Wednesday, July 14, 2004

frantic defending of both penalty areas

"I wonder if you can help me," asked Aladair Maughan, a Guardian reader writing into the Guardian's regular football feature, The Knowledge. "I remember reading about a match being played in an African cup competition (I think) where both teams were trying to score own goals in order to try to make/try to prevent the game from going into extra time and being won on a golden goal. Does anyone know the exact details of this, or if it's just an urban myth?"

The Knowledge replies as follows. Apologies to those who care not for football. I hope this is amusing enough to warrant a long quote - I think so.

It might sound like an urban myth, Alasdair, but it's (almost) 100% true. The crazy events you describe took place in a Shell Caribbean Cup match between Barbados and Grenada in 1994.

Going into the last group game, Barbados needed to beat Grenada by two goals to qualify for the final stages. Anything less and Grenada went through. So far, so simple. Except that the organisers had decided that, in the case of extra time, a golden goal would count as two goals.

You don't have to be Einstein to work out what happened next. Barbados raced to a 2-0 lead before Grenada made it 2-1 with seven minutes remaining. The Bajans were heading out unless they scored a goal; any goal.

Fortunately for them, with three minutes left, they did just that - only not in the right net. Their deliberate own goal made it 2-2 and propelled the game towards extra time.

Now, farcically, Grenada needed to score a goal (at either end) to go through. Cue frantic defending of both penalty areas by Barbados until the final whistle.

Maybe it's just me, but I love that idea. You can read more on the same game at the link above.

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