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Spurs in South Korea

Posted on 22 July 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

All roads now lead towards the Seoul World Cup Stadium - the final stop of our tour to South Korea on Sunday.

The travelling party arrived back in the capital this morning following a short-hop flight from Ulsan, scene of the 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad that proved enough to book a place in the Peace Cup final 2005 against Lyon.

We spent three nights in Ulsan, a period of time which coincided with the hottest spell of the summer according to a couple of the local translators. During pre-match training on Thursday morning at the training facility outside the Ulsan Monsu Stadium, the heat was searing and hats off to the boys for managing a short session - your correspondent was feeling the heat just sitting in the stand.

On the Wednesday, nine of the players plus Martin Jol, took part in the final event organised by special tour sponsors Standard Chartered Bank. SCB have recently merged with Korean First Bank and used the opportunity of our visit to promote the teamwork ethic among staff, as well as put on fundraising events and coaching clinics.

On this occasion our party called in at a local branch to meet and sign autographs for a group of children from a local orphanage sponsored by the bank. The young children were thrilled to spend time with the likes of Jermain Defoe and Ledley King and each took away some Spurs goodies.

The old saying about a small world proved to be true as one of the carers used to work in England - Tottenham, in fact.

It was still very hot when we got to kick-off time on Thursday evening and the tempo of the match against Sociedad did not match our previous two in Suwon. It was all getting a bit tight towards the end, we suspected a draw might just be enough to see us through to the final but, had Boca Juniors, managed to improve on their 3-1 scoreline against Sundowns, we would have been on our way home today. I am told Boca came very close to adding a fourth in stoppage time.

Martin received a standing ovation from the media following his post-match briefing when he explained what a fantastic experience our tour has been for the players and staff, rightly adding that the people have been so friendly and welcoming towards us.

We now get the chance to play at the Seoul venue on Sunday, the stadium that played host to the opening ceremony of World Cup 2002 and the opening game where Senegal shocked France.

The 65,856-seater was constructed specifically for the 2002 extravaganza and, we were informed when we visited to watch FC Seoul in the K-League, was built on a former refuse site.

Our opponents on Sunday - Champions League quarter-finalists Lyon - edged past holders PSV Eindhoven on goals scored to reach the final. New signing Paul Stalteri might just be glad he is not on the trip - he was part of the Werder Bremen side that was defeated 10-2 on aggregate by Lyon in the Champions League second stage.

Now managed by former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, Lyon are sure to provide formidable opposition. For the international against Hungary at the and of May, France coach Raymond Domenech selected six Lyon players - Gregory Coupet, Eric Abidal, Anthony Reveillere, Sydney Govou, Florent Malouda and Sylvain Wiltord.

Also in Houllier's ranks are prized assets Michael Essien (although it is rumoured he has returned home), defender Mahamadou Diarra and Brazilian captain Cacaba. Norwegian international striker John Carew has also been added to the mix.

Houllier has high standards to match following his succession to the role departed by Paul Le Guen - Lyon are chasing a fifth League title in a row, a feat not yet achieved by a French club.

So Sunday's game should certainly be worth watching if you have access to Eurosport. The game will bring an end to a memorable journey for us all, where we spent a chunk of pre-season in South Korea playing against teams from three different continents in some of the finest stadia in the world.

It's Reading away before we face Porto at home in the final stage of our pre-season preparations. Can't wait for the game at the Lane - there is no place like home, after all.

From Richard Hubbard in Seoul