Brazil Continues Romp Through Gold Cup


The 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup is rapidly turning into one of the more peculiar tournaments ever held.

Halfway through the two-week, nine-nation championship, everyone already knows which the best team is. Brazil underlined its superiority Sunday evening with a 5-0 thrashing of Honduras in front of 20,708 at the Coliseum.

But who will be crowned CONCACAF champion next Sunday?

It can’t be Brazil, which is only here as a guest.

It could be El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico or the United States, each of which still has a chance to reach the final.


But it may not be any of them. At least not yet.

The Times confirmed Sunday that if Brazil wins the Gold Cup, the second-place team will not be the CONCACAF champion.

Instead, there will be a playoff, home and home later this year, between the teams that finish second and third.

Chuck Blazer, CONCACAF general secretary, tried to explain the reasoning behind the late change of heart.

Suffice to say that it involves “fairness” and the right of whichever team loses (it’s inevitable) to Brazil in Thursday’s semifinal to play the winner of the other semifinal.


Join the club. But consider this: If Mexico wins its semifinal in San Diego on Friday night and the United States beats El Salvador at Anaheim Stadium on Tuesday night to reach the final four, the potential exists for the Mexicans and Americans to finish second and third.

And if they play off at Azteca Stadium (120,000 capacity) and the Rose Bowl (100,000 capacity) for the championship, how many coins would that put in the CONCACAF coffers?


Meanwhile, the Brazilians are above such mercenary matters. Their goal is simple: Get this team ready for the South American Olympic qualifying tournament in March, then sprint to the gold medal in Atlanta in July.

Coach Mario “Lobo” Zagalo’s team looks capable of doing both with ease.

On Sunday, lifted by the samba beat coming from the stands, the Brazilians romped past a capable but outclassed Honduran team.

The Central American champions’ resistance crumbled in less than 10 minutes.

A corner kick by Savio found Andre Luis, who found Carlinhos, who found Caio, who found the back of the net.

In the 31st minute, Savio sent a through pass up the middle to Caio, a forward on Brazil’s world championship-winning youth team of 1993. Caio’s shot was blocked by Honduran goalkeeper Milton Flores, but the ball rebounded to Jamelli, who made it 2-0.

The yellow and blue turned it up a notch late in the second half.

The 73rd minute saw Caio and Savio again combine to set up Jamelli’s second goal. With 10 minutes left, Brazil scored twice in 90 seconds. Savio and, inevitably, Caio, were the scorers.

“After three, four, five goals, what comment can there be?” said Honduras’ coach, Ernesto Rosa Guedes. “I am Brazilian. I know how they can play.”


But not how to stop them.

“We are not here to win the Gold Cup,” Zagalo said. “We are here to prepare for the Olympics.”


The Gold Cup is secondary. A very peculiar tournament.