FourFourTwo Arabia looks at four of the finest international performances by Arab nations in iconic adidas strips.
Tunisia 3-1 Mexico
World Cup group stage – Argentina 1978
The first ever win by an Arab or African team at a World Cup. Abdelmajid Chetali’s men became instant heroes in Argentina by unexpectedly beating fancied Mexico 3-1 at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in Rosario.
All looked to be rosy for Mexico when they led 1-0 at the break. But a storming second half comeback by the Tunisians, wearing adidas and led by the gifted Tarak Dhiab, saw them claim a remarkable 3-1 win, thanks to goals by Ali Kaabi (55 minutes), Nejib Ghommidh (79) and Mokhtar Dhouieb (87).
Tunisia even drew with reigning champions West Germany, but a 1-0 defeat to Poland meant they exited the World Cup at the group stage.
Their legacy had already been secured. The iconic adidas red top with white stripes and the classic trefoil stands as a reminder of the day the Eagles of Carthage shocked the world.
Morocco 3-1 Portugal
World Cup group stage – Mexico 1986
Few people gave Morocco much hope of getting out of a group that included three European heavyweights.
But draws with Poland and England set the stage for arguably the nation’s finest ever result.
Morocco, playing in the their flag colours of red with green stripes, simply destroyed Portugal with two goals from Abderrazak Khairi and one from the beloved Abdelkrim Merry, widely known as “Krimau”, before a late consolation gave the result a semblance of respectability for the demoralised Iberian outfit.
Morocco became the first Arab or African team to qualify to the knock out stages of a World Cup, where they lost gallantly to eventual finalists West Germany.
The win over Portugal had already ensured immortality for the Atlas Lions.
Egypt 2-3 Brazil
Olympic Games group stage – London 2012
It may have ended in defeat, but Egypt’s match against Brazil at the 2012 Olympics has become one of the country’s most poignant in recent times.
Egypt had memorably lost 4-3 to Brazil at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa when they came up against the South American giants again in their opening Olympic group fixture at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Brazil raced into a 3-0 lead inside half an hour, thanks to goals by Rafael, Damiao and Neymar. Egypt roared back in the second half, with legendary midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika reducing the deficit before the country’s rising star, one Mohamed Salah, scored a brilliant second to threaten a stunning comeback by the Pharaohs.
It was not to be, but Egypt, replicating their flag in plain red adidas tops, white shorts and black socks, qualified to the quarter-finals, where they lost to Japan.
Though few watching the defeat to Brazil would have known it at the time, the match represented the passing of the torch from Egypt’s greatest footballer to the finest of a new generation.
UAE 1-1 Japan (UAE win 5-4 on penalties)
AFC Asian Cup quarter-final – Australia 2015
The UAE’s second Golden Generation had cruised through the group stage of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup to set up a quarter-final clash with the reigning champions Japan.
Not many people expected the UAE to progress.
But on one of the country’s most famous footballing nights, Ali Mabkhout gave the Whites the lead with a brilliant volley, before a relentless Japanese team equalised with 10 minutes to go.
The game looked up for the exhausted Emirati players, but heroic defensive performance in extra time took the tie to a penalty shootout.
To the incredulousness of the watching millions, up stepped golden boy Omar Abdulrahman to score with an impudent “Panenka” penalty. The UAE players’ confidence soared while the Samurai Blue wilted.
A few minutes later, Mahdi Ali’s players were celebrating a fabled victory that secured a semi-final clash with Australia.
On a rainy night against the hosts in Newcastle, it was not to be for the UAE. But a third-place finish left Abdulrahman, Mabkhout and the their team-mates the talk of the continent.