In the late 80s, CONMEBOL members had decided to hold the Copa America every two years, rotating from host to host. For the 1989 edition, Brazil were selected as the hosts. The last time they had this duty was back in 1949, which was also the last time Brazil had won the Copa America. This was remarkable given that in that period they had won the World Cup three times. The 1987 Edition of the Copa America in Argentina had been criticized for its organization and format that had manifested in a low turnout.
The format of this 1989 Copa would be revised from previous years. The ten teams would be separated in two Groups of five teams. They would play one another in a round-robin format. The top two teams in each Group would then be placed in a Final Group of four teams (once again round-robin) and the winner would be decided on points. The Final Group concept was very similar to the 1950 World Cup, also in Brazil. Given how that had turned out, it was surprising that the Brazilian organizers had decided on this particular format.
Many hoped that this new format would generate more interest among teams and especially fans and increase competition.
This competition was also to be played just less than a couple of months from World Cup 1990 Qualifiers in the region and many Managers viewed this Copa as an ideal preparation for the more important objective of World Cup qualification.
This of course, did not concern the defending World Cup Champions Argentina. However, Argentina Manager Carlos Bilardo viewed the Copa as his last chance for Argentina to play and participate in a competitive manner before the following year’s World Cup.
As always everything about Argentina depended on the form (mental as well as physical) of Diego Maradona, the greatest player on the planet.
Going into this Tournament, there were rumors of his impending transfer from Napoli to French club Olympique Marseille of ambitious President Bernard Tapie.
Despite being victorious in the UEFA Cup, his end of the season with Napoli had ended on a sour note and he had given indications that he was fed up with pressures of the Serie A and would welcome a change of scenery.
Other 1986 regulars and veterans were still part of Bilardo’s plans, such as Jorge Burruchaga, Nery Pumpido, Giusti, Clausen, Brown and Oscar Ruggeri.
A 1982 World Cup veteran, Gabriel Calderon had made his way back into Bilardo’s plans after a good season at Paris St. Germain.
There were also a number of young up and coming players who were seen as the future of Argentinean football, amongst them: Caniggia, Troglio, Sensini and Balbo.
Uruguay were now under the command of Oscar Washington Tabarez. Like his predecessors he relied upon the likes of Enzo Francescolli, Ruben Sosa, Ruben Paz, Hugo De Leon and Antonio Alzamendi.
Much was expected of Colombia and Chile who had impressed in the last Copa. Like Argentina, they were the only Nations that had retained their managers from the last Edition. Colombia Manager Pacho Maturana relied on the talents of Carlos Valderrama and the goalkeeper-sweeper Rene Higuita.
Chile Manager Orlando Aravena was dependent on his impressive Captain and goalkeeper Roberto Rojas in a side that included a number of players based abroad.
Although they had to do without Ivo Basay, who was not released by French Club Stade Reims. Others missing were Jorge Aravena, Hugo Rubio and Ivan Zamorano.
Paraguay had qualified at the last World Cup, but had a disappointing Copa the last time around. They were missing foreign-based players such as Roberto Cabanas (Brest), Julio Cesar Romero (Barcelona), Jorge Nunes (Deportivo Cali) and goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert (Real Zaragoza).
It had been reported that their squad had been training together in preparations for this Copa for as much as 14 months.
Ecuador had appointed Yugoslavian Manager Dusan Draskovic in hopes of improving from last time around.
Not much was expected of Peru (in decline) and Bolivia and Venezuela, the weakest team on the continent.
The main talking point, needless to say, was about the state of affairs of the Brazilian National Team. They had appointed Sebastiao Lazaroni in the new year (January 15th, 1989). His appointment had been very controversial as he was openly advocating for a more European (defensive) style of play and tactics and a break from ‘Jogo Bonito’ (that he felt was out-dated). He believed with their traditional tactics they had won nothing for nearly twenty years and were lagging behind Europe and could not hope to win a future World Cup unless they adapted to new modern European style of play that emphasized on a strong defense.
Photo From: Triunfo N 164 24-07-1989(Lazaroni)
He had selected mostly home-based players in friendlies. He had just taken Brazil on a disastrous tour of Europe that had yielded losses against Denmark (0-4), Sweden (1-2) and Switzerland (0-1). Lazaroni was eager to try out his tactics with more experienced players (some of whom were playing in Europe) in the Copa.
