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Sports Then and Now

A look back at the 2002 World Cup: Summer of Upsets 2

Posted on January 17, 2014 by Scott Huntington


The FIFA World Cup is one of the world’s most exciting sporting events. Every country in the world has the opportunity to send their team to this elite competition, making it every professional player’s dream to represent their nation on the world stage.

This equal opportunity gives perennial favorites and little known squads an equal chance at glory and produces some of the most memorable moments in sporting history. The 2002 World Cup is only one example of an exciting moment in sports history. Let’s take a look at some of the unlikely upsets that took place during the 2002 World Cup.

Republic of Korea

Perhaps the most admirable performance of the competition was that of South Korea. The South Koreans found themselves pitted against Portugal, the United States and Poland in a group that led many people to immediately write them off. Despite their poor odds of advancing to the knockout stage, the South Korean team went undefeated and won their group in stunning fashion. This included an upset victory over Portugal that knocked the Portuguese out of the competition and sealed Korea’s place in the final 16.

The momentum continued for South Korea as they shocked Italy in the round of 16 and advanced to a quarterfinal match up with the Spanish giants. Their victory over Italy came in exciting fashion as the host nation won the game with a golden goal in extra time. Both the manner of the victory and the pedigree of the Italian team make this win one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, as cited by Bleacher Report.

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