African champions Gambia pulled off a stunning, but deserved victory over tournament holders Brazil in Group D of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005 at the shell-shocked Miguel Grau Stadium, Piura.
Gambia coach Fred Osam Duodu promised a surprise beforehand and pledged that his players would have no complexes about taking on the mighty Brazilians with all their dazzling skills and daunting reputation. From the outset, looking at the sheer power and physical presence of his impressive team, it was easy to see why.
Duodu hailed the result as a great night for African football and said his players had "learned to live with kings", but pledged that his side must not get carried away with one victory. He said: "This win does not make us any kind of favourites at all. Our first priority is to cross the bridge to qualification for the quarter-finals and then try to get into the medal zone from there."
Their giant striker Momodou Ceesay was a constant menace up front and standing just five centimetres shy of two metres' tall, Brazil will not have come up against the likes of him too often. That repeatedly showed as they struggled to cope with Ceesay and the watching scouts from around the world will have written his name in their notebooks for sure.
It was Brazil who took the lead however, to no-one's great surprise, but when the goal came it really was something quite spectacular. Leyrielton supplied the cross and Igor rounded off a flowing move with a special, acrobatic volley that had the Peruvian crowd gasping in admiration (1:0, 23')… but Brazil's lead was short-lived.
Gambia's Abdoulie Mansally got the leveller, turning one way then the other before drilling the ball past Felipe to spark a sensational turn of events (1:1, 27').
Gambians grow in confidence
That goal gave Gambia the belief they needed to take the game to Brazil and Ceesay fired the African champions in front in first-half stoppage time, skipping through the Brazilian back-line and firing low into the corner from an acute angle (1:2, 45').
If Brazil forged a masterplan to get back into the game at half-time, it would not have included going down to 10 men five minutes after the restart as Marcelo was shown a straight red card for a foul on Tijan Jaiteh.
Brazil were always going to be up against it from that point on, though Gambia defender Mandou Bojang almost gave them a helping hand with a beautiful diving header that came ever so close to being a very graceful own goal.
Gambia, made sure they stretched Brazil across the park as much as they could with a slick passing game that had the Piuran fans crying "olé" in appreciation. The script was not supposed to read like this and goalscorer Leyrielton sliced horribly wide for Brazil when in a good position as they toiled hard to bring about a change in these unexpected fortunes.
Gambian captain Ousman Jallow could have put the matter beyond reasonable doubt if he had done better while unmarked in the box, but there was too much pace on Ceesay's centre and he could only steer his awkward-looking volley over the top.
Jallow was not to be denied though and when Gambia were awarded a penalty in the 75th minute, the skipper had no hesitation in picking up the ball to carry out his duty. Felipe was equal to his effort though, diving well to his left to palm the ball away, but the referee's assistant flagged to signal that the goalkeeper moved off his line before the kick was taken.
At the second time of asking, Jallow made no mistake and flicked the penalty into the opposite corner, just beyond Felipe's desperate lunge (1:3, 75').
A reckless challenge by Gambian defender Ebrima Sohna earned him the second red card of the match and the Africans were forced to play out the final 10 minutes short-handed.
Brazil finished the match with nine men and in total disarray however when Celso was sent off for an ugly elbowing incident. Gambia matched them for sheer numbers though when Saja Leigh became the fourth player to be dismissed as the clock ticked down.
This shock result leaves Brazil with a mountain to climb to qualify for the quarter-finals and with Holland their next opponents in Piura on Tuesday, that difficult task looks anything but straight-forward.
Brazil coach Nelson Rodrigues said: "Gambia had a plan to play high balls over the top of our defenders and we had a plan to play with speed. They succeeded with their plan and we didn't with ours. This was always the 'Group of Death' and my players were prepared for it to be difficult, so I will not have any problems picking them up for the next game."
For Gambia, they can look forward to an encounter with Qatar on the same night and they seem certain to be welcomed home as conquering heroes whatever happens from here.