Eire. Ranked 29th. Tough battle for the title and interesting double. Rules: teams played 3 times against each other – this to make longer season for small leagues, and 3 points for a win were given. University College Dublin AFC clinched 2nd place in Second Division on better goal-difference and was promoted.
Bray Wanderers lost the race for promotion to University College.
Sligo Rovers was last in the Second Division with 14 points – quite a downfall for a club no long ago playing solid First Division football.
Two outsiders in the top league: Waterford United was last with 18 points and Cobh Ramblers – 11th with 21 points. Both relegated.
Up the table nothing much until the very top.
Shamrock Rovers had weak season – 7th with 29 points.
Derry City and Dundalk fought for the title. Eventually, Dundalk lost, finishing 2nd with 51 points.
Derry City had strong run from start to end and won the championship with 53 points: 24 wins, 5 ties, and 4 losses, 70-21 goal-difference. Excellent success!
And there was more: Derry City reached the Cup final, where they met Cork City. The final ended undecided – 0-0 – and replay was scheduled. In it Derry City prevailed 1-0.
A double! What a season! If the photos are in fact one and the same, the reason is plausible:
May be for another club such fuss would be overdoing it, Derry City deserves as many photos as possible: this was their only 2nd title, 1st Cup, 1st double! This season was their strongest in history. The most memorable because of that.


Iceland. 3 points for win in effect. Brand new champion, out of the ordinary.
Stjarnan won the Second Division with 43 points, followed by IBV with 39 points. Both teams were promoted.
Keflavik was last in the top league with 15 points. Fylkir was 9th with 17 points, but worse goal-difference than Vikingur. Fylkir and Keflavik were relegated; Vikingur survived.
Three teams battle for the title. Fram finished 3rd at the end with 32 points and +6 goal-difference. FH clinched 2nd place, also with 32 points, but +10 goal-difference. KA triumphed with 34 points.
KA Akureyri had fantastic season – 9 wins, 7 ties, and only 2 lost games. 29-15 goal-difference. Thus, they won the Icelandic championship for the first time – enormous success for club and fans: KA never won anything before. It was also their only last success up to now – but nobody knew that in 1989.
The Cup final opposed Fram to KR, a Reykjavik derby between rivals eager to a trophy this season. Fram was stronger and won 3-1.
Fram (Reykjavik) collected their 7th Cup. Not bad at all.


Malta. Ranked 31st. Long waited for triumph of Sliema Wanderers. Zebbug Rangers and Tarxien Rainbows earned promotion from Second Division. Birikirkara FC was the top league outsider, ending last with 7 points and winning only one match. Three teams finished with 12 points each and played a relegation mini-league after the regular season. Rabat Ajax lost the tournament and was relegated. Hibernian and Naxxar Lions survived and their places in the final table were according to their positionn in the relegation tournament – Hibernian 7th and Naxxar Lions 6th. Up the table nothing much – even the battle for the title was a mini-battle at best. Hamrun Spartans finished 3rd with 20 points. Valletta FC – 2nd with 23 points.
This photo could be a picture of the champions, but nothing certain. Except that Sliema Wanderers won the title with 26 points from 11 wins, 4 ties, and just a single lost match. 32-16 goal-difference. Confident victory – one may say even dominant. In general, nothing strange – this was the 22nd title for Sliema Wanderers, but clubs and fans had to wait a long time for it: since 1975-76. More than 10 years of suffering, but at last they were back on top.
The Cup final opposed Hamrun Spartans to Floriana. Hamrun Spartans continued their strong run in the 1980s with yet another victory – they scored the only goal in the final and thus won it.
5th Cup for Hamrun Spartans and most important – third consecutive Cup victory. A rare achievement.


Luxembourg. Championship formula: regular season at first, followed by final stage in which the top 6 teams played, carrying half the points they earned in the first phase. The last 4 teams played in the promotion/relegation stage against the top 4 teams from each Second Division group. The top 2 teams in each promotion/relegation group were going to play top league football in the next season.
So, in the final phase something rather surprising happened – Jeunesse (Esch) won the first phase and since they were traditionally successful the title was most likely to be theirs. But it went to Spora (Luxembourg), which was 4th in the first stage, 5 points behind Jeunesse. They had excellent finish – 7 wins and 3 ties – and benefited from the rule of carrying only half the points from the opening stage. Jeunesse failed: 5 wins, 1 tie, 4 losses and ended second.
Fantastic moment for the supporters of Spora – their beloved club won its 11th title, but the victory came after a long wait: the 10th title was won in 1960-61! And, unfortunately, it was the last title Spora won…
The Cup final opposed Union (Luxembourg) to Avenir (Beggen) and Union prevailed 2-0.
Thus, Union – or Union Sportive, or US Luxembourg – won its 8th Cup.


Wales. Looks like, it was no longer listed in the yearly UEFA ranking – just placed separately, although points were still given. Anyhow, the only UEFA recognized tournament was the Welsh Cup and the finalists were Kidderminster Harriers and Swansea City. The professional club won easily 5-0.
It was the third attempt of the English non-league club to win the Welsh Cup in the 1980s – and it failed again, as if to show still vast difference between professional clubs and non-league teams.
Swansea City won its 9th Cup. It was great for them – first, they were going to play in Europe again. Second, it was a bit of brightness for the club which not long ago played in the top English league and now was in Third Division. Third, it was a Welsh club winning the Welsh Cup, which was not all that often.

