Wednesday, September 30, 2015

30 September 1945 - Sweden Manages To Be In Two Places At Once

On 30 September 1945, Sweden played - and won - two separate matches. One was against Denmark in Solna and the other was against Finland in Helsinki.

At the time, Sweden was a rising power in football, having finished fourth at the 1938 World Cup. Unfortunately for the Swedes, however, all of their official competitions had been postponed due to the outbreak of World War II, so they had little opportunity to capitalize on the strength of their side, led by their prolific forward pairing of Gunnar Nordahl (43 goals in 33 appearances between 1942 and 1948) and Gunnar Gren (32 goals in 57 appearances between 1939 and 1958).

In place of the canceled competitions, Sweden played several friendlies during the war years. For some reason, they overbooked for 30 September 1945 and had to send full squads to both matches. As a sign of their dominance, Sweden won the two of them in convincing fashion, beating Denmark 4-1 and Finland 1-6.

Sweden continued their run of success once official competitions resumed after the war, taking the gold medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics, then finishing third at the 1950 World Cup.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

29 September 2003 - The Tigers Deliver A Record Mauling

On 29 September 2003, South Korea defeated Nepal 16-0 in a qualifying match for the 2004 Asian Cup. It remains the Koreans' record victory and Nepal's record defeat.

Going into the match, which was played at Munhak Stadium in Incheon, Nepal had already lost to Oman, 0-7, and Vietnam, 5-0. Korea, meanwhile, had beaten Vietnam 5-0 and Oman 1-0, so the likely outcome was easily predictable, even if the scoreline wasn't.

It took the Koreans only 18 minutes to crack the Nepalese defense, as winger Kim Dae-Eui scored the opening goal, but the crack quickly widened into a chasm. The hosts took a 5-0 lead into the break, with another goal from Kim (37'), one from forward Woo Sung-Yong (21'), and a brace from right back Park Jin-Seop (22', 28'). Things only got worse for Nepal in the second half, with two more goals from Woo (46', 48'), three more from Park (64', 67', 89'), one each from midfielder Lee Eul-Yong (54'), midfielder Lee Kwan-Woo (57'), midfielder Chung Kyung-Ho (80'), and a hat-trick from striker Kim Do-Hoon (75', 84', 86').

Despite the record-setting performance, Korea finished second in their qualifying group after losses to Vietnam (0-1) and first-place finisher Oman (3-1). Nepal finished last having lost all six qualifying matches without scoring a single goal, resulting in a goal differential of -43.

Monday, September 28, 2015

28 September 1997 - The Tokyo Daechup

On 28 September 1997, South Korea upset Japan in a World Cup qualifier played in Tokyo, thanks to two late goals. The match is famous in Korea as the "Tokyo Daechup," or "Greatest Battle in Tokyo."

Japan, who had been touted at the time as the rising Asian football power, were aiming for their first World Cup appearance, while South Korea were similarly looking to earn a spot at the expense of their nearby rivals. The Koreans' hopes appeared to be dashed early in the second half as Japanese midfielder Motohiro Yamaguchi put his side ahead with a chip over Korean keeper Kim Byung-ji and the Japanese side pulled back deep into their half to protect the lead.

As the end neared, however, Korean earned a corner which midfielder Seo Jung-won managed to divert into the goal with a well-placed header to draw his team level. Then, as time was about to expire, Korean defender Lee Min-sung fired a ferocious left-footed rocket from distance. It beat the Japanese keeper and landed in the back of the net to give the underdogs a 1-2 victory. The Japanese were so disheartened that they sacked their manager after the match.

South Korea ended up securing the AFC automatic qualification spot easily, 6 points ahead of second-place finisher Japan. But Japan also made it to the tournament after beating Iran in a playoff.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

27 September 1994 - Ravanelli's Record Romp

On 27 September 1994, Juventus defeated CSKA Sofia 5-1 in the second leg of their first round UEFA Cup match-up. All five Juventus goals were scored by striker Fabrizio Ravanelli - a record single-match tally for the club in European competition.

Born in Perugia in 1968, Ravanelli played for a handful of clubs in the Italian lower divisions before signing with Juventus in 1992. He performed moderately well in his first two seasons at Juve, delivering a total of 14 goals in 52 league appearances. He flourshed in 1994, however, surpassing his previous two years' total in a single season.

