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a tournament of classic upsets that may never have taken place

a tournament of classic upsets that may never have taken place

Euro 2000 was, by virtually any measure, a implausible worldwide tournament. There have been a lot of objectives, storylines and upsets all through the three-week pageant of soccer in Belgium and the Netherlands, in addition to a number of sensible video games that will stay lengthy within the reminiscence of anybody who witnessed them – assume Spain Four-Three Yugoslavia, Portugal Three-2 England, France 201 Spain and the absorbing goalless draw between the Dutch and the Italians in Amsterdam.

For pure drama, although – if not, admittedly, the standard of soccer on present – Euro 2000 was arguably outdone by a totally different continental competitors which took place on the opposite aspect of the Atlantic Ocean a yr later. In some ways, the 40th version of the Copa América in 2001 was one of probably the most eventful tournaments in historical past, each on off and the pitch.

No one in South America had notably excessive hopes for the competitors as the brand new millennium entered its second yr. The drug-fuelled safety points in Colombia, who have been getting ready to host the Copa for the primary time, threatened to overshadow the soccer. Violence on the streets was, regrettably, a comparatively widespread prevalence, with tens of hundreds of civilians having misplaced their lives within the previous decade.

There have been a number of bombings within the run-up to the large kick-off in June, with 12 individuals killed and 200 injured, whereas the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s kidnapping of Hernán Campuzano, the vice-president of the nation’s soccer federation, solely served to additional improve the general public’s worry.

On 1 July, simply 10 days earlier than the opening recreation was scheduled to take place, CONMEBOL introduced that the Copa was cancelled. The Colombian president, Andrés Pastrana, implored the organisation to reverse the choice – “let us root for peace,” he pleaded in an interview, in addition to stressing the necessity to “defeat violence and the violent minority” – however the bosses’ minds seemed to be made up. Venezuela provided to step in as hosts on the final minute, nevertheless it appeared extra doubtless that the tournament would merely be scrapped and forgotten about till 2003.

After which, all of a sudden, it was again on once more. On 6 July it was declared that Colombia would host the tournament in any case, with many speculating that strain from sponsors and tv corporations had confirmed too robust to withstand.

Learn  |  Rifts, racism and rioting: the story of the primary Copa América

The organisational issues didn’t finish there, nevertheless. Believing the competitors was not taking place, virtually all of the collaborating nations had both despatched their gamers again to their golf equipment or on vacation, and Canada (since 1993, two nations from different confederations have been invited to participate within the Copa) have been duly pressured to withdraw after failing to tempt stated gamers again.

If the loss of the CONCACAF representatives was not likely mourned, Argentina’s last-gasp refusal to participate definitely was. Marcelo Bielsa’s males have been comfortably the most effective workforce on the continent on the time, with a sizeable factors tally already chalked up within the qualification marketing campaign for the next yr’s World Cup, however alleged demise threats from Colombian insurgent teams prompted the 14-time continental champions to again out simply a day earlier than proceedings have been resulting from start.

Costa Rica had been persuaded to switch Canada a few days beforehand, however discovering a 12th aspect at such brief discover appeared like an unattainable activity. There was thus nice aid when Honduras accepted the decision to step in – their gamers didn’t arrive within the nation till a few hours earlier than their first match – however being pressured to commerce potential winners in Argentina for near-certain also-rans mirrored badly on the competitors. Or so it appeared.

There was an comprehensible combine of pleasure and trepidation when the motion lastly acquired underway on 11 July, with Chile operating out Four-1 winners towards Ecuador in entrance of 40,000 followers in Barranquilla. Colombia, who have been in search of their first ever Copa América title after ending as runners-up in 1975 and in third place in 1987, 1993 and 1995, eased some of the strain with a convincing 2-Zero conquer Venezuela a few hours later.

One other potential drawback with the tournament was the very fact that many groups had determined to ship experimental and under-strength squads, with the remaining few World Cup qualifying matches taking precedence within the eyes of most of the coaches.

When Brazil kicked off towards Mexico of their opening group recreation, for instance, there was no signal of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho or Roberto Carlos, which maybe helps to elucidate their 1-Zero defeat by El Tri. Luiz Felipe Scolari did have the likes of Dida, Denilson, Emerson, Juninho Pernambucano and Júnior at his disposal, although, and the Brazilians have been nonetheless many individuals’s favourites to triumph regardless of their struggles within the South American nations’ marathon battle to ebook a spot in South Korea and Japan in 2002.

