Saturday, October 30, 2010

African football was represented by Zaire. Unfortunately, the sport cannot be easily separated from politics: by 1974 Africa was on the wrong side of exotic. The ‘developed’ world was already disenchanted with the dark continent – independence, revolutions, and charismatic leaders from the 1950s-early 1960s were gradually replaced by civil wars, corruption, crooks, and dictatorial freaks. Poverty was the only stable feature… and the only one that ‘developed’, that is – increased. The continent quite literally became ‘the heart of darkness’, which to European mind was quick return to old racists set up – nothing good was to come out of the bush. To a point, it was not even racist… Zaire was a prime example: the country, formerly known as Kongo Kinshasa (distinct from its neighbour Kongo Brazaville), was ruled by a man named Mobutu. He attached other names to himself (see earlier posting), but he was reffered most often as ‘cleptocrat’ by the rest of the world. In my oppinion, a mellow label, but never mind. The glorious ruler had to play important role in football.
African football was undeveloped surely, yet, there were prophets returning from the continent preaching that it will be the next big thing in football. The Brazil of the near future… any minute now. The majority of specialists in Europe and South America were more than sceptical and envisioned nothing of the kind. Africa was seen as better than Asia and Oceania, yet lower than North America (thanks to Mexico really) and unmeasurably bellow the two leading continents. It was also largely unknown football – Europe simply was not interested. Only France covered African football more or less regularly and practically obly in France there were African professional players. Some came to be big stars in France, but their success did not improve the level of Africafootball. Point in case: Salif Keita was probably the bets known African player in Europe and certainly a major star in French football in the early 1970s. But he was alone at home: no matter how good he was, Mali did not play stronger because of him. Nor any other great players followed his steps. More or less, typical for any African nation. Only Northern – Arab – Africa was considered better.
But those were the best years of football of Zaire. TP Mazembe (Lubumbashi) – then known as Englebert – won the African Champions Cup in 1967 and 1968. The club was also finalist in 1969 and 1970. In 1973 another Zaireian club won the Chamions Cup – AS Vita Club from the capital Kinshasa. The national team distinguished itself too – winning the African Cup of Nations in 1968 and 1974. And finally – reaching World Cup finals in 1974, the first team from ‘black’ Africa to play at the finals. Not bad at all, but the omnipresent and omniscient Mobutu imagined more and what he imagined – he thought to be the truth itself. To transport truth from his lunatic mind to unenlightened population, he ordered… Mobutu was hardly exceptional in transforming sporting results into political goals, and the national team became his pet project: ‘TheLeopards’ represented and displayed general success of Zaire’s society, state, and patriotism. They were the heroes at home and to be shown to the sceptical outside world. Mobutu pampered the players, giving them money, houses, and cars. And here wild imagination overtook reality: he dreamed his team really good. Zaire was to take the take the world by storm at the World Cup. World champions? Well, no – but they were to surprize many a team and go at least to the second round. Glory to Zaire, glory to Africa, and – mostly – glory to Mobutu! The dream was communicated to the team as a order.
The rest of the world remained largely ignorant of the power of ‘the Leopards’… Zaire was seen as exotic outsider and that was that. The players were entirely unknown – nobody played in Europe, meaning, there was no one even slightly good. The most famous member of Zaireian team was their coach – Blagoje Vidinic, a former goalkeepr, was Olympic champion in 1960 and Olympic vice-champion in 1956 with his native Yugoslavia. He also played professionally in Switzerland and USA (pre-NASL years). As a coach, he led Morocco at the 1970 World Cup and 1974 was his second. Whatever good or bad Zaire was, Vidinic made them African champions in 1974. But even with him the team was seen as literally coming out of the jungle and Mobutu’s efforts to impress the world ammounted to dress: the team was fashionably dressed for the West German epic, sporting Adidas and bell bottoms.
Here they are, with Blagoje Vidinic at the left. Their fashion may appear weird now, but it was not so in 1974.
Head coach: Blagoja Vidinić
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Mwamba Kazadi 6 March 1947 (aged 27) Mazembe Lubumbashi
2 DF Ilunga Mwepu 22 August 1949 (aged 24) Mazembe Lubumbashi
3 DF Mwanza Mukombo 17 December 1945 (aged 28) Mazembe Lubumbashi
4 DF Tshimen Bwanga 4 January 1949 (aged 25) Mazembe Lubumbashi
5 DF Boba Lobilo 10 April 1950 (aged 24) AS Vita Kinshasa
6 MF Massamba Kilasu 22 December 1950 (aged 23) FC Bilima
7 MF Kamunda Tshinabu 8 May 1946 (aged 28) Mazembe Lubumbashi
8 MF Mambwene Mana 10 October 1947 (aged 26) Imana Kinshasa
9 MF Uba Kembo Kembo 27 December 1947 (aged 26) AS Vita Kinshasa
10 MF Mantantu Kidumu 17 November 1946 (aged 27) Imana Kinshasa
11 DF Babo Kabasu 4 March 1950 (aged 24) FC Bilima
12 GK Dimbi Tubilandu 15 March 1948 (aged 26) AS Vita Kinshasa
13 MF Mulamba Ndaye 4 November 1948 (aged 25) AS Vita Kinshasa
14 FW Adelard Mayanga Maku 31 October 1948 (aged 25) AS Vita Kinshasa
15 MF Mafu Kibonge 12 February 1945 (aged 29) AS Vita Kinshasa
16 DF Mialo Mwape 30 December 1951 (aged 22) Nyiki Lubumbashi
17 MF Kafula Ngoie 11 November 1945 (aged 28) Mazembe Lubumbashi
18 FW Mafuila Mavuba 15 December 1949 (aged 24) AS Vita Kinshasa
19 FW Ekofa Mbungu 24 November 1948 (aged 25) Imana Kinshasa
20 FW Kalala Ntumba 7 January 1949 (aged 25) AS Vita Kinshasa
21 FW Etepe Kakoko 22 November 1950 (aged 23) Imana Kinshasa
22 GK Otepa Kalambay 12 November 1948 (aged 25) Mazembe Lubumbashi Just before getting Adidas, yet with signs ‘Leopards’ in front. Stangely enough, FIFA permited them to display the nickname, suspiciously looking like addvertisement, at the finals.
