Little Boy Blue's World Cup Diary - June 29, Day 30

Last updated : 30 June 2002 By Grandmaster Suck

June 29...Day 30


Dateline:  COLOGNE, Saturday


If this is what meaningles matches are all about, I`d love to see a few more.  SOUTH KOREA were the attractive, positive side we have come to know throughout the past month or so but full marks too are due to TURKEY who contributed every bit as much to the penultimate match of the World Cup schedule.  This fixture between the losing semi-finalists has in the past been a who-cares-less kickabout, with team coaches tending to reshuffle the pack to give those squad members who have had to settle for a place on the subs bench a consolation taste of the action.  But there were no anonymous faces on show today, it was another opportunity to savour the exploits off all the usual suspects.


But South Korea`s skipper Hong Hyang Bo will have been far from pleased with his first contribution.  The game was just 17 seconds old when he stumbled in possession, just like my Korean pal Wan Too Many, and Hakan Sukur pounced.  He has had a miserable World Cup but even he couldn`t squander this sort of freebie.  Were the hosts about to fall flat on their face again?  Well, they didn`t take long to give an answer.  There were just eight minutes on the clock when Lee Eil Yung curled in a peach of a free-kick to level the scores.  What a strike but it had to be to beat Turkish keeper Ruztu.  If he was suffering any crisis of confidence after being caught out by Ronaldo in the semi, he did well to keep it to himself and emerged as my man of the match.


Before the Koreans could enjoy being on level terms, however, they were back on the back foot again.  Once more they were slack at the back and Hakan Sukur and Ilhan Mansiz took full advantage, linking up well to slice through the defence and Ilhan was left with a tap-in.  Three goals in the first 12 minutes, great stuff, more than enough to have me up and down off my bar stool.  `A non-event of a match?` asked The Koelsch.  `Don`t worry about it,` said I, `It will be OK once it warms up.`


The thrill-a-minute stuff continued, with Korea driving forward in droves but Ruztu was superb between the sticks and, after a series of near things around the Turkish goal, Ilhan Mansiz again caught them out with the classic sucker punch after 32nd minutes.  All of which confirmed my theory that the co-hosts` run of good fortune ended after they`d seen off Spain in the quarter-finals.  Of course, they continued to entertain us with their fast, aggressive approach but it simply wasn´t going to happen for them now.  In the end they had to settle for an injury time strike from the Neil Diamond fan in their squad, Song Sung Blue, and I found myself wishing they`d cut the deficit a couple of minutes earlier.  They might just have managed to nick another to take the game into extra-time and I was certainly up for another half-hour of this kind of football.


It was good to see the players of both sides link arms at the end and set off on a joint lap of honour.  Call me an old sentimentalist if you like but such scenes never fail to reconfirm my belief in football as the most beautiful of games.  There is no shortage of villains out there who would hijack the sport to further their own ends but every so often something happens to restore my faith and, with the quality of their play, plus their after-match actions, both South Korea and Turkey delivered the goods.  If there are any closet Bears who are tempted to tap in to the FF website from Seoul or Instanbul, the LBB message is `Thanks guys!`


Now I have a little quiz question for any Geography buff back home.  When did Cologne become a province of Turkey?  After beating the Koreans, the Deutscherturks took to the streets in their thousands, driving around and around in flag-draped motors, beeping their horns and creating the sort of racket which might be measured on the Richter Scale.  And there was I with a nippy napper booming like a Lambeg drum!!!  There were times when I was tempted to take a bratwurst from The Koelsch`s freezer and do unspeakable things to one of the noisemakers.  `Aye, beep-beep noo, ya bam!`  But what the hell, they were entitled to party so I merely retreated further into the bar to seek solace from my favourite anaesthetic.


However, The Koelsch assures me the Turkish celebrations will pale into insignificance if Germany pull off a shock and beat my boys from Brazil in Yokahama.  I can`t see it and I expect to be dishing out kind words of consolation and perhaps a bevvy or two tomorrow afternoon.  Germany might be tempted to rely on Khan putting up the shutters, then maybe nicking something on a breakaway or even on penalties.  Without being particularly pro or anti either of the finalists, I side slightly with Brazil for the way they play the game (and for beating England!) and because I`ve had a shilling or two on them since day one.  But my most sincere wish is that both teams play to their full potential and we are treated to a game worthy of the occasion.  If that happens, I`ll be quite happy to raise a glass to the winner, whoever it may be.


And if Brazil or Germany need a tip or two on how to entertain their worldwide audience, they could do worse than check-out a tape of today`s third-fourth place play-off.