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Monday, 24 June, 2002, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
They think it's all over - it isn't
An England fan lies on the ground
Feeling flat? Let us pick you up


Monday morning, and the mood across the nation is flatter than a supermodel's stomach.

It's understandable. Only a lacklustre Germany and Brazil plus outsiders Turkey and South Korea remain in what should be the most exciting part of the World Cup.

A Brazil fan celebrates
Revel in the joy of the world's other fans

England have gone with a whimper and there aren't even many games left to bunk off work for.

But enough of such gloomy thoughts. There are hundreds of reasons to feel chirpy as the semi-finals approach.

Let's all take a deep breath, lift the chin and rouse ourselves for one final World Cup hurrah...

Time to relax

To be honest, all that watching England business was terribly stressful.

Who among us can say that they didn't spend at least half of every match feeling physically sick with worry?

Some people might be able to enjoy watching their country edge closer to their biggest sporting triumph in half a century.

But don't try telling me you sat back during the last 30 minutes of the Argentina game with your feet up, a cigar on the go and a look of blissful serenity smeared across your chops.

Now the interest is mainly academic, we can derive pleasure from moments of skill rather than spouting a stream of panicked abuse at the television screen.

Wallcharts and sweepstakes

What do you mean, there's nothing left in this World Cup for you?

What about that precious document sellotaped to the cupboard in the kitchen? A few days ago you were talking about framing it and displaying it proudly in the front room.

Okay, so now it can no longer plot England's route to Yokohama. But you've started, so you must finish.

Obviously if Germany somehow triumph, you can use it to mop up unpleasant spillages in the bathroom.

And what about the office sweepstake? There's cash to be won and mates to be humiliated.

Keep quiet about your tipping of France. As far as the rest of the world knows, you had a Turkey-Korea final down from the word go.

Come on Korea

Three weeks ago we'd never heard of Park Ji-Sung and Yong-Pyo Lee.

More fool us. On these boys' shoulders rest the task of ensuring that an extremely average Germany side do not become World Cup finalists.

Leave aside sniffy notions that the only previous mentions of South Korea and under-dogs also included the word saucepan.

There's no room for that sort of sentiment at the BBC.

No, the non-Teutonic world should - like most of the tournament's assistant referees - unite behind Guus Hiddink's plucky runners and cheer them all the way to the final.

Sweet sleep

While it was a pleasure waking up each day to football, it was beginning to take its toll.

Staggering out of the sack at 7.30am on Saturday for Korea-Spain, after a Friday of drowning sorrows post England-Brazil, gave many of us an insight into exactly how Lazarus felt at World Cup 22 AD.

With all remaining games kicking off at 12.30 BST, lie-ins are once again back on the agenda.

No longer need anyone find themselves in a pub at 6.30am, eyeing a foaming pint of Guinness with fearful trepidation.

The long wait

As life-long football fan Joni Mitchell once sang, "Don't it always seem to go/ That you don't know what you've got till it's gone."

Joni was referring to the rape of Mother Nature rather than the conclusion of the world's biggest football competition, but her sentiments hit the spot regardless.

Let's face it - there's four years to go until we can enjoy any more World Cup finals action.

Not bothered by the prospect of Brazil-Turkey? This time next week, with your life empty and desolate, you'll be pining for the sight of Roque Junior wandering aimlessly round the pitch.

Celebrate the good times

Is your World Cup half full or half empty? Let's look on the bright side.

Okay, England and Ireland are out. Some of the fun has gone.

But consider this - where were the Australians? They might be kings of every other part of the sporting world, but when it comes to football, they couldn't even get into the party.

Let Lleyton Hewitt win Wimbledon and Steve Waugh's men keep the Ashes. Football is the biggest game in the world - and the Aussies are rubbish at it.

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