The Aftermath

The aftermath. Of course, the victory of Brazil comes first – first, it was the first time in 40 years Brazil won, second – winners are always praised and analyzed. Lazaroni turned from vilain to hero overnight and his team was suddenly great. However, the Brazilian victory evoked West Germany on the road to its world title in 1974: team and coach struggled for a long time until finding the formula for success. On the road, the initial team the coach and in mind had to reshaped. In both cases, the winners convinced the public only near the end of the tournament.
The ‘European style’ – Lazaroni employed it, but in fact, the whole tournament was a triumph of the ‘European style’.
Near-sensational team Ecuador – with its coach directly imported from Europe – was the best example: a team without any stars and generally on the bottom of the continental hierarchy stunned Uruguay and Argentina just by playing physical, disciplined football, pressing and marking the opposition everywhere the whole match. What this proved was that now such a bland team could be equal to greatly talented teams and effectively neutralizing them. Effectiveness won over artistry, which was fine on one hand – now there were no real outsiders and competition was greater, but in terms of skills, excitement and showmanship such games were very boring to the viewer. Ecuador was effective, but not good – when it came to playing with equals and they had to prove improvement by winning, they failed (the match against Bolivia).
The kind of football championed in the late 1980s greatly changed long tournaments: most games were plainly boring, especially in the early phases of the competition. Attendance was perfect indicator: the range from 1500 (Peru-Venezuela and Paraguay-Colombia) was in sharp contrast to the 170 000 attending the final. The total attendance of Group B -where the reigning World and South America champions played, with Maradona and Francescoli! – was 108 000: less by more than 60 000 than the attendance of the single match final. No matter what specialists praised, the ordinary fan snubbed mainly boring games.
Yet, on the positive side, Copa America introduced new young and competent coaches, Lazaroni (38, the youngest at the tournament) and Tabarez (42) were the prime shining examples. The contrast was great: teams coached by men over 50 performed poorly (Peru with Pepe, 54 and Argentina with Bilardo, 51). The only exception was Ecuador, but Draskovic (50) directly represented ‘modern European football’, so he really part of the competent young group of coaches, well versed in and promoting the modern style. If Lazaroni was somewhat radical to the Brazilian taste, the Uruguayn Tabarez was very different: his ‘modernization’ was structural – appointed to coach the national team of Uruguay, he first of all proposed a long-term program for development of the whole system of national teams. It was implemented, still working to this very day, and produced amazing results. As for coaching, Tabarez hardly changed the Uruguayan style – he mostly motivated players and utilized their skills best by careful tactical variations tailored to specific opponent. May be because he was not building a new team, leaving established players out or asking them to play unfamiliar positions, the young and relatively unknown coach established good relations with his team – there were no scandals, no stars criticizing and refusing to play under him. Essentially, Tabarez assessed realistically the limits of Uruguayan football, worked with was available, not changing the historically established football the players were familiar with, only finely tuning it and shaping it.
If the above was positive, a whole range of warning and troubling things were present. One was playing conditions: aging stadiums, increasingly displeasing both players and viewers. The Peruvian star Julio Cesar Uribe openly complained that he never played on such atrocious pitch before and he was not alone. Hard pitches with little grass and many bumps combined with constant hard marking was increasingly killing the quality of the game – skillful players were in great disadvantage.
Brutality was rapidly increasing in such conditions – it was quite disturbing that the Uruguayan defender Hugo de Leon bitterly complained form the violent approach of Argentina: apparently, new level was reached when master killers like the Uruguayans found it disturbing. Many cards were showed by the referees – and that in the 1980s, when referees rarely bothered with something short of murder and in South America traditionally it was not even certain that mass murderer on rampage will be expelled. When victory, no matter how achieved, mattered, violence was seemingly the natural way to win ‘ a war’ and it was only increasing.
Obstacles with building a team – like violence, only increasing with time. By the end of the 1980s almost every team depended largely on players stationed abroad, mostly in faraway Europe. It was increasingly difficult to get them released, let alone training a team with them. The problem with clubs refusing to release players for national team duty was old, but now it was reaching massive proportions – various teams were unable to use their best stars in this Copa America. Some players were finally able to join their national teams only when the tournament was already in progress. Along with that came frictions and scandals between coaches and players, most clearly presented in the Brazilian camp: Luis Muller made the effort to arrive on time only to hear that Lazaroni thinks him tired and unfit and is not going to use him. Muller left enraged and bitterly complained in the press – and it was hard to blame him, for in the same time other players, not even here yet, were selected and when finally arrived they were immediately starters. So, Muller was too tired to play, but Renato, who was still playing in Italy when Copa America started, was fine? But who was fine in such conditions? Maradona was clearly tired and disinterested – Copa America was not on his mind, he arrived with his huge retinue of family and friends as if on vacation. No wonder some coaches – Bilardo and to a point Tabarez – did not see Copa America as real tournament, but rather as a training camp: it was almost impossible to motivate players arriving from grueling European seasons and concerned with transfers, contracts, and keeping their employers happy. It was unreasonable to expect a guy, no matter how great, who just yesterday played important match with his club to excel today with teammates he only met briefly before going to the pitch. No wonder Tabarez did not ask his players to try anything new and unfamiliar to them – it needed more than asking, it needed training it together and there was no such time for working on a new idea. But if coaches openly said that Copa America was not on their minds… the tournament was in deep trouble. And if the continental championship was not to be taken seriously, what next? The World Cup… It was not only South American problem – Europe was the same.
So, at the end, it was hardly a big surprise that there were almost no new discoveries. What emerged from Copa America?

Mazinho of Brazil. Lazaroni was reluctant to play him, he was not his first choice, he had different players in mind. So it was almost against his will and almost from desperation Lazaroni fielded him – Mazinho turned out to be a revelation and thus practically discovered by the world.
But the truest discovery was the 18-years Paraguayan striker Gustavo Alfredo Neffa. He debuted in 1987 for Olimpia (Asuncion) and now was debuting for Paraguay in important tournament. To a point, Neffa benefited by the traditionally small pool of players in his country, combined with the absence of Romero and Cabanas – left practically without strikers, it was relatively easy for the Paraguayan coach to take the risk of fielding the teenager. Neffa played so well, he caught the eye of Juventus (Torino) right away and was signed immediately. With the end of Copa America, Neffa packed his trunk and flew to Italy – which was to a point his undoing and another warning sign of rapidly coming new reality: Juventus had no real intention to use him – he was too young and green for them, there was no place for him in the team, having established foreign stars in the permitted limit. Neffa was loaned to Cremonese and practically never played for Juventus. Three years later he moved back to South America, joining Argentine Boca Juniors and from there moved North to play for Dallas Burn in the USA. Although he played almost 10 years for Paraguay, his career was steadily going downhill until he quit 28 years old. Unfortunately, sometimes is dangerous and counterproductive to shine early… And that was one more sour note on 1989 Copa America and on the general state of football at the end of the 1980s.
As a whole, 1989 Copa America displayed more problems than bright and optimistic signs.
Crouching from left: Calderon, Basualdo, Troglio, Sensini, Burruchaga. Standing: Batasta, Pumpido, Clausen, Brown, Ruggeri, Maradona.
Perhaps Argentina summed best the sorry state of football in the late 1980s – old, tired, disinterested, violent, confusing fun and vice with pride and work world champions, without alternative. Frozen team with a coach unwilling to shake and rebuild. It is quite indicative that perhaps the brightest young player Caniggia isn’t here – in this Copa America the ‘change’ Bilardo made to freshen the team was… 30-years Calderon, who played a bit for Argentina in the 1982 World Cup for the last time before. It was also indicative that the World champions had too many players – newly rising stars included – playing for secondary clubs: Pumpido (Real Betis, Spain), Brown (Real Murcia, Spain), Basualdo (Mandiyu, Argentina), Clausen (Sion, Switzerland), Troglio (Verona, Italy), Caniggia (Verona, Italy). To a point, even Maradona – no matter what, Napoli was not exactly the most formidable Italian club and now he was expected to move to Olympique Marseille (which even did not happen) – no matter ambitions and money, Marseille was even a step down from Napoli: the greatest player in the world was no longer desired by the leading clubs in the world Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Milan, Inter, Bayern, Liverpool. Hardly an optimistic picture, rather the opposite…