Top, left to right: Kalambay, Kibonge, Bwanga, Mwepu, Tshinabu, Kilasu, Ngoie, Kazadi.
Bottom: Lobilo, Mayanga Maku, Kidumu, Mana, Mbungu, Mukombo, Ndaye, Etepe Kakoko.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

True to expectations, DDR made no waves at first. Predictably, they won their first match – Australia was no opposition anyway.
The meeting of two debutantes: captains Wilson (Aistralia) and Bransch (DDR) shaking hands. The East Germans were remarkably unfashionable… even the Aussies were outfitted with trendy Adidas. But at the end fashion lost 0-2.
The second match was boring and unmemorable 1-1 tie against Chile.
Hoffmann scored and DDR led for awhile in front of 30 000 spectators. West German spectators… for very small and very carefully scrutinized group of East Germans was permitted to go to the faulty West and watch games of their own team. The number of fans at this game is questionable – here the source is a Communist newspaper from West Berlin. Other sources give lower numbers: Wikipedia sites 20 000. FIFA – less tha that.
At least theoretically, there was ideological motivation in this game, but the good Komsomol members were unable to take revenge on Pinochet. In any case, the ideological point here was eclipsed by clash with West Germany.
No doubt about motivation… Party oficials no doubt made ‘motivational’ speaches to the team. In football terms, DDR needed to win their last game to go ahead. There was no question that the team was going to play at there best – and they did precisely that.
Jurgen Sparwasser scores and Socialism put Capitalism to the ground. This was the finest moment of East German football… no calculations, no reservations, no concerns for the future… a pure ideological victory. True, it turned out DDR was going to meet a pack of wolves in the next round (Holland, Brazil, and Argentina), but who cares? The most important thing was already achieved…
And here is the killer of Capitalism, Jurgen Sparwasser, all smiles. Kind of modest, becoming to a true Communist, smiles… Well, hardly the players were rabid Communists and it is even amazing that none of them defected right after the final whistle: after beating West Germany, the entire team would have been welcomed by Bundesliga clubs and West German citizenship was authomatic by constitutional law. But – no one jumped ship. Ironically, only the killer boy Sparwasser defected to West Germany, but in the middle of the 1980s, well after he retired from football.
For the moment, DDR dropped a bomb and ended first. May be they had another bomb? Nobody thinks winners weak.

Monday, October 25, 2010

East Germany or DDR, the ‘absolute beginnres’ never played World Cup finals before. They never reached World Cup finals again, so 1974 is the highest peak of East German football. Ideology aside (which is disturbing as well as motivating – more likely DDR oficials were not happy to be in one group with clearly supreme ‘class enemy’, but a draw is a draw), they had a chance even to advance since they were in the weakest round robin group. As for their selection – it was perhaps the stronger and best balanced ever, combining aging stars with younger talent. Good motivation – the veterans had finally a chance to play at the highest level, supported by eager youngsters. DDR featured the youngest player at the finals: Martin Hoffmann. The recent won of Cup Winners Cup by 1.FC Magdeburg boosted moral as well. A really great team… in terms of East German football. On a larger scale it did not ammount to much: there were no stars of European calibre. The team was disciplined and surely fit, and running a lot, but had no spark, lacking imagination, spontaneity, and improvisation. Internationally, DDR ranked low and rightly so. Nobody imagined them achieving anything – at the most, they had a chance to reach the second stage of tournament. Most likely they were to sneak back behind the Wall after three games… That was the reality and the possibilities, but the East Germans were not given to pessimism and prepared the best they were able to.
Head coach: Georg Buschner
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Jürgen Croy 19 October 1946 (aged 27) 43 Sachsenring Zwickau
2 DF Lothar Kurbjuweit 6 November 1950 (aged 23) 30 Carl Zeiss Jena
3 DF Bernd Bransch 24 September 1944 (aged 29) 52 Carl Zeiss Jena
4 DF Konrad Weise 17 August 1951 (aged 22) 23 Carl Zeiss Jena
5 DF Joachim Fritsche 28 October 1951 (aged 22) 7 Lokomotiv Leipzig
6 MF Rüdiger Schnuphase 23 January 1954 (aged 20) 4 Rot-Weiss Erfurt
7 MF Jürgen Pommerenke 22 January 1953 (aged 21) 10 FC Magdeburg
8 FW Wolfram Löwe 14 May 1945 (aged 29) 33 Lokomotiv Leipzig
9 FW Peter Ducke 14 October 1941 (aged 32) 57 Carl Zeiss Jena
10 MF Hans-Jürgen Kreische 19 July 1947 (aged 26) 36 Dynamo Dresden
11 FW Joachim Streich 13 April 1951 (aged 23) 26 Hansa Rostock
12 DF Siegmar Wätzlich 16 November 1947 (aged 26) 9 Dynamo Dresden
13 MF Reinhard Lauck 16 September 1946 (aged 27) 14 Dynamo Berlin
14 FW Jürgen Sparwasser 4 June 1948 (aged 26) 28 FC Magdeburg
15 FW Eberhard Vogel 8 April 1943 (aged 31) 53 Carl Zeiss Jena
16 MF Harald Irmscher 12 February 1946 (aged 28) 29 Carl Zeiss Jena
17 MF Erich Hamann 27 November 1944 (aged 29) 1 FC Vorwärts Frankfurt/Oder
18 DF Gerd Kische 23 October 1951 (aged 22) 13 Hansa Rostock
19 MF Wolfgang Seguin 14 September 1945 (aged 28) 13 FC Magdeburg
20 FW Martin Hoffmann 22 March 1955 (aged 19) 3 FC Magdeburg
21 GK Wolfgang Blochwitz 8 February 1941 (aged 33) 17 Carl Zeiss Jena
22 GK Werner Friese 30 March 1946 (aged 28) 0 Lokomotiv Leipzig

Saturday, October 23, 2010

West Germans were to take the world by storm and before the championship started confidence reigned: West Germany had the easiest round robim group. Just one quick qalk over in splendid style. Reality was bitterly disappointing – BRD won 1-0 against Chile in their opening match after lucklustre performance. Their second match brought massive indignation – 3-0 win against Australia.
