How the Egyptian National Team Changed Football in World Cup 1990

  • Publish date: Wednesday، 07 September 2022
How the Egyptian National Team Changed Football in World Cup 1990
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Many claims that the match between Egypt and Ireland in the 1990 World Cup, which was held in Italy, was a major reason for the transformation of the course of football completely, as the boring style followed by the Egyptian team led by coach Mahmoud El-Gohary in that particular match caused huge demands to change the rule of "passing the ball with the foot to the goalkeeper" Which, in turn, changed the look of football forever.

The World Cup 1990 draw put the Egyptian team in a very difficult group along with the Netherlands, England, and Ireland, and after a historic opening match that ended in a 1-1 draw against the Dutch team, which includes a constellation of European football stars, the ceiling of expectations rose among the Egyptian public, who became demanding more than the "honored representation" against Ireland in the next round, in order to book an epic pass to qualify to the second round.

The Egyptian team faced Ireland in the second round of the group stage, in a match described as “the most boring match in the history of football.”

The Egyptian team presented one of the worst performances of teams in the history of the World Cup, which angered Jack Charlton, the coach of the Irish national team at the time, described coach Mahmoud El-Gohary's strategy in the following terms.

“The Egyptians never came to play a football match, they never created a chance, really I didn’t like anything about the match, neither the way the Egyptians played, nor their time-wasting tactics.”

By reviewing the match tape, it becomes clear to us that “Charlton” was right, as the Egyptian team did not create any opportunity, but what was surprising was the way of wasting time adopted by the Egyptian team, which was led by the Egyptian goalkeeper “Ahmed Schubeer”, who benefited at the time from the “back pass rule,” which used to allow the goalkeeper to seize the balls returning from the feet of his defenders with his hand, unlike what is happening now.

By the 1992 Spain Olympics, the new law had entered into force, as it became forbidden for goalkeepers to “catch” balls returning from the feet of their teammates before the law was amended again in 1997 to include the goalkeeper’s inability to catch balls returning from throw-ins.

According to Law No. 12, Paragraph 2, of the FIFA General Law Regulating Matches, the penalty for this offense is an indirect free kick, carried out from the place where the goalkeeper caught the ball unless it is within 6 yards.

Players can circumvent this rule by passing the ball to the goalkeeper with any part of their body, except their feet, of course.

According to Michael Cox, author of “The Mixer”, which discusses the history of tactics in English football, changing the back-passing rule motivated attackers to press from advanced areas of the field in order to impose errors on the opponent, which in turn led to advance the defense lines little further, to avoid entangling the goalkeepers with passes they cannot handle under the new law.

This meant that the pitch became elongated, creating extra space in the midfield for direct passing, dribbling, and attacking football, but most importantly, play accelerated dramatically, not only because there were fewer breaks in play but because a longer pitch meant more opportunities to attack and counterattack.