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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Five in a row for the miracle worker
Bora Milutinovic
Milutinovic has become a fixture at World Cup finals
Bora Milutinovic has secured his own place in history even before his China team take to the field in Korea and Japan.

The Serb may not be the most high-profile manager at the World Cup finals but he is surely the most familiar face.

The multi-lingual 'miracle worker' will be leading a team into the sport's greatest tournament for a record fifth consecutive time.

That would be an impressive record for a coach of Brazil or Italy, but Milutinovic has never had the luxury of a squad packed with world-class players.

From taking charge of hosts Mexico in 1986, through Costa Rica, the United States, Nigeria and now China, Milutinovic has always been battling against the odds.


Hugo Sanchez
Sanchez starred for Mexico
Mexico, 1986

With the home crowd behind them and the magic of Hugo Sanchez in the side, Milutinovic was, not for the last time, charged with at least taking his side through to the second round.

They were helped by being drawn in a relatively easy group, but a win over eventual semi-finalists Belgium was an impressive start.

Only one goal was conceded against Iraq and Bulgaria as Mexico reached the last eight for the first time, and only a penalty shoot-out prevented a semi-final meeting with France.

1st round:
Belgium 2-1
Paraguay 1-1
Iraq 1-0

2nd round:
Bulgaria 2-0

Quarter-final:
West Germany 0-0 (penalties 1-4)


Costa Rica against Scotland
Costa Rica saw off Scotland
Costa Rica, 1990

Possibly Milutinovic's finest hour as he guided one of the most unfancied teams ever to reach the World Cup finals into the second round.

The opening win over Scotland was at first considered something of a freak result, but a 1-0 loss to the mighty Brazil was followed by another victory against Sweden.

They ran out of steam against Czechoslovakia in the last 16 but had already gone further than anyone believed possible.

1st round:
Scotland 1-0
Brazil 0-1
Sweden 2-1

2nd round:
Czechoslovakia 1-4


Tab Ramos of the US
The US were surprise winners against Colombia
United States, 1994

Making the second round was an impressive achievement, and one that was vital as the host nation attempted to make an impact on the world game.

A narrow defeat to eventual champions Brazil was no disgrace, particularly as the US had beaten Colombia, one of the pre-tournament favourites, in the group stage.

1st round: Switzerland 1-1
Colombia 2-1
Romania 0-1

2nd round:
Brazil 0-1


Nigeria against Denmark
Nigeria were thrashed by Denmark
Nigeria, 1998

France 98 was something of a let-down as Milutinovic was finally in charge of a team that looked capable of making serious progress.

Victory over Spain in a wonderful opening game was followed up with another win against Bulgaria, but with qualification assured Nigeria slipped up badly against lowly Paraguay.

They could not recover their earlier form for the knockout stages and missed out on a meeting with Brazil as they were thrashed by Denmark.

1st round:
Spain 3-2
Bulgaria 1-0
Paraguay 1-3

2nd round:
Denmark 1-4


China, 2002

Despite leading China to the World Cup finals for the first time, Milutinovic has had an uneasy relationship with the country's football association.

His position was far from secure even after qualification was assured and he has now suggested that he will retire from the game for good once the World Cup finishes.

"I'll be 60 when the World Cup is over. It's time for my retirement," he told Chinese newspaper Huaxi Dushi Daily.

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GROUP C
  P GD PTS
BRAZIL 3 +8 9
TURKEY 3 +2 4
COSTA RICA 3 -1 4
CHINA 3 -9 0

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