Muller seems supreme here, but the photo lies. As against Chile, the West Germans struggled and nothing worked. The team was harshly criticized by officials, the media, and the fans. They qualified already for the second round, but they were not the well-oiled machine comfortably gliding from victory to victory. Especially in attack – which was supposed to be lethal – West Germans showed massive problems. Some heroes of 1972 did not even appear on the pitch, suggesting that they are entirely out of form… Wimmer, Erwin Kremers, Netzer… Heynckes was big dissapointment. Something was very, very wrong.
Then came the third match, which was more than a match. Although West and East German clubs played often against each other, the national teams never met before – it was the first, and as it turned out also the last – match between the national teams of the two Germanies. And it had the aura of ideological clash of two systems literally divided by a wall. Since both countries were seen as a show case of their respective political system, it was much more than, say, West Germany playing against USSR. Now it was crystal clear – a German against German; a Trabant vs BMW: Socialism vs Capitalism in its purest, which was represented by the players themselves: pampered hired legs vs patriotic enthusiasts. Spoiled lackeys vs responsible and modest working class guys. There was no doubt that both countries would indoctrinate their teams and it would be more than a simple match. The was also no doubt that both teams, whether lackeys or modest workers, will play with particular zeal. The stakes were just too high not to affect everybody… the match was already becoming a myth.
Bellow the ideological pitch the purely sporting picture was a bit different (although initially not coming in comflict, but rather complimented, the ideological side) – West Germany already qualified, but East Germany needed a victory to go ahead. Even without ideological spur the East Germans were to be highly motivated. However, in Eastern Europe – except DDR itself – the view was relatively realistic: no doubt, the ‘brothers’ would play the best they can for glory of Communism, but… the West Germans, free from concerns about qualifying were expected to play patriotically too, and they were much classier team. Whatever troubles they displayed so far, were to go, when the East Germans may have been restrained by the psychological pressure to win at all costs. Nobody really believed in DDR’s victory – Chile (regretfully!) was expected to go ahead, for there was no doubt they will beat Australia.
So, high expectations, a lot of speculations and arguments, and pictures of the opponents preparing themselves for the war between Capitalism and Communism. And as photos go – both teams looked calm and confident in training.
Then the match started and in the 77th minute Jurgen Sparwasser scored.
West German agony shows on their faces… and soon the maych ended. West Germany lost… The East burst in triumph; the West – with indignation. However, immediately suspicion was born – the question did West Germany deliberately lost the match or was it fixed match is asked to this very day. So far, all involved deny any such things. The match was absolutely real and everybody was highly motivated – that’s the ‘truth’… well, nobody would say anything different, I suppose. To my mind, there is no question of back room fixing or even less of bribing. I am convinced the East Germans played in earnest. But I think – and I am not alone thinking so – that Helmut Schon deliberately lost the match. It cannot be proven and there will never be any evidence… but it looks like this: two groups had still to play the next day and there was no way to say for sure who will go ahead and to which semi-final group (the argument of those supporting ‘honest’ loss of West Germany). But the results so far provided for reasonable gambling – it was unlikely Bulgaria upsetting Holland and the chances of Brazil finishing first in their group were small. Thus, the chances were Holland and Brazil to be in one semi-final group – the very group West Germany was going to be if finishing first. And they were to be first if their last match ended in any other result but a loss. Which meant going to very tough group – facing flying Holland and traditionally difficult Brazil (tradition plays a big role in football – as a rule, Brazil beats (West) Germany no matter squads, form, or stakes). Reaching the final was very, very questionable possibility in such group. So the West Germans gambled (they qualified already, so there was no fear of missing the next round) and it turned out successful gamble – Brazil, Holland, and Argentina made the group. West Germany went to the much easier for them other semi-final group with Yugoslavia, Poland, and Sweden. To hell with ideology when thinking of final victory.
The trick of 1954 against Hungary was recycled and recalled, but the truth is nobody was particularly happy (yet) for the team so far played badly and did not look like they were going to win the World title. Which is also remembered by many a critic… and argued later that the Germans won by mean schemes and tricks and not by playing.
This weird match was the only one two heroes of 1972 played: both Netzer and Hottges came as substitutes in the 69th minute. Today Netzer says that he never felt he was a world champion and this particular match he chose to forget.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The hosts were one of the biggest favorites for winning the championship – West Germany impressed everyone in 1972, when winning the European title. Club football soared. The names of the players spoke for themselves. The did not have to go through the uncertain trials and tribulations of qualifications. And they were to play at home. However, voices of concern were raised as well, especially in Germany: some pundits feared that the team would not be sufficiently prepared. BRD played its last official match in 1972, at the European final. High profile friendlies were arranged since then – with Argentina, Brazil, USSR, etc., but friendlies are friendlies… Of course, it is fruitless to debate is a qualification match against Albania better than a friendly against Brazil – either view would have some merits, but would be laughable as well. No matter what was said, the hosts were always listed among the favorites – the selection was excelent. If in 1972 some stars were injured – notably Overath – now everybody was in good health and form. The fracas over payments, when the Federation threatened to dismiss the whole team and call different players were settled. It was all business after that – and do Germans work when then mean business! The selection was fantastic: perhaps the best ever German selection and the most balanced team at the World Cup. To every first team player there was equally good back up. Unlike every other World Cup German team after 1974, there were hardly any really old players (Hotgess was the oldest at 31). Such selection was the envious dream of every coach, but not without problems… after all, having so much talent begs the question who is to play and who is to sit on the bench. There is psychological tension and egos clash. Netzer or Overath? There were difficult players like the outspoken excentric Breitner. There were old conflicts and rivelries simering – the coach Schon and Netzer disliked each other. The very fact that it was practically one generation of players meant that some were in eternal shadow and rarely – if at all – played: Maier always played; Kleff and Nigbur were benched; Franke was not even included in the team. Hardly the reserves were happy campers. And journalists were watching like howks, ever ready to question the selection if only slightly the chosen underperformed. West Germany had so much talent waiting… Horst Blankenburg of Ajax fame was considered one of the best centarl defenseman in the world at the time, but was never even contemplated by Schon, let alone invited to the national team. And he was not an isolated case, but, with talent to spare, West Germany had the whole squad of the 1972 European campaign; healthy stars, who missed 1972, and a bunch of young up and coming players – good potential for variety; tactical diversity; and even the risk of injuries during the tournament were not particularly strong concern. And it was a German team – no matter what tensions existed, when it was business – it was business. On the pitch – whether training or actual match – there was no sign of disagreements.