Final Group

The Final Group. Same formula – two games per day, one after another on the same stadium. But it was Rio de Janeiro and Maracana now and what a difference: massive attendance and festive crowds. The final group had the perfect making: 4 old rivals with enormous history, tradition, pride and tension. And because of that it was hard to predict results. It was also hard to expect high quality football too, because battle traditionally was the first rule of the old derbies.
Uruguay – Paraguay 3-0.
In front of 60 000 Uruguay destroyed their neighbours. No miracle happened – Uruguay was now serious, solid, determined and class showed itself. Francescoli scored a penalty in the 28th minute and late in the second half scored two more goals: Alzamendi in the 82nd minute and Paz in the 89th. Great start for the reigning continental champions and looked like Paraguay was not going to be a factor in the final stage.
Brazil – Argentina 2-0.
110 000 attended the clash between the teams many considered the strongest candidates for the title. Battle is battle, but this match was perhaps more important for another reason: attitudes. Looked like Lazaroni discovered his best team in blessed Recife: Taffarel was constant of course, Aldair-Ricardo Gomes-Mauro Galvao-Branco in defense; Mazinho-Dunga-Silas-Valdo in midfield; Bebeto-Romario in attack. 4-4-2. Bilardo, however, continued to tinker with the team – true, there were constantly players under suspension for receiving red cards, but as a whole the team was not playing well. Bilardo himself appeared to be not serious enough and some changes seemed to be trying variety rather than looking for the best formation. Pumpido was between the posts, instead of Islas tried in earlier games; Clausen-Brown-Ruggeri-Sensini in defense this time; Basualdo-Batista-Troglio-Burruchaga in midfield; Calderon-Maradona in attack. Caniggia – on the bench. During the match Lazaroni fielded usual substitutes: Alemao for Silas and Renato for Romario, but Bilardo once again tried something different: Caniggia replaced Burruchaga and unusued so far Guisti replaced Calderon. Tough match against foxy opponents, but the replaced suggested general failure, for both were key players. Brazil, massively supported by the stands, eventually took control and finally proved Lazaroni right: Bebeto scored the first goal in the 48th minute and Romario made it 2-0 in the 55th minute. Bebeto’s goal was a beauty – an attack started by Silas, continued with clever backpass by Romario and excellently finished by Bebeto. After the match Maradona went to congratulate Bebeto for the beautiful goal and gave him his shirt in appreciation.
Uruguay – Argentina 2-0.
The second clash between the oldest rivals took place in front of 45 000.
It turned out to be a vicious fight – nothing new really, but contrary to the photo, Argentina was main culprit. Even fierce kickers like team Uruguay were surprised by the level of violence reached by their enemies. Like in their first clash, the Argentines played considerable time with 10 men – Ruggeri was redcarded in the 54th minute. At that moment Uruguay was leading 1-0 – Sosa scored in the 38th minute – and in the remaining time they took full revenge for the loss in the opening stage: Sosa scored again in the 81st minute. Thus Uruguay finished this session with their arch-enemies, in the same time ending whatever hopes the world champions entertained for winning Copa America. Uruguay was on the road to win the tournament for third consecutive time. Once again Bilardo made changes in his squad, starting with Pumpido between the goalposts, Clausen-Ruggeri-Cuciuffo-Sensini in defense; Basualdo-Batista-Troglio-Burruchaga in midfield and Calderon-Maradona in attack. Later Balbo replaced Cuciuffo and Gorosito – Burruchaga. Looked like Bilardo was repeating the mistakes of Lazaroni in the first stage: using some players, no matter how consistently disappointing they were, and rather desperately fielding substitutes in hope of miracle than anything else. In sharp contrast, Tabarez used the same team from start, making only tactical internal changes, tailored to meet specific opponent.
Brazil – Paraguay 3-0.
In front of 64 500 Brazil was finally flying and Bebeto established himself as the hero of the tournament. It was a matter of class – the Paraguayans were mostly fighters, the Brazilians had superior skills. Bebeto gave Brazil the lead by scoring a penalty in the 16th minute. Then he made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute and seven minutes later Romario sealed the victory. Thus Brazil was a prime candidate to win Copa America and Paraguay was eliminated.
Argentina – Paraguay 0-0.
The formula of two games in the same day and same venue continued to the end. It was hard for the teams playing the second game for the day, for the pitch was in very bad shape, but this rule perhaps contributed for the high attendance at the ‘small’ final – 90 000 came, most of them most likely buying tickets for both matches and staying to watch the final as well. Because of that the high attendance was misleading in terms of the ‘small final’: it was not important for either opponent. Bilardo used again changed squad without Maradona. Caniggia was out too – somewhat strangely he practically did not play in the final stage – only 35 minutes as substitute against Brazil. For this match Bilardo chose Pumpido; Clausen-Sensini-Monzon-Diaz; Giusti-Basualdo-Burruchaga-Troglio; Calderon-Balbo. During the match Gorosito replaced Clausen and Alfaro Moreno – Calderon. Whatever Bilardo was doing it did not appear to be meaningful shaping or experimenting. Rather, fielding some players depending on their desire to play (Maradona most likely did not want to play against Paraguay) and giving some time to those who otherwise will idle on the bench wandering why they are wasting their time in Brazil. Eduardo Manera was restricted by the limited pool of players Paraguay had, so he had to field his regulars again, but motivation was lacking. Both teams went through the motions, impatient to hear the final whistle and go home. If there were bronze medals, the end of the match would have been ‘gentlemanly’ and both teams would get those medals, for they finished with exactly the same records. A final sour note: Bilardo’s Argentina was never a team scoring many goals by design, but in this tournament they produced a total of 2 goals. Scored nothing in the final stage. It was not only disappointment for the fans, but also suggested big troubles in the future – reigning world champions with Maradona in front able to score only 2 goals in 7 games! And both goals scored by Caniggia, who was not even used in the final stage! Something Bilardo to think about. Maradona too.
Brazil – Uruguay 1-0.
The design of the tournament was somewhat prohibitive for a grand finale – a round robin design is somewhat anticlimaxing, for the last match could be entirely formal. Certainly the first match of the day was exactly that: Argentina and Paraguay had nothing to play for and demotivated they provided no entertainment for the fans. Luckily, the last match turned out to be a real final: both finalists with exactly same record – with 2 wins and 5-0 goal-difference each. A draw was out of the question – it was only a battle for a win. A lazy approach was impossible; tactical game for a tie was also impossible. Of course, excitement was high, hopes were high, the spectre of the 1950 World Cup final came back – Brazil vs Uruguay on Maracana, the winner takes it all and if Brazil lost… suicides on the streets. 170 000 attended – and that at the end of the 1980s, a decade witnessing steadily decreasing attendance. So much was at stake, but mostly the pressure was on Brazil and Lazaroni. The stakes were so high that quality of football was not even interesting – it was all about winning, no matter how. Both coaches made no changes, fielding their tried and established squads. Tabarez, though, adjusted internally his playing scheme, as he did for every match before – something not showing on mere statistical listing. Mainly, it was the role assigned to Francescoli – depending on the opponent, he was either striker of midfielder. Against Brazil he was moved back to midfield again to control and shape the Uruguayan game. Alzamendi and Sosa were the strikers.
16.07.89 Río de Janeiro, Maracaná

BRA – URU 1:0 (0:0)

(170,000) Hernán Silva CHI, Vincent Mauro USA, Marín CHI

BRA: Taffarel – Aldair, Ricardo Gomes, Mauro Galvão, Branco – Mazinho, Dunga, Silas
(85 Alemão), Valdo (86 Josimar) – Bebeto, Romário
URU: Zeoli – Herrera, Gutiérrez, De León, Domínguez – Ostolaza (69 Correa), Perdomo, Paz
(69 Da Silva), Francéscoli – Alzamendi, Sosa