His high-water mark came in the first round of the UEFA Cup, with Juventus facing off against CSKA Sofia. The Bulgarians had won the first leg at home, 3-2, but UEFA ruled that they had used an ineligible player and awarded the match as a 3-0 win to Juve. Ravanelli mooted any controversy, however, by scoring the first five goals (9', 65', 69', 81', 83'). Sofia grabbed a consolation goal in the 90th minute to finish the day's scoring at 5-1.

Ravanelli scored four more goals in the tournament as Juventus advanced to the Final only to lose to fellow Italian club Parma. His tally against CSKA Sofia remains the club record for an individual in a European competition and is only one goal behind the record for all competitions (6, set by Omar Savori in a Serie A match against Inter in 1961).

Saturday, September 26, 2015

26 September 1990 - Bergkamp's International Career Takes Flight

On 26 September 1990, Dennis Bergkamp made his international debut for the Netherlands in a friendly against Italy. He would go on to become the Dutch national team's greatest goalscorer.

Bergkamp, a second striker (and renowned aviophobe), began his professional career four years earlier with Ajax, where he won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1987) and the KNVB Cup (1987) before winning the Eredivisie in 1990. His performance that season won him the Dutch Football Talent of the Year and earned his his first cap for the Netherlands.

The Dutch lost that first match, 1-0 in Palermo, but Bergkamp developed into a prolific striker, scoring 37 goals in 79 international appearances - enough to make him the Netherlands' top scorer by the time of his international retirement in 2000 (though he was later surpassed by Patrick Kluivert, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Robin van Persie). The Dutch failed to claim any major silverware during his tenure, but he earned an individual honor by winning the 1992 UEFA Euro golden boot. He also won silverware at the club level with Ajax, Inter, and especially Arsenal, where he won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups between 1995 and 2006.

Friday, September 25, 2015

25 September 2001 - This One Didn't Even Get A Name

On 25 September 2001, the Confederation of African Football unveiled the new trophy for the African Cup of Nations. It was the third trophy used since the competition's founding in 1957.

The first African Cup of Nations trophy, which was silver and resembled England's League Cup, was named the Abdelaziz Abdallah Salem trophy, after the first CAF president. When Ghana won the bi-annual tournament for the third time in 1978, the CAF allowed them to keep the trophy and commissioned a new one, named the African Unity Cup. That second trophy, according to the BBC, "was emblazoned with the Olympic rings and with space-age handles and a long stem. "

Cameroon won their third ACN title in 2000 and were allowed to keep the Unity Cup, so the CAF again commissioned the new trophy (pictured). It was first won by Cameroon in 2002, and has since been claimed by Tunisia (2004), and Egypt (2006, 2008, and 2010). Egypt's success meant that they now have permanent possession of the third cup, so the CAF created another new one for the 2012 tournament.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

24 September 1922 - Crossing The Pond (And The Gender Gap)

On 24 September 1922, English women's side Dick, Kerr's Ladies opened their North American tour with a 6-3 loss to Paterson FC.

The Ladies began in 1917 as the works team for the Dick, Kerr & Co. munitions factory, located in Preston, Lancashire. They and other women's clubs soon grew so popular that the FA saw them as a threat to the men's game and issued a 1921 ban preventing the women from using league grounds. Nevertheless, they continued to play on non-league grounds and in 1922, were invited on their 1922 overseas tour.

The tour was scheduled to start in Canada, but upon their arrival on 22 September, they were informed that they were no longer welcome in Canada. They crossed the border to the US and made their way to New Jersey, where they faced Paterson FC. Paterson, a men's club, had won the 1917 National Association Foot Ball League title.

Paterson won that opening match 6-3, but it was one of only two losses Dick, Kerr's Ladies suffered in the eight matches they played against some of the strongest US men's sides of the time. They also lost to New York Centro-Hispano, won against the New Bedford Whalers, the New York Football Club, and the Baltimore Soccer Club, and drew with J&P Coats, Washington Stars, and the Fall River Marksmen. After the match against Fall River, a local paper reported "The score in no way explains how well these English lassies can play the national game of their homeland. Nor could the fans at the game tell just exactly how expert are the women tourists for the opposition was from a team of the best men kickers in the country."

Photo © Gail Newsham.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

23 September 2009 - It Truly Is A Game Of Inches

On 23 September 2009, IFK Göteborg goalkeeper Kim Christensen got caught trying to gain an unfair advantage in a league match against Örebro SK - by moving the goalposts a few inches closer together.

Christensen, who had started his career in his native Denmark with Rosenhøj (1997-2002), played for Danish clubs Hvidovre IF (2002-03), Nykøbing Falster Alliancen (2003-04), and FC Nordsjælland (2004-08) before moving to Göteborg in 2008. He was their starting keeper for the entire 2008 Allsvenskan season, including a string of 6 consecutive clean sheets as Göteborg finished third in the table.