In Group C, Victor Púa’s Uruguay have been anticipated to walk into the knockout stage with relative ease, however they didn’t have every little thing their very own means. A 1-Zero win towards Bolivia was more durable than it ought to have been, whereas the Costa Rica of Paulo Wanchope, Rolando Fonseca, Mauricio Solís, Walter Centeno and Ronald Gómez held them to a 1-1 draw of their second encounter. Uruguay have been nonetheless anticipated to complete in prime spot by dispatching of Honduras of their ultimate conflict, although, however the Central People sprung a main shock by rising victorious because of Amado Guevara’s 86th-minute strike.

Costa Rica’s Four-Zero thrashing of Bolivia noticed them qualify in first place, with Honduras second and Uruguay advancing to the quarter-finals as one of the 2 greatest third-placed outfits.

Colombia continued to impress in Group A, beating an Ecuador aspect who have been in wonderful type in World Cup qualifying by a objective to nil after which securing their place on the summit of the standings with a 2-Zero defeat of Chile in entrance of a partisan house crowd on the Estadio Metropolitana. It was the Chileans who joined them within the subsequent spherical with a tally of six factors; Ecuador and Venezuela, with three and 0 respectively, have been pressured to pack their luggage a lot sooner than they might have needed.

Brazil responded properly to their setback towards Mexico, in the meantime, happening to triumph towards each Peru and Paraguay in Cali, with the previous reaching the final eight together with the Seleção and the Mexicans in Group B.

The construction of the competitors made it potential for group opponents Costa Rica to face Uruguay within the quarters, the place objectives from Rodrigo Lemos and Pablo Lima despatched the South People by means of after Wanchope’s opener had hinted at an upset. Mexico once more caught the attention with a 2-Zero conquer Chile, and Colombia despatched their supporters wild with a terrific Three-Zero success towards Peru, with striker Victor Aristizábal discovering the again of the web twice to take his complete for the tournament to 5.

It was the quarter-final tie between Brazil and Honduras that would go down within the historical past books, although. The Hondurans, who didn’t even have some of their higher gamers, reminiscent of Carlos Pavan, Wilmer Cruz, Ninrrol Medina and Milton Núñez, to name upon, had carried out admirably within the group stage, whereas Brazil had not likely clicked within the method that many anticipated. However this was nonetheless an easy-looking task for Scolari’s aspect, who in all probability had half an eye fixed on a possible semi-final assembly with the hosts.

Learn  |  Honduras and the legendary Copa América odyssey of 2001

What adopted on the Estadio Palogrande in Manizales shook South American soccer to its core. The mighty Brazil weren’t solely defeated 2-Zero by Honduras, however they have been additionally outplayed by them. It stays one of the most important shocks within the historical past of the Copa América.

The locals had turn into wrapped up within the Honduras fairytale, with a lot of goodwill despatched their means ever since they agreed to take part in place of Argentina. There was little help to be discovered for them in Colombia on 26 July, nevertheless, with Francisco Maturana’s males determined to keep away from turning into the underdogs’ newest victims.

In the long run, it was a stress-free night for the host nation, who scored both aspect of the interval to guide their place within the remaining in Bogotá. Within the different semi-final, Mexico ensured the CONCACAF flag was nonetheless flying with a 2-1 win towards Uruguay, Alberto García Aspe’s penalty settling the match in Javier Aguirre’s costs’ favour. Three days later, spot-kicks would show Uruguay’s undoing as soon as extra, as Honduras gained the third-place playoff in a shootout after an entertaining 2-2 attract regulation time.

The chaotic absurdity of the tournament was summed up completely on the Estadio El Campín on 29 July when the ultimate of the Copa América was interrupted by a pair of parachutists – who have been purported to be concerned within the pre-game closing ceremony however had clearly encountered visitors of some type on their journey – touchdown on the pitch within the fifth minute.

Such an episode might simply have thrown Colombia off target, however they settled down shortly and tried to take the initiative in entrance of 47,000 followers. The lead didn’t arrive till the 65th minute, when Iván Córdoba expertly flicked a header into the far nook of the web. Regardless of some late strain from El Tri, that would show to be the one aim of the sport. Mexico put up a good battle and left with their heads held excessive, however it was finally inconceivable to begrudge Colombia their maiden Copa América crown.

There have been many higher editions of South America’s foremost competitors in phrases of the standard of play on present – though the soccer on this event was patently higher than the naysayers had predicted – however the 2001 model was undoubtedly as eventful as they arrive. Many of the video games have been engrossing and the Colombian followers who crammed the stadia with such sensible noise and color helped to point out one other aspect to their beleaguered nation, whereas on the pitch their gamers made historical past by profitable all six matches with out conceding a single objective. Colombia, after every thing, have been worthy hosts and winners.

By Greg Lea @GregLeaFootball