1:0 Romário 49 h
Of course, the final was tough, but not very vicious – at least, when compared to some previous games, particularly the clashes between Argentina and Uruguay. Scoring opportunities were few and difficult to come by, yet, both teams had to score – the pressure perhaps made it even more difficult to create opportunities.
Yet, Brazil got a chance in the 49th minute and Romario did not miss it. It was a lead both great and fragile, so the fans were on edge to the end, but no other goals were scored.
Brazil triumphed in front of jubilant mass of supporters.
One could easily imagine the vibrant and limitless Brazilian joy,
which immediately transformed the villain into hero. It would be safe to say that Lazaroni was the happiest man in Brazil, after so much criticism and hatred hurled at him.
And that was that…

1. BRA 3 6 3 0 0 6-0

2. URU 3 4 2 0 1 5-1
3. ARG 3 1 0 1 2 0-5
4. PAR 3 1 0 1 2 0-5
Of course, the winners deserve one more picture. It was very memorable and important victory – Brazil won Copa America for the first time since 1949! Hard to believe, but the most successful country on the world stage was almost a pariah in South America dominated by Uruguay and Argentina – this was only the 4th South American title for Brazil and they had to wait 40 years for it! It was also the first major competition Brazil won after 1970 – again, success was badly needed, for it was becoming something achieved in the increasingly distant past. Finally, Brazil was back at its rightful place – at least in the minds of the passionate Brazilians.

Group 2

Group 2.
Ecuador – Uruguay 1-0.
19 000 attended the opening match in the group and witness a great surprise. Hardly anybody believed Ecuador captain Hamilton Cuvi, who confidently stated that his team will win before the match. True, Uruguay was missing suspended Francescoli and Perdomo, but Uruguay was reigning champion of South America and Ecuador was lowly. Yet, Ecuador was not afraid and opposed Uruguay with tough physical European-style play and 2 minutes before the end scored from a counter-attack. The counter-attack was launched by Cuvi and finished by Benitez. Of course, the Ecuadorians were jubilant. Dusan Draskovic stated “No one expected us to play in a European style….My orientation was to compensate for the lack of skill with rigid marking.” Now Cuvi’s words before the game made sense – Draskovic introduced European approach to his team and much progress was made. Tabarez, on the other hand, was unconcerned by the loss as his objective was the 1990 World Cup quilifiers. He also blamed the heat for the loss, for his team prepared for two months in rather cold temperatures.
Argentina – Chile 1-0.
40 000 attended the match, which followed Ecuador-Uruguay on the same stadium. Keep in mind the number of attendees. Before the game Orlando Aravena coyly answered the question how his team will play with the words “Red, blue, and white’ – the colours of the Chilean flag. Aravena also annoyed the press by barring all foreign journalists from training sessions – only Chileans were permitted. Both teams were missing a player – Real Betis had an official match and released Nery Pumpido (Argentina) and Patricio Yanez (Chile) only after that, so they did not arrive in Brazil yet. Chile played defensive game – so defensive, that critics said they made Argentina looking adventurous. The match was dull, Maradona appeared lethargic and although Caniggia managed to score and eventually Argentina won, the world champions and their coach were seemingly not in the mood to play seriously.
Uruguay – Bolivia 3-0.
Uruguay was still without suspended Francescoli and Perdomo, but Bolivia was not much of an opposition. As happens often, Uruguay was motivated after a loss and by the 60th minute they had 3-goal lead – steadily, Ostolaza, Sosa, and Ostolaza again broke Bolivian dreams. The game was typical South American brutal clash – by the 26th minute both teams were reduced to 10 men: Bengoechea was expelled in the 13th minute and Bolivian Roca got red card in the 26th minute.
Argentina – Ecuador 0-0.
After upsetting Uruguay, Ecuador upset Argentina as well. Again Argentina was sleepy and Ecuador neutralized them with their bland but well organized play. Ecuador should have won, but in the 49th minute Izquierdo missed a penalty. And like in the opening group match, both teams finished with 10 men – first Capurro of Ecuador was expelled in the 72nd minute and one minute before the end Alfaro Moreno was sent off. Thus, he played only 15 minutes – he replaced Caniggia in the 74th minute. What exactly was on the mind of Bilardo was a baffling mystery – his team was neither experimental, nor regular, but some strange mix with no real aim. There were some new players, but mostly regulars played no matter how.
Ecuador – Bolivia 0-0.
Sensations ended here – Ecuador managed to neutralize Uruguay and Argentina with well organized play, based on tough marking of opponents. But against Bolivia they had to get the initiative, attack, create opportunities and score goals and Ecuador was incapable of that. Bolivia was equal team, rivals at the bottom of South American hierarchy and a game between equals it ended equally.
Uruguay – Chile 3-0.
Seemingly, Uruguay was getting increasingly stronger. Now Francescoli and Perdomo were finally able to play and their presence increased the quality of the team. Francescoli scored the final goal, but if Uruguay really made the difference near the end of the second half, when they scored 2 goals in 2 minutes, they turned gradually the match in their favour earlier, especially after Chile was reduced to 10 men in the 26th minute when Contreras was red-carded.
Chile – Bolivia 5-0.
Chile destroyed Bolivia, but it was a bit too late… by now the Chileans had little hopes for reaching the final stage. It was strong comeback, but against the weakest team in the group.
Argentina – Uruguay 1-0.
Maradona vs Francescoli, the World Champion vs the South American champion, the oldest and bitterest derby of South America… only 18 000 attended. Let go back to the opening day – the first two games were the highest attended in the group. Attendance did not reach the miserable numbers of group A, but steadily dwindled after the first day – the fans quickly decided there was little to see and enjoy on the pitch and were right.
The old rivals largely fought and played little football. Argentina played almost the whole match with 10 men – Ruggeri was expelled in the 17th minute. Actually, only seconds after the above picture – the ruthless Uruguayan tackles made him lose his temper. There was little football, but Caniggia managed to score and Argentina won. Interestingly, Caniggia was not a starter, substituting Burruchaga in the 54th minute. Bilardo had no reason to be satisfied with his attackers and tried different line against Uruguay – so far, it was Caniggia-Maradona, but now Caniggia was dropped and Calderon was moved ahead from midfield to pair with Maradona. Argentina was still unimpressive, but it was hard to judge by the derby – Argentina and Uruguay most often produced harsh battles with little exciting moments.
The result practically qualified Argentina and also benefited Chile – now they had a chance to chance to reach the final stage at the expense of Uruguay, which had no more games.
Chile – Ecuador 2-1.
Chile needed a big win to go ahead – win they did, but without the needed result. Ecuador had 4 points before the game and needed a tie to finish 2nd in the group. With both teams aiming at qualification much was at stake and… at the end both teams lost. Chile prevailed, but their win was sufficient only to finish ahead of Ecuador.
Argentina – Bolivia 0-0.
The last group game was without any importance – and because of that, dull. Bilardo tried a new attacking line – his third so far: Maradona was moved back to midfield and Caniggia was paired with Alfaro Moreno. Was it a meaningful experiment, or just giving a bit of playing time to substitutes is hard to say – Argentina was bland as before, now only having to go through the motions until the final stage begins. Caniggia did not finish the game, substituted with Troglio in the 54th minute. Regulars, reserves, old stars, newcomers… Argentina only waited for the final whistle. Bolivia was quite satisfied with that – getting a point from the champions of the world was good statistics.
1. Argentina 4 6 2 2 0 2-0
2. Uruguay 4 4 2 0 2 6-2
3. Chile 4 4 2 0 2 7-5
4. Ecuador 4 4 1 2 1 2-2
5. Bolivia 4 2 0 2 2 0-8
Argentina ended first, which looks great on paper. In reality, the team was visibly lacking enthusiasm and played dull football. Uruguay clinched 2nd place and qualified to the final stage, but left mixed feelings – like, Argentina, the Uruguayans did not produce anything memorable and Tabarez clearly pointed that the tournament was not important to him. Was it true? Uruguay almost always had slow build-up, eventually reaching good form when mattered most. Chile disappointed a bit – it was expected that they will develop further after leaving good impression in the 1987 Copa America. But apparently this did not happen. True, Chile was missing key players, but they were no better than two years earlier and at the end missed a good chance to advance. Ecuador was the big surprise, yet it happen to be mostly taking advantage of opponents not at their best. Reality was finally seen when Ecuador played against Bolivia – good discipline and European marking were fine for surprising stronger teams, but true class was lacking. Too bad Ecuador was unable to advance, but they also did not deserve to go ahead. Bolivia… as expected, at the bottom. Three good players were just not enough in the 1980s and Bolivia had no more – nothing to blame them really: their weakness was not a matter of underperforming.

