Australia v Brazil by Thomas Esamie

Australia 0 - Brazil 0

In late 1996 Australia began a record winning streak which lasted until the first leg of that fateful match against Iran. Brazil managed to equal this streak and had they won this game against Australia they would have earnt the outright best winning streak ever. Alas they could not and the World Record winning streak is currently jointly held by Australia and Brazil.

Thanks to Andrew Howe for pointing this out, enclosed are his details.

And we'll only keep this world record if we don't let Brazil win on


Date      Opponent       Score  Match status
26/10/96  Tahiti         6-0    Confed. Cup qualifier
01/11/96  Tahiti         5-0    Confed. Cup qualifier
18/01/97  New Zealand    1-0    friendly
22/01/97  South Korea    2-1    friendly
26/01/97  Norway         1-0    friendly
12/03/97  Macedonia      1-0    friendly
02/04/97  Hungary        3-1    friendly
11/06/97  Solomans      13-0    WC qualifier
13/06/97  Tahiti         5-0    WC qualifier
17/06/97  Solomans       6-2    WC qualifier
19/06/97  Tahiti         2-0    WC qualifier
28/06/97  New Zealand    3-0    WC qualifier
06/07/97  New Zealand    2-0    WC qualifier
01/10/97  Tunisia        3-0    friendly


(* continuing as at 13/12/97)

10/06/97   England       1-0   friendly
13/06/97   Costa Rica    5-0   Copa America - 1st round
16/06/97   Mexico        3-2   Copa America - 1st round
19/06/97   Colombia      2-0   Copa America - 1st round 
22/06/97   Paraguay      2-0   Copa America - qtr final
26/06/97   Peru          7-0   Copa America - semi
29/06/97   Bolivia       3-1   Copa America - final
10/08/97   South Korea   2-1   friendly
13/08/97   Japan         3-0   friendly
10/09/97   Ecuador       4-2   friendly
09/10/97   Morocco       2-0   friendly
11/11/97   Wales         3-0   friendly
07/12/97   South Africa  2-1   friendly
12/12/97   Saudi Arabia  3-0   Confederations Cup
14/12/97   AUSTRALIA     ?-?   Confederations Cup

Brazil basically controlled the game and created all the chances and Australia defended for 90 minutes. Alright there were moments when this didn't happen but they were brief and off the top of my head I can think of 2 half decent goalscoring chances Australia had. Neither of them were what you'd call gilt-edged.

Brazil managed gilt-edged chances as early as 8 minutes into the game when Ronaldo broke free of the defence which sported 2 regular sweepers in Milan Ivanovic and Steve Horvat. Ronaldo tried to be a little too cute and flick the ball past Bosnich with the outside of his foot and Bosnich palmed the ball away.

Soon after Australia got a corner which was totally ineffective in one of their semi-successful forward forays. More interesting was the referee's decision to give Australia an indirect free kick inside the penalty box. I haven't the slightest idea why it was given but as usual the dead ball situation was squandered by Australia as the ball cannonned into one of the plethora of defenders who were back to defend.

The Australians then had the misfortune to leave Flavio Conceciao with a free passage to goal and the arsiest luck to have his shot hit the inside of the post and bounce away across the face of goal with Bosnich beaten. Not that I minded of course.

Then when Bebeto ran onto a pass he put the ball into the net despite the whistle for offside and consequently earnt himself a yellow card. In contrast Australia's best chance came when Craig Foster came forward and rolled the ball wide into the penalty area for Mark Viduka to run onto. Dida went down early for the ball but Viduka could not make enough of the chance and his shot was parried by Dida and there wasn't enough Australian players in the box to take advantage of the loose ball.

Rivaldo was belatedly booked after the referee had allowed a lengthy advantage following Rivaldo's tackle on Stan Lazaridis. Then as the half drew to a close Mark Viduka was helping out in defence and fouled Ronaldo, typical forward. I mean there were two guys in front of Ronaldo and then V-Bomber comes running into his back and gives Roberto Carlos a ping at goal. The free kick was struck with Roberto Carlos power but there was a touch of Australian accuracy and the went wide of the goalposts.

The Australian defence also shwed a prmising cynicism when Horvat brought down Bebeto late in the first half just as the latter was about to bear down on goal. Carlos steps up for the free kick and this time was on target (for god's sake why bother with the damn wall at all?) but Bosnich was down quickly to his left to keep the shot out.

Halftime and 0-0, who'd have thought it?

Against Mexico Zelic almost scored from the kickoff. This time Aloisi had a fair chance to head Australia in front barely 2 minutes into the game but again while the chance was makeable you couldn't exactly expect it to be made and in the end it wasn't of any concern to the Brazilians. More important was the fact that Australia were holding out a pretty useful attack.

Soon after Aloisi's attempt Ronaldo showed Aloisi how to execute a header at goal and Bosnich, in turn, showed how you can go a long way with fast reflexes and good positioning. Again Aurelio Vidmar wasn't showing much but then again it's hard to shine against Brazil. However Aurelio's replacement, Ernie Tapai, managed to do a lot better for Australia and showed some good moves in controlling what possession Australia had.

Not to be outdone Zagallo brought on Denilson for Rivaldo and Brazil tried to take their main thorn out of the game by launching a cross into Craig Foster's balls. While Craig writhed in pain Brazil prepared to take the corner, to think we dream of playing in games like these guys are. What is wrong with us?

After Venables made his second last substitution by bringing Mori on for Aloisi it was pretty clear he was hoping for a fast break utilising Mori's speed as a means to get the goal rather than rely on the buildup play which had yielded no tangible results for Australia.

With roughly 20 minutes left in the game Bosnich again covered himself in glory by parrying a long shot by Ronaldo up into the air and catching it before anyone else could get to it. Acting as some sort of rebuke Australia were awarded another free kick a minute later after Sempaio fouled Mori and the free kick was actually quite decent. Sure Zelic failed to score or even get the shot on target but in its favour was the fact that the shot beat the wall, was well struck and stayed below the height of the crossbar. The only problem was that the shot was wide, not very, but enough.

Australia actually seemed to play well towards the end of the game and I must admit I was starting to entertain notions of a goal from Australia late in the game to win it. Alas that did not happen but thankfully the Brazilians didn't score either. Considering the little tete-a-tete between Mori and Roberto Carlos (?) late in the game, for which Mori got a yellow card, you could assume that there was still much for either side to play for.

Infact I noticed that most of all Aldair was a very unhappy camper, constantly wagging his finger at Linesmen, opposing players and I imagine if he had the chance he'd also have shown his disapproval at the parents of every player on the pitch.

Perhaps it was out of frustration but when Roberto Carlos got another shot at goal when Tapai fouled Leonardo he decided to dispense with the niceties of going around the wall and opted to try going through it. I think he killed Tony Vidmar.

When Viduka came off late in the game, primarily as a time-wasting exercise but also to give Goldenboy a run, he was beaming so hard I thought his face would crack. He was sure Australia had got the point they dared not have hoped for prior to the game. Venables too managed to smile approvingly as Viduka was hugging everything in sight. Minutes later the referee decided that yes, this was enough, and blew for full time.

I suppose a scoreless draw isn't exactly something to be proud of in general but when it is gained by Australia against Brazil, well, it was a great result and the news services in Australia were using phrases such as "Australia's best ever result" which I don't agree with but it's not far off. Notably Australia still haven't scored against Brazil in 4 attempts for a 0-1-3 record and 6-0 GF-GA.

After the game too news was given that Venables had accepted, in principle, a contract which would see him as Australia's coach until the year 2002. Perhaps football in Australia isn't dead.

Written by Thomas Esamie