WC 1998 MENU
France '98 story
Story of France '98
The World Cup came
back to France after 60 years. The tournament's founding father Jules Rimet
would have been proud to see his home country organize and later win what had
become a monster event since his influential time way back in 1930. By 1998 there was time for expansion again
after four straight tournaments with 24 teams. FIFA decided to increase the number of competing teams with 8 to 32 to allow a
greater representation from the weaker confederations. Boosted by the expansion
of final spots a record 174 countries entered the qualifying competition for
France '98. The expansion also meant there was no room for third placed teams
to go through. Now only the top two teams in the eight groups would have a
future in the finals.
All the major countries qualified for the 1998 World Cup. The hosts hadn't
played in a World Cup since 1986 and the home fans were cautious in their
predictions before the tournament, but after three comfortable wins in the
first round the football temperature reached fever heights. Coach Aime
Jacquet had built a solid defensive foundation that refused to be beaten. Only
two goals were conceded in the whole tournament as France captured their first
ever World Cup title with a convincing 3-0 win over Brazil in the final. Zidane
stepped up and wrote his name in with golden letters in World Cup history with
two headed goals in the final - which was the heaviest defeat Brazil has
suffered in World Cup history.
Brazil dreamt of a deadly Ronaldo-Romario duo up front, but
the 1994 hero had to pull out of the squad shortly before the tournament started with
an injury. Other attacking gladiators like Rivaldo and Bebeto made sure Brazil
still reached yet another World Cup Final, but Romario was missed.
Croatia was a positive surprise with tournament topscorer Davor Suker as the
leader of the pack. Six goals in six different matches was the kind of
consistency Croatia needed from their marksman. They ended up with bronzemedals
beating the Netherlands in the play-off. Robert Prosinecki made history by
scoring for two different countries in World Cups, he also netted for
Argentina, Netherlands and Denmark all contributed in France '98 being an
enjoyable competition for neutral fans with their attacking football. Gabriel
Batistuta with powerful finishing, Dennis Bergkamp with elegant ballcontroll
and two Laudrups gave strong performances throughout the tournament along with
the rest of their teams. They were all ousted on small margins.
England and Italy yet again failed from the penalty-spot and were left with
memories of what could have been. 18 year-old Michael Owen scored his classic
solo-goal against Argentina in the tournament's most memorable match which also
saw David Beckham being sent off.
A record 22 red cards were handed out during the weeks in France much because
referees had stricter guidelines to follow when booking players. Rigobert Song
of Cameroon became the first man in history to be sent off twice. He also saw
red in 1994 versus Brazil. Cameroon once again failed to get out of the
groupstage and Nigeria was the sole African team left after the first round.
Morocco had their moments, but were eliminated because Norway managed to
overcome Brazil in the final game. Debutants South Africa had a tough job
grouped with France, but came away with credit. Tunisia sacked coach
Kasperczak after two games, but it made little difference.
Iran was back after 20 years and won a prestigious match against USA, but
couldn't get through anyway. South Korea, in their fourth straight cup,
started well against Mexico, but then had a player sent off and the team
collapsed. Jamaica and Japan were exotic additions in France, but lacked experience and learnt valuable lessons about
what it takes to have sucess at this level. Their colourful fans made impression though. The Japanese fans even
cleaned up after themselves before leaving the stadium.
Spain, not for the first time, was the big disappointment. They were eliminated
in the first round much thanks to a horrible error by veteran keeper
Zubizarreta against Nigeria. That incident turned the game and Spain
never recovered. Not even a 6-1 demolishion of Bulgaria could save the
Spaniards as other results went against them.
Germany with a very ageing team ran out of steam against Croatia in the
quarterfinal. Lothar Matthäus made his record 25th World Cup appearance
and participated in his fifth finals. Jürgen Klinsmann also said farewell
to the international scene after this.
But 1998 was a celebration of French football. The cup had finally come "home".
Info on how
the World Cup was founded and about the trophy as well.
on every match in every tournament.
Interesting columns about the past, present and future of the World Cup.
with appearances in the World Cup. Detailed info on every country.
of many of the most influential players in history.
An A-Z collection
of strange and different stories in World Cup history.
A big collection
of various statistics and records.
since it was introduced in 1966.
knowledge about the WC. Three different levels. No prizes, just for fun.
lots of stuff. For instance Best Goals, Best Players and Best Matches.
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