Group 1

Group A.
Paraguay – Peru 5-2.
In front of 5000 fans, Peru opened the score in the 30th minute, but after that was utterly destroyed. The sharp decline of Peru was confirmed and Paraguay had formidable start. However, this game was practically unnoticed, because at the same time Brazil made its debut.
Brazil – Venezuela 3-1.
No surprise here, as far as Brazil was expected to win and they did. Bebeto scored in the 2nd minute and at the 60th minute Brazil was leading by 3 goals, the match practically ended. But it was not exactly what happened on the pitch important. The scandal surrounding team Brazil fully erupted at the opening game – first of all, the fans boycotted the game: only 15 000 attended the stadium with 90 000 capacity and they were incredibly hostile to their own team. Venting their anger of the exclusion of their home star Charles, the Bahians booed Lazaroni’s team and threw projectiles at the players, so photographs were unable to take official pictures at the teams before the match. The Brazilian substitutes at the stands were constantly heckled and finally forced to leave. Lazaroni’ approach to the game did not help either – even the Venezuelan coach expressed his surprise with displeasure: ‘We expected an avalanche, but Brazil had more defenders than attackers. Too modern for my taste.’ When even the team you beat is criticizing your play, something must be really wrong. However, the hostility of the crowd was such, that Bebeto, himself born in Bahia, did not hide how upset he was by the reception of the national team: ‘Worse than playing on foreign soil’. Everything about Lazaroni’s team was adding only fuel to anger: the stubbornly defensive approach against the weakest team on the continent, the unfortunate early injury of Tita in the 12th minute, which put him out of the tournament, the poor form of Romario and especially of Geovani, who Lazaroni thought to be the key player of his team. Dunga and Renato were unavailable for the opening match, because Fiorentina (Dunga) and Roma (Renato) had qualification match for the UEFA Cup spot in Perugia and only after the game started their long trek from Perugia to Salvador, finally arriving just before the match against Venezuela was about to begin. Coming directly from the airport to the stadium, they sat on the reserves bench. Everything was against Lazaroni – Geovani a huge disappointment, Romario unfit, Dunga and Renato late, Tita heavily injured at the beginning of the match and out of the whole tournament, Mauro Galvao suddenly losing his post as libero to better playing Ricardo Gomes. All that on top of the scandal with Muller and absent key players because of injuries or their clubs refusing to release them. Perhaps Lazaroni was right to replace Bebeto with Baltazar in half-time – the match was already won and it was wiser to keep Bebeto fresh and healthy – but since he was one of the few Brazilians playing really well at the opening and his Bahian by birth, placing him on the bench only infuriated more already very hostile crowds. At the end, only Bebeto, Ricardo, and Branco impressed and Lazaroni was further criticized in the press for his selection and approach. A terrible beginning for Brazil.
Colombia – Venezuela 4-2.
With all eyes on Brazil, this match caught little interest. Only 4000 fans attended and no wonder – Colombia was expected to have an easy game and they did. What should be noticed was that Rene Hiquita scored the first goal of the game – from a penalty in the 36th minute. Naturally, the crowd loved that, but Higuita still allowed 2 goals from the weakest team on the continent! Showmanship made him a crowd darling, but his antics came with heavy price for team Colombia. He was a big risk and liability – other teams in similar situation choose to discard the risky goalkeeper (think Hugo Gatti of Argentina) even if other option were less talented, but at least solidly predictable. This Colmbian generation was very talented, so perhaps it was thought that Valderrama and company will compensate Higuita’s flops by outscoring the opposition, but… it did not happen.
Brazil – Peru 0-0.
In the midst of terrible criticism, Brazil utterly failed. Attendance shrunk to the half of people attending the opening match of Brazil, but hostility only increased – the crowd was entirely turned against their own team. They had a good reason to express anger, for Lazaroni stubbornly responded to the general criticism with something very close to irrationality. Let recall that his concept was based on backbone of Mauro Galvao as libero, Geovani as the key figure in the middle and Bebeto-Romario duo in attack. And add that injured Jorginho was his choice of right fullback. Against Venezuela Geovani and Romario disappointed, Mazinho played well at the place of Jorginho, and Ricardo Gomes was wonderful as libero. Seemed reasonable to keep Mazinho and Ricardo Gomes at their posts and replace Geovani and Romario with other options, especially against weak team as Peru. Lazaroni did just the opposite – he kept Geovani and Romario (who disappointed again), replaced Mazinho with Aldair and paired Mauro Galvao with Ricardo Gomes in the middle of defence, most likely confusing both players – who was libero now? And what was to play the other one? Nothing good came out of Lazaroni’s choice – Brazil struggled, playing poorly and even having a man advantage near the end of the game (Purizaga, the goalkeeper of Peru was expelled at the 84th minute) did not help. In the second half Lazaroni still tried different attacking line, but it was mostly an act of desperation: Baltazar replaced Romario and Renato replaced Branco. Even the fielding of Renato was somewhat suspect: why replacing Branco, one of the very few strong Brazilian players so far? Why not Geovani or one of liberoes? Why not Aldair, since it was quiet clear that was not looking for regular right fullback, but only for a backup of Jorginho? Why keeping so many defensive minded players (Dunga and Alemao plus 4 defenders) against teams like Venezuela and Perhu? Of course, the general hostility worked badly on the players’ psyche, but seemingly Lazaroni was unable and unwilling to try positive changes. To top the disaster, power failure stopped the match in the 46th minute and lasted 22 minutes. In the dark, the crowd only get more angry and hostile. The match ended scoreless and the fury of angry criticism was entirely unleashed. Let add one last nail in the coffin: games were played one after another in the same stadium same day. Brazil so far played the second game of the day, so one can imagine on what pitch they played – a pitch not satisfying to begin with. At this point Lazaroni was eager to play in Recife, for better pitch and fans. Things were becoming really dangerous – after 2 games Brazil was in big danger of failing to qualify to the final of the tournament.
Peru – Venezuela 1-1.
If Peru entertained some hope for going ahead (and increased Brazilian fears of failure) after their surprise tie with the hosts, this match brought back the ugly reality – Peru was weak and no miracle was possible. Venezuela scored first and although Peru equalized in the very next minute, that was all.
Paraguay – Colombia 1-0.
To a point, this was decisive match – whoever won was almost sure to reach the finals and the losers would go home. Colombia was somewhat favoured, but Paraguay proved that their strong beginning was not accidental. Once again they played with determination and eventually won. Mendoza scored for them in the 51st minute and Colombia was unable to equalize.
Paraguay – Venezuela 3-0.
Paraguay continued its great performance with solid victory against the outsiders. Nothing really surprising, but must be noted the high-scoring of Paraguay – even with their star strikers Cabanas and Romero, Paraguay was not a team known for high scoring. They were known for kind of doggy football, tough fighters, best at cutting off the teeth of other teams. Their performance now was quite a pleasant surprise.
Brazil – Colombia 0-0.
This was the last match Brazil was playing in the hostile Salvador and it was decisive match: it was sure that talented Colombia will do everything possible to win the game and thus keep chances to qualify to the finals. Brazil was in the same desperate situation, even worse than the Colombian one – it was absolutely certain that the crowd will boo Brazil, Once again, it the second match for the day and the pitch was very harsh. Attendance was low – only 9000 – which perhaps was a minor relief for Lazaroni, who by this time most likely wished no fans coming at all. Since it was absolutely sure that Maturana will field his regulars, Lazaroni’s response was interesting: was he going to change his team? He did… kind of. Bebeto was on the bench, Baltazar was paired with Romario. Thus, the same team unable to beat Peru now had to beat strong Colombia… Romario so far was big disappointment and Bebeto was perhaps the best striker, but Romario was on the pitch and Bebeto on the bench. Go figure… what did not work against Peru, worked even less against Colombia. Once again substitutions were made somewhat desperately – Bebeto replaced Baltazar and Mazinho replaced Alemao. Seemingly, against stronger strikers even the defensive line was not very convincing, so Mazinho had to come – a player, seemingly not very desired by Lazaroni. Let say, Brazil survived and at least the hell of Salvador was over – the team was moving to Recife for their last game. Colombia was practically eliminated, though.
Colombia – Peru 1-1.
Peru was already eliminated and had nothing except honour to play for. Colombia still had a chance to qualify to the final stage, but that depended on particular outcome of Brazil-Paraguay. Most likely the Colombians did not believe such luck possible and did not push to win the game. Both goals were scored in the first half – Colombia opened in the 32nd minute, 10 minutes later Peru equalized. 1-1 at the end and both teams going home. Perhaps Peru was quite satisfied with their performance – in decline and having a weak team, they tied Brazil and Colombia: not bad at all. May be even better than expected.
Brazil -Paraguay 2-0.
Paraguay already qualified to the final stage, so this game did not matter to them. Brazil on the other hand had to win, even it was mostly for moral reasons. Once again, two games were played on the same stadium one after the other, so the pitch was bad, but the result of earlier match was known – Colombia finished with 4 points. Brazil already had 4 points – it was highly unlikely they will badly by disinterested Paraguay. But it important to win if only for building confidence and the situation was finally good – hellish Salvador was left behind, Recife was a breath of fresh air: 76 000 fans attended, eager to see their beloved national team. Supportive crowd, which even by sheer numbers boosted the players moral – the three games in Salvador by attended of about 30 000 total and they were entirely hostile. The massive crowd in Recife was cheerful and supportive, even if the game was not all that important and mere bleak scoreless draw was sufficient. This time even Lazaroni abandoned his pigheaded way – Geovani was out, replaced by Silas and Mazinho was in (in midfield) instead of Alemao. Bebeto was back, paired with Romario, and he was the hero of the match, scoring both goals. Brazil played better at last and although journalists were not full of praise, at least some hope emerged – Lazaroni finally made meaningful changes and they for the better.
1. Paraguay 4 6 3 0 1 9-4
2. Brazil 4 6 2 2 0 5-1
3. Colombia 4 4 1 2 1 5-4
4. Peru 4 3 0 3 1 4-7
5. Venezuela 4 1 0 1 3 4-11
Well, Praguay and Brazil qualified to the final stage – Paraguay was a pleasant surprise, not only qualifying, but finishing first in the group. Brazil struggled and failed to win the group, but at least was shamefully eliminated early at home. Presently, Lazaroni’s fate was seemingly sealed: it was almost certain he will be sacked after Copa America, everybody was calling for that. Colombia was probably stunned by the elimination, but not very harshly – after all, it was only recently ascending team, perhps still not at its peak, still in building process. Peru was probably satisfied by the outcome – the results were generally good for a team in decline. Venezuela – well, nothing was expected from the outsiders, so it was hard to disappoint.

