Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Saturday, June 29, 2002

S. Korea, Turkey Serious for World Cup Third-place Playoff

Turkey and co-hosts South Korea are set to serve up the hardest-fought third place play-off in years on Saturday, after their upset performance at the World Cup finals this year.


Turkey and co-hosts South Korea are set to serve up the hardest-fought third place play-off in years on Saturday, after their upset performance at the World Cup finals this year.

Both sides have swept away traditional reputations and are unlikely to sit back and play what many teams in the past have seen as a friendly match for a consolation prize.

Four years ago, Guus Hiddink, now coach of South Korea, fielded a virtual second string when the Netherlands lost 2-1 to Croatia in the play-off match.

South Korea's "Red Devil" fans are expected to pack the Taegu stadium to encourage their national side which beat European big guns Portugal, Italy and Spain, after failing to pick up a single win in five previous tournaments.

But Turkey will also be determined to make the most of their first appearance in the finals since 1954, who had been unbeaten, except for two ties with finalists and tournament favorites Brazil.

"It's always good to go for third place, although it's what they call the 'little final.' But I think for both teams it's a big achievement," Hiddink told British news agency Reuters after a training session on Friday.

Hiddink thought the two sides were evenly matched. "I worked for a year in Istanbul and I know a little about the character of Turkish players. It's a little bit comparable to Korean football. They like to play, they enjoy their football," he said.

Hiddink may again opt for youth over experience, as he did in Korea's semi-final against Germany, in which he picked 20-year-old Lee Chun-soo and 21-year-old Cha Du-ri for the front line.

Ahn Jung-hwan is set to start up front for the hosts ahead of veteran striker Hwang Sun-hong, who is nursing an injured thigh.

Ahn has scored twice in the finals including heading home a golden goal to dispatch three-time champions Italy.

The team might be shuffled if Choi Jin-cheul cannot fully recover from an ankle injury, with midfielder Song Chong-gug a possible replacement.

But Turkish coach Senol Gunes ruled out any major changes to his line-up. He said his team was tired but determined to focus on a whole-hearted performance on Saturday. "I'll do whatever it takes for success. And it will be the same tomorrow. I'm not thinking of changing the team around," he said.

Attacking midfielder Hasan Sas and left-back Ergun Penbe both had minor injuries but Gunes did not rule them out of the game.

"South Korea and Turkey are two countries upset at not making the finals. But if they had offered us a place in the third-place playoff before the World Cup, we would have happily accepted," Gunes said.

"South Korea have more World Cup experience than we do. We drew with them 0-0 in a friendly we played in Germany. They are a young, running team who break up their opponents' game and play their own game well," he added.

Probable teams:

South Korea (3-4-3): 1-Lee Woon-jae; 4-Choi Jin-cheul, 20-Hong Myung-bo, 7-Kim Tae-young; 21-Park Ji-sung, 22-Song Chong-gug, 6- Yoo Sang-chul, 10-Lee Young-pyo; 16-Cha Doo-ri, 19-Ahn Jung-hwan, 14-Lee Chun-soo

Turkey: (4-5-1): 1-Rustu Recber; 4-Fatih Akyel, 5-Alpay Ozalan, 3-Bulent Korkmaz, 18-Ergun Penbe; 22-Umit Davala, 8-Tugay Kerimoglu, 10-Yildiray Basturk, 21-Emre Belozoglu, 11-Hasan Sas; 9- Hakan Sukur.

Referee: Saad Mane (Kuwait)

Linesmen: Ali Al Traifi (Saudi Arabia), Hector Vergara (Canada)

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S.Korea and Turkey Treat Third Place Play-off Seriously

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