“Afcon hosts Ivory Coast sacked coach Jean-Louis Gasset after a desultory group-stage performance, but it was later confirmed they had qualified for the last 16. Has a coach ever been sacked during an international tournament before? And if so, what is the best finish for a coach (or caretaker) appointed mid-tournament?” asks Grant Ninnes.
Gasset isn’t the first coach to get his cards in the middle of a tournament, though most of his predecessors were sacked after two group games and with their team in the departure lounge. Two such examples came at the 1998 World Cup. Tunisia got rid of Henryk Kasperczak after the shame of losing against England and Colombia in their first two group games, even though both were reasonably tight. Ali Selmi took over for the last match against Romania’s new blond army, earning an impressive 1-1 draw.
“South Korea sacked their coach, Cha Bum-kun, after two matches (losing 3-1 to Mexico and 5-0 to the Netherlands) in the first round,” writes Shaun Manning of the same tournament. “His replacement, Kim Pyung-seok, managed a 1-1 draw with Belgium and home the team went (as did Belgium).”
A year later, Nigeria hosted the Fifa World Youth Championship, now the Under-20 World Cup. “Tunde Disu who had managed the team when they were runners-up 10 years earlier, was fired after a wobbly group-stage performance that culminated in the loss of the last group match to Paraguay,” writes Opeyemi Ajala. “The senior national team manager Thijs Libregts was drafted to continue the tournament. He won the round-of-16 tie on penalties against the Irish, but lost the quarter-finals 3-1 to Mali.”
Gasser’s replacement, Emerse Faé, has taken his team to the semi-finals despite them being on the brink on multiple occasions. If you can beat that, let us know.
Hosts with the least
“Ivory Coast losing 4-0 against Equatorial Guinea made me wonder: what are the biggest defeats by host nations in major tournaments?” wonders Pablo Miguez.
The biggest, in Richter terms, will always be the utterly mind-blowing World Cup semi-final of 2014: Brazil 1-7 Germany, and it would have been worse had most of the German players not taken pity in the second half. But it’s not the heaviest defeat. Before we get to that, Dirk Maas and Peter Tomlin both sent a list of the biggest shellackings in each men’s continental competition.
Africa Cup of Nations
Copa América (see below for South American Championship)
1959 Ecuador 0-4 Uruguay, round robin
2016 USA 0-4 Argentina, semi-final
Fifa Confederations Cup
1997 Saudi Arabia 0-5 Mexico, group stage
2001 South Korea 0-5 France, group stage
AFC Asian Cup
2007 Malaysia 0-5 Uzbekistan, group stage
A note on this from Rollo Treadway: “Unusually, there were four co-hosts in that tournament. Malaysia finished with no points and a goal difference of -11. Thailand suffered a 4-0 defeat against Australia on their way to first-round elimination, Vietnam lost 4-1 to Japan but made it through to the last 16, whilst Indonesia were also knocked out early but only had to suffer narrow defeats against Saudi Arabia and South Korea.”
Concacaf Gold Cup
South American Championship
OFC Nations Cup
Peter has a note on New Caledonia, whose 8-0 defeat is the biggest in a senior men’s continental or global tournament. “Despite this loss, they still managed to finish second in their group, helped by an 8-0 victory over Papua New Guinea, and won the bronze medal by beating Fiji 2-1 in the third-place playoff.”
Jack Hayward has managed to almost double New Caledonia’s defeat. “Back in 2003, North Korea was one of a handful of countries in Asia that had a functioning women’s football league,” he writes. “They won the AFC Women’s Championship that year, dissecting Singapore 16-0, Hong Kong 13-0 and – most pertinently for us – host nation Thailand 14-0 in the group stage.
“The worst host performance I could find in the knockout rounds came in the same competition in 1989, when Hong Kong lost 9-0 to Japan in the third-place playoff.” And that was after they lost 7-0 against China in the semi-final.
A lack of magic
“With the late elimination of Blackpool in the FA Cup there are only three teams from outside the top two divisions in the fourth round – Maidstone United (National League South), Wrexham and Newport County (both League Two) – and none from League One). Is this the fewest ever to get past the third round?” asks Karl Dayson.
Paul Carver comes in clutch for this one. “Having crunched the numbers for FA Cups since WWII (which basically follow the same format as today) this is what I found,” he emails:
1947 One team (Port Vale)
1983 Two teams (Swindon, Torquay)
1995 Three teams (Burnley, Swansea, Wrexham)
Maidstone are the first team to progress further.
At the other end of the spectrum there were 11 teams that survived to the fourth round in 1970, 1986, 2008 and 2011.
“Has a club ever tried to publicly get rid of a player they deemed not good enough only for them to have to turn to them in time of need which has resulted in the player becoming a first-team regular and even a club legend?” wondered Nick Best in 2012.
“During Paul Merson’s catastrophic spell as Walsall manager he effectively ostracised a young centre half by loaning him out for almost the entire 2005-06 season,” replied Tom Lines. “When he returned from spells at Danish club Koge BK and local Conference North sides Redditch United and Hednesford Town, Merson recommended that he be released. Only Merson’s sacking prevented this from happening and the youngster was given a three month contract to prove himself. The player in question was Scott Dann who became an important part of Walsall’s League Two-winning side the following season and earned a £1m transfer to Coventry City in January 2008. Subsequent moves to Birmingham City and Blackburn mean that Dann has now been sold for more money than any other home-grown player in Walsall’s history – over £10.5m at the last count.”
Can you help?
“Nene Dorgeles declined to celebrate his goal for Mali in their dramatic Afcon loss to Ivory Coast, the birth country of his parents,” notes Eddie Eyers. “Are there other examples of the fabled muted celebration in the international game?”
“I believe, in his (and Luton’s) rise up the pyramid, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu has played at 85 of the 92 grounds in the top four divisions,” notes Andy Pechey. “Is this a record, or has anyone done more, or even all 92? All pedantry around new grounds, teams that were part of the 92 at the time but got relegated is fair enough, but any route to getting a full set works for me.”
“Everton loanee Mason Holgate has lost 5-0 on his debut for both Southampton and Sheffield United this season. Has any other player made two worse debut performances in the same season?” asks Ricardio Sentulio.
Barry Devlin: “Which player, let’s say in the Premier League era, has spent the most cumulative time on the bench? For obvious reasons we should exclude goalkeepers. Saw Callum Chambers peering out from the bench recently which got me thinking he’s got to be up there …”