Copa America. Squads And Chances

Copa America. Squads and chances.

Group A. Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. Most games played in Salvador; the last 2 games in Recife.


1 Cláudio André TAFFAREL Internacional 2 MAZINHO – Iomar Do Nascimento Vasco Da Gama 3 MAURO Geraldo GALVÃO Botafogo (Río de Janeiro) 4 ANDRÉ Alves da CRUZ Ponte Preta 5 BRANCO – Cláudio Ibraim Vaz Porto (POR) 6 RICARDO GOMES Raymundo Benfica (POR) 7 BEBETO – José Gama de Oliveira Flamengo 8 GEOVANNI Faría da Silva Vasco Da Gama 9 VALDO Candido Benfica (POR) 10 TITA – Milton Queiroz da Paivão Pescara (ITA) 11 ROMÁRIO Faría De Souza PSV Eindhoven (HOL) 12 ACACIO Cordeiro Barreto Vasco Da Gama 13 JOSIMAR Higino Pereira Botafogo (Río de Janeiro) 14 ALDAIR Nascimento Santos Flamengo 15 ALEMÃO – Ricardo R. de Brito Napoli (ITA) 16 CRISTÓVÃO Borges Dos Santos Grêmio 17 DUNGA – Carlos Bledorn Fiorentina (ITA) 18 RENATO GAÚCHO – R. Portaluppi AS Roma (ITA) 19 BALTAZAR María de Moraes Junior Atlético Madrid (ESP) 20 Paulo SILAS Sporting Lisbon (POR) 21 CHARLES Fabián Figueiredo Bahía 22 ZÉ CARLOS – José C. Da Costa Flamengo

Coach: Sebastião LAZARONI (pictured in 2011).
Natural favourite for any reason. Yet, Lazaroni was newly appointed coach under heavy criticism. His squad was unfinished, still in building – the reason he wanted 24-men squads at Copa America. Some players he had in mind were missing and it is also good to look at his 25-men selection made a bit after Copa America for the World Cup qualifications:

Some from Copa America squad dismissed, some others included. Clearly, in 1989 the team fluctuated and Lazaroni was searching. Still, most names were already well established stars, so it was hardly a team started from scratch. Enough class to win anything, if names alone win. The downside was exactly the early stage of the building process and that collided with high expectations garnished with criticism, scandals and unavailable for various reasons players.