He got off to a similarly impressive start in 2009, with 13 clean sheets in their first 23 matches as Göteborg topped the table. Their 24th match was away against Örebro. Play was halted in the 20th minute as someone informed the officials that pre-match video had captured Christensen lifting the goalposts and pushing them together. The referee returned the posts to their original position and the match proceeded to a scoreless draw. In a post-match interview, Christensen admitted to moving the posts in several earlier matches.

Göteborg finished the 2009 season in second. Christensen remained with the club until June 2010, when he returned to Denmark with FC Copenhagen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

22 September 1950 - Welcome Back, DFB

On 22 September 1950, FIFA reinstated the German football association - the Deutscher Fußball-Bund, or DFB - to full membership.

Originally founded in 1900, the DFB is the governing body of all German football, including the Bundesliga and the German national team. During World War II, the DFB fell out of favor with the Third Reich, who dissolved the organization in 1940. After the war, in November 1945, although the DFB was still defunct, FIFA banned both it and the Japanese football association from international competition.

Following appeals from the FAs of Switzerland and England, FIFA partially lifted the ban in 1948, but only as it applied to German clubs. Two years later, in January 1950, the DFB officially re-formed, though only for the West German territories. At the FIFA congress in June of that year, Switzerland again petitioned FIFA to lift the ban and, on 22 September, FIFA did so. As West Germany, the DFB resumed international competition later that year and went on to win the 1954 World Cup.

When Germany reunited in 1990, the DFB absorbed the former East German football association to become the governing body for all of Germany.

Monday, September 21, 2015

21 September 1951 - A Bruce Is Born

On 21 September 1951, three-time MLS Coach of the Year Bruce Arena was born in Brooklyn, New York.

Arena was a standout goalkeeper for Nassau Community College in New York, earning All America recognition in 1970 and 1971 for both lacrosse and soccer. After two years, he transferred to Cornell University, where he won the 1972 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship. A short professional stint followed, including a single US cap, but Arena made his most significant impact as a coach.

In 1978, Arena moved to the University of Virginia to coach both lacrosse and soccer (he eventually dropped lacrosse in 1985). He guided the UVa program to prominence, winning five national championships. He left in 1996 to take up the reins at DC United for their inaugural MLS season, winning the MLS Cup twice in his first two years and claiming his first Coach of the Year award in 1997.

In 1998, he left DC to manage the US national team and guided them to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, their best showing since 1930. But a disappointing group stage exit in 2006 led to his departure. A short stint with the New York Red Bulls followed, but he was sacked after just over a year. He is currently the manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he won his second Coach of the Year award after guiding them to the MLS Cup Final in 2009, then his third in 2011 after winning the MLS Cup. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

20 September 2008 - Who Ya Gonna Call, Watford?

On 20 September 2008, Reading and Watford battled to a 2-2 draw thanks in part to a phantom goal.

Played before a crowd of 14,761 at Watford's Vicarage Road Stadium, the match was scoreless in the 13th minute when Watford midfielder John Eustace, defending his goal against Reading striker Noel Hunt, knocked the ball over the end line several yards wide of the post. Rather than call for a corner, however, linesman Nigel Bannister (pictured) flagged it as a goal to the astonishment of both sides. Watford protested, but the referee allowed the decision to stand.

Despite the setback, the home side rallied to take a 2-1 lead with goals from Tommy Smith (57') and John-Joe O'Toole (64'), but were undone by a late penalty. With three minutes left on the clock, Eustace tripped Reading winger Stephen Hunt in the box and Hunt converted the ensuing spot kick to earn the Royals a crucial point.

Reading manager Steve Coppell offered a replay, but the Football League said that the referee's decision was final.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

19 September 2007 - Barça Builds For The Future

On 19 September 2007, Barcelona beat Lyon 3-0 in the Champions League group stage. The match was notable for the appearance of substitute striker Bojan Krkić, who came on in the 88th minute for Lionel Messi to become the youngest Barça player ever to appear in the competition.

It was the second age barrier broken that week by Krkić. Three days earlier, at the age of 17 years and 19 days, he claimed a record previously held by Lionel Messi when he entered in the 78th minute against Osasuna, becoming the youngest Barcelona player to feature in a league match. He went on to make a total of 48 appearances for the club that season, as they finished the season without any silverware.