Mighty Germans, professionals to the end and in every detail. Troubles? What troubles?
Head coach: Helmut Schön
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Sepp Maier 28 February 1944 (aged 30) 50 Bayern Munich
2 DF Berti Vogts 30 December 1946 (aged 27) 24 Borussia M'gladbach
3 DF Paul Breitner 5 September 1951 (aged 22) 19 Bayern Munich
4 DF Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck 3 April 1948 (aged 26) 23 Bayern Munich
5 DF Franz Beckenbauer 11 September 1945 (aged 28) 78 Bayern Munich
6 DF Horst-Dieter Höttges 10 September 1943 (aged 30) 65 Werder Bremen
7 MF Herbert Wimmer 9 November 1944 (aged 29) 23 Borussia M'gladbach
8 MF Bernhard Cullmann 1 November 1949 (aged 24) 12 FC Köln
9 FW Jürgen Grabowski 7 July 1944 (aged 29) 38 Eintracht Frankfurt
10 MF Günter Netzer 14 September 1944 (aged 29) 34 Real Madrid
11 FW Jupp Heynckes 9 May 1945 (aged 29) 28 Borussia M'gladbach
12 MF Wolfgang Overath 29 September 1943 (aged 30) 74 FC Köln
13 FW Gerd Müller 3 November 1945 (aged 28) 55 Bayern Munich
14 FW Uli Hoeneß 5 January 1952 (aged 22) 23 Bayern Munich
15 MF Heinz Flohe 28 January 1948 (aged 26) 14 FC Köln
16 MF Rainer Bonhof 29 March 1952 (aged 22) 4 Borussia M'gladbach
17 FW Bernd Hölzenbein 9 March 1946 (aged 28) 4 Eintracht Frankfurt
18 FW Dieter Herzog 15 July 1946 (aged 27) 2 Fortuna Düsseldorf
19 MF Jupp Kapellmann 19 December 1949 (aged 24) 3 Bayern Munich
20 DF Helmut Kremers 24 March 1949 (aged 25) 5 Schalke
21 GK Norbert Nigbur 8 May 1948 (aged 26) 2 Schalke
22 GK Wolfgang Kleff 16 November 1946 (aged 27) 6 Borussia M'gladbach

Dressed in the semi-official gear, which looks so weird today, West Germans getting ready to conquer the world. Some of the above were not in the conquering squad at the end…but all of the European champions were…from left to right: Heynckes, Hottgess, Vogts, Schwarzenbeck, Hoeness, Schon-coach, Muller, Cullmann, Kleff, Maier, Flohe, Bonhof, Franke, Erwin Kremers, Grabowski, Overath, Koppel, Beckenbauer, Breitner, Wimmer, Kapellmann. Bayern and Borussia suplied most of the team – who would aks for any different?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chile played miserably, to the delight of Eastern European propaganda machine. The vile injustice of both military junta and FIFA was ‘unmasked’. Of course, such a team did not deserve to be at the finals – shame on Pinochet and shame on FIFA for robbing righteous Soviets from well deserved spot at the World Cup. In the west there was also delight – the team of the junta was gone. Political arguments obscured football entirely. To be sure, the Chielans were psychologically affected by the events at home. To a certain point they underperformed.
They lost their opening match 0-1 to West Germany, which was expected. Chile did not play strongly, but the news really were underperforming Germans.
Beckenbauer looks either overconfident or puzzled. Apart from sporting brand new Adidas kit, Chile impressed no one – Germans did, by disappointing fans and observers.
The second match was no better – a 1-1 tie against the East Germans, in a match best described as unmemorable.
