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Sports

Charting the success of teams who score huge FIFA World Cup upsets

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Charting the success of teams who score huge FIFA World Cup upsets

MANILA, Philippines – After uplifting victories that were celebrated all over the world, Japan and Saudi Arabia fell flat in their next matches — both for losses.

After Saudi Arabia shocked Argentina, 2-0, and Japan hurt Germany’s chances of advancing in their first group stage match, 2-1, the former lost to Poland, 2-0, while the latter was stunned by Costa Rica 1-0 with their lone shot on goal.

Then Belgium, 1-0 winners over Canada, was knocked for a loop by Morocco, 2-0.

There was one shock after another. 

It seems like the only imperious side has been France with two wins over Australia (4-1) and Denmark (2-1). What was also impressive was Les Bleus conceded the first goal then came back to dominate and win.

In fact, advancing is still wide open for Groups A, B, C, E, and F. Group G and H’s matches will be played later Monday and Tuesday morning (Manila time).

Only Group D seems to be clear cut.

Upsets in sports are nothing new. But they do get magnified given rankings. 

Let’s take a look at some of the more famous upsets in World Cup history and what happened after that.

Senegal in the 2002 South Korea/Japan World Cup

After opening the 2002 South Korea/Japan World Cup with a 1-0 win over France, Senegal drew 1-1 with Denmark, and 3-3 with Uruguay to finish second in Group A.

They defeated Sweden, 2-1, in the Round of 16, but fell, 1-nil to Turkey in the quarterfinals.

Expectations grew for the next World Cup, but Senegal did not qualify.

Cameroon in the 1990 Italy World Cup

Cameroon opened Italia ’90 with a 1-nil shocker over Diego Maradona and Argentina. They followed that up with a 2-1 win over Romania. Despite a 4-0 hammering by the Soviet Union, Cameroon topped Group B. 

In the Round of 16, they defeated Colombia, 2-1. Their run was ended by England in the quarterfinals by a late penalty goal from Gary Lineker. 

Cameroon returned to the next World Cup in the United States joining Brazil, Sweden, and Russia in Group B. They drew with Sweden 2-2 in their opener, but lost to Brazil, 3-0, and were once more hammered by Russia, 6-1, and were eliminated.

North Korea in the 1996 England World Cup

In 1966, North Korea was bracketed with the Soviet Union, Italy, and Chile in Group 4. 

After North Korea lost to the Soviets, 3-0, in the opener, they drew with Chile, 1-1, then closed out their group play with a1-0 win over Italy via a 42nd minute goal from Pak Doo-ik.

They finished second to the Soviet Union and advanced to the quarterfinals. Incredibly, North Korea led 3-0 going into the 26th minute of play.

Portugal pulled two back before the end of the first half to make a game of it. 

In the second half, Portugal’s star, Eusebio scored two more goals for a single match total of four.  Jose Augusto added a fifth goal for Portugal that won a shootout, 5-3.

North Korea did not return to the World Cup until 2010.

While the United States scored a dramatic 1-nil upset over England in the 1950 Brazil World Cup, we cannot include them because back then, only the group winner advanced. 

So all three squads — Senegal, Cameroon, and North Korea — advanced to the next round (but did not enjoy a good World Cup four years later if they actually made it).

Now we’ll have to see how Saudi Arabia and Japan fare in their final group stage matches of the 2022 World Cup.

Japan is on their seventh consecutive World Cup tournament and it doesn’t look like they are dropping out any time soon. Their ultimate goal is to win the World Cup by 2050. 

Saudi Arabia is in their second consecutive World Cup. Theirs is a program that is getting better. 

Of course, how they fare four years from now is anyone’s guess.

KSA (third in Group C) faces Mexico on November 30 while Japan (second in Group E) battles Spain on December 1.

Morocco will also take on already eliminated Canada this December 1.

Plain and simple, all three need to win their matches if they want to progress.

The 2022 Qatar World Cup matches are shown on World Cup TV on Skycable and on the Tap Go TV streaming application.

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