It was a lacklustre first half, in which neither side looked like scoring. Greece were the more impressive side, but that was not saying much. They were first division, Korea were second division, and we were all expecting a bit of premiership sparkle.
Fortunately, though, the half slipped by very quickly. As I had been expecting, there was more entertainment to be had off the pitch than on it. The Red Devil fans were hysterically enthusiastic. Every time the ball entered the Greek half, or when Park Ji-sung got anywhere near it, the volume increased. Behind me was a couple of Korean girls who, when they become ajummas, will make very fine fishwives. With vocal chords of something stronger than steel, they managed to produce shrieks of such shrill volume that my eardrums are still ringing the day after.
The stadium was by no means full (the total gate was 9,242), but there was more than enough festive atmosphere. A cheerleader in the crowd (left) directed the chants of 대한 민국, in which everyone participated enthusiastically. Flags were waved, and some of the die-hard fans had little illuminated red horns.
Other entertainment came from the press corps in front of us (above). They were tapping away furiously into their laptops (goodness knows what they found to write about). They had the advantage over the rest of us, having tiny TV monitors which provided close-ups and action replays: so at least they had half a clue as to what was going on.
The second half was an improvement. The crowd were beginning to perfect the Korean Wave, and the players were beginning to look as if they were half interested in playing. Greece again were the stronger side, but about twenty minutes of pressure from the Koreans had its results. Park Ji-sung fell over outside the Greek penalty area (I didn’t see whether he was pushed), and before we knew it Lee Chun-soo (below, picture from the Chosun) had put the ball in the back of the net from a free kick (captured on SBS in the above video). Greece responded strongly, and had a goal disallowed in the 90th minute. They were unlucky to lose, but, to end with a cliche, that’s football.