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   June 4, 2002 | 1110 IST



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'Moment of Truth' for South Korea

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Fans of World Cup co-hosts South Korea anxiously awaited their team's first match against Poland in Pusan on Tuesday - "The Moment of Truth" for coach Guus Hiddink's squad and the country.

"The day of judgment," said a headline in Joongang Ilbo.

"Warriors, go for the last 16, destroy Poland!" read another banner headline from the daily Donga Ilbo.

The English-language Korea Times described Tuesday's encounter as "The Moment of Truth".

The team has yet to win a match at the World Cup finals despite playing in five tournaments.

Korean fans But South Korea have been in increasingly good form in recent friendlies, beating Scotland 4-1, drawing 1-1 with England and narrowly losing 3-2 to world champion France.

"When the whistle sounds at 8:30 this evening in Pusan, all the highs and lows of the past year and a half are consigned to history," the Korea Times.

The mood on the streets was upbeat and expectant. Warm-up music blared from speakers on a central intersection where fans gather to watch matches on large screens.

"I believe South Korea will win. Their improvement has been surprising and they have built up great team work. I am very excited about watching the game tonight," said Kim Kyung-hee, a 21-year-old college student, in Seoul.

South Korea also play the United States and Portugal in group D in the showcase tournament.

Japan, neighbours, traditional rivals and co-hosts, also play their opening match on Tuesday against Belgium.

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