Strolling down memory lane
Top 10 memorable moments in Confederations Cup history
Memorable goals, memorable games, memorable players, memorable teams.
The FIFA Confederations Cup has had its fair share of memorable moments over the past 19 years.
Here are 10 that stand out above the rest:
Vive Les Bleus!
Fresh off its victories at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, France confirmed its status as the best team in the world by winning the 2001 Confederations Cup in Asia. Led by the irresistible duo of Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires, France opened the tournament with a 5-0 win over South Korea and thrashed Mexico 4-0 before defeating mighty Brazil in the semifinals. It was smooth sailing after that, as Vieira's first-half goal was all the offence the French needed to brush aside Japan in the final in Yokohama.
Requiem for a midfielder
Tragedy struck the 2003 tournament in France when Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed in the 72nd minute of a semifinal game against Columbia and died shortly after. He was 28 years old. Foe's death sent shockwaves throughout the soccer world, as players struggled to come to grips with the tragic turn of events. Thierry Henry paid tribute to the former Manchester City star, pointing to the sky after he opened the scoring in France's 3-2 semifinal win over Turkey, just hours after Foe died. After France defeated Cameroon in the final, two of Foe's teammates held a gigantic photo of him at the post-match ceremony, and a runner-up medal was hung around it. Foe also finished third in media voting for player of the tournament and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Ball award.
By virtue of its stunning victory at the CONCACAF Gold Cup the year before, Canada earned a spot at the 2001 Confederations Cup in Asia. The Canadians didn't get off to a good start, though, dropping a 3-0 decision to Japan in their opening contest. Few gave our boys much of a chance against Brazil in their next game, but thanks to some resolute defending, Canada pulled off the shocker of the tournament, earning a 0-0 draw with the South America powerhouse. Canada lost its next game to Cameroon, and bowed out in the first round, but it gave Canadian soccer fans a memory they will never forget by holding Brazil off the scoreboard for 90 minutes.
Argentina gets the ball rolling
Four teams gathered in Saudi Arabia in 1992 for the inaugural tournament, then known as the King Fahd Cup. With the 1993 Copa America looming, Argentina fielded a full-strength team that included Gabriel Batistuta and Diego Simeone and dominated the competition. The Ivory Coast provided little resistance in the semifinals, as Batistuta scored twice to guide Argentina to a 4-0 win. The Argentines ran roughshod over the Saudis in the final, earning a 3-1 victory to win the tournament and extend their unbeaten streak in international play to 20 consecutive games.
The Dynamite Danes
Paced by the fabulous Laudrup brothers, the Danes proved their surprising victory at Euro 1992 was no fluke by dominating the field at the 1995 King Fahd Cup in Saudi Arabia. Victories over the host nation and Mexico sent Denmark through to the final where the daunting challenge of defending champions Argentina awaited them. Few gave Denmark much of a chance against an Argentine side that boasted Roberto Ayala and Javier Zanetti, but the Danes overwhelmed the South Americans 2-0 in the final.
The R and R Show
Once again, Saudi Arabia served as host nation in 1997, but the tournament was renamed the Confederations Cup, and was the first to be organised by FIFA. As a result, it was the first to feature representatives from all of the confederations, but the class of the tournament was Brazil. Led by the incomparable Romario and the emerging Ronaldo (who combined for 11 goals in five games) the Selecao cruised through the first round before beating the Czech Republic in the semifinals and thrashing Australia 6-0 in the final.
The Mexican wave
Mexico struck a blow for CONCACAF, the soccer confederation covering North and Central America, when it won the 1999 competition on home soil. The three previous tournaments were dominated by South American and European teams, so Mexico's victory proved a real breakthrough for CONCACAF. Led by the attacking duo of Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Luis Hernandez — and spurred on by a crowd of over 100,00 fans at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium — the Mexicans earned a thrilling 4-3 victory over Ronaldinho and Brazil in the final.
France repeats as champions
Les Bleus had a point to prove when it hosted the 2003 Confederations Cup. Still smarting from its early exit at the World Cup the year before, when it became the first defending champion in World Cup history to bow out without scoring a goal or winning a game, France proved that it still deserved to be considered among soccer's elite teams with an emphatic display on home soil. Thierry Henry and Robert Pires combined for seven goals, as the French went a perfect 5-0 in the tournament, including a 1-0 victory in extra time over Cameroon in the final.
Brazilian coach gets fired at the airport
Spare a thought for former Brazilian national team coach Emerson Leao, who suffered the ultimate humiliation at the 2001 Confederations Cup. Brazil and France were expected to reach the final, in a rematch of their title match in the 1998 World Cup. But Brazil stalled in two scoreless ties with Canada and Japan, then lost to France 2-1 in the semifinal. The final humiliation came in a 1-0 loss to Australia in the third-place match, and coach Emerson Leao was fired at the airport before the team could board the plane and head home. Ouch!
The Confederations Cup has produced several unforgettable games over the years, but the tournament's credibility took a big hit in 2001. Midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata, a two-time Asian player of the year, helped Japan reach the final, his goal in the semifinals against Australia having stood up as the winner. But instead of sticking around and representing his country before the hometown fans, Nakata beat a path back to Italy where he rejoined his club, AS Roma, for their final games of the Serie A season. Japan ended up losing to France 1-0 in the final in Yokohama. It could have turned out differently for the Japanese had Nakata, their best player, stuck around.