By Yoo Jee-ho
INCHEON, June 29 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean World Cup team returned home to a warm welcome on Friday, its two early losses long forgotten after a stunning win over Germany.
South Korea shocked the football world by blanking the world No. 1 and defending World Cup champions 2-0 on Wednesday to close out Group F play at the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Though the Taeguk Warriors still missed out on the round of 16, they were widely lauded for the valiant effort in pulling off the monumental upset against the European giants. Both South Korean goals came in second-half stoppage time.
Thanks to one of their biggest World Cup victories ever, South Korea finished third in the group with three points, behind Sweden and Mexico. Germany also had three points but lost out to South Korea in goal difference tiebreaker.
The improbable win helped turn the tide of public opinion on South Korea, which had taken a beating from a notoriously fickle and demanding fan base after losing to Sweden and Mexico.
The reception that this year's team received contrasted sharply with what the 2014 World Cup squad faced upon its return. South Korea managed one draw and two losses in Brazil four years ago, and fans greeted then-coach Hong Myung-bo and his players with toffees -- an insult in Korean culture -- and shouted slurs at them.
But on this day, toffees were replaced with flowers, insults with accolades and shouts of encouragement.
South Korean players acknowledge the crowd after beating Germany 2-0 in Group F action at the FIFA World Cup at Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, on June 27, 2018. (Yonhap)