Pierre Boisrond


 
Pierre Boisrond has followed soccer and the World Cup closely for many years and also writes for other websites. We at PWC are proud to have him as a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of the World Cup.

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The World Cup: A Passion from 1978 to 2002



    I have followed the World Cup from 1978 to 2002. Certainly, I thank God for allowing me to see another World Cup. However, this time I will follow it both as a columnist and a commentator. The most important of all, I will follow it as a fan. The World Cup is all about passion. For some of us in the United States who think why the whole world is going crazy for this tournament. I hope that reading this article will answer some of your questions because I am about to take you to some memorable World Cup moments from Argentina 1978 to Korea-Japan 2002. Now, fasten your seatbelts because the ride is about to be exciting.

    Before taking you to that joyful ride, I must make such points. Some of you will say, well we have the National Basketball Association (NBA). Well as exciting the NBA might be, when it comes to the World Cup, the NBA is second nature. Well, one might continue to say, what about the National Football League? Well, again, there’s no competition on here. Well, one might come with an argument for the Baseball World Series. Again, there’s no contender. Some will say well, what about the Olympics. Again, there’s no comparison. The FIFA World Cup is the World’s Football show. Billions of people will watch the event. You might be in the hills of Afghanistan to the corridors of Zimbabwe, you shall hear about the World Cup. And this is why the World Cup is bigger than any sportive event in the World Cup. The word World Cup is automatically synonym to Football.

    Now, please come and take the ride with me as I am about to take you from 1978 to 2002. The World Cup is so special and that is why it only happens every 4 years. I wish I could have taken you from 1974 since my native country, Haiti, represented the CONCACAF in Germany 74. However, I was unaware of this because I was just a little child looking for his milk, so said my dearest friend, my father. But what I can tell you is that after a magnificent pass of Phillippe Vorbes to Emmanuel Sannon who left helpless, Dino Zoff, the magnificent Italian goalie… Haiti was up 1-0 and the whole country erupted like a volcano. I wish the same for the people of Trinidad & Tobago, Togo, Angola, Ukraine, Cote d’Ivoire, Iran, Ghana, and Australia for this World Cup.

    If in 1974 I was unaware of the World Cup, in 1978 that was a whole different story. I was in elementary school but I knew about the World Cup because it captured the whole country’s attention. It seems that most of my family members supported Argentina, so I jumped on the band wagon and converted myself to an Argentina’s fan. To my great surprise, most of my classmates supported Brazil. But I was not going to relinquish my support for Argentina. Some of my classmates would pose me that daunting question: “Mr. Boisrond, have you ever heard of Pele?” At the School of Friars of Jean-Marie Guilloux, a Jesuit Academy in Port-Au-Prince, we were taught to address our classmates by their last name preceded by the title Mr. My response to my classmates at the time was ‘yes my father told me about him, but I have Mario Alberto Kempes now.’

    In 1978, Argentina was under the rules of a military dictatorship; however the World Cup started very well for the host team. Among the heavyweights were Brazil, Holland, France, Italy, Argentina, and West Germany. Then we have also found some fantastic players such as Mario Alberto Kempes of Argentina, Arie Haan of Netherlands, the two Dutch brothers, Rene and Willy Van de Kerkof; Roberto Rivelino of Brazil, Nelinho of Brazil, Daniel Alberto Pasarella of Argentina; Michel Platini of France, Nanninga of the Netherlands; Sepp Maier of West Germany, Karl Heinz Rummenigue of West Germany. Amaral, the mighty Brazilian defender; Marius Tresor, the fantastic French defender; the talented Teofilo “Nene” Cubillas of Peru, and Hector Chumpitas of Peru, Leopoldo Luque of Argentina, and Grzegorz Lato of Poland. I could have named many more great players who have displayed their unbelievable technical skills during the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

