It was a return to business as usual in 2003, where the Confederations Cup brought is usual share of thrills. France, the holders, hosted the tournament, and made history by winning it for the second time in succession. The tournament would, however, be overshadowed by the tragic death of Marc Vivien Foe, which raised serious questions over whether the Final should have been played.
In Group A holders France made easy work of qualify, claiming 3 wins and 8 goals. The most emphatic of these was a 5-0 win over New Zealand, which featured a total of 5 different scorers, one of whom was Thierry Henry, who followed his 32 goals at club by playing a pivotal role in his country’s tournament. Japan also inflicted a heavy 3-0 win on the group’s whipping boys New Zealand, with the now legendary Nakamura scoring twice. Colombia did the same, claiming a 3-1 victory to set up a ‘winner takes all clash’ with Japan in Saint-Etienne. It proved to be a tight affair, which was eventually won thanks to a 68th minute goal from Colombia’s Hernandez.
Group B was similarly tight, but ultimately provided one of the tournaments biggest shocks. Samuel Eto’o announced himself on the world stage by scoring a late winner in Cameroon’s game with Brazil. The African side would make easy work of qualifying, although it took a stoppage time penalty from Geremi to give them a decisive win over Turkey. Brazil claimed their first win of the tournament, with Adriano’s goal proving to be enough against the USA. That result set up another ‘winner takes all clash’ against Turkey. What followed a thrilling, tense game. Adriano added his second goal of the tournament, before second half goals from Gokdeniz and Okan seemed have secured Turkey a crucial victory. Alex cause some chitters among the Turkish players by striking a 93rd minute equalizer, but Turkey held on to claim a memorable point. That result meant that the two were locked on points and goal difference, although Turkey’s superior goals scored sent them through at Brazil’s expense.
Turkey’s result against Brazil set up a David against Goliath Semi Final, in all European affair with holders and hosts France. It seemed that Turkey simply lacked the quality to match France, as goals from 3 Arsenal men – Henry, Pires and Wiltord – put the holders in cruise control. Turkey would not give up easily, and goals from Gokdeniz and Tuncay got them right back into the game. France, however, were characterised by a strong defence, which stood firm to deny the spirited Turkey. In the other Semi Final a 9th minute Ndiefi goal put Cameroon through to the final, in a game that will always be remembered for the sudden collapse and death of Cameroon’s Marc Vivien Foe. The shocking tragedy united Cameroon and France in agreeing that the final should not take place, out of respect for Foe. The footballing authorities ruled that the game should be played, and ultimately a Golden Goal from Thierry Henry gave France their second successive win. The Arsenal man went on to claim both the Golden Ball and Boot, in a tragic tournament.
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