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Saturday, February 11

Barbados 4 - 2 Grenada: The Most Bizarre Football Match Ever

A tactical breakdown of Barbados defeating Grenada 4-2 in the final match of Group A in the qualifying round of the 1994 Caribbean Cup to advance to the final tournament.

A game where Barbados scored an intentional own goal in hopes of bringing the game into extra-time.

A game where Barbados had to defend both nets at the close of regulation.
I feel cheated, the person who came up with these rules must be a candidate for the madhouse.  The game should never be played with so many players on the field confused. Our players did not even know which direction to attack: our goal or their goal. I have never seen this happen before. In football, you are supposed to score against your opponents in order to win, not for them. -- Grenada Manager James Clarkson
When FIFA implemented the now-defunct golden goal rule in 1992, their idea was to deliver the on-a-knife's-edge excitement the sudden-death format can provide to the extra-time of its competitions' matches, wanting to reduce the number of games decided not by open play on the pitch but by penalty shootouts.  The organizers of the 1994 Caribbean Cup took FIFA's ambition one step further and decided any golden goal scored at any stage in their tournament would count for two, an extra reward for scoring in extra-time beyond the already new wrinkle of immediately ending the match.

This had... complications.  In Group A of the qualifying round, Barbados entered its final game needing not only to defeat Grenada but defeat Grenada by at least two goals, thereby evening them on record and advancing due to a superior goal differential.  And, in the 82nd minute, things were playing to script for Barbados, up 2-0 and looking to close out the last ten minutes.

But then Grenada scored.

Normally, the resulting 2-1 scoreline would necessitate Barbados having to abandon playing defense to push bodies forward for an assault on goal, needing a third to restore their two-goal-advantage and ticket to the final tournament.  But with a goal scored in extra-time counting double, Barbados had another alternative: score in their own goal, thereby leveling the game and allowing themselves an opportunity at a worth-the-margin-they-needed golden goal in extra-time.

At this stage of the game, a ball crossing the line into either net was a positive for Barbados, and after attacking a packed-in Grenada defense for four minutes, Barbados elected to play the ball back in order to score into their own goal, taking the safety of forced-extra-time over the uncertainty of winning in regulation by two.  Grenada, quite understandably, was helpless to prevent this.

But the intentional own-goal then left Grenada wise to Barbados' machinations, and where before a goal scored in either net was a positive for Barbados, so too was it now a positive for Grenada: an own-goal would make them lose by one but they'd still advance due to goal differential, and a true goal [Editor's note: That's such a ridiculous modifier of 'goal'] would give them a victory.

Barbados, then, defended both goals for the remainder of regulation.  As such, here's a tactical breakdown of the last ten minutes of this ridiculous game:

The game eventually went to extra-time, Barbados got their golden goal and The Caribbean Cup no longer used that golden goal variant after the 1994 tournament.

Liked this?  Then for timely blog updates and retweeting like you wouldn't believe.  Also, you might like this piece from three weeks ago analyzing almost forty-percent of Cristiano Ronaldo's goals in La Liga this season.

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