Lazaroni decided that Brazil would play with a Libero and two stoppers and two outside backs (5-3-2 formation). For Lazaroni, the outside backs would have a role in going forward and creating chances.
Mauro Galvao would be Lazaroni’s Libero despite not playing the position at his club.
Lazaroni was hampered with a number of absences. His first choice as right back, the Flamengo defender Jorginho, as well as, Team captain and veteran striker Careca of Napoli, would miss the Tournament through injuries.
In addition, defenders Julio Cesar and Carlos Mozer were not released by their French clubs Montpellier and Olympique Marseille respectively.
Torino based striker Luis Muller arrived only three days before the start of the Copa. Lazaroni judged him not ready for the Copa and notified that he would select him for the World Cup Qualifiers (starting July 30th). Muller left the squad in anger.
Careca and Muller’s absence had forced Lazaroni to call-up Baltazar (the top goalscorer in Spain with Atletico Madrid) and Charles of Bahia. Many Rio newspapers referred to the selection of Charles as a ‘diplomatic call up’, since Brazil were based there.
It was the selection of Charles that would threaten to derail not only Lazaroni’s plans but his employment.
Brazil were to play their first three matches of their Group at Salvador in Bahia.
They were in Group A along with Paraguay, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.
Lazaroni had requested the selection of 24 players, but CONMEBOL would authorize only 20 players for the First Round and 24 players in the Final Round.
This forced Lazaroni to eliminate players from the first round and Charles was one of those.
This decision would have a profound effect on the National Team for the rest of their stay at Bahia, as the locals turned on the National Team.
Bahia’s President actually went to Hotel Quatro Rodas where the National Team were stationed and took away Charles. He furthermore declared that Lazaroni’s days as National Team Manager were numbered.
A local Television station fanned the flames even further by editing a montage of Charles, showing him how his National Team colleagues in matches would snub him. The Television Station also went on to refer to the Brazil Federation (CBF) as bandits and Mafioso.
Their first match was vs. Venezuela on July 1st. The match was to be played after the opening Match of the Tournament that saw Paraguay defeat Peru in convincing fashion (5-2) at the same venue.
Paraguay’s teenage player Gustavo Neffa stood out and became one of the revelations of this Tournament.
Photo From: France Football, Issue 2258, July 18, 1989
(July 1, 1989, Copa America, Paraguay 5-Peru 2)
Photo From: France Football, Issue 2258, July 18, 1989(July 1, 1989, Copa America, Paraguay 5-Peru 2)
To show their discontent the public stayed away (the 90,000 capacity stadium was barely full) and those who did attend vented their anger at the Brazilian Team for not selecting their local hero Charles.
Fans threw projectiles on the field to such an extent that the two teams were unable to take the Official team photos. The Brazilian substitutes sitting in the VIP stands were relentlessly heckled and were forced to leave.
As far as matters on the field, Lazaroni was unable to include Aldair in defense, as he was ill, he therefore included Andre Cruz. In Jorginho’s absence, Mazinho started at right back and he would go on to be one of the revelations of the Copa.
The Venezuelans were expected to lose and lined up in a defensive formation of 4-2-2-2.
Brazil took the lead in the second minute through a long-range shot by Bebeto (under a chorus of boos).
In the 12th minute, Brazil lost Tita to injury (he would miss the rest of the Tournament). He was replaced by Paulo Silas.
Photo From: Foot Magazine, Issue 96, October 1989
(Romario, July 1, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 3-Venezuela 1)
In the 36th minute, Bebeto was fouled by Venezuela goalkeeper in the box and was injured in the process. He held on until halftime, but after the break was replaced by Baltazar.
Geovani scored from the ensuing penalty kick to double Brazil’s lead.
In the 57th minute, Ricardo set up Baltazar for Brazil’s third.
Venezuela pulled a goal back through Carlos Maldonado in the 63rd minute. This was Venezuela’s first ever goal vs. Brazil. Unbeknown at the time, this would also turn out to be the first, last and only goal that Brazil conceded in the Tournament.
Maldonado’s goal actually received the most cheers from the hostile crowd.
Photo From: France Football, Issue 2257, July 11, 1989(Bebeto, July 1, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 3-Venezuela 1)
Venezuela’s Argentinean Manager Carlos Horacio Moreno was surprised of Lazaroni’s tactics. He said "We were expecting an avalanche, but Brazil had more defenders than attackers. Too modern for my taste."
