Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Qualification Phase, Part Seven (Brazil 1994 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers)

Brazil’s 1994 World Cup qualifications took place in the summer into the Fall of 1993.
Brazil were led by Carlos Alberto Parreira, who had been appointed in late 1991 following the dismissal of Paulo Roberto Falcao and the short interim of Ernesto Paulo.
He was regarded as a defensive minded Manager and his tactics did not please most Brazilians. His intent was further highlighted when he appointed Mario Zagallo as his assistant (another perceived apostle of defensive Football).

Photo From: World Soccer, September 1993
(Carlos Alberto Parreira)

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2473, August 31, 1993
(Mario Zagallo and Carlos Alberto Parreira )

Prior to these qualifiers, Brazil had been involved in two back-to-back competitions, the 1993 US Cup (in June) followed by the Copa America.
C.A. Parreira had wisely selected a weaker squad for the Copa America, to preserve his stars with the World Cup qualifiers in mind. The Copa America was used for experimentation to give playing time to mostly home-based youngsters.
Parreira would base his squad upon the foreign-based stars along with the home-based players from essentially Sao Paulo and Palmeiras.
Sao Paulo had won the Copa Libertadores for two straight seasons and within a few months would win back-to-back Intercontinental (Toyota Cup) titles. Palmeiras had also spent heavily to build a competitive squad.
The first choice goalkeeper was Claudio Taffarel, who was regarded by many as Brazil’s most reliable goalkeeper since Gilmar.
The defense was marshaled by Ricardo Raimundo Gomes of Paris St. Germain. It was a solid and experienced backline that included the Bayern Munich right-back Jorginho, left-back Branco (a veteran from 1986, 1990 WCs), as well as Ricardo Rocha (back to Brazilian Football after a spell at Real Madrid).
Just behind them in the pecking order were youngsters such as Cafu and Marcio Santos, with veteran defender Aldair still in frame but struggling at AS Roma.
Benfica veteran Carlos Mozer would have been part of the squad but he was dropped on July 7th after being embroiled in a lawsuit with a newspaper that had claimed he had AIDS. His dismissal had paved the way for Parreira to call up Marcio Santos.
In midfield, Brazil’s important Number 5 position (occupied by the likes of Cerezo in the past) was entrusted to Mauro Silva. He had just finished an excellent season at Spain’s Deportivo La Coruna, who were about to become a power in Spanish Football.
The steely Carlos Dunga was still ever present in midfield. He had left Italian Football for Germany’s VfB Stuttgart for much needed first team action.
The star of the team was Rai, brother of the great Socrates. He had led Sao Paulo to the above-mentioned titles and had also joined his compatriots Ricardo Gomes and Valdo at Paris St. Germain and much was expected of him.
The tireless runner Zinho completed C.A. Parreira’s first choice midfield.
Leonardo and Luis Henrique were also options in midfield. Much to the surprise of many, Paris St. Germain’s Valdo appeared out of favor with C.A. Parreira, despite impressing in France. He was neverthless part of the squad, but never even made the bench for the qualifiers.
For his options upfront, Parreira relied on 1989 Copa America hero Bebeto.
Bebeto had fallen out with Parreira’s predecessor Falcao. He had been rejuvenated after his excellent season at Deportivo La Coruna, along with his compatriot Mauro Silva.
The other striker should have normally been the goalscoring machine Romario.
However, Romario had fallen out with Parreira and was out of the National Team Set-up (for the time being).
Veteran striker and 1990 Captain Antonio Careca was still available but past his prime and he was about to bow out of the International Arena.
Luckily Parreira had many other options upfront, such as Luis Muller (1986 and 1990 WCs veteran), Evair, Palhinha and Valdeir among others.
They were able to deputize Romario, until the dispute was resolved.

Brazil were drawn in a Group along with Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
Brazil were clearly always regarded as favorites and for many the question was who would finish behind them and based on History, Uruguay appeared as the likely leading challengers.
However, the continent would be surprised with the emergence of Bolivia, who gave Brazil a run for their money in these qualifiers and would deservedly qualify along with Brazil at Uruguay’s expense.
Brazil had decided to start off with all their away qualifiers at first.
For the first qualifier, Brazil were to face Ecuador at Guayaquil on July 18th.  Just four days prior, Brazil had a played a preparatory friendly at Rio’s Estádio de São Januário and defeated Paraguay (2-0). This would be at a cost since Ricardo Rocha would be injured in the match.
At Guayaquil, Brazil had to settle for a scoreless tie. Parreira must have been pleased with an away point as the standards across the continent had improved and ‘easy’ matches were rare.

