Nordic aces have ground out some excellent results at this tournament. They have also inspired record sales of LEGO, bacon and Olsen Brothers CDs in the Far East.


The Danes' unlikely push towards becoming the eighth different World Cup winners ultimately fell short at the penultimate hurdle. Striker Miklos Molnar has consistently and unfailingly run a half-marathon on every single day that Denmark haven't played a match. Perhaps understandably, he looked lethargic in the Semi Final against Germany, and his side promptly went down 2-0.


Molnar has wisely given his legs a rest before this fixture, so the hope is that he can put in one final explosive performance for the Danish Dynamite. If not, then maybe Ebbe Sand could end his wait for a first goal at this tournament. Maybe.


3rd Place Playoff


Denmark vs Netherlands - at Yokohama International, Yokohama

Denmark's star man at this competition was called into action after just three minutes. I'm not talking about Miklos Molnar, obviously, but rather goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen. Sunderland's gloveman turned away an early header from the Netherlands' Deportivo forward Roy Makaay.


Makaay began another Dutch attack in the seventh minute by intercepting a chip from Danish left-back Anders Bjerre. Within moments, Clarence Seedorf had hoisted the ball into the box for Patrick Kluivert to head home. However, Kluivert had strayed fractionally offside, and so the Netherlands didn't go 1-0 up.


By the 10th minute, it was Denmark who led by a single goal. Left-winger Ruben Bagger got past Oranje defender Regillio Vrede and drifted in a cross to the back stick. Molnar flicked it across goal for his strike partner Ebbe Sand, whose header proved too much for Sander Westerveld.


The Danish Dynamite's lead lasted all of five minutes. Then the Netherlands' left-wing wizard Marc Overmars arrived. His exquisite delivery from the byline was headed home at the far post by Makaay. Roy's distant cousin Malky would have been very proud if he wasn't busy making discriminatory 'banter' at the time.


The middle of the first half featured a couple of Dutch bookings, for Vrede and Edgar Davids. In between those bookings, Denmark coach Morten Olsen decided to make an early change in personnel. Right-winger Morten Bisgaard looked like a man who didn't want to play this virtually meaningless match, so on came Jesper Grønkjær, who actually seemed willing to contribute.


Overmars would also see yellow for the Netherlands in the 38th minute after upending Denmark midfielder Peter Sand. The Danes had missed a chance to equalise two minutes before then, when Grønkjær met Molnar's chip with a wayward diving header.


Olsen's side had another equalising opportunity just before half-time. Everton's Thomas Gravesen - who had wisely been chosen to play in midfield instead of volatile powder keg Stig Tøfting - struck a furious shot that ex-Liverpool keeper Westerveld tipped behind. The recent Rangers signing then made light work of Ebbe Sand's ineffective corner.


The 3rd Place Playoff usually delivers thrilling end-to-end football, and the first half hadn't disappointed. However, the second half didn’t quite match that. Very little happened in the 15 minutes after the resumption, save for a shove on Kluivert that resulted in Gravesen being cautioned. After the match, it emerged that the referee had actually written Tøfting's name into his book! An easy mistake to make.


Things then picked up a little bit, and Bagger could have bagged a second Danish goal in the 65th minute. His header from captain Thomas Helveg's cross was beaten away by Westerveld and then cleared into touch by Kevin Hofland.


A minute later, Olsen surprisingly opted to sub off his substitute Grønkjær, instead fielding Dennis Rommedahl for the final quarter. His final change would be an enforced one in the 82nd minute, as Bagger pulled up with a thigh injury. On came Sevilla's Morten Wieghorst for the closing moments.


Then it all went pear-shaped for Denmark in the 83rd minute, barely a minute after Bagger's exit. Netherlands forward Arnold Bruggink - who'd replaced his team's captain Frank De Boer after an hour - made his way into the box to receive a lofted pass from stand-in skipper Davids. Bruggink's headed finish was his first Oranje goal, and it would be the crucial one in this match.


A tense match finished 2-1 in favour of the Netherlands. As his team collected their bronze medals afterwards, Dutch boss Louis van Gaal probably thought to himself that he could get used to enjoying such qualified success. Denmark will also return home in good spirits, having defied all expectations in a World Cup that they had been just moments away from missing altogether.


Denmark - 1 (E Sand 10)

Netherlands - 2 (R Makaay 15, A Bruggink 83)

DENMARK LINE-UP (4-4-2): T Sørensen; T Helveg ©, R Henriksen, S Bidstrup, A Bjerre; M Bisgaard (J Grønkjær 21 (D Rommedahl 66)), T Gravesen, P Sand, R Bagger (M Wieghorst 82); M Molnar, E Sand. BOOKED: Gravesen 54.

NETHERLANDS LINE-UP (4-1-4-1): S Westerveld; M Reiziger, R Vrede (J Dirkx 55), F De Boer © (A Bruggink 60), K Hofland; J Wolters; R Makaay, C Seedorf, E Davids, M Overmars; P Kluivert. BOOKED: Vrede 18, Davids 31, Overmars 38.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Marc Overmars (Netherlands).

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19 hours ago, Drogba11CFC said:

Got to be Italy. They were unbeaten against Germany in all competitions at this time.

I had honestly forgotten that. You won't mind if I borrow that nugget, will you? ;)

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14 JULY 2002

63 matches. 158 goals. 12 red cards. A lot of embarrassed Scottish faces. The 2002 World Cup is almost at an end.


There is one more match left to play tonight, as the National Stadium in Tokyo opens its doors to Italy and Germany for the Final. At the end of the night, one of those teams will leave the Japanese capital with the trophy in their hands.


The current World Cup trophy was created by Milan-based sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga for the 1974 tournament. It has only been handed to one victorious Italian captain since then, but now Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini will seek to follow in the footsteps of 1982 goalkeeping hero Dino Zoff.


Albertini has been excellent at this tournament, leading the Azzurri to six straight victories. If he can inspire them to another victory within 90 or even 120 minutes, they would become the first side to win the World Cup with a perfect record after seven matches. (Brazil won every match at Mexico 1970, but they only needed to play six.)


Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni only has a couple of injury concerns going into this match. Attacking midfielder Francesco Totti started the Semi Final win over the Netherlands despite not having fully recovered from a twisted knee. Wing-back Gianluca Zambrotta suffered a similar injury against Ukraine in Round 2 and has not featured since, though it's not yet known whether he'll return for the big game.


The Italians have a safe pair of hands in goal in Gianluigi Buffon, who displaced Angelo Peruzzi in 2001 and looks set to make the number 1 jersey his own for the next 16 years. Gigi will hope to have at least one World Cup winner's medal in his cabinet before he is reduced to advertising shampoo, shopping apps and mobile tank games.


Buffon's counterpart between the German posts is Oliver Kahn, who at 33 years old is still arguably peerless. The Bayern München keeper has already made history by keeping six successive clean sheets at a World Cup. Could he now inspire Germany become the first team to become world champions without conceding a single goal?


Since the national humiliation that was Euro 2000, the Mannschaft have prided themselves on being hard to beat. Their only defeats on the road to the Final so far have come against England and Finland away from home in the qualifiers. That first defeat, ladies and gentlemen, was just about the only thing Kevin Keegan ever got right as England boss.


While Kahn and his defence have been fantastic so far, the same can't be said about the German midfielders and forwards. Oliver Neuville is their only player to have scored more than once, so he will surely head their attack tonight. First-choice striker Carsten Jancker must watch on from the sidelines after twisting his ankle in the final group game against Morocco.


Rudi Völler's main selection dilemma concerns who he has partnering Neuville. Does he stick with Sean Dundee, who scored his first goal since 1997 during the Semi Final against Denmark, or does he bring Christian Timm back in as an attacking midfielder. It's times like these when Völler probably wishes Miroslav Klose hadn't decided to play for Poland.


