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Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Hiddink hails character
Hiddink celebrates victory with his coaching staff
South Korea coach Guus Hiddink has described his side's dramatic 2-1 win over Italy as a unique achievement.

The World Cup co-hosts won with a golden goal four minutes from the end of extra-time.

Ahn Jung-Hwan's header lifted the roof off the Daejon stadium and was the signal for parties all across the country.

"I'm very, very happy, I'm very satisfied - the dream is going on," said Hiddink.

"They are one of the superpowers of football. I think this is unique what the Korean players have done so far," the Dutchman added.

South Korea looked to have the perfect start with a penalty in the fourth minute, only for Gianluigi Buffon to deny Ahn Jung-Hwan.

Hiddink eventually had to wait until the 88th minute for his side's opening goal, a late equaliser to Christian Vieri's first-half effort.

However, as soon Seol Ki-Hyeon levelled the scores, Hiddink could sense his team could achieve the improbable.

Open Quote
We have a lot to be bitter about
Close Quote
Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni
"It was a tough game and Italy are very clever and very dangerous.

"But after a difficult start the team reacted very well.

"I'm proud of the way they played and attacked the Italians and at the end we got our deserved draw.

"I pointed out after the 90 minutes that they were so strong that we could not lose and once Francesco Totti was sent off we played very well with the superioirty."

"By the end we were dominating and I'm glad we could make it for the Korean people."

Hiddink played down perceived Italian injustice at a disallowed goal, a penalty being turned down and Totti's sending off, descibring them as "fair calls".

"You can be emotional about those things but you have to accept them," he added.

He also refused to credit any single player and instead heaped praise on the infrastructure of South Korean football and the strategy and philosophy they set out ahead of the World Cup.

"Three months ago I started working hard with the team and at the beginning of March we started working daily.

Guus Hiddink (C) hugs midfielder Ahn Jung-hwan (l) and forward Seol Ki-hyeon (r)  after South Korea's victory.
Hiddink celebrates with his players after the game
"I must give credit to the team as they keep on fighting and they have learnt a lot in the last weeks.

"They made the dream come true, but so have the people who have provided me with the possibilities and facilities.

"Those people and the clubs deserve great credit as well."

Hiddink also praised the trememdous support his team were given in the claustraphobic atmosphere of the Daejon stadium.

"Tonight we will celebrate and tomorrow we will focus on Spain," he added.

"Spain is in my heart and I'm very happy to play them as I worked for a long time in Spain and I'll be meeting some old players from my teams.

"They have an advantage with two days more rest than us and they are another big, big powerhouse. It will be an even bigger task," he concluded.


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Korea coach Guus Hiddink
"It's unique what the players have done"
BBC Five Live's Jonathon Pearce
"A nation is jubilant"
BBC News' John Andrews
"Koreans know how to celebrate"
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