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World Cup venue unveiled

A near-capacity crowd filled Daejeon’s new venue, which seats more than 41,000 and will be used for matches in the 2002 World Cup finals being co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.

Many arrived several hours early to watch a pre-game show, which included a massed choir that filled the entire lower deck behind one goal.

The Koreans have invested heavily in facilities for the World Cup tournament, which begins on May 31 next year.

All 10 stadiums have been built from scratch, and Daejeon, which does not have a running track separating the pitch from the stands, is one of seven purpose-built for soccer.

There were suggestions from members of the Korean World Cup organising committee that security would be stepped up in the wake of Tuesday’s terror attacks on the United States.

But if any extra precautions were taken, they were not readily visible, as a holiday atmosphere prevailed in and around the ground.

The first three of Korea’s venues were opened early this year, with the Daegu, Suwon and Ulsan stadiums subsequently used for the Confederations Cup.

The remaining six are planned for completion before the end of the year, five scheduled to be officially opened in the coming months.

Korea and Nigeria will meet again in Pusan on Sunday to open the stadium that will also be used for next year’s Asian Games, while Gwangju, Jeonju, Seogwipo and Seoul are preparing for curtain-raisers in October and November.

The stadium in the port city of Inchon is also due for completion in December, but with winter temperatures on the Korean peninsula making soccer impossible, the organisers plan to delay the official opening until next March.