Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland team made the
world cup finals for the second time running. Ireland
proved that the 1990 was no fluke and made it through
to the second round of the world cup in America
and got through the toughest group of all. The teams
included in the group were the Republic of Ireland,
Mexico, Italy and Norway, all teams finished level
on points however as Norway scored fewest goals
they were knocked out of the tournament. Republic
of Ireland started off the world cup in great form
beating the Italians 1-0, however they never really
matched there form of the opening game in their
following matches against Mexico and Norway. For
the 1994 world cup finals, FIFA had introduced three
points for a win and one point for a draw. In previous
world cups a victory would mean only gaining two
Cameroon were looking for the success they achieved
four years earlier in Italia 90, however they were
brought back down to earth as they finished bottom
of their group with only a single point from a draw
against Sweden, who went through the group along
with the favourites Brazil. The 1994 world cup finals
saw the emergence of another African country, Nigeria
were very entertaining with victories over Bulgaria
and Greece, however they did lose 2-1 to Italia
90 finalists Argentina. However Nigeria did enough
to top their group. A rejuvenated Diego Maradona,
aged 33 at the time, had orchestrated a 5-0 victory
over Greece, as well as a victory over Nigeria.
However after the match against Nigeria he failed
a routine drugs test and that marked the end of
his world cup.
USA were hosts of the tournament and they were
looking to progress past the group stages. After
a draw against Switzerland they beat one of the
pre tournament favourites Colombia. Despite a 1-0
defeat by a decent Romanian side in their final
group match the USA had entered the second phase
with 4 points. Colombia ended up finishing bottom
of their group and they were eliminated at the first
hurdle of the world cup which was one of the major
shocks of the competition. Colombia’s elimination
from the world cup precipitated a tragedy which
overshadowed matters on the pitch. Andres Escobar,
who scored an own goal in his country’s 2-1 defeat
by the USA, was shot dead shortly after returning
The Republic of Ireland met a Holland side that
topped their group, but only after unimpressive
victories over Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Two defensive
mistakes by the Irish handed the Dutch victory and
Jack Charlton’s team were out of the competition.
Germany met Belgium in the second round in an entertaining
3-2 victory for the German’s. Spain defeated Saudi
Arabia while Sweden comfortably beat Switzerland
to race into the quarter finals. The USA left the
world cup in dignity losing 1-0 to Brazil.
The Italians had to struggle to beat Nigeria 2-1,
they were 1-0 down with seconds to go, Roberto Baggio
then equalised for Italy, and he then scored the
winner for the Italians in extra time with a penalty.
The form of the Eastern European sides were excellent
throughout the world cup, the Bulgarians beat Mexico
in the only penalty shoot out of the second round.
Romania beat Argentina 3-2; Hagi was on top form
for Romania in that match.
Bulgaria went on to send the holders Germany out
of the world cup in the quarter finals. They over
turned a 1-0 deficit with two late goals to reach
the semi-finals. Romania came very close to joining
the Bulgarians, but they lost on penalties to Sweden
after drawing 2-2 with Sweden. Brazil had the edge
over Holland in a five goal thriller, while Baggio
continued his excellent form scoring a late winner
for Italy in their quarter-final match against Spain.
Baggio was on top form again for Italy during their
semi final match against Bulgaria, he scored two
goals which were enough to see them through to their
fifth world cup final.
Brazil beat Sweden 1-0 to meet the Italians in
what sounded like a mouth watering world cup final.
Having reached third in their group and narrowly
beating Nigeria, Spain and Bulgaria, the Italians
were negative in the final. It appeared from their
performance that they would settle with a draw and
for the match to go to penalties and they got what
they wished. Fortunately for football, Brazil won
the penalty shoot out after the star of the world
cup; Roberto Baggio blazed his penalty over the
bar. The Brazilians were now the world champions
for the first time in 24 years.