1 José René HIGUITA Atlético Nacional 2 Andrés ESCOBAR Atlético Nacional 3 Gildardo Biderman GÓMEZ Atlético Nacional 4 Wilson Enrique PÉREZ Atlético Júnior 5 Carlos Mario HOYOS Deportivo Cali 6 Gabriel Jaime GÓMEZ Independiente Medellín 7 Anthony William DE AVILA América (Cali) 8 Alexis Enrique GARCÍA Atlético Nacional 9 Sergio ANGULO América (Cali) 10 Carlos Alberto VALDERRAMA Montpellier (FRA) 11 Bernardo REDÍN Deportivo Cali 12 León Fernando VILLA Atlético Nacional 13 Alexis Antonio MENDOZA Atlético Júnior 14 Leonel de Jesús ALVAREZ Atlético Nacional 15 Luis Carlos PEREA Atlético Nacional 16 Arnoldo Alberto IGUARÁN Millonarios 17 John Jairo TRÉLLEZ Atlético Nacional 18 Wilmer CABRERA Independiente Santa Fé 19 Eduardo NIÑO Independiente Santa Fé 20 Ruben Darío HERNÁNDEZ Millonarios

Coach: Francisco Antonio MATURANA
Exciting team and exciting coach. Colombia’s ascend was noted at the 1987 Copa America and since all stars were at hand, much was expected from the team. Seemingly, the atmosphere was good – no scandals, no problems. The boys played together for some time, it was already made and shaped team. The flamboyant goalkeeper Rene Higuita was a liability, but… he was quintessential South American showman, much loved and highly entertaining… and those qualities made him absolute staple of the team. Anyway, Colombia was expected to qualify to the final stage, if not more.


1 Luis Nery CABALLERO Guaraní 2 Augusto CHAMORRO Atlético Colegiales 3 Virginio CÁCERES Guaraní 4 Adolfino CAÑETE Talleres (Córdoba) (ARG) 5 Darío René ESPÍNOLA Sol de América 6 Rogelio Wilfrido DELGADO Independiente (ARG) 7 Roberto Eladio FERNÁNDEZ Cerro Porteño 8 Buenaventura FERREIRA Guaraní 9 Julio César FRANCO Guaraní 10 Jorge Alberto GUASCH Olimpia 11 Justo Pastor JACQUET Cerro Porteño 12 Alfredo Damián MENDOZA Olimpia 13 Gustavo Alfredo NEFFA Olimpia 14 Eumelio Ramón PALACIOS Libertad 15 Catalino RIVAROLA Cerro Porteño 16 Félix BRÍTEZ ROMÁN Cerro Porteño 17 Rubén Martín RUIZ DÍAZ Talleres (Córdoba) (ARG) 18 Carlos Vidal SANABRIA Olimpia 19 Juan Bautista TORALES Libertad 20 César ZABALA Cerro Porteño 21 Ramón Alfredo ESCOBAR River Plate Carlos Alberto GUIRLAND Olimpia Félix Ricardo TORRES Sol de América

Coach: Eduardo Luján MANERA (ARG)
On the surface, Paraguay was in rough shape – its greatest stars were unavailable and without them… but on the other hand, it was Paraguay. Always fighting and hard to beat. In South America people were reluctant to dismiss Paraguay – if there was a team capable of surprises, it was Paraguay. It was rumoured that the squad was in preparation for 14 months – whether true or not, the rumour made everybody cautious. Expected to finish 3rd in the group, but there was always ‘but’.


1 César Humberto CHÁVEZ Universitario 2 Jorge Enrique TALAVERA Internacional 3 Juan Máximo REYNOSO Alianza Lima 4 Jorge Fausto ARTEAGA Sporting Cristal 5 Pedro Jesús REQUENA Universitario 6 José Luis CARRANZA Universitario 7 Francesco Paolo MANASSERO Sporting Cristal 8 José Guillermo DEL SOLAR Universitario 9 Pedro Franco Enrique NAVARRO FC Wettingen (SUI) 10 Julio César URIBE América (Cali) (COL) 11 Jorge Alberto HIRANO Bolívar (BOL) 12 Jesús Manuel PURIZAGA Sporting Cristal 13 Wilmar Elar VALENCIA Blooming (BOL) 14 Percy Celso OLIVARES Sporting Cristal 15 Eduardo REY MUÑOZ Universitario 16 Jorge Alberto OLAECHEA Sporting Cristal 17 César Martín DALL’ORSO Sporting Cristal 18 Carlos Eleazar GUIDO Sporting Cristal 19 Carlos Antonio TORRES Internacional 20 César Eduardo RODRÍGUEZ Deportivo Municipal

Coach: PEPE – José Macía (BRA)
Clearly in decline and it was not expected their new Brazlian coach Pepe to make a miracle. Olivares and Uribe were present, the only stars in the team,but both them already were beyond their peak.


Standing from left: Pedro Acosta, Stalin Rivas, Carlos Maldonado, César Baena, Andrés Paz, Herbert Márquez.
Kneeling: Luis Camacaro, Bernardo Añor, Laureano Jaimes, William Pacheco, Roberto Cavallo. That’s the team which faced Brazil.
1 César Renato BAENA Caracas 2 William PACHECO Unión Atlético Táchira 3 Andrés PAZ Unión Atlético Táchira 4 Pedro Javier ACOSTA Caracas 5 Luis ROJAS Unión Atlético Táchira 6 Roberto CAVALLO Deportivo Italia 7 Ildemaro FERNÁNDEZ Estudiantes (Mérida) 8 Laureano José JAIMES Unión Atlético Táchira 9 Hebert MÁRQUEZ Marítimo 10 Carlos Fabián MALDONADO Unión Atlético Táchira 12 José GÓMEZ Mineros 11 Noel SAN VICENTE Marítimo 13 René TORRES Mineros 14 Pedro Juan FEBLES Marítimo 15 Luis CAMACARO Unión Atlético Táchira 16 Bernardo AÑOR Caracas 17 Carlos DOMÍNGUEZ Caracas 18 Héctor Enrique RIVAS Marítimo 19 Stalin José RIVAS Mineros 20 Enrique SAMUEL Mineros

Coach: Carlos Horacio MORENO (ARG)
Well, the continental absolute outsider. Even foreign coach was not expected to change that.

Group B. Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay. All games played in Goiania.


