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TALKING WORLD CUP

Posted on 3 July 2002  - 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).

The concluding part of our director of football David Pleat's wrap up of the World Cup.

UNDOUBTEDLY the glamour came from the South Koreans. Playing with a powerful style and uninhibited approach, they caused no end of problems with their speed and hustling.

I was fortunate to be in the stadium when we all fancied Portugal to beat them. Song's marking of Figo in that game and the attitude of his colleagues meant that Lee Woon-Jae in the Korean goal was not even disturbed until the last few minutes when the nine men of Portugal stormed forward.

Joao Pinto deserved to be sent off for a stupid lunge and Beto picked up a silly second yellow. That left the Portugese will too big a handicap. But Korea, even at 11 against 11, were the more demonstrative team.

The United States were another pleasant surprise. Pope, the centre-half, had some previous experience at this level but Sanneh, who plays in Nuremberg, played strongly, used the ball well and showed terrific leadership to bring the States to frighten Germany.

Donovan and Beesley also made their presence felt up front where McBride, who was once at Preston North End on a loan spell - and is a Sheringham lookalike - not only played good football but was strong in the air and a good finisher.

The incredible 3-0 scoreline against Portugal was too much for the Portugese to overcome. America deserved the luck that day - they had none against Germany later on.

My abiding memory will be the smiling Korean faces, the massive warmth generated by their team and politeness, tidyness and it was quite amazing how no-one smoked in public, so surprising to us Westerners.

During the tournament I met people with all sorts of views and famous backgrounds and had long conversations with the likes Andy Roxborough, the FIFA technical director, Craig Brown, newly-appointed manager of Preston and just prior to Germany playing a little better, Jurgen Klinsmann assured us that the Germans would start to play.

That was before the third game of a group they looked like losing and becoming another European side to wave goodbye. That game, one I didn't enjoy, the referee showed 16 yellows, including two second yellows and therefore two dismissals and incredibly Germany, with Klose and Bode combining well, beat Cameroon, who lost their discipline. Germany got better, Kahn looked unbeatable and they marched on.

It is interesting to note that in the mid-winter when I was two days in Southern Spain, the Bayern Munich team were having their winter break. The teams that performed better in the competition were the teams from countries that had a winter break or had suspended or altered their domestic programme to suit the national team, ie, South Korea or the US. The German players, even though they had played in the Champions League, looked a little stronger and brighter than counterparts from Italy and England.

One could argue that Spain were a little unlucky, particularly when Joaquin crossed the ball from the byline against South Korea and the linesman incredibly ruled the ball out of play.

There is no doubting that luck does favour the home team in the World Cup and we must all remember the Russian linesman who helped the referee adjudge Geoff Hurst's shot over the line could also be considered part of the conspiracy theory. We are all conspirators!

The final and the third-place game were poetic justice. The team with the most creative, skilful players trying to win football matches won their seventh consecutive game, a record.

The third-place game I thought was excellent. Turkey, whose technique shone through in all but one of the games, got the breaks against South Korea, who, for the first time, became just a little tired.

It was a tournament to remember and an unequalled month of excitment and surprise - the perfect recipe for FIFA and Blatter to help them counter the many accusations of mis-management that came their way and will, no doubt, continue to do so.