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World Cup Quarterfinals Set to Begin - 2002-06-20


The quarterfinals are set for Friday, starting at 2:30 a.m. EDT, and Saturday at the Korea/Japan World Cup football finals. There will be one match in South Korea and Japan on each of the two days of quarterfinal action.

First up is an attractive match-up in Shizuoka, Japan between England and four-time champion Brazil. Then later Friday the United States takes on Germany in Ulsan, South Korea, 7:30 a.m. EDT. On Saturday, co-host South Korea plays Spain in Gwangju, 2:30 a.m. EDT, and finally Senegal faces Turkey in Osaka, Japan 7:30 a.m. EDT.

It is a final eight that virtually noone could have predicted, with top teams like France, Italy, and Argentina already eliminated. U.S. Soccer team coach Bruce Arena said it shows how much the rest of the world has caught up with football's elite. He also said it proves observers have failed to take this into consideration when making their predictions.

"There are not any experts in this game. And if they are, where are they now? Because three weeks later this World Cup looks a little different than all the experts predicted it to be. So there are no experts. What matters in this game are the 11 players on the field. They are the experts. They are the ones that decide who wins and who loses," Mr. Arena said.

So, of course, Coach Arena would not offer his thoughts on which teams might reach the World Cup semifinals. He would only say that the Americans' quarterfinal opponent Friday, Germany, has to be considered one of the favorites to advance.

U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan, who is only 20 years old but has played a major part in his team's success, offered his opinion on the Americans' match-up against Germany.

"Obviously, they are probably a better technical team. They are probably more experienced. But at this stage in the World Cup, I think who has more heart and more desire is the team that is going to prevail and hopefully we have more," Mr. Donovan said.

The U.S. soccer team has already surpassed expectations with its best showing in 72 years, while the Germans are in the quarterfinals for the 14th time in the 15 World Cups they have played in.

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