Although the 1997 competition had been all about a South American team, 1999 proved to be a memorable tournament for a team further North. Mexico, who qualified as a result of their CONCACAF Gold Cup win a year earlier, hosted a tournament that would be remembered for its thrashings, and its upsets.
In Group A Saudi Arabia once again met Mexico, in a repeat of the game that had provided a memorable 5-0 year thrashing two years earlier. Blanco, who had of course netted a hattrick against Saudi Arabia in ’97, went one better, by netting four. Goals from Abundis for Mexico, and an Al-Temyat penalty, meant this year it was just a 5-1 defeat for the African side. By now the Saudi Arabian’s knew what an old fashioned football hammering looked like, and they were involved in another game that finished 5-1. However, on this occasion it was Saudi Arabia that were inflicting the thrashing on their rivals Egypt, and it was Al-Obtaibi who claimed 4 goals, in one of the games stand out results – and one which helped Saudi Arabia to qualify for the Semi Finals. Football logic would therefore state that Mexico would beat Egypt by 10 goals to 2. Although it was a high scoring game, football logic on this occasion proved to be fundamentally flawed – as the group’s top and bottom sides shared the points in a 2-2 draw, as late goals from Hassan and Ibrahim gave Egypt a point.
In 1997 Germany’s withdrawal had denied the competition an opportunity to see two of the worlds best sides face one another. In 1999 however, the competition got its wish, as Brazil met Germany in the Estadio Jalisco. In its short history the tournament had been known for routs and upsets. This one, rather surprisingly, proved to be the former, as the holders swept aside Germany thanks to 4 second half goals, including two from Alex late on. Germany, on the whole, had a dismal maiden competition, they also succumbed to the United States in a shock 2-0 defeat, which sent the USA through at the expense of the Euro 1996 winners. Brazil – of course, qualified as group winners, with a young PSG player named Ronaldinho making the headlines. The future Barcelona legend scored in all three of Brazil’s group games, and his late goal against New Zealand was enough to secure top spot for the holders.
As the competition went on the upsets and thrashings got larger, both in score and significance. The hosts Mexico progressed to the final, thanks to Blanco’s winner in Extra Time. When Brazil met Saudi Arabia on August the 1st, only one result appeared to be on the cards. On this occasion football logic did prevail. Saudi Arabia did make a fight of it though – after they had fallen two goals down Al-Obtaibi put the weight of his country on his shoulders, by scoring twice in 9 minutes to shock Brazil. However, 6 more Brazilian goals soon followed, including a hattrick for Ronaldinho, who claimed the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.
The final was always going to be an intriguing affair, putting together the two group winners Mexico and Brazil. The hosts triumphed, in what proved to be one of the competitions most memorable finals. The game did not follow the script that everyone expected, goals from Zepeda and Abundis put Mexico 2 goals up before half time. Brazil did, however, respond thanks to Serginho and Roni, but Mexico proved too strong, as Zependa added his second, before Blanco send 110,000 onlookers into the raptures. Ze Roberto’s goal gave Brazil hope, but the holders could not respond, as Ronaldinho’s run of scoring in every match came to an end at the time he was needed most. It was glory for Mexico.
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