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World Cup Opens With Shocking Upset - 2002-05-31

The 2002 World Cup football finals in South Korea and Japan began with a shocking upset.

Senegal, ranked 42nd in the world and making its World Cup debut, upset defending champion and number-one France here, 1-0.

While the French dominated possession of the ball throughout the match, Senegal created some good opportunities of its own, and never seemed to have any fear of a team that was heavily favored. The lone goal of the game came in the 30th minute. 2001 African player of the year, El Hadji Diouf, set up the play with a quick run down the left side past defender Frank Lebeouf. His crossing pass went into the goal area where French midfielder Emmanuel Petit tried to clear it over the end line. But goalie Fabien Bartez stuck his leg out and the ball glanced off his foot, right to Senegal's Papa Bouba Diop, who easily booted it into the goal.

That goal held up, and Senegalese coach Bruno Metsu, through an interpreter, said he realized he was part of the one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

"For us, it's the biggest moment for our team and for this World Cup," he said.

Metsu is a Frenchman who has coached various professional clubs in France and took over as coach of Senegal less than one year ago.

" Maybe I'm not the best coach after this result. But this result is big, big encouragement for all coaches who have had difficulties and who have seen a lot of difficulties in their career," he said. "Personally I'm very happy, very happy after the result."

France, of course, can not be pleased with how it started defense of its title. Even without injured playmaker Zinedine Zidane, the French outshot Senegal, 15-6. They came close to scoring a number of times, with their best chances coming with a shot off the right post in the first half and a shot off the crossbar in the second half.

But French coach Roger Lemerre, through an interpreter, said his opponents deserve a lot of credit.

" It was a big performance for the Senegalese team. Before this game, I had a big conviction that my friend, coach Bruno Metsu, would have good tactics. And I know that on the pitch, the French side had some domination against this Senegalese team," he said. "But it's a big, big performance from the Senegalese team with their tactics, and they played well."

So Senegal, whose entire starting line-up plays professional football in France, knocks off defending champion France here in the World Cup opener, 1-0.

The other two teams in Group-A, Uruguay and Denmark, play one another Saturday in Ulsan, in southeastern South Korea. Next Thursday, Senegal faces Denmark and France takes on Uruguay.