Technical / Tactical Analysis

The difference in standard between individual countries has become less. In defence at least all the teams seemed well organised, and there were no runaway victories such as were seen two years ago. This is one of the reasons why the total number of goals scored dropped in comparison to 1993.

Superb goalkeeping at Ecuador '95.
Superb goalkeeping at Ecuador '95. Canada's David Clemente gaurded his team from greater depths. Oman's Arami provoked groans of despair from the Nigerian strikers in the quarter finals.
For the big name football countries it was clear that the junior teams have adopted the same tactics as their national sides, which speaks for good cooperation between the technical advisors of the various representative sides, and also makes it easier for younger players as they progress to higher categories. As an example take Brazil, where their juniors no. 5 (defensive midfield) and no. 6. (left outer back) played in the same positions as their counterparts in the World Championship team (no. 5 Mauro Silva, no. 6 Branco/Leandro/Roberto Carlos).

There was a noticeable difference between those countries whose national associations place great value on working with junior teams and those that make only sporadic efforts in this direction, such as when preparing them for particular competitions. In many south American countries for example, there is a rule that every first and second division team must have at least one U-18 player in the starting line up and another one on the substitutes' bench. In most of the national associations in Europe, south America and Asia there is a requirement that a club must operate a junior team before its senior side can be admitted to the professional or the top amateur league. These national associations also have full time advisors working for them who are concerned exclusively with junior teams and work with them in the different regions. During regional and national tournaments, talented young players are spotted (U12 and U14) and invited to go to special training camps.

Tactically the best teams were more mature than in 1993. Their attitude looked more professional, and there was less of the naive behaviour seen before. The back-up staffing for each team was taken more seriously too, with every delegation having one if not two assistant coaches (goalkeeper trainer), plus doctors, physiotherapists and even psychologists in some cases.

As already mentioned, the collective tactical behaviour of the teams has improved greatly in comparison to previous tournaments. In teams such as Brazil and Argentina, the national style of play can be seen in every team from the youngest junior side right through to the national eleven.

In attack there is room for improvement in heading skills. Here more intensive training is called for, in particular in coordination and timing. During this tournament high centres across the face of goal were mostly easy prey for the defenders and there were only 10 headed goals, compared to 17 in Japan. The only exception was Brazil, whose forwards actually won more balls in the air than their defenders did.

A review of the individual positions/blocks

Superb goalkeeping at Ecuador '95.
Oman's Arami provoked groans of despair from the Nigerian strikers in the quarter finals.
1. Goalkeepers
Goalkeepers played in a very traditional style in Ecuador. There were few back passes to the keeper and seldom did a goalie venture out and take part in field play. Only the left-footed Julio Cesar of Brazil was an exception. He showed that he could play effectively as a libero and looked as if he'd had some good training as a field player.

In general the level of goalkeeping was much improved over earlier competitions. There were very few goals that could be blamed completely on goalies' mistakes. Control of the box, often a weak area because of a lack of experience, was much more positive this time. The most promising players in this position were Argentina's Islas, Japan's Nakamura, as well as a couple from weaker teams such as Qatar's Qamber and Canada's Clemente.

Communication between the goalkeeper and the defence still needs to be improved. Some misunderstandings arose because there was a lack of direction and too little talking between the players. Long goalkicks often went straight to one of the opposing team. The positioning of a wall for free kicks was often less than ideal, thought it was interesting to note that in some teams a defender guided the set-up of the wall so that the goalkeeper would not be surprised by a free kick being taken quickly.

2. Defenders
Most of the teams used a libero and two man-markers. Few of the central defenders took part in attacks. Only a few teams (e.g. Oman) made use of offside tactics. In many cases the central defenders often switched roles, with the libero interchanging with one of the man-markers. Ghana were a good example of this with Amaniampong, Gyan and Saba sharing defensive duties.

Most teams used zone-marking in their own half, with the opposing forwards being marked man-to-man near the penalty area. Except for Ghana, pressing tactics trying to regain possession early were not much in evidence.

There seemed to be fewer technically gifted defenders on view in Ecuador than there are usually in older teams. This is not necessarily a sign of a lack of talent, but rather one of a lack of experience and coolness under pressure. When a goal was under attack, defenders often simply booted the ball upfield or into touch.

Man-to-man tussles were tough and uncompromising.
Man-to-man tussles were tough and uncompromising:the Brazilian, Juan (4), tackling Australia's captain, Bell.

The most impressive defensive players were:
a) as libero
- Trotta (Argentina)
- Kawaguchi (Japan)
- Rawas (Oman)
b) As central defenders
- Juan (Brazil)
- Amaniampong (Ghana)
- Elfand (Argentina)
- Hidalgo (Ecuador)
- Ferron (Spain)

Because they were rarely faced by a direct opponent, the outer backs had plenty of opportunity for counterattacking down the wings. They were often the means of launching quick raids and many of them did a huge amount of running. The outstanding players here were:

- Kewell (Australia)
- Allotey and Ansah
(both Ghana)
- Angulo (Ecuador)
- Keita (Guinea)
- Djimi and Fabio
Rodrigues (both Brazil)

3. Midfield
Most teams used three defensive and two attacking midfielders. The player taking the "windscreen wiper" role in front of the defensive block had a very important job to do, having to close off spaces against opposing attacks and then to be the starting point for his own team's offensive moves. Particularly outstanding in this function was Helder of Brazil.

