Saturday, May 15, 2010

Previewing The World Cup By Displaying The Exact Opposite

Next month, 32 of the greatest soccer nations on Earth will play in the World Cup.

This is not about the World Cup. Or any of those 32 nations. This is about two of the lesser soccer nations on Earth- Barbados and Grenada- and one of the lesser cups- the 1994 Shell Caribbean Cup.

Let's set the stage. It's the end of the group phase. Barbados needs to beat Grenada by two goals to advance. However, in 1994, FIFA had a golden goal rule for international matches-- essentially, sudden death, next goal wins. Most international matches that aren't in a single-elimination round will be allowed to end in a tie, but this particular match needed a winner, and the golden goal rule applied.

So Barbados jumps out to a two-goal lead. How convenient. All is well until, with seven minutes left on the clock, Grenada busts through and makes the score 2-1. That's no good. Now Barbados has seven minutes to score against a now locked-down Grenada.

Except maybe not.

Somewhere along the line, some Caribbean Cup organizer decided that, in case of overtime, a golden goal would count as two goals instead of one. One of the Barbadian players thought fast and noted that, even though a goal on Grenada wouldn't be likely, they could still score on themselves, tie the game, go to overtime, get a golden goal, and still advance as the golden goal, being worth two, would make for the two goals they need.

So the Barbadian player, last name Sealy (soccer's not too big on the first names unless you're a major player) whips right around, takes a second to talk to a fellow defender, Stoute (probably to explain what he was about to do), and scores an own goal. Everybody's shocked for a second, then does the math and figures out the game. Now Grenada is in the situation Barbados just was, except they didn't have the option of scoring the kind of goal they're supposed to be scoring.

Once Grenada figured it out, they made for their own goal... only to find BOTH goals defended by the Barbadians. Regular time ended with the Grenadians trying to score in either goal and the Barbadians not having any of it. In overtime, Barbados sees their quick thinking pay off, as they get the golden goal, sending them through.

Grenada wasn't happy, obviously, and they had a point, but they had clearly demonstrated that they were willing to pull the same stunt. They just got outwitted. (In the next round, also a group stage, Barbados would come in third out of four teams and be eliminated. Trinidad and Tobago would beat Martinique in the final.)

There is video evidence.

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