South Korea's date with destiny
SEOUL, South Korea -- World Cup excitement has hit new heights with millions of South Koreans gathering on the streets of the capital and around the country to watch the national squad's semi-final showdown with Germany.
More than 7 million people, about a seventh of the population, are expected to gather across Korea to watch what is arguably the most important match in Asian football history.
Millions more will be firmly planted in front of television sets at homes, bars, pubs and businesses to witness the game which kicks off at 8:30 p.m. local time (1130GMT) Tuesday at Seoul's World Cup Stadium.
The fans will be hoping that they can continue South Korea's World Cup party, which began when the once minnows of world football made their first splash in the tournament three weeks ago with their first ever win in World Cup history over Poland.
Since then they have dispatched a series of highly fancied teams, including Portugal, Italy and Spain, to advance to the final four.
Win or lose against three-time champions Germany, South Korea have achieved the best result ever by an Asian team, and have firmly planted the nation on the international sporting map in a way the 1988 Seoul Olympics did.
The fans too, have impressed viewers and visitors from around the world with their passion and fanatacism for the national team.
Two hours ahead of kick-off, police said that 1.1. million fans, nearly all of them in the red-team colors, had converged on 10 Seoul streets where large screens had been set up.
Many had been there since Monday, camping overnight in an effort to get the best vantage point.
South Korea were ranked 40th at the start of the tournament and each win has whipped up another football frenzy, which is even making its mark in normally closeted North Korea.
In Europe, politicians are urging employers to "have a heart" and make it possible for workers to watch the match, which takes place just after lunchtime in Germany.
It is the first time since 1990 that Germany has made it to the semifinals.
Work cut out
South Korea have not won a game at five previous trips to the finals -- a fact not lost on South Korean media Tuesday.
The Germany game was one step from "a shot at glory" for the Asian side, newspaper headlines said.
"Let's go, just two more matches," was the front page splash from the Chosun Ilbo daily newspaper, while the Donga Ilbo daily said "Red cheer to reach Yokohama."
The final match is to be held Sunday in Yokohama, Japan.
But coach Hiddink, a national hero, knows South Korea has its work cut out with their German opponents.
They can execute a very good free-kick, they can execute a very good corner, they are tall and they are strong ... they proved that in their previous matches," Hiddink told reporters on Monday.
Dutch soccer fans, disappointed after their team failed to qualify for the World Cup, have taken the plucky South Koreans to their hearts.
The winner of the South Korea-Germany match will face the winner of Wednesday's semi-final between Brazil and Turkey in Saitama, Japan.
The winner from both semifinals will face off in the final Sunday, in Yokohama.
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