Afterwards Bebeto showed his discontent at the reception, that he described worse than on a foreign soil. It was especially hurtful to him, since he was born in Bahia.
Along with Bebeto, Ricardo and Branco had impressed the most, while a somewhat unfit Romario disappointed.
But Brazil’s greatest disappointment had been Geovani. He was being built up as Brazil’s next great hope (and on his way to Italy to Bologna). He would go on to be Brazil’s biggest flop at the Copa, but for the time being Lazaroni would persevere with him.
An interesting aspect of this match was Carlos Dunga and Renato’s trek from Italy to arrive at the match. They had played in a UEFA Cup qualification match. Dunga’s Fiorentina had defeated Renato’s AS Roma (1-0). After the match they drove together from Perugia to Milan to take a plane to Rio. At 5 AM Rio time, they boarded another plane to Salvador. In the end, after they arrived, they both sat on the bench.
The next round of matches in the Group was two days later on July 3rd. Colombia predictably defeated Venezuela (4-2). Goalkeeper Rene Higuita scored their fisrt goal from a penalty kick. The penalty kick had been awarded after Luis Camacaro had fouled Carlos Hoyos in the box.
Venezuela’s both goals were scored by Carlos Maldonado (his personal third in the Copa).
Brazil took on Peru once again in a hostile atmosphere. Lazaroni had Aldair back and started with him. He took out Mazinho to field Napoli’s Ricardo Alemao. Carlos Dunga started in midfield along with Geovani who once again would have a disappointing match. Brazil were disappointing as a whole and the match ended scoreless.
The match was interrupted at the 46th minute due to light failure that lasted 27 minutes.
Near the end of the match, Peru goalkeeper Jesús Purizaga was sent off after retaliating against Renato.
Such was the reception that Lazaroni was ready to play the next match at Recife (for a better field and crowd).
Two days later (July 5th), Peru and Venezuela played in a (1-1) tie. Once again Maldonado scored for Venezuela (4th goal). On the same day, Paraguay defeated a disappointing Colombia (1-0) with Neffa setting up Mendoza’s winner in the 51st minute.
Paraguay followed up with another win two days later (July 7th) vs. Venezuela (3-0) to qualify for the Final Round. Paraguay’s newfound star Gustavo Neffa opened the scoring, followed by a double strike by Buenaventura Ferreira.
Later that day, Brazil took on Colombia once again under constant abuse from their own ‘fans’.
Lazaroni started with Renato and Baltazar instead of Bebeto and Romario.
Romario had been so unfit and out of form that he himself had asked not to play. According to him, it was the first time ever that he had made such a request.
Lazaroni also started for the last time with Alemao in defense and the ever-disappointing Goevani in midfield.
The match once again ended in a scoreless draw that satisfied neither team.
These matches were also the last ones at Salvador. For the last round of matches in this Group, the teams relocated to Recife.
For Brazil moving to Recife was a welcome change as they finally were to receive the home support and public encouragement that they needed.
On July 9th, Colombia tied Peru (1-1) to exit from the Tournament.
The local crowd applauded Peru as they could help eliminate Colombia.
Photo From: France Football, Issue 2258, July 18, 1989
(July 9, 1989, Copa America, Colombia 1-Peru 1)
Photo From: Official Match Programme, England v Uruguay, 1990(Carlos Valderrama, July 9, 1989, Copa America, Colombia 1-Peru 1)
Brazil were to take on already qualified Paraguay. Paraguay fielded a reserve side to rest its starters.
Canete, Mendoza, Ferrerira, Guasch, Delgado and Fernandez were all rested. Torrales and Gustavo Neffa were the only starters who played.
It had been reported that the pair had played in their previous match while on ephedrine. They were eventually cleared of the charges.
Brazil fielded what would become its set lineup for the remainder of the Copa.
Claudio Taffarel in the net, with a defensive shield of Mazinho and Branco as outside backs. The central defenders were Ricardo, Aldair and Mauro Galvao.
The midfield consisted of Dunga, Silas (displacing the disappointing Geovani) and Valdo.
Finally in the attack, Lazaroni reconstituted the Bebeto and Romario duo.
Brazil, finally playing like a good team, defeated Paraguay (2-0) with a double strike from Bebeto to qualify with Paraguay to the Final Round.
