Seoul World Cup Stadium
Friday, May 31, 2002
8:30 p.m. local time
U.S. Television Info: 7: 25 a.m. ET, ESPN2
- Friday’s World Cup opener between Senegal and France will be the teams’ first-ever meeting.
- In the last three World Cups France has played in – 1982, 1986, 1998 – the French have advanced to the semifinals. France finished 4th in 1982, 3rd in 1986 and won the tournament in 1998.
- Senegal’s squad has more players (21) playing professionally in France than does France’s (5).
The 2002 FIFA World Cup kicks off tomorrow as defending World Cup champions France face Senegal at 8:30 p.m. local time here at the Seoul World Cup Stadium. France is in the midst of one of the most successful runs in international soccer history, winning the World Cup in 1998, the European Championship in 2000 and Confederations Cup in 2001. Can France repeat again in 2002? Here are a few reasons not to bet against it: Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Sylvain Wiltord, Patrick Vieira, Marcel Desailly, Emmanuel Petit, Lilian Thuram, Fabien Barthez … the list goes on. While France is the defending World Cup Champion, Senegal is making their first World Cup appearance. Senegal advanced to the African Nations Cup final, before losing to Cameroon. The squad is made up mostly of players who play professionally in France, so the they know a lot about their opponents. Senegal is somewhat of a surprise to have advanced to the World Cup, advancing out of a tough qualifying group that included African soccer powers Egypt and Morocco. This match-up brings to mind the opening game of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when Cameroon shocked defending World Cup champs Argentina. Zidane is scheduled to miss the opener after injuring his thigh in the team’s final friendly against South Korea on May 26.
FIFA Ranking: 1st
2002 World Cup qualifying: Qualified as defending champion
World Cup final appearances: 11 – 1930 (7th), 1934 (9th), 1938 (6th), 1954 (11th), 1958 (3rd), 1966 (13th), 1978 (12th), 1982 (4th), 1986 (3rd), 1998 (1st), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 21-14-6
Manager: Roger Lemerre (FRA)
Championship Honors: 1984 Olympic champions; 1998 World Cup champions; 1984 & 2000 European Cup champions; 2001
Confederations Cup champions
Fast Facts: Combined with their triumph in Euro 2000, France are just the second team in history to hold World Cup and European Championship trophies at the same time (Germany won the 1972 Euro title and the 1974 World Cup). … Led by two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane.
FIFA Ranking: 43rd
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won Africa “Group 3” (4-1-3; 14 GF, 2 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 1 – 2002
Overall Record in WC: First appearance
Manager: Bruno Metsu (SEN)
Fast Facts: One of four rookie nations in the 2002 tournament (China, Ecuador and Slovenia are the others). … The lowest ranked of the five African nations in the World Cup, they were the first to qualify by winning their group easily.