World Cup. Group B

Group B. Argentina, USSR, Romania, Cameroon.

08.06.90 (18.00) Milano, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro)

CAM – ARG 1:0 (0:0)

(-74000) Vautrot FRA, Listkiewicz POL, Mauro USA

CAM: N’Kono – Ebwelle, Massing, Kunde, N’Dip – Tataw (c), M’Bouh, Kana-Biyik,
Makanaky (69 Milla) – M’Fede (70 Libiih), Omam-Biyik
ARG: Pumpido – Simon, Ruggeri (46 Caniggia), Fabbri – Sensini (70 Calderón),
Lorenzo, Batista, Burruchaga – Basualdo, Maradona (c), Balbo

1:0 Omam Biyik 67

booked: Sensini / Massing, N’Dip, M’Bouh
sent off: Kana Biyik (61), Massing (87)

NOTE: Match preceded by WC opening ceremony
This match must be noted for it set the tone of the whole championship – it was a disgrace. Right after the festive opening ceremony the teams displayed an ugly battle in which the reigning world champions lost against 9 men. The sensational result showed one important thing: the ‘outsiders’ improved a lot and were no longer a punching bag, but in the same time the leaders lost ground. There was leveling, but in general it was leveling on higher notch: a team led by Maradona was unable even to equalize against a bunch of unknowns. Those unknowns, though, showed no fear and played tough, physical, calculated game with all current dirty tricks, leaving the general feeling that if the teams exchanged jerseys, one cannot tell the difference. Cameroonians were fearless big burly physically fit and tactically well prepared professionals, entirely matching the leading European and South American teams and following the same dominant football philosophy of the 1980s: the pitch is a battle ground and the only objective is to destroy the opponent and extract victory no matter how. If in the past outsiders received cards because of clumsiness and frustration, now they did it professionally and coldly – you attack the opposition and vicious tackles as a matter of course and eventually you could get some punishment, but it is understandable and part of the general scheme. Cameroon hunted Maradona with brutality, kicked and pushed the other Argentines – and, mind you, Argentina was no spring chicken, well versed in dirty tricks and quite vicious as well. Left with 10 men Cameroon did not fall apart, just the opposite – they scored a goal. And left with 9 men, they still held their ground as nothing happened. That was new. Alas, it was a triumph of brutality and the whole championship came to be a show of ugly, brutal fighting and very little football – from start to end. It was pleasing to see the outsider matching and prevailing over reigning champions, but still with bitter taste… Argentina was not outplayed, it was mostly outkicked and outpushed. That was the new competence, the new football, the development of African and Asian football entirely in terms of the modern game. Nothing enjoyable about it… nobody played football anymore, everybody just fought, armies of undistinguishable soldiers, all of them similar and replaceable with others just like them. It was awful, already well known, and now – this was the whole football, the crème of the crème of it. The only question after watching a game was looming ‘why did I waste my time?’

09.06.90 (17.00) Bari, Stadio San Nicola

ROM – ZSR 2:0 (0:0)

(~43000) Cardellino URU, Sordiano ESP, Silva CHI

ROM: Lung (c) – Rednic, Klein, Andone, Gh.Popescu – Rotariu, Sabău,
D.Timofte, Lupescu – Lăcătuş (87 Dumitrescu), Răducioiu (80 Balint)
ZSR: Dassajev (c) – Bessonov, Khidiatullin, Kuznetsov, Gorlukovich –
Rats, Aleinikov, Litovchenko (64 Yaremchuk), Zavarov – Protasov, Dobrovolsky
(72 Borodyuk)

1:0 Lăcătuş 42, 2:0 Lăcătuş 57 p

booked: Lăcătuş / Khidjatullin

13.06.90 (21.00) Napoli, Stadio San Paolo

ARG – ZSR 2:0 (1:0)

(-56000) Fredriksson SWE, Wright BRA, Al-Sharif SYR

ARG: Pumpido (11 Goycoechea) – Simon, Olarticoechea, Serrizuela, Monzón
(79 Lorenzo) – Batista, Burruchaga, Caniggia, Basualdo – Maradona (c),
ZSR: Uvarov – Bessonov, Khidiatullin, Kuznetsov (c), Gorlukovich –
Aleinikov, Zygmantovich, Shalimov, Zavarov (81 Liuty) – Protasov (76
Litovchenko), Dobrovolsky

