Tuesday 18th June
Turkey 1 - 0 Japan
As the sound of a thousand Snoopy packed lunch boxes thrown in the air
by excitable celebrating Soccer Moms finally subsides in Japan, the
next hopefuls entered the arena of "The Most Upsetting Tournament
Ever!" This game had everything: Luigi Collina; a range of dodgy
hairdos; and commentary from Clive "the New Jimmy Hill" Tyldesley and
The Turnip, with half-time gibberish from Bobby Robson and Ally Coist
(apparently hes dropped the Mc prefix). On a day when you needed your
galoshes and a brolly, more than those see-through poncho things
everyones wearing, the ball was skittering about like a lost bar of
soap in the bath. After 12 minutes Japan looked decidedly drookit
while the Turks looked glistening as Umit Davalas mohawk scored from
a corner. Japan had a lot going for them. They had "Alex" an exiled
Brazilian who decided he was unlikely to be rooming with Rivaldo, so
jumped ship and took up the chopsticks. As a "foreigner" lets just
say he looked a better buy than Matt Elliot. They have Suzuki up
front, who looks like hes got a good motor on him, and theyve got
Philip Troussier, all cool French couture and strategic nous.
Back in the studio at half-time: "A game of two halves in the first
half" mumbled Bobby Robson shrewdly - all glistening eyes and slurring
his words like he'd been out with Gazza. Before the re-start we were
treated to yet another England preview and another maudlin,
patronising collage of Irish cliches. "You'll never beat the Oirish!"
Aye you will. But as we bid Japan a fond farewell its time to turn to
less important matters, like commentating gaffs. Its not just Bobby
Robson thats talking guff. We heard Ian Payne on Radio 5 Live pose
the intriguing question: "Two questions - why were England so poor?
And if they were poor - why?" And Clive Tyldesley came out with the
beautiful: "Hes not George Bestbut then again, no one is" But
Confucius himself would have been proud of Goldenballs, who, referring
to the Argentina game, stated: "That was in the past, were in the
future now." Indeed we are David, and lets hope thats where you
Italy 1-2 South Korea (South Korea win with a Golden Goal after
"Underdogs" is a phrase you hear regularly in Korea, especially when
describing the location of potatoes, carrots or peas on a dinner
plate. However, when the South Korean national football team lined up
today for their first-round knock-out match against the mighty
Italians, it wasn't the first word one everyone's lips.
A full three points separated the two sides in terms of matches played
in the earlier groups stages, but the co-host nation had the advantage
of having thousands of screaming fans inside the Daejeon stadium
eagerly urging on their team.
The match got off to a cracking start when Coco was yellow carded in
the fourth minute for a silly challenge that led to a penalty for
South Korea, which they missed, then just over 10 minutes later,
Christian Vieri found the net with a header in from a corner-kick and
it looked as if the Tallys were well on their way to the
The Koreans kept up the good fight and continued to push for an
equaliser as the neatly quaffured Italian pretty-boys shunted around
their defence in a vain attempt to sneak through with a single goal.
Coco cut his eye as the second half was nearing an end, and following
some detailed medical attention, he returned to the pitch wearing a
*** on his head.
The Italians continued to employ their trademark defending tactics and
looked certain to kick-off the celebrations at the final whistle, were
it not for the plucky Seol Ki-Hyeon who scored a cracker as the
seconds ticked away to take the match into extra-time after Vieri had
hit on goal and sclafed the ball wide to the corner flag.
But it was the 30 minutes of extra-time that provided the most
thrilling moment of the World Cup so far, when Ahn Jung-Hwan headed
Korea into the last eight of the tournament and set Seoul alight with
fireworks and celebrations.
Incredible though it may seem, the co-hosts now face Spain in a
mouth-watering quarter-final tie as Italians everywhere cry into their
macaroni cheese and face a visit from The Godfather.
Ciao bella!, as they say in Italy.