    Among some the memorable of 1978, I can recall the mighty shot of Leopoldo Luque that sent Roger Bertrand de Mannes, the French goalie, to the hospital. I can remember the classics move of the great Roberto Rivelino, one of the great Brazilian players. I can remember the great French defender, Marius Tresor. I recall the fantastic saves on the goal line of Joao Amaral dos Santos, the talented Brazilian defender, who prevented Spain from beating Brazil. The Spanish player whom I am unable to recall his name dribbled Emerson Leao and with an empty in front of him to score for Spain, he took all his time and somehow the great Amaral came from nowhere to save Brazil from losing the game. I still could not believe it; even an ant could have scored this goal. Another memorable of this World Cup, it was the fantastic free kick of Nelinho of Brazil who left helpless the Polish goalie. But Lato was there to tie the game for Poland in the last minute of the first half. But Brazil is Brazil and they managed to beat Poland 3-1. And then it was up to Argentina to beat Peru by 4-0 so they can have a chance to play the final. I don’t know why Brazil vs. Poland and Argentina vs. Peru did not start at the same time. Even today, most soccer fans still thought that the game was fixed. For me, all I can remember is that Peru lost this game 6-0. Unbelievable, the goalie of Peru, Ramon Quiroga, was unable to do anything for a deadly attack under the helm of the matador, Mario Alberto Kempes.

    Let’s not forget about the Dutch. I love the Dutch. They played the total football. As a matter of fact, the Dutch taught the world how to play the game of Football. In Spanish we call the Dutch football: “La Maquina Naranja Holandesa” (The Dutch Orange Machine). In 1978, they had some great players. As I watched the Dutch national team and listened to the Haitian Commentator who was calling the names of the Dutch Players. Imagine mixing the French language with the Dutch language, I don’t know what you will get, but one thing that I am sure of is that it will sound like you are a poet. When I heard names such as Arie Haan, Rene van de Kerkhof, Willi van de Kerkhof, Rob Rensenbrink, and Dick Nanninga preceded by some French notation, they sounded nicely in my ears. On top of it, the Dutch are playing some fantastic football. What a national team that the Dutch had in 1978. I heard 1974 was better. But I was not there, so I did not know. But what I have witnessed in 1978, as a little boy, really made appreciate the great football played by the Netherlands.

    In 1978, it was not Brazil, it was not Italy, It was not Germany, and it was not France. But Argentina and Netherlands had to play the final game. Although, Brazil should have been there because the Brazil did not lose any game, but Argentina did lose by succumbing to Roberto Bettega of Italy. It was the total football versus the talented Mario Alberto Kempes. I recall very well that Sunday afternoon, after attending a 1hr mass in the morning because it was a requirement since I attended a catholic school, and attending services at my father’s Church of God, I had a little prayer for Argentina because my classmates would have made it hell for me when I get back to school.

    The 1978 World Cup took place in the River Plate Monumental Stadium between Argentina and the Netherlands. The Dutch team took the field in a hostile environment. As a matter fact, the People of Argentina really prevented the Dutch Players from getting a good night sleep, they were making all kind of noise to disrupt the Dutch. Well, in any country where the military is in charge, one knows that no laws are being followed. It was unfortunate for the Dutch, but they were ready to face Argentina. It was not like the best game ever, but there was some drama. I was constantly under pressure. I was unable to sit down. What a pressure it was for me. Somehow, Mario Kempes managed to relieve my pressure by scoring the first goal for Argentina after receive a pass from Leopoldo Luque. The Dutch stepped up their game to the 5th gear, and then when you have great players such as Rene van de Kerkhof and Dick Naninga, this combination is deadly. It was about 7 or 8 minutes for the game to be over, but Naninga equalized for the Dutch. I could imagine the atmosphere in Amsterdam. Wow, I did not know what to believe because the Dutch orange machine was coming at full speed to the point that the Dutch almost destroyed of a whole country in 1978 when the ball hit Argentina’s goal post. To this day, I said it was because of my prayers on that Sunday morning, that ball should have gone in… It should have been inside the net… It should have been nothing but net. The game went to overtime, and Argentina had won it after another goal by Kempes and Daniel Bertoni.

