Parents know this kind of joy, that crystalline moment when a child in whom all hopes are vested suddenly finds himself. Nations, too, can find affirmation in the successes of favorite sons. This week it was Asia's turn. After years of frustration and failure, unheralded national teams from Japan and South Korea broke through, not only going toe-to-toe against some of the world's best footballers, but doing so with the aggression of the super-confident. No, they do not yet have a famous war cry, like France's "Allez!" But the French are going home in defeat, along with the fallen warriors of Argentina. Are the tournament's co-hosts merely cashing in on home-field advantage? Perhaps, but the expectations of the giddy, roaring crowds that have packed stadiums in Seoul and Tokyo are a burden and not just a boon. Luck has little to do with this Asian triumph. Japan and Korea thundered through to the round of 16 without losing a single match, finishing atop their groups and besting, among others, much-admired Russian and Portuguese teams. It's too early to call this Asia's Cup, but the 2002 contest will be remembered with pride by two countries yearning to be global players. "It is a huge moment we are living for Japan right now," said Japan's coach Philippe Troussier. Yes, a gloriously affirming moment.
Days of Wonder: No one can predict the Cup