On this day 27 March 1996 (Exactly 25 years ago today) Brazil hammered Ghana 8-2 in a Pre – Summer Olympic Games international friendly match in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Black Meteors’ number one goalkeeper Richard Kingston, was being rushed unconscious to hospital, where he was detained overnight, when his team conceded the second goal against their Brazilian counterparts.
By the time he came, the final scoreline was a staggering 8-2 rout at the Teixeirao Stadium in Sao Jose do Rio Preto.
The goalie might have wondered whether he wasn’t having a nightmare following the brain concussion he had, the result of the clash with Brazilian striker Savio in the penalty box.
The penalty award was being converted when Kingston was being carried off the field. For him personally and indeed for the entire team, it must have the worst possible start any team could have made to a build-up for a competition.
To be fair, Brazilian referee Oscar Roberto Degedoe wasn’t exactly helpful to the cause of out – classed Meteors side who were already struggling to cope with the speed and the sheer brilliant artistry of Mario Zagalo’s boys.
The Meteors, already over- stretched to their witsened, were further demoralized just when Tony Yeboah’s goal early in the second half appeared to be the tonic for a revival effort.
Then Mr Degedoe’s whistle went for a penalty against the Ghanaians and what was worse a red card flashed on full back Osei Kufffour for a second offence which didn’t look bookable and thus reducing the Meteors to 10 men.
That took the fight literally out of the Ghanaians and reduced the match to a virtual no- contest and a shooting practice the classy Brazilians.
Indeed, the home side did so clearly dominated from the start that the Meteors earned the early clean score sheet to some brave and heroic saves by their goalkeeper Kingston.
The Brazilians dominance was so total that it reflected in the fact that in the first half alone they earned countless freekicks as against one for the Meteors.
It was one of such freekicks which resulted in the opening goal after 15 minutes. Kingston could only punch back into play a scorching kick.
The ball went directly to Ze Maria, all alone. The full back’s powerful drive left Kingston, with no chance.
Three minutes later, a defence-splitting move left Juninho unmarked. The Middlesbrough midfielder delivered a point blank shot which Kingston this time punched to corner.
As the Brazilians, who like the Meteors used only one player above 23 years in skipper Aldair of Italian club Roma, surged forward in droves, the pressure became intense and relentless.
In the 21st minute, Kingston again drew applause from the excited crowd in the half empty stadium as he pushed a terrific shot from Rivaldo and managed to save the rebounded shot from Savio.
It wasn’t after the first half hour that the Meteors had their first chance in the first half.
A rare counter attack saw Emmanuel Duah sending a deep aerial cross to skipper Tony Yeboah, the only above – 23 year old player on the Meteors’ side.
The pass was met by a galloping Yeboah with goalkeeper Dida clearly out of position. But surpringly the Leeds United top striker only managed an awkward header which went harmlessly to touch.
That would have brought the Meteors on level terms. Three minutes later, Osei Kufffour was to receive his yellow and for crudely bringing down Savio who was making life uncomfortable for him on the left flank.
From the resultant freekick Kingston obliged Brazil with their eighth freekick. Then in the 35th minute, it was Stephen Baidoo, outstanding in a hapless defence, who came to rescue with a bicycle kick when Rivaldo beat Kingston.
But just as the Meteors appeared to be holding the rampaging Brazilians at bay, disaster struck. Kingston with his defence over blown , moved off his line to stop Savio just inside the penalty box .
In subsequent clash, both players fell to the ground but it was Kingston who had the worse of the impact.
He lay unconscious and after efforts to revive him failed, masseur Adjei carried him on his back to the touchline from where the injured goalie was rushed to hospital to be detained overnight for observation.
Brazilian referee Degedoe had pointed to the penalty spot when the clash occurred and it was from there that Savio rose to put the ball cooly beyond the reach of substitute goalkeeper Ibrahim Mohammed.
Incidentally, it was after this that Mallam Yahya forced Dida to give the Meteors, their first corner kick as the goalkeeper dived to direct the midfielders’ not too well – taken grounder to touch.
The start of the second half was to see a rejuvenated Meteors side. Indeed, the session was barely two minutes old when Yeboah squeezed home a perfect cross from the left by Duah.
But any heady feelings that the Meteors might have had after this were soon dispelled as the referee sent off Kufffour and awarded the penalty from which Amoral netted to raise the tally to 3-1 in the 50th minute.
That decision and goal completely upset the Meteors who rushed on the referee at the least instance. Not surprisingly therefore, the Brazilians, better composed and relentless scored two more goals through Savior (55th) and Alexandre Lopez before Duah pulled one back in the 80th minute.
But there was to be no further respite for the Meteors after that. Indeed, Brazil struck thrice within the last four minutes through Luisao, Rivaldo and Savior to seal an embarrassing night for the Meteors.
Brazil Line-up : Dida, Aldair, Flavio Concecaio, Luizao, Rivaldo, Savio (Abreu Marques) Amiral’ (Marcelino) , Juninho'(Paulo Roberto) , Ze Maria’ (Ze Elias) , Alexandre Lopes, Andre LUIS.
Ghana Line-up: Richard Kingston/ Ibrahim Mohammed, Osei Kufffour, Jacob Nettey, Stephen Baidoo, Justice Ampah, Mallam Yahya/Nii Aryee Welbeck, Felix Aboagye, Odartey Lamptey, Osumanu Amadu/Dan Addo, Tony Yeboah, Emmanuel Duah
BY: GEORGE ‘Alan Green’ MAHAMAH