Tag: Brazil

World Cup Tales – Overcoming The Great Humiliation: Brazil, 1958

As the second favourites to win the 2010 World Cup after Spain, Brazil are used to the pressure that comes with the eyes of the world being upon them. No other country on earth’s identity is so closely associated with football, yet much of the mythology that surrounds the Brazilian national team stems their failure to win the tournament that they hosted in 1950. It was this national trauma that was to provide the inspiration for what would become the most successful international team on earth, both stylistically and tactically. As such, the story of how Brazil won the 1958 World Cup began eight years earlier, in Rio de Janeiro. The 1950 World Cup was supposed to be Brazil’s grand entrance into the modern world. After fifteen years, democracy had returned to Brazil after fifteen years with the coming of the Second Republic in 1945, and the brash confidence of this new Brazil was to be displayed in full with the arrival of the first World Cup finals in twelve years. Work had started on the Maracana stadium in 1948, with 1,500 workers constructing the vast bowl. Brazil qualified with comfort for the final group stage of the tournament (the 1950 World Cup is the only World Cup ever not to have had a formal “final”), and two crushing wins – 7-1 against Sweden and 6-1 against Spain –...

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The World Cup Of National Anthems: Part Four

For many people, major sports tournaments are the only occasion that national anthems are heard. These peculiar tunes have become a genre of their own, transcending the mere hymns that many of them were in first place, and they range from the gloriously uplifting to mournful dirges. The selection of words has, in many countries, brought about national debate that has been all-encompassing. In the case of Spain, it was decided that it would probably be for the best just to not bother having any for the sake of national unity.

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New Zealand Revive Memories Of The Summer Of 1982

New Zealand have qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals by beating Bahrain in Wellington this morning, and this result may have stirred a few memories amongst men of a certain age that will remember their only other successful qualification attempt, from 1982.

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A World Cup Finals Without Argentina?

Now is not a particularly good time to be an Argentinian football supporter. Not only have their most loathed opposition – Brazil and England – already qualified for the finals of the 2010 World Cup, but there is a serious likelihood  that the Albiceleste themselves might not even qualify for next year’s tournament in South Africa, and coach Diego Maradona is receiving hitherto unprecedented criticism in his home country. Argentina haven’t failed to qualify for the World Cup finals since 1970, but with just two matches left to play they sit in fifth place in the CONMEBOL group (a position that would see them play off over two legs against the fourth placed North American team), and there aren’t even any guarantees that they will hold onto that lofty a position. Eyebrows raised by the Argentinian Football Association’s decision to give the coach’s position to Diego Maradona were tempered by his status in the country. Maradona’s lengendary status has risen to the extent that he has become a one man cult in himself, and it seems likely that some have allowed his former abilities as a player to cloud their view of his status as a manager. What we know for certain is that his spell as the coach of the Argentina national side will be remembered as possibly the most disastrous in the recent history of the game...

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Canada & The 1986 World Cup

You wouldn’t know it from the absolute lack of media coverage in the UK, but the CONCACAF Gold Cup – North & Central America’s equivalent of the European Championships – is currently being played out in the USA, and one of the minor surprises of the competition so far has been the progress of the Canadian national team, who have comfortably qualified for the quarter-finals with two wins from their three group matches against Jamaica and El Salvador. In the next round, they take on Honduras next Saturday in Philadelphia. The Canadian men’s national team has, however, a somewhat less than glorious record in the international stage. They have already been eliminated from the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa, picking up just two points from their six matches in a group which also contained Honduras, Mexico and Jamaica. They did qualify for the World Cup Finals once, though, in 1986, and they did so against what should have been insurmountable odds. The story of Canada’s run to the 1986 World Cup Finals begins two years earlier at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. They qualified from their group, beating Cameroon 3-1 on the way, to make the quarter-finals of the competition, where they met Brazil at the Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. What should have been a very one-sided match, however, didn’t go according to plan...

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