Argentina was the host of the 1978 world cup after a military coup had occurred in the country two years prior thus creating a discussion on if they were ready to host the tournament. Nevertheless none of the participating teams stayed back as Iran and Tunisia made their debuts. Mexico handed Tunisia their first win in the world cup hence making the North African country the first from the continent to win a world cup game. It was rumored that Peru had been bribed into losing their match against Argentina after it was confirmed that Brazil had beaten Poland. The host needed a four goal win to help them advance, the game ended 6-0 in favor of Argentina as they went on to defeat Netherland in the final game .
In 1982 Spain hosted a remodeled version of the world cup, 24 teams contested. There were six groups of four teams each, with the top team and runners up qualifying for the next round leaving 12 teams splitter into four groups containing three teams each. With the winners of each group advancing to the next stage of the competition. Team’s that made their debut included Algeria, New Zealand, Kuwait, Honduras and Cameroon. The group stage was absurd; the Kuwaiti team stopped playing after hearing a whistle blows from the stands thinking it was the referees. At the point the French were leading by three goals to one. The game continued and the goal was disallowed as then president of Kuwait football association Sheikh Fahid Al-ahmad Al-sabah intervened. French defender Bossis scored another goal after his previous goal was disallowed due to the whistle which the Kuwaiti team heard and stopped play. Hungary also beat El Salvador 10-1 and the record of ten goals been scored in a single world cup game hasn’t been matched since then. Another group match between West Germany and Austria gave rise to a change in the world cup rules as both teams clearly ensure qualification by keeping the scoreline at 1-0 over 80minutes. In the semi final West Germany’s goal keeper Harald Schumacher took out Patrick Battiston of the French team with a tackle that somehow didn’t earn him a red card with the score level (1-1) , Germany proceeded to win the penalty shootout. Dino Zoff Italy’s captain and oldest player to win the world cup alongside his teammate and striker Paolo Rossi who was the tournament’s top scorer helped ensure Italy won the trophy.
1986 saw Mexico become the first Nation to host two world cups (1970 and 1986) and the format had changed yet again with the pre quarter final now replacing the second group round of matches now known as the knockout phase, and 16 teams qualified for this round and major change was that all final two matches in all groups will kick off at same time to ensure integrity of the games. Debutants included Iran, Canada and Denmark. José Batista of Uruguay was sent off against Scotland just 56 seconds into the game. Diego Maradona made name for himself with the two goals against England, the fist being popular and controversial goal tagged as the handball goal “hand of god” and the second in which he dribbled five English players across half the length of the field. In the final game Germany lost to Argentina who beat them by three goals to two inspired by Diego Maradona.
Italy was the venue of the 1990 world cup, Cameroon qualified for their second world cup, beat Argentina in their opening match and made it to quarter finals. This was the first time an African country would be achieving this feat. Mexico was unable to compete in a 1990 preparatory tournament due to the two-year ban slammed on them for age fraud during a youth tournament, the US qualified for the first time since 1950. At the preliminaries Chilean goalkeeper Robert Rojas simulated an injury with a cut to his own face using a razor blade after a firework landed close to him. His teammate s refused to continue the game as they were trailing by a goal at this point. Rojas’s act was later discovered and he was given a 12-year ban while the national team was banned from competing at the 1994 event. The tournament featured the same teams as the 1986 episode. Argentina lost by a goal to Germany in the final game, and this led Germany to record their third successive world cup trophy. The republic of Ireland made their debut in this tournament and advanced to the quarter-finals without winning a single game , this constituted of four draws and a win over Romania via penalties (without a win in full-time in any game this is the furthest any team have come).
Hosted by the United States, the 1994 world cup became the first edition where the finals had to be decided on penalties Brazil came out on top in this was one against Italy. Yugoslavia was exempted by the UN in relations to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Russia played its first world cup as a new nation with Nigeria, Greece and Saudi Arabia also debuting in the competition. Mid tournament Diego Maradona was banned after failing a recreational drug test, Argentina was later eliminated by Romania in the round of 16. Tragedy struck as Andrea Escobar was murdered ten days after his own goal against the host eliminated Colombia.
An attendance of almost 3.6million saw this record get into the world cup books. Russia’s Oleg Salenko scored five goals against Cameroon in the group stage to become the first player ever to do so final scoreline was 6-1 as 42 year old Roger Milla scored the only goal for his team to become the oldest player to score at the tournament. The golden boot was awarded to Hristo Stoichkov , he was also joint top highest goal scorer with Oleg Salenko . He also won the bronze ball award while leading Bulgaria to a 2-1 triumph against favourites Germany but they lost the third place match also after having lost in the semi final to Italy.
On the road to France 1998 which was to consist of 32 teams, Iran beat Maldives by 17-0 in one of the qualifying matches, this was the worst defeat recorded in the world cup history. In the tournament proper Laurent Blanc scored the first ever golden goal for the host to ensure a 1-0 win against Paraguay in the second round of matches. The French team went on to win the tournament after a thrilling 3-0 victory over Brazil in the final. Croatia playing impressively in their first world cup finished in third place.
Asia was the next stop for the world cup as Korea and Japan came together to host the 2002 games. A certain Souleymane Mamam of Togo became the youngest player ever at 13years and 10months to be featured in a world cup preliminary match. Australia defeated American Samoa 31-0 to set a new record for the highest defeat in a preliminary match and also the highest scoreline ever recorded. South Korea, Senegal and the United States (all lowly placed teams) reaching the quarter finals led the tournament to be tagged as a success as Germany lost to Brazil in the final game to earn the Brazilians their fifth title.
Germany played host to the world at the 2006 world cup, host nations continued to get automatic slots. Ghana out of four African teams (Togo, Ivory coast and Angola) that made it to the world cup got to the knockout phase after beating world number three team Czech republic by two goals to one, and also defeated the United States before getting eliminated by trophy holders Brazil. The host also performed impressively to get to the semi finals.
France and Italy were however the tournament’s top two as they played the final game which saw French captain Zinedine Zidane get sent off in the final minutes of the game after a headbutt on Italy’s Marco Materazzi. Italy became champions after France fell to a 5-3 defeat via penalties after the game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and extra time had been played.
For the first time in the history of the world cup, an African team hosted the tournament. South Africa hosted the 2010 edition of the world cup which was noted for the high defensive play of teams during the opening matches, goal line technology, vuvuzelas and the jabulani. With only eight goals to their name and David Villa leading the pack with five goals, the Spanish side had just one loss in their opening fixture with Switzerland. The Spaniards needed the help of Andrés Iniesta in the 116th minute against a 10 man Dutch side to secure the trophy by a lone goal.
Brazil hosted the world cup for the second time in 2014, the Netherlands beat Brazil in a thrilling 3-0 win to secure third place, while Germany beat Argentina by a single goal (1-0) to lift the cup. For the first time three consecutive winners had be produced from one continent, Europe (Italy 2006, Spain 2010, Germany 2014).
It was also the first time breaks were introduced to cool off due to the high temperature in Brazil especially in the northern locations where the matches were being played.
In 2018 we are going to see a tournament comprised of 32teams with Russia as host nation, which will be followed up by the knockout stage of the competition, with eleven days to the official kick off of the tournament, let’s see who makes history.
The world cup is HERE, I am excited .