Obscure football tournaments from the past

The Taca das Nacoes (“Nations' Cup” in Portuguese) was held in 1964 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Brazilian Football Confederation. To my surprise, the hosts and World Cup holders didn’t have everything their own way.

Argentina, Portugal and England joined Brazil for a series of matches held in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in late May and early June.

The tournament was played on a league basis, which meant Argentina had wrapped things up before Brazil played their last game.

Here are the results and scorers:

30th May 1964

Brazil 5 (Rinaldo 2, Pele, Julinho, Roberto Dias) England 1 (Jimmy Greaves)

31st May 1964

Argentina 2 (Alfredo Rojas, Alberto Rendo) Portugal 0

3rd June 1964

Brazil 0 Argentina 3 (Roberto Telch 2, Ermindo Onega)

4th June 1964

England 1 (Roger Hunt) Portugal 1 (Fernando Peres)

6th June 1964

Argentina 1 (Alfredo Rojas) England 0

7th June 1964

Brazil 4 (Jairzinho 2, Pele, Gerson) Portugal 1 (Mario Coluna)

So Argentina won each of their three games, didn’t concede a goal, and overcame a Brazilian side boasting the likes of Pele, Gerson and Jairzinho in its ranks. No mean feat.

What interested me most were the reports from the England games available at http://www.englandfootballonline.com/.

They’ve done an amazing job in bringing together summaries from hundreds of England games and I was captivated by reports of matches at the Taca das Nacoes.

Pele produced a masterclass to drive Brazil on to the 5-1 victory. He set up the first goal, earned two free kicks “while dancing through the England defence juggling the ball like a circus performer”, scored with a long range effort after nutmegging Bobby Moore, and then set a team mate up for the fifth goal.

Roger Hunt scored and both Jimmy Greaves and Johnny Byrne hit the woodwork in an ill-tempered match against Portugal. Each side also had a goal disallowed, with Portuguese protests ending in striker Torres being sent off for taking a swing at the ref.

England’s final game saw the Argentineans, led by skipper Antonio Rattin, play “strolling possession football to frustrate England and to clinch victory in the ‘Little World Cup’ tournament”. According to the report, England returned home believing Argentina would be the toughest team to beat at the 1966 World Cup.

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