Germany also have history firmly against them. An amateur statistician has reliably informed me that the Mannschaft have never beaten Italy in six competitive meetings - a drought that stretches back 40 years. Mind you, the Italians have only won two of those six games, and their only victory within 90 minutes was in the 1982 World Cup Final. Angus Loughran, eat your heart out.


I've worked my socks off over the past month to give you top-quality match reports (well, at least by Romford Recorder standards) from the World Cup. Now, though, I'm going to have a well-earned rest for the Final, which means you'll get your reports from elsewhere.


I could outsource the Final report to the BBC's commentary duo of John Motson and Trevor Brooking if I really wanted to. Instead, I'll leave you in the capable hands of Barcelona dreamer Clive Tyldesley and tactics truck driver Andy Townsend, from ITV. Take it away, boys...




Italy vs Germany - at National Stadium, Tokyo

Clive: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen... or good morning, if you're watching from back home in the UK. You probably are. This is Clive Tyldesley coming to you from Tokyo in Japan - the land of the rising sun. Tonight, the sun will set on what has been a very intriguing first World Cup to be hosted on Asian soil.


"We've seen plenty of drama and controversy, and quite a few shocks, but there's little doubting that the cream has risen to the top. Either Italy or Germany will tonight match Brazil's record of lifting the World Cup on four occasions. The Germans are looking for a first victory since reunification in 1990, while those of you of a certain age will remember Italy's most recent triumph. It was 20 years ago on Thursday, and who did Dino Zoff's team beat on that night in Madrid? West Germany.


"As the players enter the field, it would be remiss of me not to introduce you to my colleague - a man who knows all about competing in the World Cup. Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Andy Townsend, how are you, my good friend?"


Andy: "I'm very well, thank you, Clive. This has been a fantastic tournament here in Japan, and obviously in South Korea as well. I'm really looking forward to what should be a fitting finale. You've got an Italian team who love to dominate their opponents from the outset, and then you've got Germany, who are really dogged in defence and will take some stopping."


Clive: "It's the irresistible force against the immovable object. Italy have won 14 consecutive matches from the qualifiers to the finals; Germany have not conceded a goal since arriving in Asia.


"Before we get underway, this is when we'd normally have the national anthems. FIFA have spiced things up at this tournament, though, and we will instead listen to a couple of modern musical pieces as selected by the two teams. Germany's anthem - if you'll call it that - is up first."


["Ramp! (The Logical Song)" by Scooter plays]


Clive: "And now we have the Italian anthem, which is perhaps self-explanatory."


["Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65 plays]


Andy: "Why couldn't we have had some proper music, Clive? When I was around, we had bands like Level 42. When did they go out of fashion?"


Clive: "Good question. Anyway, let's have a look at the two starting line-ups."


ITALY STARTING LINE-UP (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon (Parma); Daniele Adani (Fiorentina), Fabio Cannavaro (Parma), Alessandro Nesta (Lazio); Christian Panucci (Inter), Gennaro Ivan Gattuso (Milan), Paolo Vanoli (Fiorentina); Demetrio Albertini © (Milan), Francesco Totti (Roma); Christian Vieri (Inter), Vincenzo Montella (Roma).


Clive: "Italy's starting XI is as you would expect, with plenty of names familiar to those of you who used to watch a certain programme on another channel. The only change Giovanni Trapattoni has made to his line-up from the Semi Final against the Netherlands is in defence, where Daniele Adani comes in for Mark Iuliano.


"And now the two captains - Demetrio Albertini and Oliver Kahn - meet at the centre-circle for the coin toss. Overseeing today's all-European Final is Eugene Westerink, from Den Haag in the Netherlands. It's fair to say that his appointment as the World Cup Final referee came out of the blue; this is his first match of the tournament. Needless to say, it will also be his last."


GERMANY STARTING LINE-UP (4-4-2): Oliver Kahn © (Bayern München); Marko Rehmer (Hertha BSC), Thomas Linke (Bayern München), Markus Happe (Hamburg), Stefan Schnoor (Wolfsburg); Alexander Zickler (Bayern München), Sebastian Deisler (Bayern München), Stefan Beinlich (Hertha BSC), Marcel Ketelaer (Hamburg); Christian Timm (1.FC Köln), Oliver Neuville (Leverkusen).


Clive: "Rudi Völler has been a bit bolder with Germany's starting line-up, having made four changes from the team which beat Denmark. Rehmer, Deisler, Ketelaer and Timm all get the nod, which means that Meißner, Eigenrauch, Tarnat and Dundee are dropped to the bench. Sean Dundee will be especially aggrieved not to have been selected after his man-of-the-match display in the Semi Final.


"I want to have a quick word with you before we get underway, Andy. Having looked at the two teams, how do you see this Final panning out?"


Andy: "Italy have to be the favourites for me, Clive. They've looked far and away the most convincing team at these finals, and they've got quality all over the pitch. Germany might have a watertight defence, but they look very suspect going forward, and that's where I reckon they'll come unstuck tonight."


Clive: "So this is it. Italy and Germany contested the World Cup Final in 1982, and now they cross swords again in 2002. It's Christian Vieri who will kick us off for Italy, who are in their traditional Azzurri blue shirts and white shorts, kicking from left to right. Germany are in their similarly iconic white shirts and black shorts."

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First Half

5th minute

Clive: "Italy really are looking for an early goal here. Vanoli on the ball now. That's hit long to Gattuso... and flicked on to TOTTI! Superb catch by Oliver Kahn!"


Andy: "You're not wrong there, Clive. That was a great move by the Italians, and I really thought Totti's volley would fly into the top bins. But you're seeing right there why Kahn is the best goalkeeper in the world at this moment in time. He reads the game so well and is always well-placed to make a save."


Clive: "Germany's run to the Final has been built from the back, and if Kahn can keep up his incredible form, they could become the first team ever to win a World Cup without conceding any goals."


10th minute

Clive: "Totti takes the ball for Italy. Deisler tries to close him down, but Totti knocks it past him... and gets past Zickler as well!"


Andy: "Tremendous skill!"


Clive: "Totti with the cross now. He finds Panucci... but that was a poor header from the Inter wing-back."


Andy: "Goodness me, what a waste! Francesco Totti made that attack almost on his own, but he was badly let down by a poor header from Panucci. Hold on; didn't Panucci used to play for Chelsea?"


Clive: "Not as far as I'm aware, Andy."


19th minute

Clive: "We haven't seen much of Germany on the attacking front, but now they have a chance to counter. Here comes Sebastian Deisler..."


Andy: "Ooh dear, that's a poor tackle."


Clive: "Deisler brought down by Paolo Vanoli, and the referee will want a word with the Italian centre-back. And yes, it's a yellow card."


Andy: "I can't disagree with that. I thought for a moment that Deisler was about to dribble clean through, but he was taken out by a cynical trip from Vanoli. Definite booking."


33rd minute

Clive: "Now here comes Montella, charging down the left flank for Italy. He's beaten Rehmer and now here comes the cross... flicked on by Panucci... VIERI!"


Andy: "Dreadful shot."


Clive: "That volley is well wide from Christian Vieri. It's a very poor miss from an Italian point of view."


Andy: "I ain't exaggerating when I say my mum could've scored that. Even my old Chelsea team-mate Dave Mitchell could've scored that, for that matter! Unfortunately, Vieri just couldn't strike Panucci's flick-on sweetly enough, and he'll be very disappointed with that.


"You have to say, Clive, that Italy are making plenty of chances but aren't taking them. Sooner or later, you have to feel that Germany will capitalise and hit them on the break."


