International

Greatest World Cup underdog story: Cameroon or North Korea?

1990 – Cameroon

Cameroon were participating in only their second World Cup. Their first appearance in 1982 finished with elimination in the group stage and expectations were low. To make matters worse, their group contained a strong USSR outfit, an improving Romania team that would dazzle four years later, and worst of all, Argentina.

Their task was to face the reigning World Champions in the opening game. Diego Maradona captained his side, and a comfortable opening day victory was predicted. Cameroon had other ideas and ended up winning 1-0 to record one of the greatest shocks of all time.

A 2-1 victory over Romania with two goals from the legend, Roger Milla, meant that a 4-0 defeat to USSR didn’t stop them advancing. The dream was on, and 37-year-old Milla, was serenading corner flags all over Italy. In the second round, Milla scored two extra time goals to defeat Colombia 2-1. England ended their dream in the quarter finals with a Gary Linekar extra-time winner put Bobby Robson’s side through to the semis. The 3-2 scorleline showed how close Cameroon had come to producing another seismic shock.

1966 – North Korea

Recent World Cups have not been very kind to North Korea. We recently looked at the facts and fictions surrounding the beautiful game in the dictatorship. Their appearance at the 1966 World Cup will always be remembered, just not as much as the story of the winners! North Korea were not given a hope of progressing from their group consisting of the Soviet Union, Italy and Chile.

All of their group games took place at ‘Boro’s old ground, Ayresome Park. They were comprehensively beaten in the first game 3-0 by Soviet Union and the writing looked on the wall. An admirable 1-1 draw in their next match versus Chile meant that only a win against the World Cup legends, Italy, would put them through. A tight 1-0 win put the North Korean side through to the last 8. IN a fitting send-off, they gave Eusebio’s Portugal a huge fright in a 5-3 humdinger. Their time was up, but North Korea had left a mark on the world!

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