Hello and welcome back to our rollercoaster ride with Northern Ireland. We have managed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup so without further ado let’s complete this adventure.
A stunning start as Brazil are beaten by Yugoslavia. Italy get off to a good start against Germany. What a group that is!
Ghana and Sweden put themselves in control with wins over Japan & Australia respectively.
Great start for the home nations here. France starting well as well.
A good win for joint hosts South Korea. Trinidad and Tobago get a valuable point and Denmark are steady away.
Our first game is against Bosnia in Japan. Excitement is at fever pitch.
Brilliant start for us here. I was worried in the first half as we have a lot of chances but we can’t seem to score. Roy Graham even misses a penalty. We win a corner after 25 minutes, Gillespie crosses in and Mehic gets his header all wrong and scores an own goal. Just before half time we get another penalty and fair play to Graham he steps up and slots home. Bolic gets one back in the 74th minute to make it a nervy ending but we stay in front and pick up 3 big points.
Holland and Mexico drawing helps massively as well. Argentina off to a slow start as well.
Another draw in group F as China and Spain make winning starts.
Brazil are in a world of trouble. Italy look all but qualified.
A draw between Ghana and Australia let’s Sweden take control of group B.
Everything is as you were in group C. Questions for England though.
France looking good to go through and Nigeria take it to the last group game.
Group E is blown wide open. Holland win in our group.
Next up is our second game against Mexico. Win this and we are through.
What a result. We batter Mexico. Fitzgerald scores two well taken goals in the opening 20 minutes and both come from McMahon flick ons. In the second half Fitzgerald gets in again for his hattrick. Gillespie then swings a corner in which Hughes powers home and then Gillespie scores from McMahon’s rebounded shot. Superb win for us!
Argentina and Bolivia picking up big wins here.
Spain qualify with a big win and the draw in the other game.
Yugoslavia amazingly go through with Italy. Ghana and Sweden go through with a draw.
That win for England knocks Rep of Ireland out. Portugal go through with their big win. France and Nigeria progress from group D.
Belgium and Denmark through no problems. Bolivia’s result sees them top the group with Argentina 2nd.
Our final group game is against Holland. A draw will see us top the group.
We get the draw! in truth we probably should have won. We pushed hard at the end of both halves for the opener but we couldn’t get past Van Der Sar. Like wise Holland struggled to get past Fettis.
We top the group with Holland 2nd. Spain ease through as do China.
The draw for the last 16.
Yugoslavia have played really well so far. Tough draw.
Two shootouts as Italy and surprisingly China make it through.
Great win for England and France ease through as well.
Nigeria with a good win and Bolivia with another huge win.
Next up is our game against Yugoslavia. We’ve beaten them in the past but they have beat Brazil and Germany in the groups.
Fantastic defensive performance sees us through here. The first half was a massive stalemate. In the second half it was a similar story until the 71st minute when Gillespie’s inswinging corner is turned into Nadj’s own net. Yugoslavia come on strong but the entire defence stand firm and we are through to the Quarter Finals!
Spain smash Ghana in the other game today.
The draw for the Quarter Finals.
Horrible draw for us. Spain have been brilliant so far.
Two more shoot outs. Familiar pain for England. Credit to China as well for a good tournament.
We come to our Quarter Final with Spain now.
Well that’s our dream run well and truly over. Spain take a deserved lead in the 23rd minute from a freekick which De La Pena floats in and Hierro powers home his header. We then lose Aaron Hughes to injury which is a massive blow but two minutes later we have a lifeline when Gillespie gets chopped down and Graham scores from the spot kick. 5 minutes from half time Spain kill us with two quick goals. Hierro scores his second and Kiko quickly follows with a well placed third. Alfonso scores just after half time to make sure of the win for Spain.
Nigeria spoil the party for Bolivia in the other game.
Italy go through a tough game against France. Italy have been brilliant throughout.
Spain also make the final as expected.
France finish 3rd thanks to Thierry Henry.
World Cup glory for Spain who went unbeaten throughout the whole tournament. They have been the best team from start finish and deserve the win. It also means we got knocked out by the winners so can’t say fairer than that.
That it is for this International Series. When I took over Northern Ireland I never for a second thought we would qualify for a tournament never mind reach a World Cup Quarter Final. This has been my favorite blog to date to do and I hope you have enjoyed the ride with a brilliant Northern Ireland team.