35th minute

Clive: "And that's another poor pass from Zickler in the German midfield. It's hoovered up by Gattuso. He turns neatly on the ball... he gets past Beinlich... it's still Gattuso! And you have to say that's another poor shot by the Italians."


Andy: "Rino Gattuso ain't renowned for his goalscoring abilities and we saw that right there. Germany basically gave him a free pass to goal, but he couldn't wrap his foot around the ball and sent a banana shot flying well over the bar."


Clive: "This World Cup Final is all Italy's at the moment, but Giovanni Trapattoni will be furious that his players have been so wasteful in front of goal."


38th minute

Clive: "Totti now on the ball. Could this be the start of another Italian attack? Not if Rehmer has his way. Totti goes down... and what's the referee gonna give here?"


Andy: "That looked like a dive to me, Clive."


Clive: "Well, Eugene Westerink has given the free-kick to Italy. Many of the German players are surrounding the referee, perhaps trying to argue that Totti dived. But he's not having it, and that's a yellow card for Marko Rehmer - the German right-back from Hertha."


Andy: "The Italians do love a bit of gamesmanship, and I'm not entirely sure Totti was fouled by Rehmer there. Let's have a look at the replay. The contact there is minimal, I have to say. Totti basically conned the referee there and should be booked for me."


39th minute

Clive: "Here's Totti again. He tries to cross it to Montella, but that's brilliantly knocked behind by Schnoor for a corner."


Andy: "I'm very impressed by that interception from Stefan Schnoor. Had he not got in the way just in time, I'm certain it would've been 1-0 Italy."


Clive: "Now here comes the corner from Totti. Headed away by Rehmer!"


Andy: "Well done, young man. Rehmer showed great composure to clear that away, especially so soon after being given a questionable yellow card."


Clive: "Marko Rehmer is 30 years old, so you can hardly call him a young man."


Andy: "He's a young man to you and me, Clive."


Clive: "Fair point."


45th minute

Clive: "And that's half-time. In all honesty, this has not been a Final to remember so far. Germany were very pensive in that first half, and Italy couldn't make the most of their opportunities. The likes of Totti, Vieri and Gattuso will be ruing misses when they return to the dressing room."


Andy: "Spot on, Clive. Germany will be the much happier team at half-time. On another night, they could have been swamped by Italy, but they held firm and will hopefully shot a bit more confidence going forward in the second half."


Clive: "This World Cup Final is still tightly-poised, and it's anyone's guess as to who wins from here. Half-time in Tokyo: Italy 0, Germany 0. Now I'm off for a cup of tea."


Andy: "I've got some sandwiches in my Tactics Truck if you want a quick bite, Clive."


Clive: "I'm fine, thanks, Andy."


Second Half

Clive: "Welcome back. The first half of this World Cup Final between Italy and Germany promised much but delivered very little. The deadlock remains intact, but who do you think looks most likely to break it, Andy?"


Andy: "Well, at this moment in time, you have to say Italy look the more likely. Totti's been running the show in midfield, while Vieri and Montella are getting into some promising positions. For me, Germany have to start taking the game to the Italians, because the longer they have to sit back and defend, the greater the chance that they will be broken."


47th minute

Clive: "Deisler on the ball for Germany. You can sense already that the Germans are showing a lot more attacking desire in this second half. Deisler passes to Neuville, and that's a foul on the Leverkusen striker. Daniele Adani is the guilty party this time."


Andy: "I reckon he's gonna get booked for that challenge. Looked a bit meaty for me."


Clive: "The referee seems to agree with you there, Andy. It's a yellow card for Adani."


Andy: "It's a reckless challenge, really. Adani never really looked like winning the ball, and you can see there that he clearly caught Neuville's shin. On another day, that could've had a worse outcome and Adani could have been sent off."


Clive: "Now, before Germany take this free-kick, it looks like Italy are going to make a change. It's a like-for-like change up front, as Christian Vieri comes off and Lazio's Simone Inzaghi enters the fray."


Andy: "I think that's a pretty good change for Italy. Vieri's done alright, but the fresher legs and stamina Inzaghi brings to the table can't be overlooked. I can't help but feel, though, that they really could have done with his big brother Filippo at this moment in time."


51st minute

Clive: "And now we're going to see Germany's first substitution. Italy have already brought on a new striker, so the Germans have gone for fresher legs at the back. It's Jens Nowotny of Leverkusen who will come on in place of Thomas Linke."


Andy: "That's a bit of a strange one, Clive. Why would you swap a defender for a defender early in the second half, unless it was 'cos of an injury? You have to think Linke had some sort of knock or something."


Clive: "It didn't look that way to me when Linke was coming off. He seemed like he could have carried on for another hour if needed."


56th minute

Clive: "Neuville's going forward for Germany. That's a brilliant tackle by Cannavaro, and now Italy with a chance to tackle. Here's their captain, Albertini... and he's bundled to the ground by Schnoor!"


Andy: "That is just cynical, Clive."


Clive: "It's a yellow card, and rightly so, for the Wolfsburg and former Derby left-back."


Andy: "I think players on both teams need to calm down. This is supposed to be the World Cup Final, but at the moment, it's more like a scrap between two teams who both look on edge."


Clive: "Something's got to change, clearly, and it looks like both teams have decided to take action. It's Mark Iuliano on for Panucci in the Italian defence, while Michael Tarnat will come on for Germany as a replacement for Marcel Ketelaer."


Andy: "Nice to see Germany show a bit of positivity for once. Tarnat was very productive for Frankfurt in the Bundesliga last season, or so I'm told, so maybe he could be the difference-maker."


Clive: "Like you said, Andy, Tarnat had a good record in the German league last season - seven assists for a Frankfurt team who finished 7th. He's not looked quite so impressive on international duty thus far, but perhaps the big occasion will bring the best out of him."


64th minute

Andy: "And that's another careless pass from Zickler! He's been dreadful tonight, Clive!"


Clive: "It's gone straight out of play for an Italian throw. Alex Zickler might have won countless trophies with Bayern München over the years, but in the biggest match of his career, the 28-year-old forward has been found wanting... so far."


Andy: "Looking at the fourth official's board, I reckon that's it for him."


Clive: "Indeed it is. Come in number 7, your time is up. Zickler trudges off the field, and on comes Germany's third and final substitute. This is the rapid and energetic right-winger Yves Eigenrauch, who's just completed a free transfer to Leverkusen after over a decade at Schalke 04."


Andy: "I'm not sure what to make of that, Clive. He's a bit like Tarnat for me; he plays really well back home in Germany, but he doesn't seem to do it for Germany."


73rd minute

Clive: "This second half has been as tense as cagey as the first, but now you sense that things are picking up. Christian Timm bombs forward for Germany... and he's tripped by Cannavaro. It looks like Eugene Westerink will pull out his yellow card once again. Indeed, he has."


Andy: "That's probably the only tackle Fabio Cannavaro has mistimed all night long. To be fair, he hasn't had to do much so far, as Germany's attacking threat has been about as imposing as... well, Scotland's, to tell you the truth."


Clive: "That won't please too many of our viewers from north of the border, Andy, but I see where you're coming from."


76th minute

Clive: "Here's Vanoli coming up the left flank for Italy. He floats it to the near post for MONTELLA... fantastic reaction save by Kahn! He turns it behind for a corner!"


Andy: "How on Earth did Oliver Kahn get to that? The Germany captain was right at the other post, but he managed to get across his goal and palm it over the bar. I thought Montella would nod that into the net nine times out of 10!"


Clive: "Totti's standing over this corner kick. In comes the delivery... Iuliano flicks it on... INZAGHI couldn't quite get to it! Kahn saves Germany again!"


