Brazil came from behind to beat defending champions Ghana 2-1 to claim its inaugural FIFA U-17 World Cup title in Egypt in 1997.
With an array of attacking players including Abel, Matuzalem, Fabio Pinto and rising star Ronaldinho, the South American player put the finishing touches on the tournament they dominated from start to finish.
Brazil 2-1 Ghana
September 21, 1997, Cairo International Stadium, Cairo
Scorers: Brazil: Matuzalem (63 ‘), Andrey (87’), Ghana: Owusu Afriyie (39 ‘)
Brazil: Fabio, Andrey (Henrique 88 ‘), Fernando, Abel, Jorginho, Diogo Rincon (Geovanni 54’), Ferrugem (c), Fabio Pinto, Ronaldinho, Matuzalem (Rogerio 89 ‘), Gaviao
Ghana: Osei Boateng, Abdul Razak, Awule Quaye (Isaac Owusu 55 ‘), Abdul Issah, Hamza Mohammed, Monastery of Wisdom (Michael Coffie 73’), Emmanuel Adjogu, Godwin Attram (c), Aziz Ansah, Daniel Quaye, Owusu Afriyie
Before 1997, the FIFA U-17 World Cup remained elusive for Brazil. The U-20 country teams have won the World Cup in their age category three times, so the pressure on their young team in Egypt is enormous. Adding more drama to the showdown was the fact that their opponents were once again Ghanaian, who had beaten them 3-2 in the final of the previous edition two years earlier.
That Verde Amarela progress through competition in an impressive style. In the first phase they eliminated Austria (7-0), USA (3-0) and Oman (3-1) to the top of Group C, before defeating Argentina (2-0) in the quarter-finals and booking their place in the decider with a decisive victory. from Germany (4-0).
Ghana, for their part, are one of the strongest teams in the history of the novice competition. Appearing in the fourth consecutive world finals, they won in Italy 1991 and Ecuador 1995, and were runners-up in Japan 1993.
Black Starlets surprisingly topped Group D thanks to a goalless draw with Argentina and victories over Bahrain (5-1) and Costa Rica (2-0). In the quarter-finals they made it through Oman (4-1) before denying Spain (2-1) in the last four.
The finals begin with speed with early chances for striker Ghana’s Emmanuel Adjogu, who on more than one occasion tested Selecao Security.
Brazil are also determined to bring the game to their opponents and carve out their own chances, especially from set-pieces, one of which is forcing Boateng to push his shot out for a corner when at full stretch.
In the end it was Ghana who took the first blood in the last minute of the first half. A low threaded pass found its way through the Brazilian defense and headed for the Owusu Afriyie road. With only a guard to beat and no more than 12 yards, the player makes no mistake by placing low into the corner with his first touch.
Running out for the second half, Brazil know that their title aspirations depend on continuing to press and be patient.
The equalizer finally came thanks to Matuzalem, who, perhaps from a distance of three yards, kicked the rebound after the keeper could only parry Ronaldinho’s shot.
The excitement of scoring the title winner fell to Andrey, like extra time that seemed inevitable. After entering behind the defense to collect a beautiful ball from Ronaldinho, the player bent it over the fast-moving goalkeeper to trigger a wild celebration.
Although he did not receive individual awards at the tournament, it is difficult to see beyond Ronaldinho. Even at this early age, the Brazilian started showing flashes of magic that would then catapult him to global fame. In Egypt 1997 he impressed in the No10 shirt and weighed with his own two goals.
What they say
“The most beautiful moment of this tournament is undoubtedly when we get the world title and I can win the trophy. This is a first for Brazil, so to experience it is something extraordinary.”
Ronaldinho, reflected years later in the match
What happens next
After making a breakthrough in Egypt 1997, Brazil will continue to enjoy more success in the competition. Two years later they retained the title in New Zealand in 1999 and are currently the second most successful team in tournament history with four world crowns – one less than Nigeria. Today they will become world champions again afterwards win at home in 2019.
Ghana, for their part, had simpler results in the following years, finishing third in New Zealand in 1999 and fourth in Korea in 2007.