The Copa América, the cursed tournament for Pelé and Maradona

Both were world champions with their national teams, both were considered the best footballers on the planet in their time and no one hesitates to place them on a hypothetical podium in the history of football. But neither Pelé nor Diego Maradona could escape a stigma: neither of them could lift the Copa América trophy.

As much as he played in the Brazilian team between 1957 and 1971, Pelé only participated in the 1959 edition, when “Scratch” was runner-up in the South American Championship held in Argentina, which was the winner with a point advantage in a system of all against all. With eight goals converted, including the one in the 1-1 draw against the local team in the defining match, “O Rei” was the top scorer of the tournamentalthough he could not celebrate the title.

The 2-2 draw against Peru in the opening game, despite leading 2-0 with a goal from Pelé, was decisive for the reigning world champion left Buenos Aires empty-handed. Of little use were the 3-0 against Chile (a double by Pelé), the 4-2 against Bolivia (a goal), the 3-1 against Uruguay and the 4-1 against Paraguay (Pelé’s hat trick), since Argentina won all their commitments and reached the last game with a point difference and the advantage of being champion with a draw against the Brazilians. In the first half, Juan José Pizzuti opened the scoring for the locals, while Pelé scored insufficient equality in the second half.

That was his last goal in the tournament. He would never play it again: in the other edition of 1959 in Guayaquil, Brazil sent a representative of the state of Pernambuco. Nor did the best possible team attend Bolivia in 1963while for Uruguay 1967, the Brazilian Confederation did not even send a team. Thus, even though he celebrated three world titles, Pelé was never able to play the tournament again.

Maradona, on the other hand, had three participations, although he could not lift the trophy either. In 1979, with a very different squad from the one that had won the 78 World Cup a year earlier and in a contest that lasted five months, the star appeared for the first time, with an unusual image: the number 6 jersey on the back. His debut was in a 2-1 loss to Brazil at the Maracana, after Argentina also lost 2-1 to Bolivia in La Paz.

In the rematch against the Bolivians, El Diez (with the 6) scored his first goal in the 3-0 win on the Vélez stadium and said goodbye to the tournament with a 2-2 draw at the Monumental against Brazil, who won the group with five points and advanced to the semifinals of the tournament that would later be won by Paraguay.

Read Also:  Kimi Antonelli, the Italian promise that fascinates Mercedes and Williams

Absent from the 1983 tournament, Maradona returned to the Copa América in 1987, when it returned to the format of a venue in a country, and Argentina was the first host. With the base of the world champion squad in Mexico and incorporations such as Claudio Caniggia and Juan Gilberto Funes, Argentina had a resounding failure, with a fourth place after losing 1-0 against Uruguay in the semifinals and 2-1 against Colombia in the match for the third place. Maradona was the team’s top scorer, with a goal in the 1-1 draw against Peru and a brace in the 3-0 draw against Ecuador, in which it was the only victory in that contest.

Two years later in Brazil, the tournament marked a new frustration for Diego and the National Team. Although the team finished third in the final standings, his production was quite poor, with two goals in seven games. In the group stage they beat Chile and Uruguay 1-0 with goals from Caniggia and drew 0-0 with Bolivia and Ecuador. In the final homer they fell 2-0 against Brazil and against Uruguay and tied 0-0 with Paraguay. The most remembered action of Maradona from that tournament was a shot from midfield against Uruguay that flew over goalkeeper Javier Zeoli and bounced off the crossbar. A clear sign that, beyond his scrolls and his magic, the Copa América was always going to be elusive.

Recent Articles

Related News

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here