Bebeto scored the first in the 47th minute when a corner from left was headed across the goal towards him on the far post. His powerful shot was deflected into the net by Paraguay goalkeeper Ruiz Diaz. In the 83rd minute, he scored his second, side footing a cross from Mazinho from the right side.
Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 7, August 1989(Bebeto, July 9, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 2-Paraguay 0)
In Group B, Argentina’s group contained rivals Uruguay along with Chile. Ecuador and Bolivia. This group was based at Goiânia and would play its matches at Estádio Serra Dourada.
Needless to say, wherever Maradona was there was a media circus surrounding him. His arrival was no different. He arrived with his wife, two children (a privilege afforded to no other player), personal doctor, physical trainer and a few friends (in total an entourage of more than 20 people). He was given four suites at Goiânia’s only five star Hotel. In the end, he chose to room up with goalkeeper Nery Pumpido.
A long season and the on-going transfer rumors would affect his play and he would be a shadow of his usual self during this Tournament that perhaps he wished he could have skipped to get a much-needed rest.
This Group started its matches on July 2nd with the Ecuador-Uruguay matchup.
Ecuador’s Team Captain Hamilton Cuvi was confident of a victory against the favored Uruguayans. He believed much progress had been made since 1987.
Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 7, August 1989(July 2, 1989, Copa America, Ecuador 1-Uruguay 0)
Photo From: France Football, Issue 2257, July 11, 1989(July 2, 1989, Copa America, Ecuador 1-Uruguay 0)
Uruguay were to miss Captain Enzo Francescolli and Jose Perdomo for the first two matches. The pair were suspended for being sent off in the Final of the 1987 Copa America.
The Surprising Ecuador side provided an upset when they scored the winning goal in the 88th through a counter attack. Cuvi launched Ney Aviles on the left wing. He crossed for Hermen Benitez to score the winning goal.
Ecuador Manager 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."
Uruguay Manager Oscar Washington Tabarez was unconcerned about the result as his objective was the 1990 World Cup qualifiers.
He also blamed the heat for their loss, since he had prepared the team for two months in cold climates.
On the same day, Argentina took on Chile. Both teams were missing a player from Spanish club Real Betis. Argentina goalkeeper Nery Pumpido and Chile forward Patricio Yanez were not released as Betis had a League match.
Pumpido’s absence gave an opportunity for Luis Islas to make a rare start.
When asked how his team would play, Chile manager Orlando Aravena coyly responded ‘Red, Blue and White.’ (He was also the only Manager that only allowed Chilean journalists at his team training sessions. Foreign journalists were barred).
In a dull match where Maradona seemed lethargic, Argentina took the lead and won (1-0) with a goal in the 56th minute. Roberto Rojas parried Pedro Troglio’s shot and Claudio Caniggia scored from the rebound.
Chile had opted to play with defensive tactics. They were so extra cautious that according to critics they made Argentina look ‘adventurous’.
Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 7, August 1989(Claudio Caniggia, July 2, 1989, Copa America, Argentina 1-Chile 0)
Photo From: El Grafico, 3639, 1989
(Diego Maradona, July 2, 1989, Copa America, Argentina 1-Chile 0)
Two days later (July 4th), Uruguay (still without Francescolli and Perdomo) got back to winning ways by defeating Bolivia (3-0) with a double strike from Santiago Ostolaza and one from Ruben Sosa.
Ostolaza opened the scoring in the 29th minute, when his long-range shot hit Bolivia goalkeeper Marco Barrero’s back before going in.
In the 33rd minute, Jose Herera crossed from the right side for Sosa to score the second.
Ostolaza scored his second and Uruguay’s third in the 59th minute by heading in a corner.
On the same day Argentina were once again disappointing in a scoreless tie with Ecuador. In fact they were lucky that Ecuador’s Jimmy Izquierdo missed a penalty kick in the 55th minute. Argentina were still missing Pumpido and Islas started for the second match running. The Argentines also had Alfaro Moreno sent off near the end. Ecuador’s Luis Capurro was likewise sent off in the second half.
Photo From: El Grafico, 3640, 1989(July 4, 1989, Copa America, Argentina 0-Ecuador 0)
After watching Argentina’s display, Chile Manager Orlando Aravena expressed some regret for his defensive tactics vs. Argentina. He said if he had known of Argentina’s form he would have taken more risks.
