Sunday, January 23, 2011

World Cup Soccer, 1978, Argentina Campeon

1978 marked a big event for Argentina.  The World Cup soccer tournament was to be held there.  As the host team, Argentina was an automatic qualifier.  The cancha (field) for River was remodeled and became the central stadium.  We went past the stadium on a p-day.  It is in Palermo Park.  It is a big beautiful stadium.

It was difficult to do missionary work when Argentina played so we were instructed to watch the game with someone, preferably a nonmember, and if this wasn’t possible, then a member family.  Everyone  in the the country was excited.  I discovered there were many futbol fans. We went by the home of a good sister, who taught English lessons.  When we got there she was so excited that the keeper for Argentina had stopped a penalty kick.  “Lo atajo,” she exclaimed with excitement, "lo atajo!”

Argentina qualified second in their group, losing to Italy.  Argentina was lead by Luque and Kempes up front.  Ardiles in midfield (who later played in the Stallone movie, “Victory,”) and Fillol at keeper.  Kempes became the leading goal scorer for the tournament.

In the semifinal round Argentina beat Poland and then drew to a scoreless draw with Brazil.  In the last match of the round, Argentina had a four goal disadvantage  against Brazil which had beaten Peru and Poland.  Argentina beat Peru in the final match by a score of 6-0, qualifying ahead of Brazil and putting themselves into the championship match against Holland. 

Argentina scored first, but their goal was matched by Holland.  It wasn't until overtime that Argentina broke through for a couple goals.  Kempes had two goals in this match.  It was Argentina's first World Cup championship.  It was before the Maradona years.  They had a well-rounded team, which relied on two strikers, Luque and Kempes, but most importantly had to control the midfield to be good. 

I have a couple books about this world cup.  "Como Ganamos La Cop Del Mundo" (How We Won the World Cup) by Cesar Menotti who was the coach for the Argentine side.  It is mostly a photographic essay.  The other is in German, I think, "Argentinien: Fussball Welt Meisterschaft 1978.  It has a game by game photographic essay.  It also has pictures of all the teams.  I am sure it has fascinating stories, but I don't know the language. 

During the world cup, my companion and I lived in Don Torcuato,  Hindu Club, which is in Don Torcuato, was the home station for the Italian team.  We often saw their bus going up and down the street, and there was lots of security involved.  It was a fun and exciting time.  After Argentina won the championship, I don't think anyone went to work the next day.  It was declared a holiday.  People crowded the plaza downtown around the Obelisquo, and had an impromptu party.

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