    Let’s go to 1982. The FIFA World Cup took place in Spain 1982. The young Maradona was supposed to be the sensation of this World Cup. But he was quickly humbled by Erwin van DenBerg who scored the winning goal for Belgium against Argentina. The whole world was waiting to see Diego Armando Maradona, but it appeared that too much pressure was on a young Diego. This World Cup was not the World Cup of Maradona, but certainly it was the World Cup of Paolo Rossi of Italy.

    In the 1982 World Cup, there were many controversies. First, who could ever forget the game between West Germany and Algeria? The West Germans deliberately lost this game 2-1. It was not the same West Germans teams that we had seen in the previous games, something was going on, but no one knew at that time. On the other hand, the referee had handed Italy a gift. During the Cameroon Vs Poland game, the referee did not allow a lawful goal for the African team. Had the goal been allowed, then Italy would have not made it to the second round. Italy did make the best of that chance. We cannot fault the Italians for this, but Alexis Ponnet, the Belgian referee who handed the Italians their ticket to the Second round. I hope that we won’t see this mess again in the 2006 World Cup.

    Now, let’s get to the most fantastic game of this World Cup. It was Brazil vs. Italy. The Brazilians only had to tie the game and they would have earned their ticket to the quarter finals. But Paolo Rossi and Dino Zoff raised their games to another level to confront this fantastic Brazilian team. It was not any Brazilian team that we are talking about it. This team actually would let the opponent score first and then would come with a vengeance to destroy its opponents.

    Among the Brazilian players, we had Eder with his forceful free kick. He made Fillol of Argentina looked like nothing in goal. Then we had, Zico; what a fantastic player! Later down in this article, I’ll be giving you a play by play conducted by Zico during Brazil vs. Italy. We also had, the talented Dr. Socrates. He played the game with great class, oh Dr. Socrates. Wow, as you can see, I am not a Brazilian fan, but every fan would enjoy some great football. Who can forget the talented Roberto Falcao; there were many, but the team of the late Tele Santana should have won the game. Schools were closed in Haiti so that every student would have been able to watch Brazil vs. Italy. Offices were closed so that the Haitians could have seen the games. For myself, I’ve found myself with a group of friends next to my parents’ home. At this time, Argentina was already out, my friends were asking me to convert to Brazil, but I did not succumb to their demands. Brazil was the Brazil that everyone wanted to see, but their defensive mistakes cost them dearly, and the pathetic goalie, Valdir Perez, did a lousy job on goal.

    Nevertheless, the game was incredible with a lot of pressure. Italy managed to score first with Paolo Rossi. The great Rossi would be a nightmare for every opponent thereafter. Italy was up 1-0. Then it was for the Brazilians to display their majestic skills on the soccer pitch of the “Estadio Sarria” in Barcelona. This game should be in the collection of every football fan. After the Italian had scored, the Brazilians conducted by the great Arthur Coimbra (Zico) had to go for the equalizer. Sure enough, the equalizer was about to happen. Dr. Socrates received the ball from the midfield and immediately gave it to Zico; then the talented Zico with the #10 of Pele in his back took the ball as he diagonally moved to the left; and immediately Dr. Socrates ran to the right, basically telling Zico that he needed the ball back. Remember I am trying to give you the play by play, so you need to keep it in your memory so you can follow it. As Zico was making his diagonal move to the left, he immediately veered to the right by faking the defender and gave a fantastic assist to Dr. Socrates who left Dino Zoff, the Goalie of Italy, helpless. Despite that Zoff had blocked the angle; Socrates passed the ball between the legs of Zoff. Oh man, it was an eruption in my friend’s house. Haiti went crazy. I have found my self in a see of Yellow and Green. I wanted to jump with them, but I could not. I wish it were Argentina. I just smiled, but the truth is that I wanted to jump with all my Haitian friends. Remember we were all kids at the time. It was not about studying some Haitian history; it was not about doing some mathematics; it was not about learning French, Spanish and Latin. But it was about dancing the Samba. It was about teaching the Samba to the fans of Argentina. What a game it was! Better yet, the game was still in the first half.