The club rectified that situation the following season, with Krkić making 42 appearances in all competitions and contributing 10 goals as Barça won a remarkable six trophies - La Liga, the Champions League, the Copa del Rey, the Supercopa del España, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.

Friday, September 18, 2015

18 September 1920 - Uruguay Gets A Record Revenge

Image result for uruguay national team badgeOn 18 September 1920, Uruguay defeated Brazil 6-0 in the South American Championship, a beating that remains Brazil's worst-ever loss.

The margin of victory was surprising, but the two sides had a history in the tournament. Uruguay had won the first two competitions, in 1916 and 1917, but Brazil claimed the honors in the third tournament, played in 1919, after beating Uruguay in a title-deciding playoff that went into four extra periods to determine a winner.

In the 1920 edition, Brazil managed a 1-0 win over Chile and Uruguay drew 1-1 with Argentina before the two previous cup winners met each other. Uruguay left no doubt about their intentions to reclaim the title, scoring three goals in a span of seven minutes. Inside forward Ángel Romano scored first, putting Uruguay ahead in the 23rd minute. Antonio Urdinarán (26', pen.) and José Pérez (29') quickly added two more.

The Brazilians were completely undone, as Uruguay scored three more times in the second half (Antonio Campolo - 48', Romano - 60', and Pérez - 65'). Brazil then concluded the tournament with a 2-0 loss to Argentina, while Uruguay proceeded to lift the cup with a 2-1 win over hosts Chile.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

17 September 1974 - They Should Have Saved Some For Later

On September 1974, Liverpool kicked off their Cup Winners' Cup campaign by pounding Norwegian club Strømsgodset by the score of 11-0. It remains Liverpool's greatest margin of victory, with nine separate players scoring goals.

It was the second Cup Winners' Cup appearance for Strømsgodset, who were eliminated in the first round in the 1970-71 competition. They fared no better in 1974, when they traveled to Anfield for the first leg of their first-round match-up with Liverpool.

The Reds wasted no time in establishing their dominance, going ahead in the third minute with a penalty kick by Alec Lindsay. Phil Boersma doubled the lead 10 minutes later and Liverpool went up 5-0 by halftime with a strike from Phil Thompson (30'), another from Boersma (40'), and one from Steve Heighway (42'). The second half was even worse for the Norwegians, as Peter Cormack (65') got on the scoresheet, followed by goals from Thompson (74'), Emlyn Hughes (76'), Tommy Smith (85'), Ian Callaghan (87'), and Ray Kennedy (88').

The Reds were less prolific in the remainder of the tournament, winning the second leg 1-0, then dropping out of the competition on away goals after drawing 1-1 on aggregate with Ferencváros in the second round.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

16 September 1937 - We're Pretty Sure Arsenal Won, Though

On 16 September 1937, the BBC broadcast its first live football match - a contest between Arsenal and Arsenal reserves. No record of the result survives.

The BBC had begun their television service only the previous year and chose the specially-arranged Arsenal exhibition to highlight their ability to show live sport. The broadcast lasted only 15 minutes and included an introduction of the team (show below) on addition to the exhibition.

It was the second time the Gunners had ushered in a new medium, as the first live football radio broadcast was their 1927 league match against Sheffield United. The honor proved auspicious, as Arsenal proceeded to win the league that season.

Since then, Arsenal have maintained their pioneering position, being featured in the first broadcast of Match of the Day in 1964 and, most recently, the first live broadcast of a sporting event in 3D (shown in January 2010 on BSkyB).

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

15 September 1941 - Scoring In The Sixties

On 15 September 1941, Hungarian striker and 1967 European Footballer of the Year Flórián Albert was born in the village of Hercegszántó. He has been described as one of the most elegant players of all time.

Albert spent his entire career with one club, Ferencváros. From 1958 to 1974, he made 351 league appearances and scored 255 goals, for a career average of just over 0.72 goals per match. Both Albert and his club had prolific success in the 1960s. In the 1959-60 and 1960-61 seasons, he was the Hungarian league's top scorer, with 27 and 21 goals respectively, and later repeated the feat in 1964-65. Ferencváros, meanwhile, won four league titles (1963, 1964, 1967, and 1968), as well as the 1965 Fairs Cup (the predecessor to the UEFA Cup). He was also the top scorer in the 1966-67 Fairs Cup with 8 goals, despite being eliminated in the third round by Eintracht Frankfurt, a feat which was instrumental in his winning the Ballon d'Or.

He retired in 1974 after making only 9 appearances and scoring 2 goals in the '73-'74 season. In 2007, Ferencváros named their stadium in his honor.

