Meet the giant-killers in soccer

by Dave

Express Buzz –

JULIO Cesar,Lucio,Luis Fabiano,Ronaldinho,Robinho! No prizes on offer for guessing. Not even for Lionel Messi, Riquelme, Carlos Tevez. The entire world knows that they are gems from the lustrous footballing fields of Brazil and Argentina respectively.

But Johan Fano and Piero Alva Niezen or Roque Santa Cruz and Nelson Valdez of Paraguay or Jaime Robles and Ronald Raldes of Bolivia? Well, indeed the biggest prize could be on offer. To give it away, they belong to Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia respectively. Not just that, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have been having a tough time in containing them and a host of other talented players from these less acclaimed nations in terms of soccer silverware.

Brazil are the only five-time World Cup winners — 1958, 1962, 1970 during the Pele, Vava, Didi, Garrincha, Tostao, Jairzinho era and, later, in 1994 with Romario, Bebeto and Dunga around. Their last triumph was in 2002 with Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho at their best.

Argentina won it for the first time in 1978 during the Daniel Pasarella and Leopaldo Luque era. The Diego Maradona period brought them success in 1986. Uruguay won the World Cup twice in 1930 and 1950.

Collectively, these three nations have won the World Cup on nine occasions to match Italy (4 times), Germany (thrice), England and France (once each) to make it South America 9, Europe 9 of the 18 World Cup tournaments played so far.

One would naturally expect the South Americans to have a cakewalk during the continental qualification phase of the World Cup. But year after year, nations which send shivers down the spines of aspirants from Europe, challengers from Africa and participants from Asia at every World Cup finals, struggle to eventually make the grade.

South American countries like Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia appear unfazed by their presence of their illustrious rivals. In fact, they do scrape away a lot of lustre from their reputations with truly gutsy and brilliant performances.

Brazil, Argentina? Bring them on. Long live South American soccer!

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