There were also more real playmakers on view this time. Kleber (Brazil), Kathiri (Oman) and La Paglia (Argentina) were the eye-catching figures in this role, which enjoyed a real renaissance. Argentina were heavily reliant on La Paglia (winner of the Silver Ball) and paid a heavy penalty when he was sent off in the semifinal. Ecuador (Estrada), Spain (Colsa and Cachorro) and the USA (Gomez and Trout) had their midfield directors too, in whom the rest of the team had total faith and who were the key figures in almost every attack.

It was also interesting to note that the midfielders went for goal more themselves, scoring a total of 29 goals. While this is exactly the same number as Japan '93, because the total was lower, it represents an increase of 7%.

4. Forwards
Only 47.6% of all the goals were scored by forwards (in Japan the figure had been over 65%). It is hard to find a reason for this decline. Certainly the defensive play of the weaker teams had improved, making goals generally harder to come by and cutting out the high scoring games seen in earlier tournaments. This time the forwards seemed to play more as individuals and be less involved in combinations. Thus only a few double spearheads were noted, such as for Ghana (Issaka and Bentil) and for Argentina (Gatti and Peralta), certainly fewer than seen in other competitions.

Outstanding up front was Australia's Daniel Allsop, who scored five of his team's six goals. His name will have gone down in the books of the big clubs' talent spotters, just like his countryman Viduka's did during the U-20 tournament. Other outstanding players were Yamazaki (Japan), Obiora (Nigeria), Bentil and Iddrisu (both Ghana) who look to have talent enough for a promising future.


The forwards at Equador '95 did not achieve normal striking power.
The forwards at Equador '95 did not achieve normal striking power (only 47.6% of all the goals were scored by forwards).
At first sight the tally of 84 goals (average 2.4 per game) looks a bit disappointing. However it is still the third highest total in the history of this competition, coming after Japan 1993 (107) and China 1985 (91). But a factor that makes this (and all the other comparisons in this section) even more complicated is that this time the games lasted 90 minutes instead of 80 as before. With 40 goals (47.6%) between them, the forwards still had the lion's share, but their dominance is not so striking as before (1993, 71 goals or 66.4%). The missing goals went to the midfielders who upped their tally (34.5% compared to 27.1% in 1993). Defenders too made a bigger impression on the score sheet with 14 (16.7%) against only 6 (5.6%) in Japan '93.

The area between the edge of the goalie's box and the penalty spot remains the number one region for scoring goals: 27 goals came from around here. This statistic was recorded differently in Japan, so no direct comparison can be made here. The number of goals scored from outside the penalty box, 14, is about the same as in Japan '93, but in percentage terms it is higher, 16.7% against 12.1%.

The importance of scoring the first goal was again clear. In the 30 games that did not end as no-score draws, 26 times the team scoring first ended up as winners. Two matches ended as draws and only twice did a team come back from being 0:1 down to win the match.

In Japan '93, 43 goals (40.2%) had been scored before the interval, this time it was only 30 (35.7%). The most successful period proved to be the last 30 minutes, when no fewer than 38 goals were notched up.

Heading is still not one of the strongest abilities of these young players. Only 10 goals (11.9%) were headed in, compared with 17 (15.9%) in Japan.

Twenty five goals (29.8%) followed attacks down the wings (10 on the left, 15 on the right), showing the effectiveness of the outer backs or midfielders penetrating down the flanks.

Not much was new in standard situations. Only 13 goals came from set pieces (not counting penalties), six of these from corners and four from direct free kicks.

Ten penalties were awarded, nine of them converted, the other one being saved by the goalkeeper. Not a single game went into extra time, and so there were also no penalty shoot-outs.

Portugal's magic touch with substitutions
The so-called "jokers" were particularly successful at this tournament. Nine times a substitute player managed to score a goal. Portugal's coach seemed to have a magic touch, bringing on Adolfo and Vargas in the 79th and 81st minutes respectively, who between them won the game with three goals in three minutes (89th to 91st; two scored by Vargas one by Adolfo) and earned their team a place in the quarter finals.

Special Awards go to new countries

Australia had some outstanding players in their ranks.
Australia had some outstanding players in their ranks. One of them was the left back, Kewell (no.3), who made his presence felt in attack too.
For the first time in the history of FIFA competitions, a player from Asia was selected as the best footballer of the tournament and awarded the Golden Ball. This was Mohamed Kathiri of Oman. Next in line were Cesar La Paglia (Argentina) with the Silver Ball and Emmanuel Bentil (Ghana) with bronze.

Australia's Daniel Allsop won the Golden Shoe contest for most goals scored, beating Kathiri thanks to the lower number of games played. Both scored five goals and had one assist. Third in this competition was Argentina's Fernando Gatti with four goals and one assist.

South America dominated the Fair Play competition, with Brazil carrying off gold (851 points) ahead of Argentina (830). This was the first time Brazil had earned the Fair Play Trophy in this competition.

266,000 Spectators for 32 games
The 1995 version of the FIFA/JVC Cup was a competition held under sunny skies, in a beautiful country, whose people showed true hospitality and a love for the game of football. Spectators turned up in droves to fill the stadiums, some of which had been renovated especially for this event. The 266,000 fans who watched the 32 games gave the competition a festive atmosphere.