Two days later (July 6th), Ecuador missed a good opportunity to earn points by being held scoreless by Bolivia.
On the same day, the rematch of the 1987 Final took place between Uruguay and Chile.
After their match vs. Argentina, Chile Captain and goalkeeper Roberto Rojas, along with Jaime Vera, had held a meeting with Manager Orlando Aravena.
They felt they had played too defensively vs. Argentina and asked for a change in tactics. Aravena replied that those who did not like the tactics could return to Santiago.
Rojas stated that he would not leave the squad, but left it up to Aravena if he still wanted to select him. Aravena replied such a possibility was out of the question, since Rojas was too valuable to him.
Perhaps, he should have listened to his players, since with the same tactics; Uruguay defeated Chile (3-0). Uruguay made efficient use of counterattacking tactics. They had Francescolli and Perdomo in the lineup for the first time.
In the 44th minute, Sosa headed in a corner by Alzamendi. In the 72nd minute, Alzamendi intercepted Vera’s pass in midfield and ran through and scored.
In the 78th, Perdomo sent Sosa through on right side, his cross reached Alzamendi but Rojas blocked him. Francescolli followed through to score.
Two days later (July 8th), Chile finally showed some promise by defeating Bolivia (5-0) to maintain some hope.
Photo From: Deporte Total N 422 17-07-1989
(July 8, 1989, Copa America, Chile 5-Bolivia 0)
Photo From: Triunfo Nª 163 17-07-1989 (1)(July 8, 1989, Copa America, Chile 5-Bolivia 0)
Argentina faced off against Uruguay on the same day. Argentina now had starting goalkeeper Nery Pumpido back in the squad. The Argentines played virtually the entire match with ten men after Oscar Ruggeri was sent off in the 16th minute after a foul on Francescolli.
Upon this incident, Bilardo asked Basualdo to mark Francescolli and assigned Troglio to drop back to mark Paz.
Photo From: El Grafico 3640, 1989(July 8, 1989, Copa America, Argentina 1-Uruguay 0)
Despite being a man down, the Argentines nevertheless won the match by taking the lead in the 68th minute. From the middle, Maradona sent Caniggia through on left side. His shot from a narrow angle was touched by Zeoli but could not stop it from going in.
Photo From: France Football, Issue 2258, July 18, 1989(July 8, 1989, Copa America, Argentina 1-Uruguay 0)
Photo From: El Grafico 3640, 1989(Diego Maradona, July 8, 1989, Copa America, Argentina 1-Uruguay 0)
The Group was still undecided going into the last round of matches (July 10th).
Chile needed three goals to advance but only managed to defeat Ecuador (2-1). Despite being level on points with both Ecuador and Uruguay, Uruguay edged ahead with superior goal difference.
Bolivia held Argentina scoreless on the same day. Argentina despite being unimpressive had won the Group, but had scored only two goals in the process. Their defense had held firm and still unbreached in the Tournament.
The Final Group matches were all played at Rio’s Maracana Stadium.
The Traditional powers Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay had made it along with a surprising Paraguay side.
On July 12th, Uruguay showed its class by defeating Paraguay (3-0). Once again, Uruguay were efficient in their use of counterattacks that Paraguay had no answer for.
In the 28th minute, Alzamendi picked up Sosa on the right side. He dribbled around Fernandez, who had ventured out, and crossed for Francescolli to head in empty net. In the 85th minute, Sosa on the right side picked up Alzamendi to score the second. In the 90th minute, Alzamendi picked up Ruben Paz who beat Fernandez one on one.
All goals were from counterattacks after Paraguay had lost possession.
Photo From: Official Match Programme, England v Uruguay, 1990(July 12, 1989, Copa America, Uruguay 3-Paraguay 0)
The big match followed this with Brazil taking on Argentina. Bilardo chose to leave Maradona alone upfront.
Brazil with an excellent Branco were in control and had grown in confidence now that the experience of Bahia was behind them.
In the 48th minute Brazil took the lead. Branco from the left side crossed to the right side near post for Silas. He crossed back into the box for Romario, who laid it on for Bebeto to score a spectacular goal.
Minutes later in the 55th minute, Brazil doubled its lead. Jose Luis Brown attempted to clear but missed the ball. Romario pounced on it to score.
Romario after a difficult start to the Tournament had now found his form just like the rest of the team.
