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Stunning opener kicks off World Cup

Winners are grinners: Senegal fans party the night away
Winners are grinners: Senegal fans party the night away  


By CNN's Andrew Demaria

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korea awoke to its first World Cup hangover Saturday still stunned by Senegal's upset 1-0 win over reigning champions France in Friday night's opening match at Seoul's World Cup Stadium.

"World surprised by 'African Tornados,'" splashed the banner on the Korean language daily, The Hankook Albo.

English-language The Korean Times called the win, set up by Papa Bouba Diop's sliding 30th minute goal, "one of the greatest upsets in footballing history." (Match report)

Describing the remarkable win as a "major surprise," FIFA head Sepp Blatter told CNN that the against-the-odds victory was "fantastic for the development of football in Africa."

The shock victory to the Senegal Lions has given the already greatly hyped tournament a new sense of excitement.

Attention now turns to Japan, which co-hosts the World Cup with South Korea, where the city of Niigata is hosting its first game between Ireland and Cameroon.

Two other matches take place on Saturday, Germany meet Saudi Arabia in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo while Uruguay play Denmark in Ulsan, Korea.

Opening gala

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The local Korean media were also full of praise for the successful staging of the tournament opener, witnessed by a near capacity 62,000 fans.

They gave special mention to the stunning opening ceremony prior to the game that easily outranked similar galas of previous World Cups.

The high tech display, estimated to have been watched by more than 500 million fans across the globe, featured more than 2,000 dancers and a spectacular light-show billed as symbolizing the harmony between the co-hosting nations"

"It was a great ceremony ... that showed the unity of the world. The performance made the world become one," the Hankook Albo said.

In his opening speech of the World Cup on Friday, South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung said he hoped the World Cup would reconfirm the values of world peace.

"Through these football matches, humanity will become one, transcending racial, cultural, ideological, and religious differences," he said

Joining Kim among the list of dignitaries were Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Prince Takamado and Princess Hisako -- the first members of Japan's royal family to visit South Korea since the end of Japanese colonial rule on the Korean Peninsula in 1945.

The imperial visit is seen as a sign of warming ties between the two nations and a successful co-hosting of the Cup is hoped to bring the East Asian neighbors closer together.

Talk of the town

Even the spectacular opening ceremony was overshadowed by the stunning match that followed
Even the spectacular opening ceremony was overshadowed by the stunning match that followed  

The spectacular glitz of the opening ceremony was however just a foretaste of the 90-miniutes of football that followed.

The result was the talk of the town as fans spilled into Seoul's city streets.

"Can you believe it? It is amazing," says the bargirl at The Loft bar in Seoul's Itaewon entertainment district. "I was supporting Senegal, I like the underdogs."

Shocked by the early Cup defeat French fans sought solace from the cold comforts of a few drinks.

David Arnuad's red, white and blue facepaint could not hide his disappointment.

"Senegal had nothing to lose and it makes it worse that we lost to them," he said.

"They know a lot about French football and they are quite tough. I am happy for them but not happy for France."

In contrast, dozens of Senegal fans were all smiles as they waved flags of green, yellow and red and grooved to the beat of African drums. (Senegal celebrates)

"If everything is going to finish here, it's okay because we have already won our World Cup," said Latyr Sy Lamo a musician based in Tokyo who flew in on Friday especially for the game.

"It's time to party, everyone's invited."






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