    The tying goal of the Brazilian resurrected the Forza Azurri. Again the Brazilians, carelessly in defense, let Paolo Rossi through and it was 2-1 in favor of Italy. The First half ended 2-1.

    However, for the Brazilian fans, they knew that their team would equalize in the second half. It was one of the best 2nd half football games that I have ever seen. The Brazilians sent everything they could have done to Zoff. But the magnificent Italian Goalie refused Brazil to equalize. There was a point during the game when Zoff stopped a deadly header of Dr. Socrates on the goal line. That was one of the great games played by Dino Zoff. But as we all know, Brazil is Brazil. And sooner or later, the equalizer would have to come. The equalizer was as beautiful as the first one. However this time, it was Roberto Falcao who would do the damage to the Italians. After receiving a ball by Junior, Roberto Falcao crossed the midfield with great flair. The Italian defenders were following the play, but they get tricked by Paolo Isidoro of Brazil who moved to the far right corner; basically he wanted the ball from Falcao so that he could cross it. When the Italians defender saw the technical move without the ball by Isidoro, the whole Italian defense moved to the right, and therefore left the middle of the defense wide open; then Paolo Roberto Falcao who saw that crucified Dino Zoff with a mighty shot, and Zoff went for it, but could not do anything for that shot. It was euphoria for all the Brazilian fans. And now the game was 2-2. And Brazil was about to go to the quarter finals.

    However, Paolo Rossi, had another plan. After scoring Italy’s two goals, Rossi scored the third one to send the Italian to the quarter finals and the Brazilians to Rio de Janeiro. Tele Santana should have put a player on Rossi because in any football game, when a player scored two goals in a game, the coach must find a way to stop this player. But, Tele Santana did not do that. However, the Brazilian goalie, Valdir Peres, was clearly responsible for the 3rd goal. I don’t have to tell you how it was in Haiti. It was like a funeral procession. It was mourning time. For me, not that I was happy that Brazil lost I was not happy that Brazil lost, but it was a great relief for me because my friends would have caused me a migraine. They should have won it because they had clearly the better team of the tournament. The Italians went to win this World Cup against the West Germans who have played a memorable semi-final game against the French conducted by the classic and talented midfielder at that time, Michel Platini. Any team that did not win it in 1982 had to wait a painful four years to take another shot at it.

    If 1982 was the year of Paolo Rossi, then 1986 was the year of the all-time great, Diego Armando Maradona. The 1986 World Cup took place in Mexico. Yes, the Brazilians were there; The Italians were also present. The West Germans were also present. The British made themselves available. We did not have the Dutch Orange machine, but we had the Danish Locomotive under the direction of Elkjær-Larsen and Michael Laudrup. I would never forget this great Denmark national team. I would never forget the display by Emilio Butragueno of Spain. I would always remember this great French National team under Michel Platini who sent the Brazil of Socrates, Alemao and Zico packing for Rio Janeiro in a memorable game that went to extra time and to Penalty shoot-outs. We could not believe that Socrates had missed his first penalty kick. However, the maestro of free-kick, the French superstar, Michel Platini had to shoot the last penalty kick for France and to put the French in the Semi-Final. As the people of France were watching the game, they thought that with Platini on the ball, it was all over for Brazil. Platini missed it. He proved that he was human. Luckily for the French, they were able to beat Brazil to move on to the semi-finals against West Germany.