Ahumada equalizes, Watzlich and Croy watch… and may be think what their Communist masters would say after the game. As for the Chileans, it is hard to tell. Theoretically, the odds were still in their favour: last match with Australia and East Germany facing West German giants. But Chile finished on particularly low key – 0-0 tie with the Aussies. As a whole, terrible performance. Yet, nobody really judged them by their miserable football… in fact, Chile was part of the whole misery of South American teams in 1974. They played outdated, sluggish football, light years behind the inovative total football. Politics aside, the truth was South Americans were lagging behind Europe and the Chileans, been traditinally weaker and less talented South American team, painfully exposed the troubles of the continental football. They finished third in the group and were out. One of the least memorable teams of the tournament. There was a bit of pity in all that: nobody noticed Elias Figueroa in 1974. True, he had unremarkable tournament, but still there was injustice – so much was the preocupation with politics, that this player was hardly mentioned and he remains largely unknown outside South Americe. Over there he was considered the best central defenseman in the world! May be not entirely objective view – after all, better than Beckenbauer? – but he is non-entity in Europe. Perhaps because he never played in Europe…and Chile played bland, faceless, boring brand of football. At the end, the team ended third in Group 1 and was out. Forget about politics: the early exit of the Chileans was no great loss of football.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In the weak Group 1 Chile were considered the possible second place team at first. The controversy over their qualification was more political than football problem, but at the time politics overshadowed football. Pinochet’s regime was severely criticized around the world, vocal left-wing immigrants perhaps making the picture worse than it really was. But the political situation was turbulent and troublesome enogh to affect football. Not knowing much about the team aggravated the problem – to begin with, the Europeans did not see Chilean team since 1966. The old memories consisted of particularly rough playing, associated with the scandals during World Cup 1962. It should be noted that in 1962 televised football was practically non-existant and whatever happened on the pitch came to foreign lands via print and ocasional photo, with added bias. As time passed real events became mythologized, resulting in the strange belief that among South American villains Chile must be the worst offender. The recent political events only increased the antipathy, with some illogical twist too – the team was seen both sympathetically (poor players – forced to represent unpopular regime) and with hostility (don’t they have shame? Playing for Pinochet!). In truth, however, Chile was largely unknown team – at best, they were considered the 4th South American team, but miles behind the three giants Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. There was a lot of ignorance when it came to the real worth of Chilean players – some of them were (and remained) virtually unknown in Europe: Elias Figueroa is the biggest example. Lastly, there was specific peculiarity about this team, very difficult to comprehend – although a big number of the Chilean players were openly against the military rule and moving to play abroad for political reasons, none of the stars refused to play for ‘Pinochet’s team’. It was patriotic decision – playing for Chile, not for the military junta – yet, it was contriversial. Especially after Pinochet made his own point of meeting the team and expressing his hopes that they will bring glory to ‘new’ Chile. Yes, there was the hilarious moment when the General addresed Carlos Caszely with ‘I know you are left wing, but you are great right wing”. Caszely was not only the biggest Chilean star, but also the most vocal opponent of the military regime and one of the ‘exiles’, who went to play abroad in protest – or fear – or both. However, Caszely returned rather quickly to Chile and played at home Pinochet or no Pinochet. And not only he did so, thus begging questions as: was the regime trully horrible, since known opponents find the country fit for living and working? Or, were football players to be trusted? What is their true conviction? Money? Anyway, Chile had pretty much her best squad, but political tensions had their toll too. At least on paper Chile looked not so bad, having Figueroa, Caszely, and few other stars. Perhaps the team was considered more impressive in South America than in Europe – over there Colo Colo reached Copa Libertadores final in 1973 and fair number of this team were in the national team as well. No matter what, the team was veiled in certain mystery – for instance, in Bulgaria no picture of the team was published as a political protest.
Head coach: Luis Alamos
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Leopoldo Vallejos 16 July 1944 (aged 29) 13 Universidad Católica
2 DF Rolando García 15 December 1942 (aged 31) 14 Colo Colo
3 DF Alberto Quintano 26 April 1946 (aged 28) 33 Universidad de Chile
4 DF Antonio Arias 9 October 1944 (aged 29) 25 Unión Española
5 DF Elías Figueroa 25 October 1946 (aged 27) 19 Internacional
6 DF Juan Rodríguez 16 January 1944 (aged 30) 24 Atlético Español
7 FW Carlos Caszely 5 July 1950 (aged 23) 20 Levante
8 MF Francisco Valdés 19 March 1943 (aged 31) 44 Colo Colo
9 FW Sergio Ahumada 2 October 1948 (aged 25) 12 Colo Colo
10 MF Carlos Reinoso 7 March 1945 (aged 29) 25 América
11 FW Leonardo Véliz 3 September 1945 (aged 28) 18 Colo Colo
12 DF Juan Machuca 7 March 1951 (aged 23) 18 Unión Española
13 DF Rafael González 24 April 1950 (aged 24) 10 Colo Colo
14 MF Alfonso Lara 27 April 1946 (aged 28) 27 Colo Colo
15 DF Mario Galindo 10 August 1951 (aged 22) 6 Colo Colo
16 MF Guillermo Páez 18 April 1945 (aged 29) 11 Colo Colo
17 FW Guillermo Yávar 26 March 1943 (aged 31) 24 Universidad de Chile
18 MF Jorge Socías 6 October 1951 (aged 22) 2 Universidad de Chile
19 MF Rogelio Farías 13 August 1949 (aged 24) 10 Unión Española
20 FW Osvaldo Castro 14 April 1947 (aged 27) 24 América
21 GK Juan Olivares 20 February 1941 (aged 33) 32 Unión Española
22 GK Adolfo Nef 18 January 1946 (aged 28) 26 Colo Colo

The squad included 5 foreign based players, something still rare at the time – Castro, Reinoso, and Rodriguez played in Mexico; Caszely – in Spain; and Figueroa – in Brazil. In the big political hoopla it was difficult to evaluate the ‘foreigners’ – Caszely certainly went to Spain for political reasons, but Figueroa was playing abroad even before the ill-fated Socialist Salvador Allende became Chilean President.
La Roja: bottom, left to right: Carlos Caszely, Francisco Valdes, Sergio Ahumada, Carlos Reinoso, Julio Crisoto.
Top: Humberto – masseur, Juan Machuca, Antonio Arias, Elias Figueroa, Alberto Quintano, Juan Rodriguez, Juan Olivares, Ampuero – assistant coach.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Looking from time distance, Austarlia gives impression of not playing so bad in 1974. They were the only outsider collecting a point. Their results suggest the Aussies gave good fight. They lost their opening match 0-2 to DDR. They lost the second 0-3 to the mighty West Germans. Lastly, they managed a 0-0 tie against Chile. No so bad… but when looking at their results now. Back in 1974 they atracted no interest on the pitch. It was not so much spirited performance, but various problems of their opponents producing the plausible results. The East Germans were not so good to begin with. The Chileans had major problems because of the political situation in their country and underperformed. West Germany struggled tremendously during the round robin stage of the tournament. Unfortunately, no big credit can be given to darling Aussies.
They fought, but it was more West German frustration and sluggishness than Aussie spirit. Muller was no convincing, not that Australian defense was really playing above itself.
Darlings they were, but not in footbal terms.
