- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

BUSAN, South Korea South Korea picked the perfect place to claim its first victory at a World Cup.
Hwang Sun-hong scored in the first half and Yoo San-chul connected on a right-footed drive in the 53rd minute, leading South Korea to a 2-0 victory over Poland yesterday morning.
Yoo's goal sparked raucous chanting and an outpouring of euphoria mixed with relief from fans of the tournament co-hosts. The noise and cries continued inside and outside Busan's Asiad Stadium more than an hour after the Korean squad completed a victory lap.
Not even the ongoing ticketing woes or a transportation crisis could spoil the moment.
The stands were awash in red as the bulk of the crowd was decked in the "Red Devils" shirts of the national team. Supporters descended on Busan from all over the Korean Peninsula to witness what most believed would be South Korea's long-awaited moment of soccer triumph.
Malls and public squares around South Korea were packed to capacity as giant TV screens were set up for viewing. The government ordered a special train to ensure that ticketholders from the capital of Seoul didn't miss out after flights to Busan were canceled due to fog and high winds in this southern port city.
"When I first took over the team, they asked me, 'Please give us one victory,'"said Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who became coach last year. "We are now there. This is an enormous day for Koreans . [but] this is just one step toward going further."
Hiddink, who coached the Netherlands to the semifinals four years ago in France, warned against getting caught up in the euphoria.
"We achieved one victory for many people," he said. "My team must be greedy to go for the next game. Korean fans deserve to have this big, historic victory."
For the entire second half, the fans chanted, "Oh, Oh, Korea," "Oh, Pilsung Korea" "Korea's sure to win."
South Korea was winless at five previous World Cups, including the last four.
Despite the team's lack of success, Hiddink's squad is under enormous pressure to reach the second round after local organizers spent eight years and billions of dollars to stage the event.
Defender Hong Myung-bo, who has been to three previous World Cup finals, said he was thrilled to attain "our long-cherished ambition."
"We struggled for this and finally made it," he said. "Until today, we had one aim: to win the game against Poland. We set another aim here, to prepare perfectly for the game against the United States. As we have some time from now, we will scrutinize the U.S. and beat them."
The Koreans went into their opening match off a 4-1 win over Scotland, a 1-1 draw with England and a 3-2 loss to defending world champion France in tuneups. But few outside South Korea expected such a dominating performance.
Poland was the first European team to qualify apart from France which got an automatic spot as defending champion. But it has struggled since.
"It was a very difficult game. The host team in the first game is always very strong," coach Jerzy Engel said. "They were better than us. It was very disappointing for us. We had two chances in the opening minutes and missed them. Now this makes it very hard; we've got to fight for second place to go through."
Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, a standout in the English Premier League, had two mistakes against the Korean attack.
Hwang connected on a neat cross from Lee Eul-yong, slamming a left-footed volley beyond Dudek's outstretched hands. Hwang was totally unmarked on the goal.


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