Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 19-Ronaldo Finds Redemption. Kahn Finds A Place To Hide (2002)

The 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan had thrown up many surprises. Portugal were especially awful along with Argentina crashing out of the group of death without so much of a whimper. With Spain and Italy also failing it left the sharp end of the tournament lacking many big names. Two big names would make the final though and it would be the two most successful sides of all time who had in fact never played each other in the final before, Germany and Brazil.

Both teams were not expected to be big ticket items at this tournament. Brazil was led by Scolari and had churned their way through qualifying with the likelihood of them playing Australia in a play off at one stage not too far off. Germany had a horrible Euro 2000 (when was the last time a German side had never got a point at a tournament?) and had to go through a play off against Russia after being humiliated by England at home in qualification 5-1. It was helpful for both sides that they had the easiest of draws for the finals.

Brazil started slowly with their win over Turkey but then wiped the floor with China and Costa Rica. In the knockout rounds they got past Belgium thanks to the linesmen and then brilliant pieces of opportunism from Ronaldinho and Ronaldo respectively got them past England and Turkey to get them in to the final. Germany had a harder group but still did it easy. First they completely thrashed the hopeless Saudi Arabia side 8-0, FC Kaiserslautern striker Miroslav Klose scoring a hat trick and announcing himself on the world stage. They then went to sleep against the Irish and let them equalise in the last minute to have a 1-1 draw and then defeated African champions Cameroon to go through.

Still featuring rocks like Oliver Kahn and Oliver Bierhoff the side was now coached by 1990 hero Rudi Voller and had unearthed some real talent including the troubled winger Sebastian Diesler, midfielder Torsten Frings and the brilliant Bayer Leverkusen talisman Michael Ballack. In the knockout rounds they went in to shut down mode like the Germany of old and squeezed both past Paraguay and the excellent US team 1-0 before they again won 1-0 in the semi finals, this time choking the life out of the hosts South Korea.

Despite the protests of their easy run the Germans were in the final but minus their star Ballack (who was suspended) but Kahn was having the tournament of his life and was supported by a heap of players who wouldn’t have got near the side 4 years ago. Brazil had the emerging superstar Ronalindho playing behind one of the players of the tournament in Rivaldo and the born again Ronaldo who had discovered his scoring touch in a spectacular way after four years of injury hell that had sapped him of his pace but not his goal scoring instinct.

Played in downtown Yokohama (the same venue as the Japan Australia clash in 2009) the rain sprinkled down as the two sides came out for the national anthems and clash to see who would take out a cup win that would be a record no matter what. Despite missing Ballack it was Germany who had the run of play in the first half. Bernd Schnieder taking over the Ballack role and running the midfield. Despite this domination though it was Brazil on the break who had all the chances. Ronaldo wasted two excellent chances when he was sent through by Ronaldinho but he either shot wide or shot too close to Kahn. Chances came from the young midfield Kleberson too, two of his shot going close with one coming off the cross bar with Kahn standed.

0-0 at half time.

Germany attacked again in the second half and immediately had their two best chances of the match. First Ballack’s replacement Jens Jeremies had his header cleared off the line and then Oliver Nueville’s free kick that seem to go a 1,000,000 MPH and come straight from hell was somehow kept out by the Brazilian keeper Marcos who put the ball on the post and out of the goal. It was all Germany but both teams had wasted chances and who would be the one to pay for not capitalising? It would be Germany and it would be in such a cruel way.

Midway through the second half Brazil went forward but were well covered by the German defence. Rivaldo decided to shoot a self indulgent and tame shot at Kahn who saved the shot but managed to spill the ball. Ronaldo (complete with ridiculous haircut) was first to react and before the keeper of the tournament could collect the ball and hide his shame the number 9 in canary yellow slammed the ball home, 1-0. Germany now had to find a winner from somewhere but Lucio and the rest of the Brazilian defence were too strong Bierhoff and Asamoah who had come on to make it a 3 striker attack.

After 79 minutes six men up front wouldn’t count because Brazil were 2-0 up. Rivaldo dummied and leapt over a pass which opened up the German defence and let Ronaldo to side foot past keeper and have him running to the bench celebrating, 2-0 and the only fit Ronaldo was having for this World Cup final was a fit of happiness. Soon Ronaldo was subbed off and cried in to the shoulder of Scolari, the pressure and bitterness of the last found years leaking out on to the soiled tracksuit top of a large Brazilian man.

This would be the fifth World Cup victory for Brazil, two more than anyone else at the time. Many of Brazil’s more religious players would put on t shirts thanking god and Jesus while the others donned flags or wrote slogans on their shirts. Cafu would become the first player to play in three consecutive cup finals and as captain collect the cup, his second. For Germany it was a cruel blow after defying everyone to make the final and then push Brazil all the way. Miroslav Klose and his bundle of goals was a positive for the side in this tournament, his 2006 World Cup would be equally as impressive as his 2010 tournament with a chance to overhaul Ronaldo’s goal record still to come in Brazil.

It was cruel for Oliver Kahn too who had been the keeper of the tournament by a mile before letting one mistake result in a Brazilian opener. The fairytale wouldn’t continue for Germany though, they would go on to be poor at Euro 2004 which cost Voller his job and left the seat open for his ex-team mate Jurgen Klinsmann to take over for Germany ‘06. Scolari would quit Brazil to take over Portugal with his work with Brazil done while Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid to get back his superstar status following his golden boot performance, he was a hero again.  A tournament that had many surprises and underdogs but the top dog would again be an old, tried and true team of superstars.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Dilettante. Traffic Nerd. Behind the Almanac World Cup 100. Keen Cat, Cardie, Socceroo/Matilda, Glory Bhoy.

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