Finishing last in their group, the Aussies went home. The World Cup made practically no impact on neither development of Australian football, nor on general public’s mind. At home the team was mild temporary amusement at best. The World Cup generated no interest to the sport, remaining confined among immigrant communities (after all, most of the players were born outside Australia – UK, Yugoslavia, Hungary). Even among the few practicing it there was no boosting enthusiasm – Australian football developed much later and hardly as a continuation of their inagural World Cup appearance. Over 30 years passed before Australia appeared at World Cup finals again. The players of 1974 returned to their normal existence of amateur footballers – only one became professional: the striker Adrian Alston went to play for Luton Town in 1974-75 season; then to Cardiff City; and finally to the green pastures of North American NASL.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Australia. Even in the dark world of football’s dwarfs they were non-entity, representing the ‘6th continent’ – Austrolasia. This federation is still the very bottom of international football, the only one without secured spot at World Cup finals. Their winners have to play further qualifications, if wanting to reach the big stage. As far as 1974 World Cup is concerned, Australia had to play against the next weakest continent, Asia. Surprisingly, the Aussies won. Nobody knew anything about them – they were all amateurs without anybody playing in Europe. And leaping a bit ahead: nobody from their World Cup squad attracted any interest and consequently no Autsralian player went professional after the finals. Also, nobody knew the conflict ridden reality of Australian soocer: it was a pariah sport, ignored by mainstream Australia, favouring rugby, cricket, Australian football, tennis, and golf. It was a sport of the immigrants and divided sharply along nationalistic lines. The scene was politically driven – ‘old country’ politics, that is – and therefore explosive. So much so, the Australian federation had to ban the usage of ‘ethnic’ club names by the end of the 1970s. Since the Europeans knew nothing about Australian troubles, the team ment nothing more than exotic group of players, but it was the ‘right’ kind of the exotic: coming from distant, yet, white and industrial country. English speaking one, sophisticated, just rightly blending the familiar and the unknown. A great tourist place too, with special aura… well, the right blend of familiar and unknown again. Exotic, but ‘safe’… ‘our’ kind of place… The German media embraced the Australians fulheartedly and covered them a lot. They were a delight… and the suspect Yugoslavian names of some of the players were ignored in favour of two sweet discoveries: the trully ‘exotic’ indigenous player was just the ‘right’ mix – he was dark, but he was also the only one ‘darkie’. Harry Williams was the very first aboriginal player invited to the national team. Sounded just like reading Karl May’s ‘indian’ novel. The other player was even bigger fun: a German! Manfred Schafer, 31 years old defenseman, who eventually played a total of 72 games for Australia, was born in Konigsberg and went to Australia when he was 14. It was sweet… a German contribution to Aussie success, fit for interviews without bothersome translators, and also rubbing a bit the ideologic context, since his Konigsberg was (and is) the Soviet (now Russian) city of Kaliningrad. Escapee from GULAG land… one can even recycle the question of East Prussia… great for media! Hence, a meeting between Schafer and Gerd Muller was arrange and both players exchanged deep thoughts in front of hungry microphones and cameras. Schafer proudly confined to Muller that he got 5000 dollars from the Australian Football Federation as a World Cup player. Big money! The world superstar was not impressed – ‘I get that for a week’, he responded. Different realities notwithstanding, the Aussies were adorable just been Aussies. Apart from that, no name ment anything, beginning with their coach.
Head coach: Ralé Rašić
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Jack Reilly 27 August 1945 (aged 28) 15 Hakoah Melbourne
2 DF Doug Utjesenovic 8 October 1946 (aged 27) 19 St George Sydney
3 DF Peter Wilson 15 September 1947 (aged 26) 34 Safeway United
4 DF Manfred Schäfer 12 February 1943 (aged 31) 49 St George Sydney
5 DF Colin Curran 21 August 1947 (aged 26) 13 Western Suburbs (NSW)
6 MF Ray Richards 18 May 1946 (aged 28) 31 Marconi Fairfield
7 MF Jimmy Rooney 10 December 1945 (aged 28) 20 APIA Leichhardt
8 MF Jimmy Mackay 19 December 1943 (aged 30) 30 Hakoah Sydney
9 MF Johnny Warren 17 May 1943 (aged 31) 44 St George Sydney
10 FW Gary Manuel 20 February 1950 (aged 24) 4 Pan Hellenic
11 FW Attila Abonyi 16 August 1946 (aged 27) 39 St George Sydney
12 FW Adrian Alston 6 February 1949 (aged 25) 34 Safeway United
13 MF Peter Ollerton 20 May 1951 (aged 23) 4 APIA Leichhardt
14 MF Max Tolson 18 July 1945 (aged 28) 16 Safeway United
15 DF Harry Williams 7 May 1951 (aged 23) 3 St George Sydney
16 DF Ivo Rudic 24 January 1942 (aged 32) 0 Pan Hellenic
17 DF Dave Harding 14 August 1946 (aged 27) 1 Pan Hellenic
18 MF Johnny Watkiss 28 March 1941 (aged 33) 23 Hakoah Sydney
19 MF Ernie Campbell 20 October 1949 (aged 24) 8 Marconi Fairfield
20 FW Branko Buljevic 6 September 1947 (aged 26) 19 Footscray JUST
21 GK Jim Milisavljevic 15 April 1951 (aged 23) 0 Footscray JUST
22 GK Allan Maher 21 July 1950 (aged 23) 0 Sutherland Shire
Bottom, left to right: Rooney, Mackay, Milisavljevic, Frazer, Curran, Warren.
Middle: Williams, Baartz, Utjesenovic, Abonyi, Richards, Schaefer.
Top: Rasic – coach, Buljevic, Watkiss, Wilson, Alstow, Tolsow, Campbell, Scheinglug – assistant coach.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

All smiles.
