In a tournament full of surprises, Saudi Arabia's solid organisation, excellent discipline and clear game plan proved decisive as they lifted the U-16 world crown for the very first time. To go undefeated throughout the competition and dispose of the hosts in the Final spoke volumes for the Saudi team spirit. Expertly managed by the Brazilian Ivo Ardais Wortmann, the Asian representatives were mean at the back, only leaking six goals all tournament, largely thanks to keeper Khalid Al-Suwaileh and defenders Sulaiman Al-Reshoudi and Adnan Abdulshkor. And the very fact they managed to win and only score eight goals in the process is perhaps the most remarkable statistic of the tournament.
A glance at the semi-final line-up is enough to tell you that 1989 was the year of surprises. No one in their right mind would have bet on a last four of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Portugal and Scotland - and if they had they would still be rich today!
Bahrain caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition by knocking out Brazil in a penalty shoot-out. Indeed, the enormity of that exploit seemed to get to them in their remaining games and they had to be content with a fourth-place finish. Any team with a young Luis Figo in its ranks had a chance, and so it was for Portugal, whose third-place finish showed they were worthy European champions. It could have been better but the Iberians came up against a pumped-up home side in their semi-final clash. Portugal were out and the Scots were in the Final, where they went down on penalties to the valiant Saudis.
Player of the Tournament:
For the first time in the history of the FIFA U-17 World Championship, the adidas Golden Ball was awarded to a goalkeeper. The irony of the award was that it went to home shotstopper James Will, laying to rest years of mockery from south of the border about the talents of Scottish keepers . Born in 1972, the young Arsenal keeper put up a confident display: commanding in the air, agile on his line, good with his feet and a leader of men at the back, he looked the part. In six games, Will only picked the ball out of his net on three occasions.
Serginho (BRA), Henry Zambrano (COL), Fode Camara (GUI), Victor Ikpeba (NGA), Godwin Okpara (NGA), Luis Figo (POR), James Will (SCO), Claudio Reyna (USA).
Scotland 1989 stats:
- Saudi Arabia
77 (2.40 per match)
Portugal, 11 goals
Top 3 goalscorers:
1. Fode Camara (GUI), 3 goals
2. Khalid Al-Roaihi (KSA), 3 goals
3. Nelson Gil (POR), 3 goals
Glasgow, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh.