5 Most Surprising Upsets in the History of the World Cup

Football is known as the beautiful sport, perhaps because of its cohesive abilities. But football is also the crazy sport, its fans can be crazy and have been known to go berserk, and do unfathomable things when results don’t go in their favour. Andres Escobar was allegedly killed back home in Colombia after the 94’ World Cup because of his own goal against USA. While growing up playing football on the streets in the 90’s own goals were called Escobar, of course, we never really knew why. A referee at Korea/Japan was fired also because of another team’s loss. Loses are usually most painful when the underdog wins.

It’s three months to another football festival and we will be looking at some upsets in the history of the World cup. We’ll start with the most recent ones, till we get to the least recent.

Brazil 1 – 7 Germany – Brazil 2014

The last world cup was hosted by Brazil, this was in 2014. And that tournament is one particularly the Brazilians will like to forget. However, it’s not going to be a mean task, because the result of that match will be etched right into their memories. Brazil is a football loving nation, and they’ve produced some of the greatest footballers in the world.  The Samba boys of Brazil were playing the German Machines.

They both had pedigree as far as the world cup was concerned. Both had gotten to the quarter-finals without losing any match. Brazil had also lifted that trophy 5 times and had not missed any world cup tournament. Germany, on the other hand, had won it three times and had also been very consistent. This was a semi-final match, whoever won had the chance to lift the trophy. However, this was not to be Brazil’s day. In front of a home crowd, they went 5 goals down by first half, and then finally lost 7 – 1. The Brazilians wept sore, the fact that they could win a bronze medal wasn’t comforting to them. The problem wasn’t just the loss. But the fact that they lost, in front of a home crowd, with such a goal margin was utterly unimaginable. Brazil would go on to lose the third-place match too.

Spain 1- 5 Netherlands – Brazil 2014

2014 must have been an interesting year, and the tournament in Brazil was totally upsetting for some regulars. In this case, both Spain and Netherlands were regulars at the tournament. Spain came into the game as the clear favourites of the game. They were no. 1 in the world according to FIFA rankings, they had won the previous tournament in South Africa and theirs was a star-studded team, comprising of Real Madrid and Barcelona first team players. The Netherlands also had stars, the likes of Van Persie and Argen Robben. But given their pedigree, Spain were the clear favourites to win. They had met at the final in the 2010 world cup which Spain won. Revenge they say is a dish best served cold, and the Oranje really prepared a frozen meal for Spain. The La Furia Roja took the lead with a penalty from Alonso, and then the Netherlands would reply with a Staccato of goals. At the end of 90 minutes, Spain would have been whitewashed, and Netherlands would be satisfied.  This year’s tournament would be missing Netherlands though as they did not qualify. Please don’t ask me why? That’s just football for you.

South Korea 2 – 1 Italy – Korea/Japan 2002

So the world cup has been held on Korean soil, normally this should give them some sort of advantage. But again they were playing against Italy, a team that had won silver 2 years earlier at EURO 2000.  One of the best football teams in the world, with the likes of Totti and Christian Vieri.  Prior to then who knew the South Korean national football team? Not many people. However, stretching this match into extra time brought the Asians to the world’s attention. The Italians were 1- 0 up, with just 2 minutes left in regulation time the Taeguek Warriors will draw level. The match went into extra time, and this is where the controversies began. Totti was brought down in the box 18, and instead of a penalty, Francesco Totti will get a red card for diving. The Azzurri will score again only for the goal to be disallowed for offside. And finally, the Korean’s will score to win 2 goals to 1. You can bet that there were consequences at the end of this match.

Senegal 1 – 0 France – Korea/Japan 2002

I saw this match and I was disappointed at the shambolic performance of the French side. This was a team that had just won the previous world cup, beating Brazil 3 – 1 at the final. This team had Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Patrick Viera just to name a few. These guys were playing in the top clubs in Europe.  This was the opening match for these two teams and the men from France where tipped to win this match. However, that wasn’t to be the case. The Senegalese team will take the lead through Papa Bouba Diop’s opener. And that opener will become the closer, as Les Bleus will search for an equalizer to no avail.  Senegal will go on to get the quarterfinals before being knocked out in a controversial fashion by Turkey. France however, will go home without scoring a single goal at the world cup and not qualifying out of the group.

Cameroon 1- 0 Argentina – Mexico 90’

If you live in an African country and watch Supersport, then you’d have probably seen this advert. The Nigerian football Legend Jay-Jay Okocha tells how he felt when Cameroon scored that goal against Argentina. He said, “it felt as though they were representing me”. The Cameroonians had beaten their neighbours Nigeria to qualify for that tournament. This was the golden period of Argentine football; they still had one of the best footballers in the world, in the person of Diego Maradona. The Argentines were obviously the favourites by far going into this tourney. Who knew the Cameroonians; they were just a bunch of strong black men with unrefined football skills. It was in this same tournament that Roger Miller will make a record for being the oldest man to score at the world cup, at 42 years of age. This was not the match though. Francois Omam-Biyik was the hero of the match. He put the Indomitable Lions in the lead with a header. This was after his teammate and brother was sent off, for fouling Maradona. In fact, that was the plan, cage Maradona, with whatever means possible. This saw them losing another man to a red card, and the Argentines will not be able to find a reply. This will cause the Argentines to leave the pitch shamefully, and Cameroon becoming the first sub-Saharan African nation to win a world cup match.

These are some matches that the world will not forget in a hurry. It just goes to tell that in football anything can happen. The World Cup is in June and all the 32 teams are gearing up for it. Will there be upsets, it’s anybody’s guess. But until then, we’ll satisfy ourselves with watching the upcoming friendlies and club football.

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