Monday, September 14, 2015

14 September 1939 - Football In Wartime

On 14 September 1939, the British government suspended regular football competitions for the duration of World War II. In their place, many teams participated in unofficial regional competitions to provide a diversion for the population and boost morale.

By the time Britain declared war on Germany, the 1939-40 seasons had already started in England and Scotland, but the results were voided and both league and cup competitions were suspended so that resources, including men, could be diverted toward the war effort. The government, however, soon allowed football to continue in a modified formEnglish teams were limited to a 50-mile travel range and split into 10 regional leagues for the 1939-40 season, with each league comprising 8 to 10 teams. Scotland split into two leagues - a Western Division and an Eastern Division. The leagues shifted constantly, however, over the course of the war.

Due to the unavailability of many professional footballers who had joined the military, the quality of the wartime matches fell dramatically from the standards set prior to the war. Several matches were forfeited because clubs were unable to field full sides on match days.

The FA Cup returned in 1945, while the Scottish Cup and regular league play resumed in 1946. The wartime results were unofficial, and clubs restarted their respective leagues in the positions they had earned in the 1938-39 season.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

13 September 1973 - A Born Leader

On 13 September 1973, former Italian World Cup-winning captain and 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year Fabio Cannavaro was born in Naples. A center back, he is the only defender in history to win that award.

Cannavaro got his start in 1988 with the Napoli youth team, then signed with the senior side in 1992. In 1995, he moved to Parma, where he rose to international prominence and won his first silverware - a 1999 treble consisting of the Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italia, and UEFA Cup. That success prompted a €23 million transfer to Inter in the summer of 2002, but he stayed there only two seasons before moving to Juventus (2004-06).

In his two seasons at Juve, he won two Serie A titles, then followed that stint by captaining the Italian national team to the World Cup title. Cannavaro played every minute for the Azzurri, who conceded only two goals in the tournament (an own goal against the US and a penalty kick against France). For his efforts, he received the FIFA World Player of the Year Award.

After the World Cup, Cannavaro moved to Real Madrid for three seasons, which included two La Liga titles, then returned to Juventus in 2009. But his form began to suffer and, in 2010, the club decided not to renew his contract. He then shocked the footballing community by moving to Al-Ahli Dubai, where he played until his retirement in 2011.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

12 September 1885 - Even For Cricket Players, That's Pretty Bad

On 12 September 1885, Arbroath FC set a world record by beating Bon Accord FC in the first round of the Scottish Cup. The final score was 36-0.

The result is explained largely by the fact that Bon Accord was not a football team, but an Aberdeen cricket team named the Orion Cricket Club. They mistakenly received a Scottish Cup invitation intended for Orion FC and chose to attend, taking the name "Bon Accord FC" for the competition. They reportedly arrived at the match without proper football kits.

Arbroath, meanwhile, were an experienced side, having formed seven years earlier. They did not take long to establish their dominance, going up 15-0 by halftime. 21 goals in the second half brought the final score to 36-0, a world record at the time. John Petrie, then 18 years old, set an individual world record by scoring 13. Arbroath advanced through the Cup, eventually losing to Hibernian.

The scoreline remained a world record until 2002, when Madagascar side AS Adema won a match 149-0. Arbroath's achievement remains a British record, though.

Friday, September 11, 2015

11 September 2008 - The Hammers Order Italian

On 11 September 2008, former Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola took over as manager of West Ham, making him the Hammers' first boss from outside Britain. Unfortunately for Zola, it didn't work out and the club sacked him after only two seasons.

Previous manager Alan Curbishley had guided West Ham from near-relegation in 2007 to a 10th-place finish in 2008, but resigned in September 2008 after the board sold two key defenders over his objections. The club quickly turned to Zola, an Italian international who had spent seven seasons at Chelsea from 1996 to 2003 and won the Football Writers' Player of the Year Award in 1997. Zola's only prior managerial experience was a brief stint as assistant manager of Italy's U-21 side, but, as a player, he had earned a reputation as an intelligent and creative attacker who understood the game thoroughly.

In his first season at Upton Park, he improved upon Curbishley's record by guiding the Hammers to a 9th-place finish. But the start of the 2009-10 season saw the club beset by financial difficulties and other off-the-field issues, including a near-riot during a League Cup match against rivals Millwall. They limped to a 17th-place finish having taken only 35 points from 38 matches. Two days after season's end, West Ham sacked Zola in favor of former Chelsea and Portsmouth manager Avram Grant.

Zola currently manages Al-Arabi of the Qatar Stars League after joining them earlier this year.