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Are Saudi Arabia the worst team ever at a World Cup?

first_img 6 1st – ZAIRE 1974: Played 3, Lost 3, Goal Difference -14 It seems cruel to so brashly label the heroic 1974 Zaire side as the worst in World Cup history. They gave us so much – the entertainment, the kit, the hair, a creative interpretation of the rules surrounding free-kicks – and yet left without scoring a goal and picking 14 of them out of their net.The matches, losing 2-0 to Scotland, 9-0 to Yugoslavia and 3-0 to holders Brazil were of little consequence. No, the only moment that mattered, that truly mattered, was a free-kick on the edge of their box in the 78th minute against the Brazilians.Mwepu Ilunga, in perhaps the most played clip in World Cup history, realises he’s not got long left on the biggest stage of all and will be making the absolute most of it.The referee’s whistle goes for Brazil to strike at goal and out charges Ilunga with complete disregard for the conventions of the game. BOSH. Off goes the ball (no reports if it was on target at the other end of the field) and he cements his place in footballing immortality. And how many players can say that?Bonus points for the ‘what me, ref?’ reaction to being booked, too. 6 Ten goals in a game is a lot. A lot of goals. In 26 seasons of the Premier League, no team have ever had the time or the skill to score ten goals in a game.Crystal Palace took until December – their 16th game – to score their tenth goal in the Premier League in 2017/18.El Salvador are, then, lucky to escape top spot in this list purely for their 10-1 defeat to Hungary in 1982 alone.Five down inside 54 minutes, Ramirez Zapata then clawed a goal back (has there even been a goal more obviously a consolation) before the floodgates opened, with Hungary netting four times in eight minutes and hitting double figures for the only time in World Cup history with seven minutes to spare.Somehow, El Salvador then composed themselves quickly enough to only lose 1-0 to Belgium and 2-0 to a Diego Maradona-led Argentina, keeping themselves – statistically at least – off top spot in the list of the World Cup’s worst ever teams. The group stage draw did not welcome Haiti to their first (and so far only) World Cup with anything in the way of pleasantries. Italy, Argentina and Poland were drawn alongside the Caribbean islanders, who had qualified ahead at the expense of Mexico.Italy, not the most generous opponents at the best of times, had found their final catenaccio form in 1974, with legendary goalkeeper Dino Zoff not having conceded in a national team shirt for 12 games and almost two years of action. Brazil had been stifled in that time. England found no way through (twice).Step forward Haiti. Seconds after half-time in a goalless match in Munich’s Olympiastadion, Emmanuel Sanon broke clear of the Italians, rounded a helpless Zoff and slotted home. After a record 1,143 minutes without a goal conceded, Italy’s defence had been breached by a team given just six months to train for tournament.Their lead was short-lived, and after losing 3-1 to Italy they were thumped 7-0 by Poland and 4-1 against Argentina. But they would always be the team that finally beat Zoff. Saudi Arabia’s start to the 2018 World Cup could not have been any more disastrous, thumped 5-0 on opening night by hosts Russia in front three billion people watching across the globe.After pushing Germany close in their final warm-up match, there were hopes the Saudis could cause an upset in their first game, but instead capitulated and looked worryingly disorganised. 6 Zaire keeper Kazadi Mwamba beats Jairzinho to the ball 2nd – SOUTH KOREA 1954: Played 2, Lost 2, Goal Difference -16 South Korea’s 16 goals conceded remains a record for a single World Cup, despite only playing twice in the 1954 tournament Mohamed Al-Deayea came into the tournament on 159 international caps, but would play just 14 more times in four years after the 2002 debacle Saudi Arabia, unfortunately, have previous here. In South Korea and Japan in 2002 they fielded a similarly porous defence, and got off to an even worse start.Five headed goals, including three from Miroslav Klose, helped Germany to an 8-0 win in Sapporo, the joint-second-highest margin of victory in any World Cup game.Cameroon were more lenient five days later, with only a Samuel Eto’o goal separating the sides, but arguably the worst performance came against Ireland in the final group game.Mohamed Al-Deayea, the second-most-capped player of all time, spilled efforts from Robbie Keane and Damien Duff into his net in a performance that made Rob Green look like Lev Yashin.He even had time to concede to Coventry City’s Gary Breen, who appeared as embarrassed to be on the scoresheet as Al-Deayea was to concede to him.Saudi Arabia have no doubt improved since 2002, although the current side could still run them close in the esteemed battle for global shame.center_img 6 El Salvador have failed to qualify for all nine World Cups since their 1982 humiliation 6 6 4th – SAUDI ARABIA 2002: Played 3, Lost 3, Goal Difference -12 3rd – EL SALVADOR 1982: Played 3 Lost 3 Goal Difference -12 It is truly a special effort to play just twice in the group stage and still concede a record number of goals in a single World Cup tournament. The Koreans, in their debut tournament, had to wait 32 years before getting another shot at the World Cup, and the chance to bury their demons.Kicking off against Ferenc Puskas’ ‘Magnificent Magyars’ in Zurich, South Korea were hit for nine – itself no real shame, as eventual champions West Germany were whacked 8-3 in Hungary’s next group game. A 7-0 defeat to a mediocre Turkey side followed.Puskas, a gracious winner, summed the Koreans’ valiant efforts up with the words: “It was more inexplicable how the Korean team had been admitted. They were very weak and had had no training.” Quite. After the opening day catastrophe, Saudi Arabia still have the likes of Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah to contend with in their remaining fixtures.They are by no means the first team to have a shocking tournament however, and many countries have endured horror shows on the biggest stage.But could this Saudi side become the worst World Cup team in history? Here, we rank the sides ‘competing’ for that title. Haiti’s Arsene Auguste fights with Luigi Riva in Haiti’s first ever World Cup match 5th – HAITI 1974: Played 3, Lost 3, Goal Difference -12 Saudi Arabia were humiliated by the hosts in the first game of the 2018 World Cup last_img

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