Tip and Tap, showing belly buttons, as if coming from the distant future (or the fashions of the late 1990s and the early years of 21st century repeat the 1970s) and welcoming everybody. The draw of the round robin groups brought the hype up a notch or two. There is an old tradition of manipulating Lady Luck in football – a draw is not a pure draw, but organized in a way avoiding any chances of, God forbids!, comcentrating big favourites in one preliminary group and outsiders in another. Common sense tells us that some teams are much better than others and deserve better chance to reach at least the second stage of the tournament. Thus, teams are divided in four groups before hand. Host country, the reigning world champions, and European heavyweights are in one. South Americans are the second. The rest of the European coutries, since they are the most participants anyway, are in third. The small fry from the rest of the world are in the outsiders group. Theoretically, it makes sense. It is also lamented practice, for the rules are not entirely fair: at the bottom is supposed to be the current FIFA ranking of teams. It is based on recent results and back in the 1970s it used to be more or less constant – there was no way a country like, say, Zaire penetrating the higher ranks. On the other hand Italy was always among the top, which also coresponds to traditional conception of this country as an world power in football. But Holland was a complete newcomer to the favourites and even is hard to tell how much its ranking was based on the national team and how much on the power of Ajax and Fejenoord. The bottom was a bit problematic too – since the ‘rest of the world’ consisted of only three countries, the forth outsider was to be European team – and Bulgaria got the honor. Why Bulgaria? It was not based on tradition, since this country entered World Cup finals for the forth time. East Germany was a debutant at the same time. The Bulgarian World Cup record was pityful (at best), yet, better than the non-existant one of the East Germans. Neither team was making waves during the qualification stage. Yet, DDR produced Cup Winners Cup winner in 1974 and perhaps was seen as a more promissing team than the dreadful Bulgarians. Anyway, that was the initial division and then the draw took place and the results… well, they never can be fair to some. Lady Luck played the following joke:
Group 1: West Germany 2. Chile 3. East Germany 4. Australia.
The weakest group, where the winner was absolutely sure – West Germany was not to face much opposition. Lady Luck or Mister Crook? There is interesting tradition… host countries always ‘draw’ the easiest opponents at the finals. The logic is undertsandable… since the local crowd is to be the biggest, let’s give the host a chance to go ahead… and generate revenue. Nobody complains about that and in 1974 the thrill of ideology replaced the thrill of football: the two German states made for political battle – Communism against Democracy; East vs West; Trabant vs Mercedes Benz… it was torny. And ripe for media hype.
Group 2: 1. Brazil 2.Yugoslavia 3.Scotland 4.Zaire
Brazil was considered the favourite; Yugoslavia and Scotland were to fight for the second place, with slightly better Yugoslavian chances. Clear group.
Group 3: 1.Holland 2.Uruguay 3.Sweden 4.Bulgaria.
The ‘iron’ group… Holland was expected to be head and shoulders above the rest, but the other three were seen as relatively equal and the second place was for grabs. Unpredictable group and therefore the toughest.
Group 4: 1.Italy 2.Argentina 3.Poland 4.Haiti.
Italy was huge favourite with their impressive record in the last two years. Argentina, always considered a potential contender, was expected to be second. Poland nobody counted – the Poles were seen as lucky freaks, who were to be happy just playing at the finals. The only problem was who was to finish first and who second – the Italians were considered with better chances.
And once the draw took place, everybody went to their preparations and expectations, misconcepted and fantastic as they were… until the tournament started.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

But the hype was building up – the 10th World Cup was projected as the best ever. There was good base for such expectations: Mexico 1970 was a great success, yet, Mexico itself was a ‘third world’ country and, additionally, the conditions were not favourable for display of great football – it was too hot. The distances between cities – too big. West Germany no doubt would be better – count on German efficiency, sophisticated transportation, milder weather, new super modern (well, for the early 1970s), impeccable organization, flawless technology, closer to each other venues. Mexico counted a lot on enthusiasm and if the tournament was not so good, very likely the country would have been severely criticized for various inconveniences – Germany had no handicaps. Add to it brand new cup and new tournament format. The format was specifically designed to boost interest: longer tournament now, with newly introduced second stage round robin groups instead of direct elimination. Only the games for the title and the third place were to be played as ever. The scheme automatically translated into revenues: more fans were to stay longer – and spend more – in West Germany. Television was to pay more as well, capturing unpredecented audience around the world. The world itself had not only more TV sets by 1974, but colour television was the rule now, thus making watching even more tempting. Advertisement naturally followed, lured by greater opportunity. Today 1974 World Cup is often lamented as ‘lost paradise’ – the last strictly football tournament, and not commercialized, but this is ill informed nostalgia. In fact, 1974 World Cup was the first truly commercialized World Cup, opening the avenues for further insane commercialization. Money was all the talk in 1974 – and this time players were directly involved. It was no longer just billboards, advertising this and that on the stadiums – it was personal contracts with star players; sponsorship of teams, and the ‘profanity’ of players paid lucratively for their respectfull countries. More or less, the new business attitudes were led by the Dutch – they started a bit earlier than other countires, with Dutch players agreeing to play for the national team if paid. The novelty of business stepping into national team football had its hilarious moments: one was Cruiff playing with different kit than the rest of the team, because the Dutch federation had contract with Adidas, but the best player had a contract with Puma. And he played with Puma, slightly adjusted – with two stripes on jersey, shorts, and socks, to kind of match the three-stripes Adidas kit of the rest of the team. No such conflict of uniform – and also of business interests – would be possible today, but back in 1974 the whole idea was so new, including the stripes of Adidas, which were a logo, yet, more than a logo – a part of the kit really.
The other commercial fun produced by the Dutch resulted from Krol scoring in his own net against Bulgaria – Holland had a contract with a sponsor, stating that they were to get a bonus for every goal they scored. Innocent days… the sponsors did not forsee the possibility of own goals. Cruiff, never forgetting that business comes first, studied thcontract after the match, saw the gap, claimed the money – and the team received it promptly. Thus, the Dutch are perhaps the only team in the world paid for scoring in their own net.
