10 lesser lights that left their mark on the World Cup

The Rio Report

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Not all teams that make World Cup history do so for lifting the trophy or boasting the best players on the planet - here are some less-celebrated nations that have nevertheless made a mark on the tournament.

United States (1930)

Less than a year after the catastrophic Wall Street stock market crash of 1929, which sparked the 10-year Great Depression and a decline in both the viability and popularity of soccer in the US, American players could have been forgiven for heading to Uruguay in July 1930 in distracted moods. Yet Robert Millar's side proved they had just one purpose in their minds at the inaugural tournament: a successful World Cup campaign. Bert Patenaude, a kind of Landon Donovan of his day, and his team-mates reached the semi-finals and eventually secured third place, which under the circumstances wasn't too bad a result for the baseball-mad nation.

The Dutch East Indies (1938)

A team from the group of South-East Asian islands controlled until the Second World War by the Netherlands - now know as Indonesia - only arrived in France in 1938 thanks to the forfeits of the US and Japan. Their back-door entrance to the tournament remains the only time the nation has been represented at the World Cup - and sadly it turned out to be a rather brief affair. Given the knock-out format of the competition, the Dutch East Indies managed just one match as their journey came to an end at the first hurdle in a 6-0 loss to eventual finalists Hungary. Still, how many countries can claim they have reached the last 16 of a World Cup?

Cuba (1938)

Another team to have appeared in just one World Cup is Cuba, who also owed their presence in France to a succession of drop-outs; Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, El Salvador and Surinam all pulled out to pave the way for the Caribbean island. Not only did they make it to France, but due to the vagaries of the draw, they found themselves seeded along with Germany, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Brazil. And at first, they lived up to their billing, drawing their first match 3-3 with Romania before beating them 2-1 in the replay to reach the quarter-finals. There, however, the dream ended in quite spectacular fashion in an 8-0 thumping by Sweden. Close, but no cigar.

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Israel (1970)

Israel is not a nation usually associated with World Cup football, but in Mexico in 1970 - widely regarded as one of the best tournaments in history - the Middle Eastern country's players distinguished themselves even if they failed to win a match. Drawn in a group with two eventual semi-finalists (Italy and Uruguay), it was always going to be tough, but creditable draws against the Azzurri (0-0) and Sweden (1-1) off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Uruguay in their first ever World Cup match endeared them to many.

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Haiti (1974)

A record that reads played three, lost three, with a goal difference of minus-12, would suggest a spectacular failure. But for minnows Haiti, taking their World Cup bow in West Germany in a difficult group consisting of Italy, Argentina and Poland, the tournament was anything but, largely thanks to the feats of Emmanuel Sanon. The striker, more commonly known as Manno, found the back of the net twice, for the first time against Argentina and the second, most memorably, against Italy whose goalkeeper Dino Zoff had not conceded a goal for 1143 minutes - or over 12 games - prior to the tournament. Manno succeeded where so many before him had failed with the opening goal of the game and although the small Caribbean nation went on to lose 3-1, he had ensured his place in Haitian football history.

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Zaire (1974)

It all started out so well for Zaire in West Germany after an honourable 2-0 reverse against Billy Bremner's Scotland. But that's where the wheels came off for the African side. In one of the most resounding defeats in World Cup history the Africans succumbed to Yugoslavia by a scarcely believable 9-0 scoreline. That the following 3-0 reverse to eventual semi-finalists Brazil was eventually considered a decent result tells its own tale. Still, they did manage to provide one of the most memorable moments in World Cup history in that last game when Mwepu Ilunga inexplicably broke from his team's wall to kick the ball away as bemused Brazil players, who were lining up to take a free-kick, stood by.

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Canada (1986)

Friendly people, moose, maple syrup, lumberjacks, ice hockey - Canada is known for many things but football is not one. Yet that did not stop them from reaching the 1986 World Cup, a feat in itself, before putting in some decent performances in Mexico. Drawn in a group with France, the USSR and Hungary, the Canucks were always likely to lose their three pool games, but to do so with just five goals conceded - they were a mere 79th minute Jean-Pierre Papin strike away from a glorious draw with France - was considered to be a roaring success story.

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United Arab Emirates (1990)

What happens when a former Brazil coach takes charge of a small Arab nation with no previous World Cup pedigree at a finals? Well, in this case it wasn't pretty, as Carlos Alberto Parreira, who would go on to win the tournament during his second stint in charge of Brazil four years later, led the UAE to Italy. Despite his tactical nous and undoubted experience, his team conceded eleven goals, scored just two and were eliminated in the first round after three defeats.

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Jamaica (1998)

Anticipation, if not expectation, was high ahead of Jamaica's arrival in France for the 1998 World Cup. The laid-back Caribbean nation has always been popular at other sporting events, such as the Olympics, and news of Jamaica's maiden qualification was greeted enthusiastically. The Reggae Boyz started out as expected, with 3-1 and 5-0 defeats to Croatia and Argentina respectively, but a 2-1 win over Japan in their final group game ensured Jamaica's mark on the tournament had been left.

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Trinidad and Tobago (2006)

With a population of a little over a million, Trinidad and Tobago is not supposed to be a stronghold of international football. But, having missed out on qualification in 1974 and 1990, the Caribbean island nation finally secured a place at its first World Cup. Led by Leo Beenhakker, and with Dwight Yorke as his star player, the Soca Warriors defied expectations and held Sweden to a goalless in their first game. A game later, for 75 minutes England were heading towards the same fate as the Swedes, until finally Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard sealed a 2-0 win for Sven-Goran Eriksson's side. A 2-0 defeat to Paraguay ended the Soca Warriors's interest in the competition, but they left with their heads held high.

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