Andy: "When you're talking about 'man of the match', you have to say that Kahn is right up there. He's been completely focussed from the first whistle and has almost single-handedly kept Germany in this World Cup Final."


85th minute

Clive: "Italy squander possession, and it's cleaned up by Sebastian Deisler. What can he do from here? He's lofted it into the area for Neuville, who's gone one-on-one with Buffon. He steps past Buffon! THIS MUST BE IT!"




Clive: "He hasn't."


Andy: "That's incredible, Clive. But you have to give a lot of credit to Gigi Buffon in the Italian goal. It was a very smart move from him to force Neuville out wide, and the striker couldn't quite curl the ball home from that angle. That being said, I thought he would've got a lot closer."


Clive: "That is surely the best chance Germany have had, and probably will have, all night long. Rudi Völler in his prime would probably have pounced on that opportunity, but unfortunately for the German coach, Oliver Neuville isn't quite on the same level."


90th minute

Clive: "And that's it for now. The 1994 World Cup Final was goalless after 90 minutes, and there've been no goals here either so far. That isn't to say there hasn't been a complete lack of entertainment, as Italy have had and wasted several chances. Germany might have spent much of the first half on the defensive, but they came out of their shell a bit more in the second half, and that bodes well for extra-time, Andy."


Andy: "I'd like to say that things will become more open after the break, but I'm not too sure in all honesty. If anything, teams seem to get even more cautious and defensive when it comes to golden-goal extra-time. You don't want to be the player in your team who makes the mistake that costs you and your mates the World Cup."


Clive: "Time will tell. A maximum of 30 more minutes await us, and maybe even penalties if there's still a deadlock. Will Italy or Germany be taking the World Cup home from Tokyo? Stay tuned to find out."

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2 minutes ago, King Jeff said:

Cruel you would stop there! 

Yes, I'm afraid you will have to wait until tomorrow for extra-time and the conclusion. If the Final had finished within 90 minutes, I would have given you everything today.

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Clive: "There has not been a single hat-trick scored at this World Cup, and we aren't getting one here. This is the first ever World Cup where no player has scored three goals in a single match. Right now, these two teams would quite happily settle for one, as we're effectively down to 'next goal wins'."


Andy: "Ah, like the Nike adverts!"


Clive: "Yes, Andy. Those of you who watched the last two European Championship Finals will know that Germany love the golden-goal, and that Italy hate it."


92nd minute

Clive: "We're now a minute into extra-time, and we have hardly seen the ball leave the middle third yet. This is a very tentative start from both teams, you have to say."


Andy: "It's just dire, Clive. The quality of the passing just hasn't been there on either team. And you can sense now that Italy are happy to conserve their energy for the second extra half. If Germany can pick up the pace a little, maybe there won't be a second half."


98th minute

Clive: "Albertini with a through-ball to Totti... and that's a surprisingly poor first touch from the Roma forward. That bounces behind for a goal kick, as some famous faces watch on. I can see Pelé there, and so too Dino Zoff, the last man to captain Italy to a World Cup victory."


Andy: "I think I can see Billy Holiday there as well."


Clive: "Billie Holiday was a jazz singer who died about 40 years ago, Andy."


Andy: "No, I mean Billy Holiday - the manager of Nuneaton. They won the Conference by eight points last season and went up to Division 3. That ain't a mean feat, y'know, cos I don't think he ever went to a single Nuneaton match."


Clive: "Oh yes, so it is. No doubt his employers will be pleased to see him in Yokohama."


Andy: "They've got a friendly at Folkestone next Wednesday as well, Clive. Now that's proper football."


Clive: "Just to remind you, viewers, that we have got a World Cup Final going on right here in Yokohama, even though this might look like Folkestone vs Nuneaton at the minute."


105th minute

Clive: "Michael Tarnat in possession for Germany... and he's squandered it to Albertini. But the Italy captain's lost the ball as well! Here's Eigenrauch... Totti takes it and crosses to Iuliano... but that's out for a German throw-in."


Andy: "I can't believe ITV postponed Coronation Street for this, Clive. I wish there was somewhere on the Internet where I could share my opinions with like-minded people."


Clive: "Whoever does invent a website like that will make a lot of money, I can tell you. Now we're going to see one final change from Italy. It's a bold one as well, as Gennaro Gattuso is going to be replaced by the youngest player in Italy's squad. Here comes the Bari striker Antonio Cassano, who celebrated his 20th birthday only on Friday."


Andy: "It's a very bold change. Italy now have three recognised strikers on the field - Inzaghi, Montella, Cassano - and Totti is a very attacking midfielder as well. Trapattoni is definitely putting a lot of emphasis on attack."


Clive: "And just as Cassano comes onto the pitch, the referee blows his half-time whistle. We're still goalless here in Tokyo, and it probably will stay that way unless either team can up the pace in the second half. Italy 0, Germany 0."


110th minute

Clive: "That's an excellent direct ball out to Vanoli. Can Italy make something of this attack? Vanoli takes it up the left and swings it in to the near post. Here comes TOTTI... and the look on his face will tell you just how great a chance that was for the Azzurri."


Andy: "Totti's been the best attacking player on the field by far tonight, but he should have scored that for me. It wasn't a clean connection to what was a fantastic cross from Vanoli. Like I say, he could've done a whole lot better there and will be kicking himself."


114th minute

Clive: "Germany on the offensive now. Eigenrauch crosses up to Christian Timm... nodded down to Neuville. He's taken out by Adani! Was that the penalty? The referee says NO!"


Andy: "What a lucky, lucky boy Adani is. He was already on a yellow card, so he had to get that tackle right. Fortunately, he did."


Clive: "Italy have survived arguably their biggest scare yet. Losing the World Cup to a golden-goal penalty would have been the ultimate heartbreaker for their many fans here in Tokyo."


121st minute

Clive: "The referee looks at his watch... and it's full-time. Italy and Germany could not be separated after two tense and scrappy hours, which means the World Cup will be decided on penalties for only the second time. Italy will be desperate to make amends for the disappointment of losing the 1994 Final to Brazil, but they'll have to get past a German team that relishes these situations. Don't go anywhere."


Penalty Shoot-Out

Germany's 1st penalty

Clive: "Italy won the toss, but they have put Germany in to bat first. The Hertha midfielder Stefan Beinlich - once of Aston Villa - is stepping up to take the opening penalty of this shoot-out. Does this surprise you, Andy?"


Andy: "Not really, Clive. I played with him at Villa in the 1993/1994 season, and he was always a dab hand at penalties. And you can see there that he's fully focussed and wants to get Germany off to the perfect start."


Clive: "And he has! What a confident penalty!"


Andy: "Never in doubt, Stefan! Buffon went the right way, but Beinlich drilled it hard and low into the bottom corner. No way the keeper could react to that."


Italy's 1st penalty

Clive: "Germany have drawn first blood in this shoot-out. Can Simone Inzaghi put Italy back on terms? He can! That was another fine conversion!"


Andy: "Oh, he'll be delighted with that, Clive. That was powered to Kahn's left-hand side, and the goalkeeper was sent completely the wrong way. Levels, you devils!"


Germany's 2nd penalty

Clive: "Oliver Neuville is coming forward next for Germany. He tasted the disappointment of finishing 2nd in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen a couple of months ago. For him, this is a shot at redemption."


Andy: "He don't look particularly at ease here, Clive. I think he could miss this."


Clive: "Here comes the run-up... BUFFON SAVES IT! You called it, Andy!"


Andy: "You just know when a player don't feel confident in his own abilities. Neuville has had a disappointing World Cup, even though Germany got this far, and you could always see Buffon beating that penalty away. Advantage to the Italians!"


