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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK

Marcos makes his mark

By John Sinnott
BBC Sport Online

Two images from Sunday's World Cup final between Germany and Brazil in Yokohama remain etched in the mind.

The joy of Ronaldo as he put behind him the World Cup final of four years ago as well as a series of debilitating injuries that at once stage threatened to end his career.

And the pain of German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn - inconsolable after his error gifted Ronaldo's first goal that set Brazil on the path to victory.

Kahn's opposite number on Sunday - the Brazilian Marcos - has garnered rather less plaudits during the tournament.

Derided for his part in England's goal during Brazil's 2-1 quarter-final victory, Marcos has been easily caricatured as the latest in a long line of butter-fingered Brazilian keepers.

But in his own quiet way Marcos played a key role in Brazil's triumph.

With the game delicately poised he made one of the saves of the tournament to tip on to the post Oliver Neuville's swerving free-kick.

And with Germany chasing the game, Marcos made an equally important reflex save to deny substitute Oliver Bierhoff' shot.

The 29-year-old Marcos owes his place in the Brazilian goal to coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The links between the two date back to 1999, when Scolari led Brazilian club Palmeiras to the Copa Libertadores championship.

When Scolari became Brazil's coach in the middle of the team's World Cup qualifying campaign, one of his first decisions was to install Marcos in place of Dida.

And Marcos repaid Scolari's faith - apart from that misjudgment against England, the Palmeiras keeper has had an impressive tournament.

During the 2002 tournament, despite playing behind three defenders, Marcos conceded just four goals in seven games, with three of those coming in the group stage.

Notably the Palmeiras keeper made several crucial saves in Brazil's 2-0 second-round win over Belgium.

Superstitious coach

As calling's come there are few harder positions to occupy than standing between the sticks for the Brazilian team.

The most infamous Brazilian goalkeeper is arguably Moacir Barbosa.

In the late 1940s Barbosa was arguably the best goalkeeper in the world.

Yet he became synonymous with the most famous error in Brazilian football history.

Back in July 1950, Brazil were once again involved in a World Cup final, playing Uruguay in the Maracana stadium filled with almost 200,000 fans.

In the second half, with the score at 1-1, Barbosa, expecting Uruguay's Alcides Gigghia to cross, was caught off guard when the Uruguayan shot and scored.

Brazil's defeat to their South American rivals was regarded as a national disaster.

Barbosa was made the scapegoat for the defeat and subsequently he was never allowed to forget his error.

In 1993 Barbosa tried to visit the training camp where Brazil were preparing for the 1994 World Cup.

But the superstitious coach Mario Zagallo would not allow Barbosa to meet him in case he brought the team bad luck.

Shortly before his death at the age of 79, Barbosa said that under Brazilian law the maximum prison sentence was 30 years, but that his imprisonment had been for 50 years.

Barbosa's misery explains why Marcos was keen to console Kahn after the game.

Church team

Gilmar is widely regarded as the greatest Brazilian goalkeeper and the Soviet Union's Lev Yashin of the Soviet Union considered him the best goalkeeper in the world in the late 50s and early 60s.

Gilmar was part of the he Brazilian World Cup-winning sides of 1958 and 1962.

His best tournament came in Sweden in 1958 when he conceded just four goals in six games.

Yet even Brazil's goalkeeping heroes do not have it easy.

Claudio Taffarel was the hero when Brazil beat Italy on penalties to win the 1994 World Cup.

But immediately after that he spent six months without a club.

His Italain club Parma had more foreigners than they were allowed to field, while Reggiana, where he spent the 1993-94 season on loan, no longer wanted him.

Taffarel kept fit by playing as a centre-forward for a church team in Italy before Atletico Mineiro came along to allow him to return to goalkeeping duties.

Still relatively young for a goalkeeper, Marcos will now look to emulate Gilmar's achievement of winning two World Cup titles.


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