Photo From: Triunfo Nª 163 17-07-1989
(Bebeto and Silas, July 12, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 2-Argentina 0)
Photo From: El Grafico, 3641, 1989(July 12, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 2-Argentina 0)
Photo From: Foot Magazine, Issue 96, October 1989(Carlos Dunga, July 12, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 2-Argentina 0)
Two days later (July 14th), Uruguay and Argentina faced one another for the second time, six days after their initial encounter.
By now Uruguay were more confident, while Argentina were uninspiring as they were throughout the Tournament.
In the 37th minute, Uruguay took the lead through Ruben Sosa. He intercepted Sensini’s poor backpass and dribbled past Pumpido.
Photo From: El Grafico, 3641, 1989(July 14, 1989, Copa America, Uruguay 2-Argentina 0)
In the 81st minute, Sosa picked up a ball in midfield and raced towards goal. Despite pressure from Batista, Sosa chipped the ball over Pumpido.
Maradona did provide a moment of brilliance, when he chipped a ball from the middle of the field that hit the crossbar. It would be his only noteworthy moment on the field during the Copa.
Oscar Ruggeri was sent off in the 64th minute. He earned the distinction of being sent off in both of Argentina’s matches vs. Uruguay.
Photo From: El Grafico, 3641, 1989(July 14, 1989, Copa America, Uruguay 2-Argentina 0)
Uruguay’s Hugo De Leon was surprised by Argentina’s violent play in both their matches. He believed that if they had given half of the knocks that they received, half of their squad would have been sent off.
On the same day, Brazil once again met Paraguay days after defeating them (2-0) in Recife.
A rampant Brazilian side defeated the weaker Paraguayans with little difficulty. In the 17th minute, Mazinho picked up Silas on right side. He crossed for Bebeto who headed in the opener.
In the 53rd minute, Valdo picked up a ball in center and laid it for Bebeto on the edge of box. Bebeto scored from a shot from just inside the box.
In the 59th minute, Mazinho crossed from right side for Romario to score the third.
Lazaroni surprisingly sent on Alemao to replace Valdo for a more defensive formation to hold onto the lead. Many were surprised, as a fourth goal would have been more beneficial for Brazil in terms of goal difference.
Bebeto was one to voice concern over the fact that another goal was not scored to force Uruguay on the offensive in their final match.
Romario complemented his marker Delgado by calling him a ‘good horse’.
Photo From: Historia de la Copa America(Bebeto celebrating, July 14, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 3-Paraguay 0)
Photo From: Placar, Issue 997, July 28, 1989(Mauro Galvao, July 14, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 3-Paraguay 0)
Two days later (July 16th), Argentina and Paraguay faced off to close their respective Tournaments. The match was inconsequential as neither team had any hopes beyond finishing third.
Maradona preferred to skip this match and watched it from his Hotel room. Bilardo experimented by fielding four new players: Balbo, Monzon, Hernan Diaz and Giusti.
It was yet another uneventful match that ended in a scoreless tie. Paraguay had been slightly better though Argentina had a claim for a penalty kick after a Mendoza handball in the box.
Photo From: Historia de la Copa America(Gustavo Neffa, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Argentina 0-Paraguay 0)
Onto the big match between Brazil and Uruguay that ironically took place 39 years to the day of the 1950 World Cup ‘Final’, where Uruguay had dashed Brazil’s dreams.
The CBF had invited all survivors from 1950 for this match.
Lazaroni were desperate to win in front of their fans to end a trophy drought of nearly 20 years not to mention a Copa America drought of 40 years.
Lazaroni had chosen tactics to counter Uruguay’s counter attacking that had served them well. The night before the match, he set up a special meeting with Mazinho, Dunga and Branco in the team Hotel to discuss how to counter Uruguay’s tactics and cut off supply to Sosa and Alzamendi.
Photo From: Historia de la Copa America(Uruguay and Brazil squads, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 1-Uruguay 0)
The match was a cautious affair between two strong sides. Brazil broke the deadlock early in the second half. In the 49th minute, after a one-two with Bebeto, Mazinho crossed from the right side for Romario who headed in the winner.
