On saturday the Confederations Cup kicks off in Brazil. ‘The Confederations what?’ you ask dumbly. Well allow me to fill your noggin with all the info you need to enjoy the international major of this year.
What Is It?
The Confed Cup is the true definition of a cup winner’s cup. The requirements are thus: you must’ve either won your continental trophy, the World Cup, or host the tournament. So the combined list of the competitor’s achievements reads like the world’s longest and messiest sneeze: the winners of CAF, CONCACAF, AFC, UEFA, OFC, and CONMEBOL, with the WC holders and hosts.
The tournament began in 1992 as the King Fahd Cup in Saudi Arabia where the Saudi’s would play a selection of continental winners. They hosted another in ’95 featuring a few more winners before FIFA took over the tournament two years later… and hosted it in Saudi Arabia. I wonder how much they got paid to plan that.
The next tournaments continued every two years with changing venues. From 2005 onwards it was decided that the competition would be held the year before the World Cup, every four years, and in the country about to host the WC. It has stayed that way, as a dry run for the World Cup, since. The last Confed Cup was South Africa 2009.
Who’s Won It?
An Argentina team featuring Gabriel Batistuta won the ’92 cup with Saudi Arabia coming second. The Argies then came runners-up in ’95 to a Denmark team driven by the magnificent Laudrup brothers.
Brazil won the now FIFA controlled tournament in 1997, smashing Australia 6-0 in the final – goal masters Romario and Ronaldo both getting hattricks. 1999 was hosted and won by Mexico, led by national legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco – famous for the iconic Cuauhteminha – and also featured a shining Ronaldinho.
France won both the 2001 and ’03 competitions, the latter overshadowed by the death of Cameroonian midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe in the semi-final. Cameroon went on to lose the final against France but lifted the trophy with them in memory of Foe.
Both the modern format tournaments have been won by Brazil; Germany in 2005 and South Africa in 2009. The most recent competition was highly entertaining; a 4-3 thriller between Brazil and Egypt, before Egypt took Italy out of the group with a 1-0, Ramos’ error as Spain crashed out to the USA – who then went on to put up a good fight in the final before being overcome 3-2 by Brazil, being some of the highlights.
Who’s In It?
By now your mouth should be watering for this weekend’s tourney, so who will you be enjoying? Well as a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup, Brazil are in it as hosts. Spain are in as the World Cup holders and Italy go through in the place of the Euro winners who were also Spain (tough luck Holland!). From North America’s Gold Cup come Mexico and from South America’s Copa America come Uruguay, with CAF champions Nigeria joining from Africa. From the East, Japan enter after winning the Asian Cup and the unusual package of Tahiti make up the final team, coming from the Oceania Football Confederation.
The final groups are:
Tomorrow we’ll have a look at which players you should keep your peepers on during what should be a tasty tournament.