The Copa América won by the Argentine National Team in Chile ’91 was very special. It is that day, July 21, 1991, 30 years ago, the long streak of 32 years was broken without winning the continental competition.
It is true, Argentina had been world champion in 1978 and 1986, but at the regional level it was very difficult for them to prevail.
The National Team was beginning a new stage under the guidance of Alfio Basile. After the successful cycle of Carlos Salvador Bilardo, who had come out champion and runner-up, another era began.
In addition to Narigón in the coaching staff, Diego Armando Maradona, suspended for doping, was not a member of that team either. There was, little by little, a renovation of the campus. On the other hand, people and a part of journalism were also excited about a football renewal.
Bilardo, with his style, had generated despite the great victory of the 86 World Cup a soccer debate that still continues today. Win or play well?
The Selection of 86 won and played well; the 90’s was runner-up, but without playing good football.
Coco Basile with a different style (less videos and tactical rigor and more freedom for the footballer) made the team win and like it.
The national team started with great expectations, with players from the local environment who generated excitement such as Batistuta and Latorre (Boca), Gamboa and Franco (Newell’s), Leo Rodríguez (San Lorenzo), and also with other experienced players such as Goycochea, Ruggeri, Simeone and Caniggia.
The route was pure victory: out of seven games the National Team won six and drew one. He scored 16 goals and got six scored. The first round was very favorable: they beat Venezuela 3-0, Chile 1-0, Paraguay 4-1 and Peru 3-2.
Thus he got into the final round of the contest, where he played the final home run along with Brazil, Chile and Colombia.
In a great game (an early final), with two goals from Franco and another from Batistuta, they beat Brazil 3-2: a key victory to later win the title. It should be remembered that just a year before Argentina had eliminated the Brazilians from the World Cup in Italy 90, with Caniggia’s remembered goal in a round of 16 clash that had been very unfavorable for the Albiceleste.
Then he tied with the local Chile, and reached the last date with many chances to be champion against Colombia: if he won he would consecrate himself and break the 32-year streak of drought. It was a 2-1 victory, with goals from Simeone and Batistuta.
Brazil had defeated Colombia and Chile, but it was not enough to keep the title they were defending, since they had won it in 1989.
The championship was very celebrated. For breaking the curse of more than three decades and because the National Team played a colorful and offensive football that people fell in love with.
The last title had been achieved in the 1959 South American Championship, when the tournament was not yet called the Copa América.
The team consisted of: Sergio Goycochea; Fabián Basualdo, Sergio Vázquez, Oscar Ruggeri and Carlos Enrique; Darío Franco, Leonardo Astrada and Diego Simeone; Leonardo Rodríguez; Gabriel Batistuta and Claudio Caniggia.
It was the championship that ended up consolidating Batistuta as the historic scorer that he was: he scored six goals in six games. There he began his long journey with the albiceleste, which would later lead him to be the top gunner of the national team until Lio Messi surpassed him.
But he was not the only one who shone. A young Cholo Simeone proved to have the soul of a leader, Leo Rodríguez made an extraordinary tournament as the team’s point guard, Darío Franco became a scorer against Brazil, in the match that marked the way to the title …
Then, with this base plus some new names, the two-time championship would arrive with the title of Ecuador in 1993. The Coco cycle would continue in a suffered classification to the 1994 World Cup, and with the elimination after the positive doping of Maradona. But that would be another story.