3 Strange World Cup Moments

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1. Brazil – Zaire World Cup 1974

Zaire was the only African delegate at the 1974 World Cup and it quickly became clear that while the Africans were overflowing with enthusiasm they did not exactly know all the rules.

They had already lost their first two games: 2-0 against Scotland and an embarrassing 9-0 against Yugoslavia. To make things worse, the then dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, had made it clear that if they would lose the last group game with more than 4 goals difference, they would also suffer the consequences.

That last group match was against World Champions Brazil and the Zaireans used all possible tricks to get the Brazilians out of their rhythm. This was also the case when the Divine Canaries were allowed to take a free kick near the Zaire goal. The Brazilians were behind the ball, the whistle sounded and Zairean defender Ilunga stormed out of the wall and kicked the ball away before even a single Brazilian had made a move.

Ilunga got a yellow but Brazil only scored 3 times.

2. Australia – Croatia 2006 World Cup

The spectacle match of the first round! Australia only needed a draw to get through to the next round, Croatia had to win. Add to that a referee who totally lost the plot and the result is chaos.

The most memorable moment came in the 90th minute. Up to that point we had already seen four goals and 2 red cards, nicely divided between both teams and during a counter of the Socceroos Simunic foulded Viduka. Graham Poll yellow cards the Croatian but does not notice that Simunic already has a yellow card behind his name and Simunic decides to keep quiet as well and just stays on the pitch. After a tumultuous last minute in which a goal from the Australians is disallowed, Poll finally blows for the end of the match and is immediately attacked by, you guessed it, Simunic who receives his third yellow card and finally receives his well deserved red.

In the end Poll’s mistake has no influence on the score in group F but it is Poll’s last international game.

3. Hungary – El Salvador 1982 World Cup

It’s a game you have to see to believe. El Salvador took part in the WC for the second time (after Mexico 1970) and was determined to do now what they couldn’t do in 1970: score a goal.

And it was clear that this would have to happen in the opening match against Hungary because vice-European champion Belgium and world champion Argentina were considered too strong.

El Salvador attacked en masse from the first whistle, Hungary however defended with ease and countered appropriately: at half-time Hungary was already three – nil up. The El Salvadoran manager gave a thunderous speech during the break and the El Salvadorans came out of the dressing room with even more of an attacking mindset. 9 minutes into the second half the score was 5-0 and then came Luis Ramirez Zapata’s moment. A deviated shot fell made its way to him and he stuck the ball in under Meszaros.

The outburst of joy the Cuscatlecos displayed was of an order you’d think you were looking at a team that just won the World Cup and not one that just scored 5-1. Hungary would eventually win the match with a blaming 10-1, still a record for the highest number of goals scored in a World Cup Match.

The next game was another strange one from El Salvador. Enraged by the comments from Belgium coach Guy Thys that their game against Hungary had been a disgrace they now did nothing but defend. It didn’t work. Belgium won 1-0.