Photo From: Triunfo Nª 163 17-07-1989(Romario’s goal, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 1-Uruguay 0)
Photo From: Placar, Issue 997, July 28, 1989(Romario, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 1-Uruguay 0)
Brazil held on and ended their trophy drought. Lazaroni’s tactics appeared to have been vindicated. After the match, Lazaroni re-iterated his belief in a strong defense by stating that he preferred to win (1-0) rather than lose (4-5).
In the beginning of the Copa, there was constant speculation of his sacking and replacement with Carlos Alberto Silva and/or Paulo Roberto Falcao. But now his position was strengthened and he would remain in place until the World Cup.
Photo From: Historia de la Copa America(Lazaroni with the Copa America, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 1-Uruguay 0)
Brazil had grown in confidence as the Tournament had progressed and the squad appeared to have adapted to Lazaroni’s defensive tactics. They had conceded only one goal in the entire Tournament (in the very fisrt match vs. Venezuela). The team could only get stronger with the re-integration of Jorginho, Muller, Mozer and Careca.
Mazinho, despite being Jorginho’s replacement, had been one of Brazil’s successes. Lazaroni could call upon a backbone with the likes of Taffarel, Branco, Bebeto, Romario, Dunga, etc.
Photo From: Historia de la Copa America(Mazinho with the Copa America, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 1-Uruguay 0)
Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 21, July 1999(Brazil captain Ricardo, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 1-Uruguay 0)
Bebeto’s displays made him a transfer target; he was announced at Bayern Munich and Olympique Marseille, among others. In the end he joined Vasco da Gama from Flamengo.
His Flamengo teammate Aldair joined Benfica.
Photo From: World Soccer, August 1989(Valdo, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 1-Uruguay 0)
Photo From: World Soccer, August 1989(Valdo and Alemao, July 16, 1989, Copa America, Brazil 1-Uruguay 0)
Argentina were criticized for being too robotic and defensive with too many players flooding the midfield. However, Carlos Bilardo and FA President Julio Grondona were defiant against such charges. Bilardo would often point out that since the World Cup many teams had adopted his tactics.
He felt by 1990 with adequate preparation time Argentina would be ready.
Maradona had his mind elsewhere and Argentina’s fortunes paralleled his form, which explained the disappointing displays.
The Argentines blamed fatigue as well for their displays. They felt they had played well in their first match vs. Chile but starting the second match vs. Ecuador, they were already exhausted.
In addition, Maradona, Burruchaga and Oscar Ruggeri were all coming back from injuries.
Uruguay had given a good account of themselves with an impressive Ruben Sosa. Most observers felt that the best player at this Copa was either Bebeto or Sosa.
Colombia had been a disappointment, but were clearly saving themselves for the World Cup qualifiers for which they succeeded.
Ecuador were the surprise of the Tournament. Holger Quinones, Fajrado, Aviles, Tenorio and Cuvi stood out and the manager Dusan Draskovic’s work was praised.
Alex Aguinaga became first ever Ecuadorian to transfer abroad by signing for Mexico’s Club America.
Just like the 1987 Edition, the organization was questioned by most involved.
Transportation for Teams and Journalists was a significant point of criticism. A local flight would normally be two hours late. The Peru delegation were stranded at the airport for six hours when transferring from Salvador to Recife.
Peru FA President Josue Grande declared it was inadmissible to wait so long in airports,as well as the inadequate training facilities.
Paraguay even at one point threatened to boycott the Final Round because of these issues.
Many managers such as Oscar Washington Tabarez and Carlos Bilardo complained of the fatigue on players due to playing matches every two days.
The Teams that made the Final Group played seven matches in a two-week period.
The state of some of the pitches was also questioned. The field at Salvador (Estádio da Fonte Nova) was so atrocious that Peru’s Julio Cesar Uribe declared that he had he lost two years of his life in each match.
The state of that pitch hampered the technical play of Brazil and Colombia.
At Bahia, neither Official Teamsheets nor information on players were provided to the Press.
The stadium also did not have enough floodlights for matches at night.
This is not to mention, the hostile reception of the home team at that venue to protest the exclusion of local player Charles.
Branco and Renato described the Bahia boycott as infantile and immature.
At Goiânia, where Argentina were based, the stadium organizers charged an entrance fee for the public to watch Maradona train. Upon hearing of this Maradona was furious and said ‘it’s scandalous, they should be reimbursed’.
The Grass at Goiânia’s venue (Estádio Serra Dourada) was also too high. Many players claimed it was difficult to pass.
