New Zealand 1999: Brazil hang on to their title
Carlos César's Brazil side eventually retained the title they had first won two years earlier in Egypt, even if New Zealand '99 proved to be much more of a struggle, especially in the first round. After beating Australia (2-1), the Auriverde went 180 minutes without getting on the score-sheet, drawing 0-0 with both Mali and Germany, and were thankful for the safe hands of Rubinho in goal and the watchful presence of Marquinhos and captain Walker at the back to see them through to the knockout stage. Leonardo then exploded into life in the quarter-finals and the Seleçao's troubles in front of goal were no more. Victories over Paraguay (4-1) and Ghana (on penalties) took them to the Final where they met Australia for a second time, running out winners 8-7 on penalties, with keeper Rubinho again stealing the headlines.
Two interesting features of this tournament in the Antipodes were the fact that four different confederations were represented in the last four and that both semi-finals and the Final were settled by penalty shoot-outs. The USA became the first CONCACAF side to reach a semi-final since 1993, eventually finishing fourth after losing to Australia and then Ghana in the third place play-off. The Africans boasted the tournament's top goalscorer in Ishmael Addo, but their physical and highly technical game let them down in the semi-final against Brazil.
Cheered on by a huge Aussie contingent, the Young Socceroos provided a pleasant surprise in New Zealand. Les Scheinflug had worked his side into shape on a South American tour shortly before the tournament began and their 3-5-2 formation held strong all the way to the final: Jess Kedwell-Vanstrattan in goal, Adrian Madaschi at the back and Scott McDonald up front formed the backbone of a fine team. Only Brazil got the better of them, once in the first round and again in the Final. Aside from these two defeats, the Socceroos overcame Germany (2-1), Mali (1-0), Qatar (1-0) and the USA (7-6 on penalties).
Player of the Tournament:
The excellent showing by Team USA was in no small part due to multi-talented striker Landon Donovan. His vision, inch-perfect passing and goalscoring instinct (3 goals) made him the media's choice for the adidas Golden Ball. Born on 4 March 1982, Donovan's game was honed in Germany at Bayer Leverkusen before he arrived in New Zealand and three years later he was back on the world stage, this time in Korea/Japan with the big boys - where he hit the net twice.
Leonardo (BRA), Ishmael Addo (GHA), Waleed (QAT), Àlvaro Meneses (URU), Landon Donovan (USA), DaMarcus Beasley (USA).
New Zealand 1999 stats:
93 (2.91 per match)
Ghana, 18 goals
- Ishmael Addo (GHA)
- Waleed (QAT)
- Leonardo (BRA)Host cities:
Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Napier