1:0 Trioglio 27 h, 2:0 Burruchaga 79

booked: Batista, Serrizuela, Caniggia, Maradona, Olarticoechea / Zygmantovich
sent off: Bessonov (46)

38-year-old Roger Milla (centre) from Cameroon manages to play the ball over Romanian defender Mircea Rednic (right) who lies on the ground, while defender Gheorghe Popescu (background) looks at the scene 

14.06.90 (17.00) Bari, Stadio San Nicola

CAM – ROM 2:1 (0:0)

(-39000) Silva CHI, Valente POR, Pérez COL

CAM: N’Kono – Ebwelle, Onana, Kunde (69 Pagal), N’Dip – Tataw (c), M’Bouh,
Makanaky, M’Fede – Maboang (61 Milla), Omam-Biyik
ROM: Lung (c) – Rednic, Klein, Andone, Gh.Popescu – Rotariu, Sabău,
D.Timofte, Hagi (56 Dumitrescu) – Lăcătuş, Răducioiu (64 Balint)

1:0 Milla 76, 2:0 Milla 86, 2:1 Balint 88

booked: Onana, N’Kono / Klein

1990 World Cup Finals, Bari, Italy, 18th June, 1990, USSR 4 v Cameroon 0, Cameroon’s Andre Kana Biyick takes a free kick which beats the Soviet wall but flies over the cross bar 

18.06.90 (21.00) Bari, Stadio San Nicola

ZSR – CAM 4:0 (2:0)

(+37000) Wright BRA, Röthlisberger SUI, d’Elia ITA

ZSR: Uvarov – Demianenko (c), Khidiatullin, Kuznetsov, Gorlukovich –
Aleinikov, Zygmantovich, Shalimov (46 Zavarov), Protasov – Litovchenko
(73 Yaremchuk), Dobrovolsky
CAM: N’Kono – Ebwelle, Onana, Kunde (35 Milla), N’Dip – Tataw (c), M’Bouh,
Makanaky (57 Pagal), M’Fede – Kana-Biyik, Omam-Biyik

1:0 Protasov 20, 2:0 Zygmantovich 29, 3:0 Zavarov 59, 4:0 Dobrovolski 63 h

booked: Khidiatullin, Prostasov / Kana Biyik, Milla

18.06.90 (21.00) Napoli, Stadio San Paolo

ARG – ROM 1:1 (0:0)

(-53000) Valente POR, Ulloa COS, Longhi ITA

ARG: Goycoechea – Simon, Olarticoechea, Serrizuela, Monzón – Batista,
Burruchaga (61 Dezotti), Caniggia, Basualdo – Maradona (c), Troglio (53
ROM: Lung (c) – Rednic, Klein, Andone, Gh.Popescu – Rotariu, Sabău (83
Mateuţ), Hagi, Lăcătuş – Lupescu, Balint (72 Lupu)

1:0 Monzón 63 h, 1:1 Balint 68 h

booked: Serrizuela, Batista / Lăcătuş, Hagi, Lupescu

1. CAM^ 3 2 0 1 4 3-5
2. ROM^ 3 1 1 1 3 4-3
3. ARG^ 3 1 1 1 3 3-2
USSR vs Argentina – crouching from left: O. Kuznetzov, A. Zygmantovich, I. Dobrovolsky, A. Zavarov, O. Protassov. Standing: A. Uvarov, V. Bessonov, S. Aleynikov, V. Khidiatullin, S. Gorlukovich, I. Shalimov.
4. ZSR 3 1 0 2 2 4-4
Surpise, surprise… Cameroon not only won the group, but did it with still one match left, so they simply blew away the last game. Romania also performed better than expected and reached its objective. Argentina was left on the mercy of rules and chance… good chance, for they got 3 points, and it worked for them – a big relieve. After the lost match against Cameroon Billardo just told his players that now it is either qualifying to the next round, or jumping from the airplane in the middle of the ocean on the way back to Argentina. With great difficulty the team managed to avoid the suggested merciful suicide. Lobanovsky admitted that he lost his touch and fell behind modern football – the big win over Cameroon did not fool anyone: it was against a team without motivation and it was too late to change anything anyway. The problems which Lobanovsky did not see or stubbornly hoped to avoid somehow were impossible to fix: his key players were out of shape and there were no other options. Depending on relatively small core of players and just making the numbers with others left the coach without any chances for reshaping a team after the first disaster and that was that. By large, it was Lobanosky’s doing and at least he was brave enough to admit it, somewhat.