ZAIRE’S SHOWING AT THE 1974 WORLD CUP IN WEST GERMANY GAVE EVERYONE A GOOD LAUGH IF NOTHING ELSE, AS PETE SPENCER RECALLS IN HIS LATEST WORLD CUP MOMENT – NO.8
ZAIRE – 1974
Only the second African nation ever to qualify for a World Cup, Zaire was drawn in Brazil’s group. They were losing 0-3 when the Brazilians had a free-kick just outside the area. Zaire had set up a wall and as the Brazilians were working out who would take it, suddenly Mwpeu Ilunga ran forward from the wall and booted the ball down the pitch.
This caused amusement for many people, but unfortunately there was a more sinister back-story to it all. Zaire, under the control of President Joseph Mobutu, had discovered they’d been used as a means to promote their nation through the national football team. So embarrassed was Mobutu with their disintegration to Yugoslavia in the previous match (losing 0-9) he declared the players would not be allowed back in the country if they lost to Brazil (then World Champions), by at least four goals.
It appears Ilunga’s actions were simply that of a frightened man desperate to avoid further goals.