Italy's 2nd penalty

Clive: "I think the saying goes in tennis that you haven't really broken your opponent's serve unless you hold. Vincenzo Montella will be sensing that when he takes Italy's second penalty. This is for a 2-1 lead... and it is a 2-1 lead! Montella scores!"


Andy: "I'm delighted for that lad, Clive. For me, he's been one of the stars of this tournament, so it's only right that he scores one last time when it matters most. He struck that penalty firm and true, and Kahn just weren't gonna save it."


Germany's 3rd penalty

Clive: "Michael Tarnat is next to go up for Germany. The midfielder from Frankfurt cannot afford to miss this penalty, otherwise he really has thrown the advantage to Italy. Ooh, Buffon almost got a glove to that, but it was still a lethal penalty by Tarnat! 2-2!"


Andy: "I think the power in that penalty was what ultimately saw it home. Buffon will be a little disappointed that he couldn't quite get to it, but sometimes, there ain't much you can do."


Italy's 3rd penalty

Andy: "Oh boy, here comes the skipper."


Clive: "Italy's captain Demetrio Albertini will take their third penalty. This is an interesting choice, because you may remember he had a penalty saved by Fabien Barthez in the Azzurri's Quarter Final defeat to France at the last World Cup."


Andy: "Can he be trusted again?"


Clive: "OH NO! Kahn pulls off a magnificent save! Albertini has missed another World Cup penalty, and Italy's slight advantage has gone!"


Andy: "That was aimed for Oliver Kahn's top-left corner, but he couldn't quite get enough power into the ball to float it beyond the goalkeeper's dive. In the end, it was a pretty easy save for Kahn to make. And you can see there just how disappointed Albertini is at this moment in time."


Germany's 4th penalty

Clive: "We're at 2-2 as we go into the fourth round of penalties. Can Markus Happe edge Germany's noses in front? Happe keeps his nerve and scores!"


Andy: "Are there any German defenders who don't have ice running through their veins? The lad didn't flinch for one moment there. His penalty was clinical as anything, and Buffon didn't even have a chance to get to it!"


Italy's 4th penalty

Clive: "If there was a lot of pressure on Albertini a couple of minutes ago, then goodness knows how much is on the shoulders on Antonio Cassano. The 20-year-old Bari striker needs to get this, otherwise Germany will have the chance to win it with their next penalty."


Andy: "Take a deep breath, young man."


Clive: "Cassano for Italy... Cassano SCORES for Italy!"


Andy: "Did you say he's only 20 years old? The confidence of the lad! He paused during his run-up and then completely flummoxed Oliver Kahn - the best goalkeeper in world football!"


Germany's 5th penalty

Clive: "It's not officially sudden death yet, but it might as well be. We'll keep going until one team scores and the other misses. Can Jens Nowotny put Germany on the brink of victory, or will Italy be given match point? Nowotny makes no mistake!"


Andy: "In the circumstances, that was a wonderful penalty by Nowotny. Being a defender, you wouldn't expect him to score a lot of penalties, but he used all his experience to drive that ball home. Now Italy are at the point of no return."


Italy's 5th penalty

Clive: "Francesco Totti was probably the player who came closest to breaking the deadlock before he went to penalties. I counted three scoring chances Totti had for Italy, but he can't throw this one away. He doesn't throw it away! It's 4-4, and now we really are in sudden death!"


Andy: "Totti is probably the best penalty-taker in the Italian team, so you could always rely on him to score from 12 yards for them. That was an elegant swerving attempt, and it was the bend in the shot that seemed to catch Oliver Kahn out."


Germany's 6th penalty

Clive: "The pressure switches back to Germany now, and specifically to Sebastian Deisler. He's been a key man in this German side, and Bayern München have just signed him on a free transfer from Hertha."


Andy: "The young man's smiling, Clive. He looks convinced that he's gonna get this."


Clive: "We'll see if he does. IT'S SAVED BY BUFFON! Deisler looks devastated, and now Italy are on the cusp of winning their fourth World Cup!"


Andy: "What a terrible penalty, straight down the middle! Buffon didn't need to move much to push it away! Could Germany really be about to lose on penalties?"


Italy's 6th penalty

Clive: "Italy are 12 yards from glory. Alessandro Nesta - the 26-year-old Lazio centre-back - can see them home here if he scores this penalty."


Andy: "At this stage in the shoot-out is when you want your most experienced players to step up. Nesta may be quite young, but he already has a lot of caps under his belt."


Clive: "German hopes now rest on Oliver Kahn pulling off another superb save. Nesta runs up... AND IT'S THERE! Alessandro Nesta nestles it home, and for a record-equalling fourth time, the World Cup belongs to ITALY!!!"


Italy - 0

Germany - 0

[after extra-time, Italy win 5-4 on penalties]

PENALTY SHOOT-OUT (ITA, GER): S Beinlich 0-1, S Inzaghi 1-1, O Neuville saved, V Montella 2-1, M Tarnat 2-2, D Albertini saved, M Happe 2-3, A Cassano 3-3, J Nowotny 3-4, F Totti 4-4, S Deisler saved, A Nesta 5-4.



Gianluigi Buffon - 7

Daniele Adani - 8 [BOOKED after 47 mins]

Fabio Cannavaro - 9 [MAN OF THE MATCH] [BOOKED after 73 mins]

Alessandro Nesta - 8

Christian Panucci - 7 (Replaced after 56 mins by Mark Iuliano - 8)

Gennaro Ivan Gattuso - 8 (Replaced after 105 mins by Antonio Cassano - 7)

Paolo Vanoli - 8 [BOOKED after 19 mins]

Demetrio Albertini © - 7

Francesco Totti - 8

Christian Vieri - 7 (Replaced after 48 mins by Simone Inzaghi - 8)

Vincenzo Montella - 8



Oliver Kahn © - 8

Marko Rehmer - 7 [BOOKED after 38 mins]

Thomas Linke - 6 (Replaced after 51 mins by Jens Nowotny - 6)

Markus Happe - 7

Stefan Schnoor - 7 [BOOKED after 56 mins]

Alexander Zickler - 5 (Replaced after 64 mins by Yves Eigenrauch - 7)

Sebastian Deisler - 8

Stefan Beinlich - 7

Marcel Ketelaer - 5 (Replaced after 56 mins by Michael Tarnat - 5)

Christian Timm - 7

Oliver Neuville - 6


Trophy Presentation

Clive: "It's been almost exactly 10 minutes since that fateful penalty from Alessandro Nesta secured the World Cup for Italy. Now the trophy presentation stage has been set up on the pitch, and Italy's wait to collect their medals, not to mention the greatest prize of all, will soon be over.


"Before then, though, we have to celebrate and commiserate the gallant runners-up. Germany have made history in the Far East, completing a full World Cup schedule without conceding a single goal. Penalty shoot-out goals don't count, obviously.


"And this is the walk no player wants to make, to collect their runners-up medals after being beaten in the final. Andy Townsend is still here with me. Andy, how would you describe the feelings these German players are experiencing right now?"


Andy: "Well, Clive, it ain't something I ever really experienced in my career. I won a couple of League Cup Finals with Aston Villa and never tasted defeat in a major Final. What I can say, though, is that these lads will be absolutely devastated. They've worked their socks off throughout the last month or so, and unfortunately, it's not paid off."


Clive: "Just look at Sebastian Deisler there. His penalty was saved by Gianluigi Buffon, which gave Nesta the chance to win the cup for Italy. He's been in floods of tears since then and you can see that his eyes are still very sore right now."


Andy: "I really feel for the young man, you know. He's had a fine tournament and didn't really deserve to get such bad luck in the shoot-out. I just hope he don't dwell on this, because he's only 22. He'll have plenty more opportunities to win World Cups and European Championships, I'm sure."