    On the other hand, the 1986 World Cup was about Diego Armando Maradona. He returned from a vengeance after earning a red card in 1982 during the Brazil vs. Argentina game. This time, Maradona knew that he had to carry the whole Argentina on his shoulder. With the #10 on his jersey, he conducted the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra. All he ever needed were two fantastic finishers such as Jorge Luis Burruchaga and Jorge Valdano. You can tell me about Pele; you can tell me about Beckenbauer; you can tell me about Di Stefano; you can even tell me about Johan Cruyiff; Please give me Maradona. I did not see the other players, but for what I’ve seem from Maradona, he will always be for me the best player who has ever played the game of Football; that can also be confirmed by the British Fans.

    If the British fans did not appreciate the Hand of God’s goal, then they must be appreciative of what they have seen after Maradona made a 360 in the midfield, started to take the British defenders one by one, and finally rendered Peter Shilton useless. It was the goal of the century. No one has ever seen such display. Even the great Gary Lineker of England stated that he could not believe what he had just seen as he stood helpless in the midfield. The 1986 World Cup was about Maradona. It was not about any country that participated in this World Cup. Yes, France had reached the Semi-Final by Beating Brazil. West Germany had beaten France in the semi-final and was ready to face Maradona in the World Cup Final. It was an interesting Final game. The West Germans were trying to eliminate Maradona from the game. Eliminating the all-time best player of the world was an impossible task. Quickly enough, Jorge Luis Brown of Argentina scored the first goal after a crucial mistake of Harald Shumacher, the West German Goalie. In the second half, Jorge Valdano put it 2-0 for Argentina. Those of us who have followed the Germans over the year, we knew that they would start a comeback. Then it was the great Karl Heinz Rummenigue who started the comeback for West Germany. With the game 2-1; the West Germans started to build the pressure on Argentina. Sure enough, it was Rudi Voeller who equalized it for the West Germans. Argentina 2 vs. West Germany 0 was the score.

    Any football fan would definitely give the momentum to the West Germans and would have thought that the game was going to Overtime. However, having the greatest footballer of all times on your side, then Argentina knew that they could resist the West Germans pressure. When Maradona is on the field, anything can happen. When Diego Armando Maradona is on the pitch, then one needs to get ready because he would come with something special. When Diego ‘ Dieguito’ Armando Maradona is there, then there should not be any worries. When the Talented #10 of Argentina is on the field, it does not matter who is defending him because somehow he will invent a magical move. It was not Argentina vs. West Germany. It was Maradona vs. West Germany. Finally, he sent a long ball over the German defense to Jorge Luis Burruchaga, the talented # 7 of Argentina. Burruchaga, a great finisher of the game, calmly put the ball passed Harald Shumacher. It was the tango dance in Buenos Aires. It was the Salsa-Tango at Mexico City’s Azteca stadium. The West Germans players could not believe what had just happened. It was Maradona Mania. I can recall Tony Tirado, the Telemundo Commentator, as he shouted “ Argentina Campeon Del Mundo.” The 1986 was the World Cup of Maradona. Now, we must ask, can Juan Roman Riquelme with the #10 of Maradona bring back this memorable moment to the fans of Argentina in the 2006 World Cup? 1986-2006; 20 years later, Can Riquelme find the magic of Diego Armando Maradona. Or can the fantastic Duo Riquelme-Messi make it happen again? We will have to wait and see. But the task is not going to be an easy one. The 1990 World Cup was in Italy. It was a fantastic opening Ceremony by the Italians. The best I have ever seen. What a beautiful song “Un'estate Italiana” singing by Gianna Nannini & Edoardo Bennato.

