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20 May, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Down memory lane-VI

FIFA
Down memory lane-VI
Brazil defeated hosts Sweden to win their first global crown in 1958. FIFA PHOTO

The long, sun-kissed days of a Swedish summer provided a golden backdrop to Brazil’s first FIFA World Cup triumph in 1958, the year that a 17-year-old called Pele announced his presence to football fans around the globe.

With a newfound tactical organisation and two supreme attacking talents in Pele and Garrincha, Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 in the Final at the Rasunda Stadium to become the first team to capture the trophy on a different continent. The Brazilians were not the only heroes: France forward Just Fontaine set a record that stands to this day by scoring 13 times in six matches to help his country claim third place. Not bad for a player only starting because of an injury to first-choice Rene Bliard.

Under coach Vincente Feola, Brazil had left no stone unturned in readying themselves for the challenge of finally conquering the world. After three months’ intensive preparations, they toured Europe in advance of the finals and arrived in Sweden with an extensive entourage that included a psychologist. Lining up in an innovative 4-2-4 system, Brazil did not call on either Pele or Garrincha until their final group game against the Soviet Union. Then, with Pele joining Vava in the attack and Garrincha taking up position on the flank, they won 2-0 to secure first place. Brazil had taken flight and Pele’s first FIFA World Cup goal followed soon after in the quarter-final victory over Wales.

Hosts Sweden went into the finals boosted by the decision to allow professional footballers to play in the national team.

 For the first time the FIFA World Cup received international television coverage, albeit not in eastern Europe because the system there was incompatible – a pity for the Soviet Union who were one of three new names alongside Wales and a Northern Ireland team who had qualified at the expense of Italy.

Free-scoring French

Having progressed from a group which included heavyweights Czechoslovakia, then-South American kings Argentina and reigning world champions West Germany, Northern Ireland went down to France in the quarter-finals. With Fontaine feeding off the creative brilliance of fellow forward Raymond Kopa, a newly crowned European champion with Real Madrid and that year’s European Footballer of the Year, Les Bleus outscored even Brazil with 23 goals.

France’s semi-final against Brazil proved the game of the tournament. Although Fontaine equalised Vava’s early opener, a second Brazil goal from Didi ensured the South Americans a half-time lead. After the break Pele took over, his hat-trick inflicting a 5-2 defeat on rivals reduced to ten men by an injury to defender Bob Jonquet.

Brazil, now sporting hastily-acquired blue shirts to avoid a clash with the home team, struck another five in the Final, shrugging aside the setback of Liedholm’s early opener for the Swedes. Vava and Pele – with two apiece – and Mario Zagallo, later a world champion as coach, all found the net. None was better than their third, Pele lobbing a defender before volleying the dropping ball past goalkeeper Karl Svensson. Brazil had already won the hearts of the home nation with their off-field friendliness and now they celebrated by parading a Swedish flag around the pitch. They also received the congratulations of King Gustav IV – royal approval for a victory sealed by a tearful teenager they would soon also call ‘The King’.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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