Saudi Arabia 1989: Portugal lift a trophy at last
For the first time in their history, Portugal emerged victorious from a FIFA World Youth Championship. Carlos Queiroz's charges gave nothing away at the back (only conceding three goals - all in one game), and outsmarted opposition defences when it mattered. With Valido (Pedro Franco) directing traffic in the middle of the park, Jorge Couto and Joao Pinto on hand to put away half-chances, and lightning speed down the flanks, the Iberians were simply irresistible. Most impressive was their victory over Brazil - who had scored 11 goals in four games up until the intriguing meeting in the semis. Portugal may have only scored six goals all tournament, and four of their five wins did come by the slimmest of margins, but they made sure every strike counted, and a talented generation of footballers was born.
The 1989 tournament in Saudi Arabia had two big surprises in store. Bob Gansler's USA side, who arrived as last minute replacements for suspended Mexico, clawed their way to the semi-finals. A remarkable achievement indeed, and all the more so when you consider they had to qualify from a group that included two-time winners Brazil, the formidable East Germans (who had finished third in 1987), and Mali. Physically imposing and lightning quick on the break, Gansler's men overcame Iraq in the quarter-finals and only fell to Nigeria after extra-time in the semis.
Nigeria proved equally sensational. Expected to hold their own, given their strong performances in younger age groups, nobody expected the Flying Eagles to be quite so resourceful. Three times they hit back after going behind (against Czechoslovakia, USSR and the USA), and nobody who witnessed it will ever forget their historic encounter with the USSR; trailing by 4 goals to 0 with half an hour to play, the Africans scored 4 times in 24 minutes before winning the game on penalties. Victory over the Americans made Nigeria the first African side to reach a FIFA World Youth Championship Final. Christopher Ohenhen, Mutiu Adepoju, and Christopher Nwosu were all key elements in a physically imposing and technically gifted outfit.
Player of the Tournament:
Brazilian midfield supremo Faria Barreto Bismarck was voted Player of the Tournament at Saudi Arabia '89; with three goals and umpteen defence-splitting passes to strikers Marcelo Henrique and Sonny Anderson to his credit, Bismarck was a joy to watch. Yet despite all his elegance, he could do nothing to prevent his side's quarter-final defeat. Back in Brazil he went on to play alongside a certain Bebeto for Vasco da Gama and travelled to the 1990 FIFA World Cup¿ with the Seleçao. He then found an outlet for his talent in Japan at Yomiuri Verdy, where he was voted Japanese Player of the Year in 1993.
Roberto Bonano (ARG), Diego Simeone (ARG), Sonny Anderson (BRA), Bismarck (BRA), Leonardo (BRA), Steffen Freund (GER), Mutiu Adepoju (NGA), Roar Strand (NOR), Fernando Couto (POR), Joao Pinto (POR), Paulo Sousa (POR), Santiago Canizares (ESP), Alberto Ferrer (ESP), Ismael Urzaiz (ESP), Kasey Keller (USA), Youri Nikiforov (URS), Oleg Salenko (URS), Victor Onopko (URS),...
Saudi Arabia 1989 stats:
81 (av.: 2.53)
Brazil, 14 goals
- Oleg Salenko (URS), 5 goals
- Mutiu Adepoju (NGA), Sonny Anderson (BRA), Faria Bismarck (BRA), Marcelo Henrique (BRA), Christopher Ohenhen (NGA), Steve Snow (USA), 3 goals
Ryiadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Taif
643,815 (Final: 65,000)
Portugal won the 1989 tournament with a "record" low of only six goals scored.