FIFA World Cup: When South Korea created history in 2002

South Korea, 2002 World CupGetty Images

20 years ago, on this day, South Korea scripted history as they became the first-ever Asian Football Confederation (AFC) nation to reach the semifinal of a FIFA World Cup.

South Korea defeated European giants Spain 5-3 (0-0) in the penalty shootout in the quarterfinal on June 22, 2002 and entered the history books.

2002 was also the first time that the FIFA World Cup was being held in Asia. Japan and South Korea jointly hosted the 2002 edition of the competition.

Interestingly, 20 years later, Asia is set to host their second World Cup, with Qatar the hosts this time around. Will South Korea or any other Asian team manage to replicate the feat from 2002?

South Korea's journey in the 2002 FIFA World Cup

The Taegeuk Warriors were placed in Group D along with USA, Portugal and Poland. Despite being clubbed alongside some big names like Portugal and USA, South Korea topped the group with two wins and a draw and reached the knockout stage. USA finished second in the group stage while a star-studded Portugal, led by Luis Figo, were ousted from the tournament.

In their final group game, South Korea faced Portugal in a must-win tie for both the teams. The hosts eventually clinched the match 1-0 and reached the knockout stage for the first time in their history.

Francesco Totti red card Italy South Korea 2002 World CupGetty

After beating Portugal in their final group game, South Korea locked horns against another European giant Italy. The home side came back from a goal down to score in the 88th minute and take the match to extra time. In the 117th minute, the Koreans netted a Golden Goal and clinched the tie.

Then in the quarterfinal, the Taegeuk Warriors managed to hold Spain to a goalless draw for 120 minutes and then beat them in the penalty shootout.

They eventually lost 1-0 to Germany in the semifinal and then suffered a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Turkey in the third-place play-off.

Choi Jin-Cheul South Korea 2002 World CupGetty

A historic feat

It was a historic feat that Guus Hiddink's side achieved as no other Asian team after that have managed to finish among the top four teams at the FIFA World Cup.

Other than South Korea, only North Korea had managed to reach the World Cup quarterfinal which they achieved in the 1966 edition. Though, it has to be noted that only 16 teams played at that time.

The 23-member South Korea squad that created history in 2002

Player

Position

Club

Lee Woon-jae

Goalkeeper

Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Kim Byung-ji

Goalkeeper

Pohang Steelers

Choi Eun-sung

Goalkeeper

Daejeon Citizen

Hyun Young-min

Defender

Ulsan Hyundai Horangi

Choi Jin-cheul

Defender

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Yoo Sang-chul

Defender

Kashiwa Reysol

Kim Tae-young

Defender

Jeonnam Dragons

Lee Young-pyo

Defender

Anyang LG Cheetahs

Lee Min-sung

Defender

Busan I'Cons

Hong Myung-bo (C)

Defender

Pohang Steelers

Choi Sung-yong

Midfielder

Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Kim Nam-il

Midfielder

Jeonnam Dragons

Lee Eul-yong

Midfielder

Bucheon SK

Yoon Jong-hwan

Midfielder

Cerezo Osaka

Park Ji-sung

Midfielder

Kyoto Purple Sanga

Song Chong-gug

Midfielder

Busan I'Cons

Choi Tae-uk

Forward

Anyang LG Cheetahs

Seol Ki-hyeon

Forward

Anderlecht

Choi Yong-soo

Forward

JEF United Ichihara

Lee Chun-soo

Forward

Ulsan Hyundai Horangi

Cha Du-ri

Forward

Korea University

Hwang Sun-hong

Forward

Kashiwa Reysol

Ahn Jung-hwan

Forward

Perugia