1 Nery Alberto PUMPIDO Real Betis (ESP) 2 Sergio Daniel BATISTA River Plate 3 Carlos Alejandro ALFARO MORENO Independiente 4 Abel Eduardo BALBO River Plate 5 José Luis BROWN Murcia (ESP) 6 José Horacio BASUALDO Deportivo Mandiyú (ARG) 7 Jorge Luis BURRUCHAGA Nantes (FRA) 8 Claudio Paul CANIGGIA Verona (ITA) 9 José Luis CUCIUFFO Boca Juniors 10 Diego Armando MARADONA Napoli (ITA) 11 Gabriel Humberto CALDERÓN Paris Saint Germain (FRA) 12 Néstor Rolando CLAUSEN Sion (SUI) 13 Hernán Edgardo DÍAZ Rosario Central 14 Héctor Adolfo ENRIQUE River Plate 15 Ricardo Omar GIUSTI Independiente 16 Pedro Damián MONZÓN Independiente 17 Oscar Alfredo RUGGERI Real Madrid (ESP) 18 Luis Alberto ISLAS Atlético Madrid (ESP) 19 Roberto Néstor SENSINI Newell’s Old Boys 20 Pedro Antonio TROGLIO Verona (ITA) 21 Néstor Raúl GOROSITO San Lorenzo 22 Julio César FALCIONI Vélez Sarsfield

Coach: Carlos Salvador BILARDO
Naturally ranked number one – reigning World champions, led by Maradona. Not only the main heroes of 1986 were present, but new talent was included as well – most noticeably Claudio Caniggia. Traditionally, one of the most successful teams in Copa America, having the best player in the world and coached by foxy Bilardo. Yet, there were warning signs – the first was Maradona, on whose form and mood Argentina almost entirely depended. Trouble was coming for sure when Maradona, with his mind on transfer negotiations, arrived with his wife and more than 20 friends and took for himself and company 4 apartments in the only 5-star hotel in Goiania (however, he chose to room with Nery Pumpido at the end). Bilardo, known as a strict disciplinarian, took a blind eye on that frivolity, which was suggestive that the tournament was not very important for him and his team.


1 Adolfo Javier ZEOLI Danubio 2 Nelson Daniel GUTIÉRREZ Lazio (ITA) 3 Hugo Eduardo DE LEÓN Nacional 4 José Oscar HERRERA Peñarol 5 José Batlle PERDOMO Peñarol 6 Alfonso Enrique DOMÍNGUEZ Peñarol 7 Antonio ALZAMENDI Logroñés (ESP) 8 Carlos Gabriel CORREA Peñarol 9 Enzo FRANCÉSCOLI Racing Club (París) (FRA) 10 Ruben Walter PAZ Racing Club (ARG) 11 Ruben SOSA Lazio (ITA) 12 Jorge Fernando SERÉ Nacional 13 Daniel Felipe REVELEZ Nacional 14 José Luis PINTOS SALDAÑA Nacional 15 Santiago Javier OSTOLAZA Nacional 16 Sergio Daniel MARTÍNEZ Defensor Sporting 17 Carlos Alberto AGUILERA Peñarol 18 Ruben Fabián PEREIRA Danubio 19 Ruben Fernando DA SILVA Danubio 20 Pablo Javier BENGOECHEA Sevilla (ESP)

Coach: Oscar Washington TABÁREZ
There were no missing players, but Uruguay had new coach and at the time Tabarez was little known young coach, untested and unproven. The positive indication was no famous player was out because of disagreement with the coach, but what authority would be able to establish Tabarez on the team was unknown. Even less what were his ideas. But Uruguay was reigning South American champion, having won not only Copa America in 1987, but the previous one as well. The clash with Argentina was always big motivating spur and no matter what Uruguay was most successful continental team having a solid base of world famous stars, led by Francescoli.


1 Roberto Antonio ROJAS São Paulo (BRA) 2 Oscar Patricio REYES Universidad de Chile 3 Patricio Nazario YÁÑEZ Real Betis (ESP) 4 Leonel CONTRERAS La Serena 5 Hugo Armando GONZÁLEZ Colo Colo 6 Jaime Augusto PIZARRO Colo Colo 7 Héctor Eduardo PUEBLA Cobreloa 8 Raúl Elías ORMEÑO Colo Colo 9 Juan Carlos LETELIER La Serena 10 Juan Carlos COVARRUBIAS Cobreloa 11 Fernando Enrique ASTENGO Grêmio (BRA) 12 Marco Antonio CORNEZ Universidad Católica 13 Jaime Andrés VERA OFI Crete (GRE) 14 Jorge CARRASCO Huachipato 15 Juvenal Mario OLMOS Universidad Católica 16 Osvaldo Heriberto HURTADO Charleroi (BEL) 17 Jaime Patricio RAMÍREZ Unión Española 18 Alejandro Manuel HISIS OFI Crete (GRE) 19 Lukas Nicolás TÚDOR Universidad Católica 20 Oscar Raúl WIRTH ANFP (unattached)

Coach: Orlando Enrique ARAVENA
Chile left very positive impressions in the 1987 Copa America, so the ascend was expected to continue. Considered 3rd finisher, but having a chance to reach the final stage too. Chile was probably the most affected by players not released by their clubs and that was most serious handicap.


1 Luis Esteban GALARZA Bolívar 2 Carlos ARIAS Bolívar 3 Carlos Fernando BORJA Bolívar 4 Marco Antonio ETCHEVERRY Destroyers 5 Marco Rodolfo FERRUFINO Bolívar 6 Ricardo FONTANA The Strongest 7 Arturo GARCÍA Oriente Petrolero 8 Eligio MARTÍNEZ The Strongest 9 José Milton MELGAR Bolívar 10 Rolly PANIAGUA Blooming 11 Guillermo Alvaro PEÑA Blooming 12 Marco Antonio BARRERO Bolívar 13 Miguel Angel RIMBA Bolívar 14 Romer Antonio ROCA Oriente Petrolero 15 Marciano SALDÍAS Oriente Petrolero 16 Luis Fernando SALINAS Bolívar 17 Erwin SÁNCHEZ Bolívar 18 Luis Francisco TAKEO Destroyers 19 Eduardo Andrés VILLEGAS The Strongest 20 Ramiro CASTILLO Argentinos Juniors (ARG)

Coach: Jorge Carlos HABBERGER (ARG)
In the battle of the outsiders Bolivia seemingly had the edge because of some very talented players – Borja, Etcheverry and Erwin Sanchez.


1 Carlos Luis MORALES Barcelona 2 Jimmy Alfonso IZQUIERDO Barcelona 3 Hólger Abraham QUIÑÓNEZ Barcelona 4 Wilson Homero MACÍAS Filanbanco 5 Kleber Emilio FAJARDO Emelec 6 Luis Enrique CAPURRO Emelec 7 Pietro Raúl MARSETTI LDU Quito 8 Alex Darío AGUINAGA Deportivo Quito 9 Byron Zózimo TENORIO El Nacional 10 Hamilton Emilio CUVI Filanbanco 11 Nelson José GUERRERO LDU Quito 12 Víctor MENDOZA Aucas 13 Geovanni Claudio ALCÍVAR Barcelona 14 Ney Raúl AVILÉS Emelec 15 Enrique Wilfrido VERDUGA Emelec 16 Julio César ROSERO El Nacional 17 Carlos Antonio MUÑOZ Filanbanco 18 Tulio Tayron QUINTEROS Barcelona 19 Hermen de Jesús BENÍTEZ El Nacional 20 Jimmy Gustavo MONTANERO Barcelona

Coach: Dussan DRASKOVIC (YUG)
Perhaps with some luck could finish ahead of Bolivia, but no more.