Forse non sarà una canzone
a cambiare le regole del gioco
ma voglio viverla cosi quest'avventura
senza frontiere e con il cuore in gola

E il mondo in una giostra di colori
e il vento accarezza le bandiere
arriva un brivido e ti trascina via
e sciogli in un abbraccio la follia;


    As the lyrics stated, perhaps it may not be a song that will change the rules of the game, but I want to live this adventure without frontiers. Yes, the World Cup is an adventure and this is why it captures the whole world attention. To continue with this magnificent World Cup song lyric, “notti magiche inseguendo un goal sotto il cielo di un'estate italiana” which basically means through the magical nights we will be chasing a goal under the sky of an Italian summer”…

    Yes, the World Cup is magical. We have seen the magic of Francois Oman Biyik of Cameroun who scored the winning goal in the Opening Game against Argentina. The 1990 World Cup brought the African Continent to light. We have seen the magical display of the talented Makanaky of Cameroon. We have been graced by the fantastic Cameroonian goalie, Thomas Nkono. Let’s not forget, the great Roger Milla of Cameroon, if not the best African Player ever. There were not too many goals scored in the 1990 World Cup. But there were some dramas. There were some great games.

    Among these games, I can recall Germany vs. Colombia. If Colombia managed to earn a tie, then they will go through to the second round. Well, as usual, Germany scored first. But the Colombians, with Carlos “el Pive” Valderrama, had a chance. If you don’t remember him, just remember the player with the big yellow puffy hair. He was the conductor of the Colombian Symphony Orchestra. What a game it was!. As we were approaching the final few minutes of the game, Valderrama received the ball in the midfield, and I could hear the Spanish Univison Commentator, Andres Cantor, that kept on singing the name of Valderrama… Valderrama….Valderrama--- it was quite a musical rhythm to that name combined with the fantastic Spanish accent. Then Freddy Rincon made a move to the far right as Valderrama passed him the ball and suddenly, the musical Rhythm of Rincon resounding like a sound of a flute as Andres Cantor was singing “Rincon… Rincon… Rincon… and finally equalized the game for Colombia in the last minute and sent joy to the People of Colombia. I could imagine the celebration that took place in Bogotá at that time. It was a fantastic game. It was a magical game under the sky of an Italian summer. This is the World Cup for you. And no other sports celebration can ever top the World Cup.

    It’s not over yet, as I am compiling the data in my brain to recall some of the greatest moments in the 1990 World Cup. I quickly stumbled on Roger Milla of Cameroon who sent the Colombians packing for Bogotá. This was great for Africa. We should always remember the following players: Roger Milla, Makanaky, Mfede, Oman Biyik, Nkono, Tataw, Kunde, etc. These players have revolutionized the African Football. Perhaps some day with enough discipline, an African nation will win the World Cup. If it were not for the Mexican referee, Codesal, Cameroon could have reached the semi-final. Cameroon vs. England was a magnificent game and I would recommend to any football fan.

    Yet again, we cannot forget the giants in this World Cup, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Germany, England, and Holland. We were waiting for the Dutch Orange Machine, but it did not happen. We all wanted to see the great Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, etc, but the Dutch disappointed us. But Maradona was still there; Careca of Brasil was also present. Lothar Mathaus of Germany made himself available, and Gary lineker of England was also there. But it was the game between Argentina vs. Yugoslavia at that time that started the drama. It was a great game that went to penalty shoot outs. In this game, Maradona proved himself that he was human, he missed his penalty kick, and then Peter Troglio of Argentina hit the post and missed his. Now Argentina was in big trouble. I was unable to sit and I was unable to stand up; it seems that I was somewhere between the ceiling and the ground or somewhere in space. Well, Sergio Javier Goycoechea, the goalie for Argentina, rescued Maradona and the fans of Argentina. However, we must thank some of the great footballers of the former Yugoslavia. Among them, we have found, Dragan Stojkovic, Robert Prosinecki and Dejan Savicevic. They were among the greats of the Former Yugoslavia whom many considered as the Brazil of Europe.

