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USA hope to continue dream run

sports Updated: Jun 27, 2009 22:48 IST

AFP
Highlight Story

The recipe for success in the Confederations Cup final is simple: score first.

That is what Brazil and France did twice and Mexico once and they won the five previous editions of a competition that brings together the champions of the six FIFA regions.

Title holders Brazil will be making a fourth appearance in the final on Sunday when they face surprise package the United States at Ellis Park in the South African commercial capital.

Ronaldo scored on 15 minutes against Australia in the 1997 final in Riyadh and it triggered a six-goal avalanche, with he and strike partner Romario claiming a hat-trick each. The 1999 decider was the most exciting in terms of goals, with Mexico edging Brazil 4-3 after twice leading by two goals before 110,000 spectators at the Azteca Stadium, a record attendance for a Confederations Cup fixture.

Zepeda and leading tournament scorer Cuauhtemoc Blanco gave the Mexicans another two-goal cushion before Ze Roberto reduced arrears midway through the second half and set up a thrilling climax.

This final was always going to be a difficult act to follow and the next two paled by comparison with France gaining solitary-goal successes over 2001 hosts Japan and at home to Cameroon a couple of years later.

Patrick Vieira was the hero in Yokohama, scoring after 30 minutes to continue a golden era for 'Les Bleus' after winning the 1998 World Cup and the European Championship title two years later. Thierry Henry, was the match-winner in Paris in 2003, scoring a 97th-minute 'golden goal' to defeat a Cameroon team mourning the sudden death of midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe during the semi-final against Colombia.

If the first French victory confirmed their pre-eminence in international football, the second softened the blow of a disastrous World Cup defence the previous year.

FIFA changed the Confederations Cup frequency from biennial to four-yearly and the trophy returned to Brazil in 2005 after they ripped fierce South American rivals Argentina to shreds with a 4-1 final scolding.

Adriano was the destroyer-in-chief with Kaka and Ronaldinho also on target before Pablo Aimar pulled one back in a Frankfurt final that almost did not take place because of torrential rain.