Clive: "Maybe Deisler does have the luxury of youth on his side, but some of Germany's other players don't. Looking just at their defence, Oliver Kahn will be 36 when Germany host the next World Cup in four years, and so will Thomas Linke. Marko Rehmer will be 34, and so too Christian Ziege, who wasn't used at this tournament. You have to feel that Rudi Völler has a huge rebuilding job on his hands... if he allowed to rebuild, of course.


"Nevertheless, this has been a successful tournament for Germany. There was a major inquest after the last major championship in Belgium and the Netherlands, but this Mannschaft side will return home having restored their country's footballing pride. I suspect we will have to worry about the Germans for some time to come.


"Now here come the pride of Italy, the victorious men in Azzurri blue. Two decades after the team of Dino Zoff, Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli and Antonio Cabrini lifted that golden trophy, which was sculpted by an Italian, a new generation has picked up where they left off."


Andy: "I know that many, many people were saying before this tournament that Italy were favourites for this World Cup, and they've been proven right. This is an extraordinary team of extraordinary players from Serie A, which you have to say at this moment in time is the best league in the world. For me, it was all about whether they could put their rivalries aside and come together for their country."


Clive: "And they've done just that. This is a squad for which Fiorentina, Parma and Roma have each provided three players. The two Milan giants have given a couple of players apiece, as have Bari, Juventus, Lazio and Udinese. There's also one lone soldier from Bologna in defender Jonatan Binotto.


"Vincenzo Montella is one of the Roma contingent, and you have to say he's been one of the standout players at this World Cup. He either scored or assisted for eight of Italy's 14 goals. You have to say that when FIFA hands its tournament awards out later tonight that Montella will feature prominently."


Andy: "And there's Cannavaro, the man of the match. He was unbeatable tonight, and he's had a pretty amazing tournament as a whole."


Clive: "It's hard to disagree, Andy. While this Italian side was full of great creative and attacking talent, Fabio Cannavaro was one of the men who kept them together at the back with distinction. Rino Gattuso also deserves a lot of praise for his performances in South Korea and Japan, and so too Nesta, especially after his winning penalty. You can safely assume it'll be his picture that's on the front of La Gazzetta dello Sport's pink pages tomorrow morning.


"And there is 'Il Capitano', Demetrio Albertini. There was huge controversy when Paolo Maldini - who almost led the Azzurri to European glory in Rotterdam two years ago - was left at home by Giovanni Trapattoni for this tournament. Albertini took the armband instead, and he has worn it with pride and distinction. These next few moments will be just reward for what he and his team-mates have achieved over the last seven games.


"After receiving his medal from Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the Italian skipper will now be handed the World Cup trophy by FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Albertini has won six Serie A Scudetti and four European Cups over 14 years at Milan, but this must surely rank as his greatest accolade yet.


"1934, 1938, 1982, and now 2002. For a record-equalling fourth time, ITALY WIN THE WORLD CUP!


"If you were around for Italia '90, you will know that the final word in 'Nessun Dorma' is 'Vincerò', which translates as 'I will win'. Well, the Italians have now won, and we might have to get used to them winning for some time.


"And so, from the Far East, there's nothing else to say other than sayonara, jagbyeol, ciao... goodnight."

Edited by CFuller

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And so we come to the awards, which FIFA tend to hand out like participation medals at school sports days. Only two World Cup awards are given out in CM00/01, though, which means - unlike in real life - there are no accolades for being the best goalkeeper, or simply for being Lionel Messi.


The Golden Boot award is easy enough to explain, as it's for the top scorer at the tournament. Legendary forwards who have taken this prize at recent World Cups include Davor Suker, Hristo Stoichkov and Salvatore Schillaci.


Then there's the Dream Team. Championship Manager is supposed to include the best 11 players at the tournament by position in a 4-4-2 formation, along with seven substitutes. However, as you're about to see, the game has made some somewhat curious picks, and a couple that are genuinely mind-boggling.


I've therefore taken the liberty to pick an alternative Dream Team, which will hopefully better reflect the star performers at the tournament. I've also decided to make up for the game's lack of a Golden Ball award by handing my own accolade to the 'crème de la crème'.


Dream Team

Dong-Myung Seo (South Korea) - Well... Seo was certainly busy in South Korea's last two group matches. He was also slightly better than Byung-Ji Kim, who'd shipped four goals to Wales.

Stefan Nanu (Romania) - The choice for right-back was obvious. Romania conceded only once in each of their three games, and Nanu was a consistently solid presence at... erm, left-back.

Godwin Okpara (Nigeria) - There were 700 or so players at this World Cup, and Okpara was most definitely one of them. Without him at centre-half, Nigeria probably wouldn't have beaten Japan.

Marcelo Balboa (USA) - The Stars & Stripes let in five goals at France '98, so to concede only four here was a massive improvement. Evergreen captain Balboa earned two 'Man of the Match' awards.

Álvaro Andrés Mosquera (Colombia) - At least one of the defenders in the Dream Team had to have got to Round 2. Mosquera was sensational against Argentina, holding them to a narrow 3-0 win.

Jung-Yoon Noh (South Korea) - Okay, now I'm starting to think this team looks a bit dodgy. Noh scored twice for the co-hosts, but he did so up front rather than on the right wing.

Walter Gaitán (Argentina) - At last, a selection that makes sense! Gaitán was unplayable in the number 6 jersey for Argentina, for whom it all fell apart after he wore number 11 vs Denmark.

Winston Griffiths (Jamaica) - Jamaica were by far the unluckiest team in the Group Stage. Midfield master Griffiths got two goals, but a couple more might have sent the Reggae Boyz into Round 2.

Claudio López (Argentina) - López thrived not on the wing, but in midfield, where his passing tore opposition defences apart. He injured his ankle in Round 2 and was badly missed against the Danes.

Diego Alonso (Uruguay) - Alonso earned La Celeste a draw against the USA before helping them dismantle Brazil with a brace. The enigmatic striker then did almost nothing else.

Vincenzo Montella (Italy) - Montella came off the bench to score twice against Bosnia & Herzegovina. He went on to bag a joint-record five goals... if you'll count his penalty in the Final shoot-out as one.


SUBSTITUTES: Mark Crossley (Wales), John Hartson (Wales), Juan Pablo Sorín (Argentina), Alexander Mostovoi (Russia), Daniel Sjölund (Finland), Gharib Amzine (Morocco), Joonas Kolkka (Finland).


My ACTUAL Dream Team

Thomas Sørensen (Denmark) - There was some fine goalkeeping on display at this World Cup, but Sørensen gets the nod. The Sunderland custodian almost single-handedly shut out Uruguay and Argentina to help the Danes to their first global Semi Final.

Christian Panucci (Italy) - Inter wing-back Panucci was a key man at both ends of the pitch for the eventual world champions. His work rate earned plenty of new admirers in the Far East, as he would run tirelessly up and down the right flank to contribute.

René Henriksen (Denmark) - Henriksen formed an outstanding partnership with Stefan Bidstrup in the centre of the Danish defence. The 32-year-old's strong tackling and expert positioning were no doubt crucial for the tournament's big overachievers.

Fabio Cannavaro (Italy) - You will do well to find a more complete central defender in world football than Cannavaro. He was always on hand to hoover up any opposition attacks, and that was most certainly evident in the Final, where he was named 'man of the match'.

Juan Pablo Sorín (Argentina) - With Sorín at the back, Argentina kept four clean sheets and looked like going all the way until they faced Denmark. The Valencia left-back was very energetic throughout, contributing a goal and an assist whilst in the Far East.

Andy van der Meyde (Netherlands) - The youngest of the regular Dutch starters at just 22, there was much to love about van der Meyde's performances on the right wing. The Ajax starlet showed plenty of creativity, and his crossing was always a threat.