Photo From: Jornal do Brasil, July 19, 1993
(July 18, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Ecudor 0-Brazil 0)

Luiz Henrique would start in midfield ahead of Dunga, though the latter would later come on.
Parreira chose Careca to partner Bebeto upfront.
Marcio Santos and Valber started in defense in place of the injured Ricardo Gomes and Ricardo Rocha.
These injuries forced Parreira to call up Antonio Carlos Zago (on July 22nd).
Just a week later on July 25th, Brazil made their perilous journey to the high altitude of La Paz to face Bolivia.
Spanish Manager Xabier Azkargorta had instilled a sense of confidence on the Bolivians who were ambitious to qualify. A week earlier, they had trounced Venezuela (7-1) in an away match. Bolivia’s main star was Marco Antonio Etcheverry, who was earning praise across the continent rare for a Bolivian footballer.
After the disappointing draw against Ecuador, the Press had criticized Parrerira on his tactics an choice of players. The Press clamored for the Careca to be replaced with Muller upfront (and of course Romario). In addition, the Press wanted to see Cafu, Palhinha and Leonardo ahead of Luiz Henrique, Zinho and Branco.
Whether by his own or through pressure, Parreira did make modifications. He included Cafu ahead of Jorginho at right-back and also installed Leonardo at left-back ahead of Branco.
Valber and Marcio Santos once again deputized for the two injured Ricardos (Gomes and Rocha). Dunga was once again missing and deputized by Luis Henrique.
Brazil would struggle in playing at the high altitude of La Paz, not to mention the fact that this was not their settled squad with all the changes.
As early as the 40th minute, Luiz Henrique would be replaced by Jorginho, as he was suffering from the effects of the altitude.
Cafu was pushed in midfield to occupy Henrique’s spot and Jorginho reclaimed his right-back position.
Unable to cope with the high altitude, Brazil would crumble in the closing stages of the match by giving up goals in the 88th and 89th minutes in a (0-2) loss.

Photo From: El Grafico Number 3852, 1993
(Bebeto, July 25, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Bolivia 2-Brazil 0)

Brazil goalkeeper had even stopped a penalty kick earlier, but his error led to the first goal five minutes later as he deflected Marco Etcheverry’s cross from the left side into his net.
This match against Bolivia would go down as of the most disappointing episodes concerning the Brazilian National Team. Brazil would lose for the first time ever a World Cup qualifier.
The loss further heightened the demands for Parreira’s sacking.
Parreira had stated that his choice of players had been after consultation with doctors givin the problems with altitude; as a result Brazil could not compete with a cohesive unit.
Parreira and Zagallo would also blame the press for conducting a campaign to destabilize the team (especially the allies of Tele Santana in the press).
Shortly afterwards, a poll in ‘Folha de Sao Paulo’ had 70% of people asking for him to be sacked with Tele Santana as the favorite replacement.
On their way back home, there was such discontent and hostility with the public that Zagallo was involved in an argument with a taxi driver at the airport.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 60, January 1994
(Carlos Alberto Parreira and Mario Zagallo)

Photo From: World Soccer, November 1993
(Mario Zagallo)

Fortunately for Brazil, their next away match was on August 1st, at San Cristóbal vs. Venezuela, which was considered a formality. Brazil easily won (5-1) with Bebeto scoring twice.
Jorginho, Ricardo Rocha and Branco were back in the defense, with Marcio Santos deputizing for Ricardo Gomes.
Dunga started for the first time to reclaim his customary spot. Instead of Zinho, Parreira selected the more attack minded Elivelton, as Brazil needed to score more goals against a weaker opposition.

Photo From: Jornal do Brasil, August 2, 1993
(August 1, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Venezuela 1-Brazil 5)

Careca partnered Bebeto upfront, in what would become the veteran’s last ever match for Brazil. He would withdraw from the squad on August 3rd and retire from the National Team (he was also off to Japan, to play in the new J-League).
The fact that fans would chant “Romario! Romario!” every time he would touch the ball must have weighed on him.

The following day on August 2nd, Brazil were beset with more problems. Back-up goalkeeper Zetti (along with the Bolivian Miguel Rimba) were temporarily suspended after drug tests revealed traces of cocaine. Both players insisted upon their innocence and said that they had been drinking tea with coca leaves (a remedy for altitude sickness).
Zetti was regarded as a man of impeccable quality and many rushed to his defense. It was reported that Rai had said that he would put ‘his hand in fire’ for Zetti. (Brazilian expression for believing in someone).
Taffarel as well defended him and called the decision a ‘slander’.
FIFA would eventually clear both players on August 16th.

Photo From: World Soccer, October 1993

Brazil had the time for one more friendly at home at Maceió vs. Mexico (1-1) on August 8th before heading off to Montevideo to play their last away qualifier vs. Uruguay on August 15th.
Parreira imposed five days of intensive training for his squad for this match.
The training sessions were set in the morning hours because according to Parreira they would not extra strength in Montevideo.
Brazil presented the same defense as the Venezuela match with Marcio Santos still in the squad for the injured Ricardo Gomes.
Zinho was back in the midfield and with Careca out of the picture; Muller was now Bebeto’s striking partner.
Brazil came away with a creditable away point (1-1) with Rai scoring for Brazil. 

