Mexico 1-2 Dutch Antilles 24 March 1963
CONCACAF Cup, Estadio Flor Blanca, Santa Ana, El Salvador
Scorers: Ortíz (Mexico) Ronald Delanoy, Jesús del Muro (o.g.) (Antilles)
So it was Mexico, one of the biggest countries in the world with a population of over 100 million, versus the Antilles, a small Dutch-claimed group of islands in the Caribbean Sea with a population of around 200,000. (The Dutch Antilles, also known as the Netherlands Antilles, previously known as the Netherlands West Indies, played as Curacao until 1948 when that island became part of the Antilles. The side’s national anthem is the humbly named Anthem Without A Title.)
Let’s not underestimate the shock value of this result. FIFA rankings didn’t start for another 30 years, but since they did the Antilles have never got within 100 places of Mexico. That’s Mexico, established as World Cup regulars and reigning UFWC champions, versus the Antilles, who had failed to qualify for any World Cup and were UFWC virgins. This was giant killing of the very tallest order indeed. Mighty Mexico – the Tricolores – took the UFWC title during the 1962 World Cup finals from eventual finalists Czechoslovakia. The lowly Antilles, managed by Brazilian Pedro da Cunha, beat Haiti over two legs to qualify for this inaugural CONCACAF Cup tournament in El Salvador. The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football formed at the beginning of the year. (The CONCACAF Cup only existed in this format for five years. It has since been re-jigged and is known as the CONCACAF Gold Cup.)
It was the Dutch Antilles, or Antillas Holandesas as the Mexicans would have it, who scored first, netting through Ronald Delanoy on 12 minutes. Mexico equalised through Guillermo Ortíz 12 minutes later, and it was 1-1 at half-time. The second half was an even match-up, but there was to be an almighty sting in the tail for Mexico. With 10 minutes left to play, Mexican defender Jesús del Muro put through his own net to give the Antilles a 2-1 lead. Could the little islanders hold on? Yes they could. And the fact that Mexico gave them something of a helping hand shouldn’t detract from the huge achievement of the minnows. The victorious Antilles qualified for the final round, while Mexico went out. The Antilles subsequently lost 1-0 to eventual winners Costa Rica and finished the tournament in third place.
10 years later Mexico gained some sort of revenge against the Antilles by cuffing them 8-0 in a World Cup qualifier. But giant-killers the Antilles retained their place in the record books as by far the smallest nation ever to win the UFWC. Indeed, the Antilles are the only UFWC winners with a population of under 1 million. They are also by far the lowest FIFA-ranked UFWC champs, having been ranked by FIFA as low as 188 out of 205 registered footballing nations. A true David among Goliaths.