    Another game that brought some drama was Argentina vs. Brazil. To tell you the truth, Argentina was not a good team at all. The team was mediocre at best, but when Diego Armando Maradona is on the pitch, then he would introduce a magical move. Sure enough, after the Brazilians have been hitting the Argentina’s goal post in several attempts, it was the time for the all-time best player to put his magical name on Carlos Verri Dunga. That day Dunga did not allow a centimeter to Maradona. But one thing, I knew was that Maradona would invent a majestic move under the sky of the Italian Summer. Well, Dunga was on him as he received the pass in the midfield. Dunga tackled Maradona, as the #10 of Argentina was going down, he passed the ball to Claudio Paul Canniggia who left Taffarel stunned and Argentina was 1-0. It was all over for the Brazil of Careca and Alemao. Maradona sent the Brazilians home to Rio de Janeiro.

    The 1990 FIFA World Cup drama did not stop there. Now the Italians would have to face Maradona of Argentina in the San Paolo Stadium di Napoli. During that time, Maradona was playing for the Italian Club, Napoli. Bad luck for the Italians, they had to play Argentina in the home of Maradona. It was like Maradona was playing in the Bombonera Stadium of Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires. We usually say in Spanish, El Grandioso, El Gran numero 10 de la Seleccion Argentina de Futbol, Diego Armando Maradona. He would settle the matters for this game. What a day it was at the San Paolo Stadium of Napoli! Or as the Italians would have put it: “Ché giorno era allo stadio di San Paolo di Napoli!” Sure enough, the day started very well for the Italians as they scored first with a superb goal from Toto Schillachi. The game had passion. Both teams displayed their magical skills. The first half ended 1-0 in favor of the Italians.

    However, Diego Armando Maradona was there, and he was playing his best game of in this 1990 World Cup. Maradona is Maradona. At any point during the game, he can create some nightmares for the opponent. The whole nation of Argentina was waiting for Maradona to come up with some thing special. Yes, he did, after receiving the ball in the midfield, he sent a long ball to Julio Orlaticoechea who then crossed to Paul Caniggia who back headed the ball and left Walter Zenga, helpless. It was great amount of noise in the streets of Buenos Aires, it was noise in every four corners of the world for Argentina. For myself, not an even an advanced calculus class could keep me from seeing the game. I had to live this moment, and thank God for this opportunity. It does not get any better than this. Argentina was about to ruin the Italian celebration.

    The game went to extra time. It was great football as both teams are given their best to get the victory. I remember a young Roberto Baggio. As young as he was, he tormented the defensive line of Argentina. Andres Cantor, the Univision commentator, started to sing the name “ Baggio, Baggio, Baggio… Baggio” as the talented young player became a constant nightmare for Argentina. What a game, what a game, what a game it was!

    However the Italians did forget that Maradona was canonized as Sanctus Maradonus. Thus he had to make a call to Pope John Paul the II at the Vatican. Did the Pope answer the call, we would have to discuss that at another time. The game ended 1-1 after extra time. Then it was the dreadful penalty shoot-outs.

    Both teams deserved to win on this day. But one needed to go through the finals. Argentina had won it in the penalty shoot-outs grace to Goycoechea, the goalie of Argentina. It was a giant of South America versus a giant of Europe. Then it was for Maradona to face Germany of Lothar Matthaus and Jurgens Klinssman.

    Before that, we must acknowledge the great England team in 1990. They should have won their games against Germany but they became the victim of penalty-shouts. Will David Beckham drive England to the Promised Land in 2006. We’ll have to wait and see.

    As we all knew now, Germany won the 1990 World Cup after Codesal, the Mexican Uruguayan born referee awarded a dubious penalty kick to the Germans. And Andreas Brehme made sure that The World Cup Trophy went to Germany for the next four years.

    In 1994, I’ve found myself in Ithaca, NY where I was doing my graduate engineering studies at Cornell. Despite having exams during that time, I had to see Maradona. Thus, I landed in Boston and drove to Foxboro Stadium; I could always say that I saw the last goal of Maradona in a World Cup when he scored that fantastic goal against Greece.

    However in this World Cup, we have to congratulate the excellent Nigerian team. I must mention these great players: Peter Rufai, Daniel Amokachi, George Finidi, Sunday Oliseh, Amunike, Yekini, etc. It was a fantastic team. They could have made it to the World Cup final game but they were stopped by Roberto Baggio of Italy.

