Biggest Football party in Asia –. For the first time in its history, the biggest football event in the world was shifted to the largest continent. Japan and South Korea had made separate bids when the entries for the hosting rights were released. They were however counseled and decided to submit a united bid, which was subsequently accepted. To encourage reunification, South Korea’s bid officials attempted to add North Korea as a second co-host, but their proposal was rejected.
France, the co-hosts and defending champions, automatically qualified, reducing the number of open spots for the tournament’s main draw to just 29. Saudi Arabia and China, both of whom qualified for the first time, occupied two of the remaining positions in Asia. Senegal qualified for one of the five African teams for the first time. Slovenia and Ecuador also made their debuts.
Major competitors from prior competitions, such as Netherlands, Romania, Colombia, and Norway, were left out. The defending champions France and Argentina, Brazil, Spain, and Italy started as favorites. But two of them faltered early and were eliminated in the group stage. Senegal, a former French colony with some team members who competed in French leagues, defeated France in the opening match. France was then held to a scoreless draw by Uruguay before losing 2-0 to Denmark and being eliminated.
Argentina fared slightly better in the infamous “Group of Death,” recording one victory and one tie. With a 1-0 victory over Argentina, England atoned for their defeat from four years prior. Brazil and Spain swept their group, winning all three games to advance to the knockout round. Spain’s remarkable journey came to an end in the quarterfinals when they played the formidable South Korean home team.
The home nation won several contentious cases thanks to the crowd’s encouragement. South Korea defeated Spain on penalties in their quarterfinal, winning 5-3. However, the Germans halted them in the semifinal. The comeback of Ronaldo from a career-threatening injury fueled Brazil’s success. The star player scored eight goals overall, eight in the knockout rounds, including two in the championship game against Germany. Four years after the heartbreak of 1998, one of Brazil’s greatest teams won the nation’s record-breaking fifth world championship in Yokohama.
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