The problem of money became critical for the West Germans too – the purists and the federation grumbled about the advertising contracts the stars got: the players seemed busier shooting shaving cream commercials than training. But the real crisis came when the team demanded more money from the federation. The officials were offended – what happened to the pride of patriotic playing? The players were blasted as greedy and selfish. The federation actually considered dumping the whole squad, and selecting entirely different team for the finals. This was the only time West Germany had the luxury of vast pool of talented players – and such proposition would not have been disastrous. The irony of it… but it never happened, for at the end players and federation came into terms.
Other comersial propostions went straight into lunacy – such as those made to the players of Zaire by Mobutu Sésé Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga ("The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake.") He was to provide money, cars, and women for life, if Zaire won the World Cup.
Money apart, there was another bit of trivia related to 1974 World Cup – it was perhaps the most undemocratic representation of states. The range was wide, and if the least undemocratic country was easy to pinpoint – Yugoslavia – the one to top the list was not so. Well, Communists arrived in good block: Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland, East Germany. Add to them the military dictatorships of Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile. And add the insane dictatorships of Zaire and Haiti. Democray lost 7 to 9. As for the stars of the anti-democratic team – tough choice: Chile was all the talk, but General Pinochet pails in comparisemnt to rulers of Zaire and Haiti. In this squad Yugoslavia, Brazil, and Uruguay looked like almost democratic states…
But money and politics were not to spoil the show and football got the upper hand at the end. And football obliterated everything else quickly – as soon as the draw for the round robin groups took place.
From this point nothing else mathered. Four groups. The excitement of expectations and the faulty mathematics of calculating luck and chances. By statistics, common sense, tradition, star players, current form, favourites and outsiders were lined up. When the competition started, expert opinions went down the drain. Well, most of the expert opinions anyway… during the tournament they were reshaped, but one thing was certain: the outsiders surprized everybody by their… weakness. Nobody expected the likes of Zaire, Haiti, and Australia to be more than ‘exotic’, yet, those were not only the strangest, but also the weakest ever outsiders playing at the World Cup finals.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Of course, most of the preparatory games were not high profile. Actually, most of the friendlies the finalists played were against weaker opponents and ingnored by the fans:
Poland playing against Greece at the empty stadium in Warsaw. Fischer (1) got a rare opportunity to play for Poland and not yet famous Gadocha (11) watches the heroics of his teammate in black.
For years this was the typical story: a lot of hype in the press and maniac excitement over the national team. Debates, apoplexy over who was in and who was out, laments over injured or neglected players, and, yet, preparatory matches never attracted the crowds.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Brazil was different story – favorites, sure. But convincing ones? Not in Brazil. In Europe nobody was really thrilled by the Brazilian performance, but the team was considered dangerous anyway. The impression was that the world champions were not in good form yet – but surely would be by the summer. And if they win when not in form, imagine what could be when they really play. At home criticism ruled – the team was under attack for quite awhile. Part of the problem was the old debate about the direction of the Brazilian football. Presently, it was adjusted to the European model – tough, disciplined, tactical, and physica game. Mario Zagallo coached – and that is rather curious, because he was not among the hardliners promoting the European brand of football. Yet, his team was clearly defence oriented and tactics dominated. The team was stiff, not entertaining at all, terribly restricted and schematic – but it was winning. Goalkeeping was the major problem – a few keepers were tried, to no satisfaction. Goalkeeping was an old problem – and with the exception of Gilmar, Brazil never had really great goalie. Felix, who played in 1970, kind of retired. Other problems loomed as well. There was a little controvercy over Carlos Alberto – Zagallo announced that the captain of the 1970 squad is out. Reasons were never clear – Carlos Alberto was injured for quite a long time, and after coming back Zagallo stated he is out of form. But somehow form was not the real issue. Tostao was out too – his eyes were getting worse, surgeries did not help, and the great player had to quit football. Gerson also ended his career. And finally Pele… concerned voices argued it is time to remove the King from the national team since… 1966. At first the reason was not his age, but after 1970 it was. Zagallo made clear that he was not going to need him anymore. Pele himself thought it was time to step down and announced his decision not to play for Brazil anymore. Shaky goalkeeping apart, the new Brazil was pretty much what the ‘party of change’ wanted: disciplined, defensive minded, ‘European’ team. It was winning too… but the ‘party of samba’ was not happy at all – the team was not fun! The team was winning, but painfully, miserly, minimally… and may be it was just lucky, but luck does not always help. Brazil was not outplaying the opposition, it was not dominant. May be good in defence, but the attack? Criticism mounted, including the voice from the very top – the President of Brazil officially stated that Pele has to be included again. The King said he was not going to change his mind. The President had the last word: there was always a place for Pele in the national team. Zagallo seconded that… as long as Pele had no desire to play for Brazil, Zagallo was free to dodge politicians and journalists by stating what they wanted to hear: the door is open, it is up to the King. Zagallo repeated 1970 – when he ‘included’ Dario in the squad, because the President wanted his favorite player in the team. May be Zagallo would have included Pele, if the King changed his mind, yet 1974 was almost full repetiton of 1970. Pele was considered in earnest, but he never changed his mind, so to the last minute it was just speculations, however exciting.
Jairzinho (left), Rivelino, and Clodoaldo (deep back) fighting tough Scots at Hampden Park – new boy Kenny Dalglish(14), David Hay, and Jim Holton (6). Vast diference in fame… and Holton just relegated to 2nd Division with Manchester United, but it was Scotland impressing commentators at this match. Brasil won 1-0.
West Germany was conquered at their own turf and weather.
The Soviets were largely concerned with their own troubles – Muntyan rarely outsmarted Marco Antonio, and Onishtchenko still unconvincing yopugster. But here he almost scored – his header hit the sidebar. Brazil won 1-0 in Moscow, but it could have been easily 1-0 for the Soviets too. The World champions were rather pedestrian…

One of the Brazilain formations shaping the World Cup 1974 squad – here Wendel is wrongly listed, but he did not make the final squad anyway. Goalkeeping was the biggest troube, but it was replaced by other concerns. At the end nothing really changed – only the goalie missed the finals.