    Again, we could never forget this great Romanian team with the talented Gheorge Hagi who sent Argentina of Batistuta packed for Buenos Aires. There was no longer Maradona anymore since he was suspended for using a banned substance. For Maradona, he has always denied this.

    Again we must not forget this great Dutch team, but they were sent home by Branco of Brazil. We must also acknowledge the great Bulgarian team under the direction of Hristo Stoichov. Most of all, we must also praise the United States of America national team for facing Brasil in the second round. The US national team lost 1-0. This was a great accomplishment for the USA. On the other hand, it was the Brazil of Bebeto and Romario who have happened to get to the finals to face Italy of Roberto Baggio. It was not a great final game but it had its own drama. The game ended up in penalty shoot-out and Baggio handed the World Cup Trophy to Brazil in 1994 for the next 4 years after missing the penalty kick for Italy.

    In France 1998, there was some drama between England and Argentina. Diego Pablo Simeone provoked David Beckham; Beckham reacted, and he earned a red card. He quickly became the villain of England. Both players should have been ejected. Argentina sent England packing for London. However, the World Cup atmosphere belong to the national of team of Croatia with a fantastic Suker. On the other hand, we have to acknowledge Holland for sending Argentina home in the last minute of the game after Dennis Bergkamp left Ayala suspended in the air to catapult the ball in the net. It was a fantastic goal indeed. However, the Netherlands seemed to succumb to the Brazilians while Croatia succumbed to the French. We must acknowledge this great Paraguayan national team with a fantastic Chilavert. But, it was up to France and Brazil to settle the matter in the World Cup Final game.

    As usual, there was a rumor that Ronaldo was not fit to play the final game. The French Maestro, Zinedine Zidane, took care of the Brazilians by giving France their 1st World Cup Trophy. Then we had to wait for another 4 years.

    In Korea-Japan 2002, the pundits already handed the trophy to either Argentina of France. However, it was Senegal that stunned France in the opening game. As a matter of fact Both countries did not make it to the second round. The Senegalese took the streets to celebrate this historic victory. I wish I could have flown to Dakar to celebrate with the Senegalese on the streets of the capital. We have to mention the following players: El Hadji Diouf, Papa Bouba Diop, Khalilou Fadiga, etc. It was a fantastic team that brought joy to the whole nation of Senegal. Will Cote D’ivoire, Angola, Ghana, and Togo be able to give us a Senegalese recipe. We shall find out.

    It would have been impossible not to mention Beckham’s redemption over Argentina. This time, England won the game against Argentina 1-0, while Sweden concluded the job by sending Argentina packing for Buenos Aires. It was my darkest World Cup moments. But one had to move on and waits for another opportunity.

    We must acknowledge the great US national team who stunned the world by beating the Portugal of Figo. The Americans continued on their quest and humiliated Mexico. Then, they almost sent the German homes. They should have been the winner. Again the referee gave the game to the Germans. Let’s hope there won’t be such a gift in the 2006 World Cup. We must also acknowledge the national team of Ireland who brought so much joy to the people of Ireland during the 2002 World Cup. We have to acknowledge South Korea and Japan for giving their fans a reason to celebrate. The red of South Korea and the the Blue of Japan captured the world attention.

    The Germans found themselves in the Final against the Brazil of Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos. The Brazilian HuRRRicane was too strong for the Germans and they handed Brazil their 5th World Cup Trophy.

    Who will it be in Germany 2006? On July 9th we shall find out. However, there will be some drama, and I hope that you will enjoy it with your family, friends, and colleagues. This is the World Cup, it is all about passion! It is in a league by itself.

Until next time, good bye!



PS:

In my Last article, I referred to the Paraguay people as the Charruas instead of the Guaranis. Thanks to my columnist colleague, Peter Goldstein, who brought this to my attention. The Charruas are referred to the People of Uruguay.


 

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