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Chinese Football Team Qualifies for 2002 World Cup Finals


On October 7, 2001, the Chinese spent another sleepless night, barely three months after winning the bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

At 21:21 that night, the referee raised his hands and blew a whistle to end the contest, in which Chinese football team cleared its last obstacle, Oman team, with a 1-0 win in an Asian qualifier in Shenyang. That was a historical moment for the Chinese football team, which had finally kicked open the long-shut door to World Cup, and entered the finals of the 2002 World Cup.

The Chinese had waited 44 years for that moment.

China's courting of the World Cup started in a scorching summer afternoon in 1958, when the temperature reached 40 Celsius degrees. The following years had been winters for the Chinese team, which, at the last second, lost the opportunity to enter the World Cup final round six times. The Chinese team's history in the World Cup has also been a history of Chinese football fans' mental torment, and the history of a dream that had never been given up.

2001 was a lucky year for the Chinese team. The Republic of Korea and Japan, as host countries for the World Cup, didn't have to participate in the qualifying rounds. In the draw cuts, the Chinese team was fortunate enough not to be in the same group as Saudi Arabia and Iran. All these factors combined made things much easier for the Chinese team. Yet, apart from luck, people must admit that the Chinese team has also become more mature, and learnt how to seize opportunities and play their best.