World Cup 1974: The Team That Made Itself Laughingstock for Everyone

  • Publish date: Friday، 26 August 2022
World Cup 1974: The Team That Made Itself Laughingstock for Everyone

Zaire National Team (Democratic Republic of Congo) reached the World Cup 1974 edition for the first time in their history, the draw placed them in a group that includes Scotland, Yugoslavia, and Brazil.

Prior to the opening match, Scottish coach Willie Ormond said that if they could not beat Zaire, they should pack their bags and go home. Nevertheless, the minutes of the match witnessed a performance that is remembered as being good by the African Tigers.

Despite losing 2-0, they showed a cohesive defensive strategy as well as undeniable skill with the ball.

Therefore, this defeat can be described as logical as it is their first meeting in that big event.

Prior to the second encounter against Yugoslavia, rumors began circulating that the Tigers' players were unwilling to take to the field. According to what was raised at the time, the players staged a rebellion in response to not receiving the monetary rewards they had been promised from the national authorities of their country. Some of them felt that they had been robbed by state officials, especially since they were told that a minister was on his way to them at the agreed money, but this never happened.

Some later claimed that the tournament organizers had decided to give the players a 3000 "mark" in order to maintain the format of the competition and not to withdraw from the first rounds. The result is that the team has already participated, but it suffered a humiliating defeat with nine goals to nil.

The last match of Zaire in the World Cup was against Brazil, the defending champion at the time. The samba players had obtained a free kick in the last minutes when the result indicated a two-goal lead, and as soon as the referee blew his whistle allowing the Brazilian players to execute, the Zairean defender Mibo Ilunga came out of the blocking wall and kicked the ball away in an unexpected scene, to be punished with a yellow card by the referee and with vitriolic descriptions that have accompanied him almost his whole life, such as those described by BBC commentator John Motson, who described his behavior as a moment of African ignorance.

World Cup 1974: The Team That Made Itself Laughingstock for Everyone

After they were eliminated from the tournament, the Zaire mission fled with a BMW bus, which the German company temporarily granted to the participating teams, and here the German police intervened and prevented the Zaire team from stealing the bus, which made the team a laughingstock for the audience, the African team entered the tournament with the title of Black Panthers and came out of it with the title of Black Cats.

Despite all the descriptions that the defender "Ilunga" received from the football fans, he was among his colleagues the most daring and sacrificed his reputation in public in order to preserve himself and the lives of his colleagues. In 2010, "Ilunga" himself came out to confirm that he was fully aware of the result of his action and that it was not normal that after his long experience with football during his time with the national team and with his team Mazembe, that he didn't know the penalty for what he was doing, but he was only trying to waste more time.

The Zaire president at the time had threatened to kill the team's players if they lost more than 3-0 to Brazil, after losing 9-0 to Yugoslavia.

Fortunately, Zaire's last match ended 3-0 in favor of Brazil.

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