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2472, August 24, 1993
(Rai and Enzo Francescolli, August 15, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Uruguay 1-Brazil 1)

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2474, September 7, 1993
(Bebeto and Santiago Ostolaza, August 15, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Uruguay 1-Brazil 1)

Photo From: Don Balon, Chile Edicion, Issue 155, June 12-18, 1995
(Carlos Dunga, August 15, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Uruguay 1-Brazil 1)

However, Ricardo Rocha was sent off and would be suspended for their next match.
The stage was set now for the qualifiers on home soil and Brazil were confident and eager to present a better face at home (not to mention revenge against Bolivia).
However, the home crowd were still not satisfied with the National Team and let their frustrations be known during the team’straining sessions.
Taffarel (perhaps for his mistake vs. Bolivia) was now a target and during the sessions, whenever he touched the ball he was jeered while his back-up Zetti was cheered. Parreira would nonetheless stick with Taffarel, as well as Dunga, another favorite target of the critics.
There were also concerns with Rai’s poor form that had dipped since the previous season. In an interview, Parreira said that he stuck with Rai, because he had no other alternatives in his position.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2473, August 31, 1993
(Brazil players training)

Ecuador were the first opponents on home soil, at São Paulo on August 22nd. Ricardo Gomes was back in defense. Marcio Santos was once again drafted this time to deputize for the suspended Ricardo Rocha.
The rest of the squad was intact as Muller once again partnered Bebeto up top.
Brazil won (2-0) with goals by Bebeto and Dunga to set their qualification program on course. It was imperative to win in front of a home crowd after struggling away from home.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2474, September 7, 1993
(Luis Muller, August 22, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Brazil 2-Ecuador 0)

On August 29th Brazil hosted Bolivia at Recife. As a matter of pride, Brazil were determined to prove that the loss on July 25th was a fluke and was only due to the problems related to altitude.
They attacked relentlessly from the start and had scored five goals by halftime. They would another in the second half for a convincing (6-0) win.
Brazil had presented its most settled squad with both Ricardos (Gomes and Rocha) back in defense. Carlos Dunga would be sent off and miss Brazil’s match.
Brazil took over the leadership of the Group after this win (on goal difference) and gained a measure of revenge.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2473, August 31, 1993
(August 29, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Brazil 6-Bolivia 0)

Despite the win, the media was still at odds with Parreira’s tactics. In an interview, Parreira likened his role as being like a ‘Robocop’. He would later recall that the media were so set against him that even after defeating Bolivia (6-0) a Sao Paulo newspaper had complained that his side had played too defensively.
Brazil’s next qualifier was the relatively easy affair against Venezuela at Belo Horizonte on September 5th.  Given the quality of the opposition, Parreira chose to rest some of the starters.
Palhinha would be called up to replace the suspended Dunga. Bebeto was also suspended for the accumulation of yellow cards.
Muller would also be rested for this match. In their places Valdeir and Evair would start upfront. Brazil would comfortably and predictably win (4-0).
Brazil’s final qualifier was scheduled two weeks later on September 19th at the Maracana vs. Uruguay.
While Brazil were busy with their qualifying campaign in the summer, Romario had joined Johann Cruyff’s Barcelona squad. His impact had been instantaneous and he had been scoring goals in bucket loads.
Not entirely satisfied with his attacking options, Carlos Alberto Parreira decided it was time to mend fences with Romario and re-integrate him into the National Team.
For this vital qualifier, Brazil would present its strongest squad with all its key elements including Dunga back from suspension and Romario upfront with Bebeto.
True to fashion, Romario would make a triumphant return and score twice in Brazil’s (2-0) win to qualify them to the World Cup.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 60, January 1994
(September 19, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Brazil 2-Uruguay 0)

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2477, September 28, 1993
(Romario, September 19, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Brazil 2-Uruguay 0)

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 60, January 1994
(Romario, September 19, 1993, World Cup Qualifier, Brazil 2-Uruguay 0)

Brazil would win the qualifying Group outright after this win.
In a poll, Brazilian fans selected Bebeto as Brazil’s best player in the qualifiers with Rai being chosen as the worst. Rai would struggle in his first season at Paris St. Germain and it affected his play in the National Team (eventually losing his place during the World Cup).
In the summer, Brazil would end a 24-year wait by winning the World Cup in USA with Romario in impressive form.
C.A. Parreira had to put with a daily barrage of calls for his sackings from the fans and the press, but stuck to his principles and selected his players.
Brazil had uncharacteristically struggled in the qualifiers but triumphed in the end with a solid and steely defense.
Despite the World Cup triumph, Parreira’s tactics would be scrutinized and criticized to the end.
Upon leaving his post as Brazil Manager following the end of the World Cup, he said at least hewon’t have 150 Million People breathing down his neck.

France Football, Issue 2468, July 27, 1993
France Football, Issue 2469, August 3, 1993
France Football, Issue 2471, August 17, 1993
France Football, Issue 2472, August 24, 1993
France Football, Issue 2473, August 31, 1993
France Football, Issue 2474, September 7, 1993
France Football, Issue 2477, September 28, 1993
Onze-Mondial, Hors Serie 16, May 1994
Onze-Mondial, Issue 60, January 1994
Seleccao Brasileira -90 Anos 1914-2004, Authors Antonio Carlos Napoleao, Roberto Assaf
World Soccer, October 1993
World Soccer, November 1993
World Soccer, March 1994

Jornal do Brasil

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