Walter Gaitán (Argentina) - Though previously unfamiliar to many fans outside Argentina and Spain, Gaitán is no longer a well-kept secret. Villarreal's midfield dynamo was at the heart of La Albiceleste's charge, scoring twice and setting up another four goals.

Gennaro Ivan Gattuso (Italy) - It's still hard to believe that Gattuso was playing for Rangers only a few years ago, early in his career. Now aged 24, the fearless holding midfielder showed incredible maturity to ensure that very few teams could break through the Azzurri's lines.

Marc Overmars (Netherlands) - Having been criminally underused by Barcelona, Overmars came to Asia with a point to prove. After wreaking havoc on the left flank for the World Cup bronze medallists, we can safely say he's lost none of his magical abilities.

John Hartson (Wales) - Hartson scored 27 Premiership goals for Wimbledon and Bradford last season, but few expected him to light up the World Cup. The enigmatic centre-forward netted five times for Wales before his golden touch deserted him in the Round 2 shoot-out.

Vincenzo Montella (Italy) - Montella didn't even start Italy's first group game, but he would emerge as a real attacking force here. The constant pressure he put opposition defences under helped him to rack up four goals and four assists in just five outings.


SUBSTITUTES: Oliver Kahn (Germany), Sami Hyypiä (Finland), Markus Happe (Germany), Joonas Kolkka (Finland), Clarence Seedorf (Netherlands), Miklos Molnar (Denmark), Daniel Sjölund (Finland).


Golden Boot

There were no real goalscoring machines on display in the Far East. In fact, this was the first World Cup where nobody netted more than five goals since 1962, when SIX players shared the Golden Boot with four goals apiece. I pity the fella who ended up with the boot laces.


Funnily enough, six players scored at least four times at this World Cup. Only Wales' John Hartson mustered a fifth, which he got in his team's Round 2 defeat to Cameroon. The 27-year-old thus came away with the Golden Boot - the latest in a growing list of honours that also includes a 1995 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup runners-up medal and... erm, that's it.


Italy duo Vincenzo Montella and Christian Vieri each had great chances to at least match Hartson's haul in the Final. However, neither man could find the target against a stubborn German defence.


Denmark's Miklos Molnar had earlier missed his opportunity to snatch the Golden Boot in the 3rd Place Playoff. Molnar was so distraught that he immediately retired from football and announced his plans to represent his parents' native Hungary in triathlon at the 2004 Athens Olympics.


Curiously, CM has given Molnar 2nd place in the Golden Boot standings, with Finland teenager Daniel Sjölund in 3rd. I don't know how the game has worked that out, because it's certainly not based off who has the most assists, which is how Golden Boot ties are broken in reality. Anyway, here are the standings:


PLAYER                       TEAM                   GLS    ASSTS  APPS
John Hartson                 Wales                  5      1      4
Vincenzo Montella            Italy                  4      4      5
Miklos Molnar                Denmark                4      2      7
Rivaldo                      Brazil                 4      1      4
Daniel Sjölund               Finland                4      1      4
Christian Vieri              Italy                  4      0      4


Golden Ball

There is no official Golden Ball award for the World Cup's best player in CM00/01. That's probably for the best, as the game would probably have awarded it to Dong-Myung Seo given the chance. That also means I can select my favourite players from the tournament instead.


My Bronze Ball, for the tournament's 3rd-best player, is going to Marc Overmars of the Netherlands. The bronze medallists had some fantastic talents in their ranks, but Overmars stood out with his excellent runs up the left flank and his creativity. Had he not been 'rested' by Louis van Gaal for the Semi Final against Italy, the Oranje could well have gone all the way.


Taking 2nd place, and my Silver Ball, is Walter Gaitán of Argentina. In real life, he was never capped by La Albiceleste and spent most of his career in Mexican football. In game, the 25-year-old Villarreal man's tirelessness and flair took his country to the Quarter Finals and established himself as one of world football's newest superstars.


Finally, my Golden Ball goes to... Vincenzo Montella. It couldn't be anyone else, really. A striker who started this World Cup on the periphery for Italy after two somewhat average seasons with Roma suddenly hit the purplest patch of his career. Without his haul of four goals and four assists, I'm not entirely sure the Azzurri would have won the title.


GOLDEN BALL: Vincenzo Montella (Italy).

SILVER BALL: Walter Gaitán (Argentina).

BRONZE BALL: Marc Overmars (Netherlands).


Records & Statistics

Team Records

Highest Attendance: 99,996 - Mexico vs France (Group A, 25/06/02).

Lowest Attendance: 42,043 - Germany vs Paraguay (Group B, 19/06/02).


Biggest Win: Japan 0-5 Finland (Group H, 22/06/02).

Highest-Scoring Game: Uruguay 5-2 Brazil (Group G, 19/06/02).

Most Consecutive Wins: 6 - Italy.

Most Consecutive Defeats: 3 - China PR, Iran, Japan and South Korea.

Most Consecutive Games Without Losing: 7 - Germany and Italy.

Most Consecutive Games Without Winning: 3 - 12 teams.


Most Goals Scored: 14 - Italy and Netherlands.

Fewest Goals Scored: 0 - Paraguay and Scotland.

Most Goals Conceded: 10 - Japan.

Fewest Goals Conceded: 0 - Germany.


Most Yellow Cards: 10 - Scotland.

Most Red Cards: 2 - United States of America.


Player Records

Most Goals: 5 - John Hartson (Wales).

Most Goals in One Game: 2 - multiple players.

Most Assists: 4 - Walter Gaitán (Argentina), Vincenzo Montella (Italy).


Most Man of the Match Awards: 4 - Vincenzo Montella (Italy).

Most Yellow Cards: 3 - Walter Samuel (Argentina), Igor Yanovski (Russia).


Youngest Player: 19 years, 55 days - Daniel Sjölund (Finland, vs Nigeria - 16/06/02).

Oldest Player: 37 years, 165 days - Taoufik Hichri (Tunisia, vs Scotland - 22/06/02).

Youngest Goalscorer: 19 years, 55 days - Daniel Sjölund (Finland, vs Nigeria - 16/06/02).

Oldest Goalscorer: 33 years, 307 days - Alexander Mostovoi (Russia, vs China PR - 25/06/02).

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Italy deserved to win, for a second I thought Albertini's miss was the end for them but glad they held their nerve

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Congratulations. Not for a wonderful read, which of course it was. But because I didn't think I could hate Andy Townsend more than I already did........and you have proved me wrong :D

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9 hours ago, mark wilson27 said:

Another excellent CFuller story to add to the vaults.  Made even better that Germany didnt win

6 hours ago, argento said:

Italy deserved to win, for a second I thought Albertini's miss was the end for them but glad they held their nerve

I 'attended' the Final, even recording it on Windows 10's Game DVR for posterity (as a bit of practice for potentially going on YouTube or Twitch in the future). Needless to say, the game was so poor that I won't be uploading it anywhere! :lol:

Anyway, I felt the same way as Argento when Albertini missed. That looked like being the turning point... and then Deisler stepped up.

6 hours ago, neilhoskins77 said:

Congratulations. Not for a wonderful read, which of course it was. But because I didn't think I could hate Andy Townsend more than I already did........and you have proved me wrong :D

After their (in)famous cameos in "Another Night in Istanbul" three years ago, I always thought I'd bring Tyldesley and Townsend back for the Final. To tell you the truth, it's never not fun to write about what Mr Tactics Truck would say about goings-on on a football pitch. This will probably be the last we see of him, but you never know...