Telecommunications was also a problem at Goiânia. It was nearly impossible to send information by computer.
Many of the Teams’ National Anthems were played poorly or not at all and Official Team Photos prior to matches were poorly organized.
As far as Maracana, the Press boxes had little visibility.
Perhaps all these would explain why Brazil were not chosen to host the 1994 World Cup that they were lobbying for.
As far as doping control, it was decided two test two players from each side. Strangely, their names were read out by microphone during the actual matches.
Some of the testing came into question. In their first match vs. Ecuador, Uruguay’s Pablo Bengoechea had 14 milligrams of caffeine in his system (double the authorized). It turned out he had drank coffee for his urine test and that was why there were traces of caffeine in his urine’. He was suspended for two years but only for CONMEBOL competitions. He was eligible for the World Cup qualifiers and his club Sevilla.
Paraguay’s Gustavo Neffa tested positive for Ephedrine following their match vs. Venezuela. It was thought to be due to an error by Paraguay Team Doctor. He had prescribed medication for cold that contained ephedrine.
Many Paraguayans felt this incident with Neffa was foul play by Brazilian Authorities to hamper their chances.
There was also another incident, when the bus to take the Paraguay squad training did not arrive and the squad were forced to take seven taxis.
Some of the players got lost and the training session was cancelled after twenty minutes. Some felt this was another incident where the Brazilian authorities intervened to damage Paraguay’s chances.
Neffa did in the end benefit from this Tournament. Juventus acquired him and immediately loaned him to Cremonese.
There were also many instances thefts and stolen money reported. A sum of 11, 750 US Dollars was stolen from the Bolivia squad from their residence at Hotel Samanbaia.
Venezuela Manager Carlos Moreno also disclosed that he was robbed of 1,800 US Dollars while on a beach.
A Uruguayan reporter was assaulted and his equipment valued at $10,000 was stolen.
In Rio, it was reported that taxi drivers overcharged journalists and fans for taking them from their hotels to the Maracana and the Police was helpless and/or unwilling to combat such extortion. The prices varied from $50 to $60.
At Goiânia, the cost of using the telephone for the press was exorbitant. A Chilean journalist, Juan Carlos Ulloa, ran up a bill of $2,000 for four 12-minute calls.
Despite all the off-field issues, the standard of play was in general better than the 1987 Edition. More goals were scored in more matches and perhaps teams were sharper since the World Cup qualifiers were on the horizon.
The next Copa America was to take place in two yhears time at Chile in 1991.
1-Twenty South American journalists voted for the best players in the First Round in Group A, the results were:
Gustavo Neffa (Paraguay) best player with 9 votes
Wilson Perez (Colombia) 6
Carlos Maldonando (Venezuela) 3
Branco, Bebeto (both Brazil), Rene Higuita (Colombia) 1
2-According to France Football
Best playes in the Copa Amaerica:
Branco (Brazil) 30 stars
Ruben Sosa (Uruguay) 29
Mauro Galvao (Brazil) 27
Bebeto (Brazil), Javier Zeoli (Uruguay) 26
Gustavo Neffa (Paraguay) 25
Ricardo (Brazil), Claudio Taffarel (Brazil) 24
Jorge Guasch (Paraguay), Santiago Ostolaza (Uruguay) 23
Valdo (Brazil), Hugo de Leon, Jose Herrera (both Uruguay) 22
Sensini (Argentina), Aldair, Carlos Dunga, Mazinho (all Brazil), Rogelio Delgado, Roberto Fernandez, Julio Cesar Franco (all Paraguay) 21
Seleccao Brasileira -90 Anos 1914-2004, Authors Antonio Carlos Napoleao, Roberto Assaf
Deporte Total N 422 17-07-1989
Triunfo Nª 163 17-07-1989
Triunfo Nª 166 07-08-1989
El Grafico Number 3639, 1989
El Grafico Number 3640, 1989
El Grafico Number 3641, 1989
Placar, Issue 994, July 7, 1989
Placar, Issue 997, July 29, 1989
Calcio 2000, Issue 21, July 1999
France Football, Issue 2256, July 4, 1989
France Football, Issue 2257, July 11, 1989
France Football, Issue 2258, July 18, 1989
Onze-Mondial, Issue 7, August 1989
World Soccer, July 1989
Wordl Soccer, August 1989
Historia de la Copa America