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Westsider Rider

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Not a W but we'll take it


All week long after Korea's opening game win over Togo the talk immediately shifted to France. Highly anticipated from moment the grouping was announced, and aided by the noon pacific time kickoff it was the topic of discussion at work the rest of the week. As kickoff came closer, people started showing up to my house and they showed the crowd all hyped up and ready for the game I was ready to go. Much like the feeling I get on Saturdays in the fall when I see the Go Blue banner and see the Big House crowd pumping their fists to The Victors I felt the chills through my body.

Then the game started and it wasn't good. France came out as the aggressor and they forced all the action. Korea withstood the initial storm but then it came again and this time it couldn't be stopped as Henry scored France's first goal in the World Cup since 1998. The French continued to dominate the first half and it looked bleak. Especially when it looked like France had scored another goal but the refs did not see the ball completely cross the line. From the replays we can tell that it was in but in live action it is tough to see the play clearly.

Luckily the game changed in the second half. The French who had been pushing forward and pressuring did not continue to do so and it was Korea's turn to be the aggressor. However, there were not many great chances as Korea was still missing a lot of passes but then it happened. In the 81st minute Park Ji Sung put in the equaliser and we went crazy. Immediately everyone in the room got up and celebrated like mad. Our TV room became a mosh pit of red.

After we had calmed down and got back to watching the thought that crossed my mind was how did the other room celebrate? My parents were watching with their friends in another room and I thought how funny it would be if it was the exact same scene and from the post game accounts apparently it was. My dad is a pretty big sports fan as well but he usually doesn't get worked up like I do for games. That is unless Korea is playing. I went with my parents to the WBC Korea vs Japan game and I have never seen my dad go as wild as he did that game. I could see where I got it from because he went nuts so I can picture what went on in that room when that shot crossed the goal line. As you can see from the picture it barely got over Barthez and went in, much closer than any of us thought at the time.

Korea mounted more of a rush following but also allowed France some more chances as well. Henry almost put in the game winner if not for a great save by Lee Woon Jae to preserve the tie. There was one last chance on a free kick just outside the French Box but it was wide and the game ended in a draw. A draw that I was more than willing to take. Korea got lucky on a few occasions and easily could have lost that game 3-1. With the tie Korea is now in 2nd in Group G as the Swiss now sit atop due to goal differential. Which leads us to a make or break Friday at noon as Korea takes on Switzerland while France takes on Togo. There are numerous scenarios as anything could happen with a Korea-Switzerland draw. Dependent upon how many goals are scored by France against Togo and the score of a Korea-Swiss draw there are so many things that can happen. But at the same time there is also the very simple scenario, win and you're in. Winner of the game would finish first in group G and most likely take on the Ukraine in the Round of 16. But it doesn't really matter, just getting into the Round of 16 will be the first step and then we'll go from there.

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