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Two-and-a-half years ago, 196 nations had hopes of winning the 2002 World Cup. Only 32 could make it to the finals in South Korea and Japan, and after nearly five weeks of frenetic football, we have been left with just one team still standing.


Italy's footballers can expect a heroic reception when they land in Rome after a 14-hour flight from Tokyo. There'll be no tomatoes thrown at them this time, just the adulation of millions of Italians who've seen their team win the World Cup for the first time in 20 years.


In my mind, there's no doubting that the best team won this tournament. The Azzurri were typically solid at the back throughout, and they possessed an almighty attack fronted by Vincenzo Montella and Christian Vieri. Of course, they also showed nerves of steel during the Final shoot-out.


Having not conceded a single goal in seven games, Germany will feel a little aggrieved that they didn't come away with the title. For quite a while, it would look like their pragmatic football would bore all their opponents to death and see them come away with the trophy. In the end, they were only tripped up by the one thing we least expected - penalties.


A couple of Germany's neighbours will return home very pleased with their showings in the Far East. Louis van Gaal enhanced his reputation as one of the world's pre-eminent managers by guiding the Netherlands to 3rd place - a slight improvement on their performance at France '98. It'll be very interesting to see if the Oranje can continue their steady progress and win that elusive world title.


Denmark lost the 3rd Place Playoff, but they had already won our hearts by outlasting many strong teams at this tournament. Getting to the Semi Finals of a World Cup for a country of their size and stature is no mean feat, and it has almost certainly secured Morten Olsen a job for life at the Danish Football Association.


The Danes weren't the only major overachievers at this tournament. Their Nordic rivals Finland were ice-cool on their major debut, during which they sent Brazil packing in one of THE great World Cup giant-killings. The likes of Jussi Jääskeläinen and Sami Hyypiä beat the odds to reach the Quarter Finals, where they fell victim to a Dutch side who had previously accounted for their neighbours Sweden.


Brazil's early exit was one of several shocks for the South American continent. Only Argentina made it to the last eight, but not even the world's best player - Juan Sebastián Verón - could help La Albiceleste break through Denmark's wall of LEGO. The Danish Dynamite had previously obliterated Uruguay in Round 2, thanks to a golden goal from Miklos Molnar.


Colombia succumbed to Argentina in the last 16, which perhaps left them wondering what would've happened had Carlos Valderrama not retired on the eve of the tournament. They at least outlasted Paraguay, who wrongly thought that their goalkeeping captain José Luis Chilavert could get them into the knockout stages on his own.


12 years after becoming Africa's first Quarter Finalists, Cameroon repeated their famous feat, with teenager Samuel Eto'o taking Roger Milla's place as their attacking inspiration. What Brazilian coach Gabriel Pacheco achieved was truly incredible, because: A) he was the tournament's youngest manager, and B) he doesn't even exist in real life.


The Indomitable Lions made up for the failings of their continental rivals. Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia were all edged out of their groups in 3rd place, despite recording a win apiece. Only Morocco from the African contingent returned home without a single victory to their credit.


CONCACAF's representatives all crashed out early. Jamaica were cruelly deprived of a knockout place with just minutes remaining in the group stage, while the United States of America brought up the rear in Group G. Not even Mexico - who were expected to get to Round 2 yet again - could get out of a tricky group.


The AFC suffered a wipeout in the first World Cup played on Asian soil, with none of their four teams getting so much as a point. China PR and Iran were always expected to struggle, but co-hosts Japan and South Korea - who both overachieved at the actual World Cup - were horribly exposed at the back. That perhaps goes to show that Championship Manager football is more realistic than real football is!


It was a fine tournament for the four Slavic nations who qualified. An ageing Czech Republic team advanced to the Quarters, knocking out surprise Group A winners Russia along the way. Ukraine's debut finals ended with a narrow last-16 exit, and though Bosnia & Herzegovina didn't survive their group, they were still delighted to leave the Far East with one victory in their luggage.


France's reign as world champions ended at Round 2, with Germany's fortitude on the pitch proving as troublesome as Nicolas Anelka's antics off it. You have to feel, though, that Les Bleus will get back on their feet and return to their best for the next World Cup in four years' time. Funnily enough, that will be hosted by Germany.


Belgium and Romania's glory days look long gone after miserable outings, but the future seems brighter for football in Wales. John Hartson was the tournament's top scorer with five goals, and his team were only a John Oster penalty away from pipping Cameroon to a Quarter Final place. Robbie Savage missed the decisive spot-kick a few moments later, and he must now get used to being cast as the pantomime villain.


Finally, let's all come together and laugh at the incompetence of Scotland. They once again fell short at the group stage of a major tournament, this time failing to score a single goal. Only Paraguay were as impotent going forward as the Tartan Army, who paid the price for not selecting any half-decent strikers.


Ah, yes, that does make me feel a little bit better about my country not even qualifying!


I'm sure most of you have enjoyed following this tournament as much as I have. I know Billy Holiday certainly has... perhaps a little too much.


Nuneaton were recently tipped off that their absentee manager had spent the best part of two years travelling around the globe to watch World Cup qualifying and finals matches. Even though the Boro miraculously won the Conference under Holiday's (ahem) management last season, the board have had no choice but to terminate his contract for "gross misconduct". Kevin Keegan is the early bookmakers' favourite to take over.


So, how did that Championship Manager simulation compare to the actual World Cup? Well, there were a few similarities. We still had some significant shocks (though not as many as in reality) before the cream rose to the top and Germany were beaten in the Final by another superpower. 158 goals were scored, which was just three short of the real total.


On the other hand, the Germans were the only real-life Quarter Finalists to reach the in-game last eight. In fact, three of our final octet - Czech Republic, Finland and the Netherlands - didn't qualify for the real World Cup.


Of course, being a computer game simulation, this World Cup was never really going to match up to what actually happened at Korea/Japan 2002. Even so, it has been a pleasure to experience the thrills and spills of this parallel universe, and I hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have.


We must now leave that universe behind as they start preparing for the 2004 European Championship in Portugal. I might simulate that tournament - or perhaps even the 2006 World Cup - in the future, but that would be for another time on another version of Sports Interactive's football management franchise.


In the meantime, thank you for reading, and I'll leave you with this misquote from England legend Gary Lineker: "Football is a simple game. 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes, plus extra-time if required, and at the end, the Germans don't always win."

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This final post is in memory of those players and managers from the story who are no longer with us. Whether they participated in the main tournament or only featured in the qualifiers, they have not been forgotten.

Valery Lobanovsky (Ukraine manager): 1939-2002
Miklos Fehér (Hungary forward): 1979-2004
Suad Katana (Bosnia & Herzegovina defender): 1969-2005
Franco Scoglio (Tunisia manager): 1943-2005
Uche Okafor (Nigeria defender): 1967-2011
Dean Richards (England defender): 1974-2011
Naoki Matsuda (Japan defender): 1977-2011
Winston Griffiths (Jamaica midfielder): 1978-2011
Gary Speed (Wales captain): 1969-2011
Mohammed Al-Khlaiwi (Saudi Arabia defender): 1971-2013
Bruno Metsu (Senegal manager): 1954-2013
Petar Milosevski (Macedonia goalkeeper): 1973-2014
Andrei Husin (Ukraine forward): 1972-2014
Daisuke Oku (Japan midfielder): 1976-2014
John Leshiba Moshoeu (South Africa midfielder): 1965-2015
Pavel Srnicek (Czech Republic goalkeeper): 1968-2015
Cesare Maldini (Paraguay manager): 1932-2016
Daniel Prodan (Romania defender): 1972-2016
Commins Menapi (Solomon Islands forward): 1977-2017
Henri Michel (Morocco manager): 1947-2018

Thank you for reading.

Christopher Fuller (CFuller)
15 July 2018

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