It is the story of small exploits, sometimes short-lived, sometimes synonymous with epics, which forge the history of the world Cup. For its entry into the running in the 2022 edition in Qatar on Tuesday noon, Saudi Arabia, led by French coach Hervé Renard, achieved a great overturning Leo Messi’s Argentina (2-1). In twenty-two editions, such exploits have already taken place. Relive these historic matches where David triumphs over Goliath.
1950: USA beat England
The first feat of this type dates back seventy-two years. In 1950, Brazil hosted the fourth edition of the World Cup, the first after the war. This World Cup remained in the annals after the defeat of Brazil in its Maracana stadium in the final against Uruguay, experienced as a national trauma. Before that, another match gave birth to an unexpected scenario. On the second day of Group II, June 29, the United States managed to beat England, the birthplace of football (1-0). A feat without a future since the Americans finish last in their group.
1966: North Korea caused a stir against Italy
Sixteen years later, in England, North Korea caused a sensation. Neophyte in the competition, it pays for its inexperience of entry with a large defeat expected against the USSR (3-0). The second match brought hope: the Asian team snatched the equalizer against Chile and remained in the race to qualify. On the last day, the feat is colossal since the Koreans beat and eliminate Italy, double world champion, thanks to a goal from Pak Doo-Ik. The adventure ends in the quarter-finals, after a spectacular match against Portugal (5-3).
1982: the bitter exploit of Algeria
Almost two decades later, the 1982 World Cup took place in Spain. In France, no one has forgotten this edition, punctuated by the historic defeat against Germany, in the semi-finals in Seville. In Algeria, the competition is also remembered. For the first time in their history, the Fennecs are taking part in the grand ball of world football. Germany, Austria, Chile: their group is full-bodied. Not enough to scare the teammates of Mustapha Dahleb, who triumphed over the FRG for their inaugural match (2-1). For the first time in history, an African team beat a European team in the competition. But this memory remains bitter for the Algerians. The last meeting between the FRG and Austria becomes the “game of shame”. The narrow German victory (1-0) is enough for both teams to qualify, after a parody of football.
In 1982, Algeria of? Mustapha Dahleb gets the better of Paul Breitner’s Germany in the first match of the group stage of the World Cup (2-1). © AFP
1986: Morocco defeats Portugal
Four years later in Mexico, another Maghreb team achieved the feat. This time it is the Moroccan neighbor, who is participating in his second World Cup. After two inaugural draws against Poland and England (0-0 twice), the Atlas Lions have their destiny in their hands to qualify. For that, we must beat Portugal, semi-finalists of Euro 1984. The Moroccans achieve the feat, with style, thanks to a double from Abderrazak Khairi and a goal from Merry Krimau (3-1). For the first time in history, an African team comes out of its pool. The adventure ends in the round of 16 against Germany (1-0).
1990: Cameroon tames Maradona and Argentina
The exploits become custom. During the next edition in Italy, this time it was Cameroon that caused a sensation. In the opening match against defending champion Diego Maradona’s Argentina, the Indomitable Lions create a surprise, thanks to a goal from the striker Francois Omam-Biyik, who notably played at Stade Lavallois and Stade Rennais. The Cameroonians finish first in their group, then snatch their qualification against Colombia in the round of 16 (2-1, ap). For the first time in history, an African team sees the quarters. The adventure of the band in Roger Milla ends against England, after an epic duel (3-2, ap).
In 1990, Cameroon created a surprise against Argentina (1-0), thanks to a goal from François Omam-Biyik. © AFP
1998: Nigeria eliminates Spain
In 1998, the World Cup stopped in France. Nigeria is taking part in its second World Cup in a row. His group is proving to be quite strong with Spain, Paraguay and Bulgaria. The first meeting opposes him to the Roja of Raul, in Nantes. Few people bet on the Super Eagles. However, after a stunning encounter, Nigeria won (3-2). The African team confirms in the next match against Bulgaria (1-0) and thus finishes first in its group. Its trajectory is interrupted quite clearly in the round of 16, against Denmark (1-4).
2002: Senegal triumphs over France
The more the victories are linked together, the harder the fall. Reigning world and European champion, France advances in the World Cup organized in Japan and South Korea with the label of great favorite. His first match against Senegal, a neophyte in the competition, should only be a formality. However, without Zidane (forfeit), the Blues concede defeat against heroic Senegalese (1-0). The only scorer of the meeting Papa Bouba Diop offers posterity to his surname. Second in the group, the Teranga Lions eliminated Sweden in the round of 16 (2-1, ap) but fell to Turkey, still in overtime, in the quarter-finals (1-0, ap).
2014: Costa Rica surprises Italy
No one was betting a dime on Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Consider instead the big names that make up his group: Uruguay, Italy and England. It will not be one, but two feats that the Ticos to finish top of their group. First stunning victory against Uruguay (1-3). Second success against Italy thanks to a goal from Bryan Ruiz (1-0). The draw against Uruguay (0-0) satisfies the two teams, qualified for the knockout phase. In the round of 16, the partners of Keylor Navas took the best of Greece, on penalties (1-1, 5 to 3 on pens). They will lose in the same exercise against the Netherlands, in quarters (0-0, 4-3 tab).
In 2014, Bryan Ruiz’s Costa Rica (in red) reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Brazil. © AFP
2018: South Korea buries reigning German world champion
After North Korea fifty-two years earlier, it is now South Korea’s turn to achieve the feat. After two inaugural defeats against Sweden (1-0) then Mexico (2-1), the South Koreans seem lost in advance against Germany, the reigning world champion, who need to win to qualify . However, the Mannschaft stumbles on the heroic goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo, author of six high-class saves. Worse, the Germans cracked in added time in the second half on two goals from Kim Young-gwon then Son. A feat without a future, since the two teams are eliminated.