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Saturday, 29 June, 2002, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK

Forlorn finale for Korea

By Stuart Roach
BBC Sport Online's man in Korea

One for the road proved one too many as South Korea's farewell party turned sour in Daegu.

The Koreans had wanted to give their fans the ultimate thankyou after an unbelievable month.

But a side high on adrenalin were left feeling cold Turkey in this third-place play-off.

The result ultimately did not matter.

Korea just wanted the chance to salute their passionate army of fans, who once again turned out in force and decked in red.

They welcomed the players like returning heroes at a civic reception.

Bulent Korkmaz comforts Lee Young-Pyo

But they also warmly embraced Turkey - and that in itself is a glowing tribute to these remarkable supporters.

The Turkish players repaid the compliment on the final whistle, applauding the Korean fans on all sides of the ground.

The only hope now is that those Korean fans stay loyal to the cause when the novelty of the World Cup has worn off.

The burgeoning K-League and the national team cannot hope to grow without them.

In a way, this was the perfect fixture for the 'bronze-medal' game.

For Koreans, it was a chance to salute not only their own team, but also the Turks.

Turkey supplied the second largest amount of troops - behind USA - in South Korea's defence during the Korean War.

And the Koreans have never forgotten.

Fifty years on, Korea remains a troubled nation.

An exchange of gunfire between North and South Korean frigates early on the day of this match was a stark reminder of that fact.

At least four servicemen were killed in the exchange and a moment's silence was observed before the third-place game in recognition of the losses.

But the moment's silence was followed by a stunned silence.

Korea's party fell flat after just 11 seconds as captain Hong Myung-Bo's slip let in Hakan Sukur for the quickest goal of the tournament.

Lee Eul Yong equalised with a brilliant free-kick but two Ilhan Mansiz strikes gave Turkey third place by the time the half-time whistle blew.

Korea fought gallantly in the second half, but Song Chong Gug's deflected injury-time goal came too late.

This was a game full of passion and full of calamity.

Most of the calamity came from the hosts, who in the early stages displayed the naievety some had predicted at the start of the tournament.

But on the whole they simply looked shattered.

Four weeks of high-tempo football had taken their toll on Guus Hiddink's side.

Up front, Ahn Jung-Hwan, a hero of the previous six games, was spent.

In defence, captain Hong looked not so much the bedrock as the bedridden.

The captain was replaced at half-time and Korea somehow found the energy to raise a response.

But this was not the game on which to judge the Koreans.

They have already stamped their mark on this World Cup and their achievements were no fluke.

And they have the medals to prove it.


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