The Best Goals of 2008 – Part 1 (World Football)

Let us then begin with the long view, seeking the perfect goal on the larger world stage…

African Cup of Nations

This first major tournament of 2008 unfortunately went largely unseen outside the continent where it took place; in Europe and especially England, indeed, it was widely (if quietly) regarded as something of a nuisance, because it summoned major club players back to their home lands.  One article I saw even hinted that African nations should perhaps feel a bit guilty about this.  (But think for a moment: if many of the world’s best players were English–ah, fantasy!–and happened to play their club football in Africa, would England fans feel guilty about seeing them summoned back for a European Cup?)

You goal junkies who missed the tournament will now have a first chance to savor some of its scoring joys, in a fine compilation: African Cup of Nations Top 10 Goals.   The scorers on this clip:  Mohamed Zidan (Egypt) vs. Cameroon, Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) vs. Guinea, Sulley Muntari (Ghana) vs. Guinea, Geremi (Cameroon) vs. Tunisia, Chaouki ben Saada (Tunisia) vs. Cameroon, Salomon Kalou (Ivory Coast) vs. Nigeria, Mejdi Traoui (Tunisia) vs. Senegal,  Eirio van Heerden (South Africa) vs. Angola, Hicham Aboucherouane (Morocco) vs.  Angola, Manucho (Angola) vs. Egypt.

see also:
Manucho Goncalves (Angola) vs Egypt 2.10.08 (Notorious for his inconsistency, Manucho also made himself famous for this wicked best-of-tournament strike from way up top.)

Manucho Goncalves (Angola): Manucho O Artilhero “Miguxo” (All Manucho goals in this tournament.)

2008 Beijing Olympics

This summer “soccer” tournament, unseen or ignored by many of those billions who saw all those hours of gymnastics,  swimming,etc., turned out to be much too good to have been missed.  A good deal of pride was at stake and a good deal of rising talent was on display.  And Argentina even smuggled in Juan-Roman Riquelme.  What more could one want?  (And don’t say, “An England side”.)

Angel di Maria (Argentina) vs Nigeria 8.23.08  (Final 1-0) (This clever chip by a rising world star, coming after a couple of hard tumbles seen at the beginning of the clip, was the tournament’s winning goal)

Diego Buonanotte (Argentina) vs. Serbia 8.12.08  (On  Lio Messi’s day off in the tournament, the tiny youth who may one day succeed him in the role of el mago came brightly to the fore.)

Royston Drenthe (Holland) vs. Japan 8.10.08   (This list’s candidate for near-miss of the year, the sizzling Drenthe free-kick off the bar against Japan, coming after a sympathetic three-minute documentation of this famously inconsistent young player’s awful struggles in the tournament, very nearly–but not quite–proves the assertion in the accompanying song-track that “What didn’t kill me can only make me/Stronger”)

World Cup qualifiers and other internationals

Bafetimbi Gomis (France)(2) vs. Ecuador (friendly) 5.27.08 (A pair of acrobatic wonder strikes from a debutant callup, the first a twisting shot across goal, the second a flying volley–merveilleux!)

Sergio Ramos (Spain) vs. Denmark (friendly) 20.08.08 (This Ramos goal comes as the culmination of a 26-pass move, the real quality of the goal consisting not in the sweet clinical finish but in the brilliant interplay of the buildup, so that it’s the teamwork and not the individual that finally deserves the credit: here we see the way Spain plays at its best, wonderful artistic football, inspiring to behold.)

Andres Iniesta (Spain) vs Belgium (WC qualifier) 10.15.08 (Iniesta is the stutter-stepping fast-footworking impossible-angle finisher, but the interception and thrilling feed-pass are the familiar wonderstuff of Cesc Fabregas: again, Spanish football at its fancy-finest, moving coach Vicente del Bosques to superlatives later–“all of us in the  dressing room thought it was the best goal of the season; Iniesta himself was more modest: “nice goal, but I can do better.”)

Pedro Morales (Chile sub-23) vs. Ivory Coast (Toulon Under-23 Tournament, semi-final)(5.23.08 (A heart-stopping moment from the Chilean prodigy:  long range strike of the year?)

Fabian Orellana (Chile) vs. Argentina  (WC qualifier)10/15/08 (This one deserves full honors not only for the end-to-end quality of the move preceding it–eight players touching the ball in a rapid, dynamic buildup of the sort normally associated with the other side in this match–but for the youthful debutant Orellana’s cool and poised finish: altogether a perfectly constructed goal stealing a page out of the albiceleste‘s own book, delighting a great crowd in Santiago and securing Chile’s first-ever international victory over Argentina.)

Salvador Cabanas (Colombia) vs. Paraguay (WC qualifier) 10.11.08 (“Quick thinking” by the bullish striker with the surprisingly lovely touch, Cabanas–this one, scored early at 9″, silences Colombia for good on a great away night for Paraguay.)

Carlos Costly (Honduras) vs. Canada  (WC qualifier)10.11.08 (A swerving 38-meter howitzer blast into the top right corner from distance that proved costly indeed for the Canadians, whose World Cup hopes it terminated.)

Ronald Garcia (Bolivia) vs. Peru (WC qualifier) 10.11.08 (This powerful and deadly missile from distance leaves everyone in the La Paz stadium stunned, no one more so than the surprised shooter himself, who barely survives the emotional shock of his wonder goal.)

Ali Gerba (Canada) vs. Mexico (WC qualifier) 10.15.08 (Starting Sven-Goran Eriksson off on another harrowing night in his troubled qualifying campaign at the helm of a team whose veteran players had spoken out boldly against his appointment, Gerba’s wonderfully weighted and lofted lob floats over the head of flabbergasted Mexican keeper Osvaldo Sanchez–and a fretful Sven anxiously paces the touchline, to an ominous music track.)

Jakub “Kuba” Blaszczykowski (Poland) vs Czech Rep. (WC qualifier) 10.12.08 (Don’t worry about pronouncing the name, this talented young player is known to those who love him simply as “Kuby”–and here he tricks the frantically advancing keeper, no less than Petr Cech mind you, with an audaciously cute chip.)

Daniele de Rossi (Italy) vs Georgia  (WC qualifier) (9.10.08). A de Rossi missile from distance.

Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney (2) (England) vs. Belarus (WC qualifier) 10.16.08 (England’s two finest players working together very nicely:  Gerrard’s lethal 30-yard drive into the far corner, on the run, is fine, and even better is Rooney’s victory-clinching second on the night, lifted over the keeper after a brilliant feint and displaying a pure scorer’s instincts; Rooney’s post-game comment “it’s probably the best I’ve ever played for England to be honest” was no exaggeration)

Yohan Gourcuff (France ) vs. Romania  (WC qualifier) 10.11.08 (Last goal on clip: this coming star’s cannon-shot strike will take your breath away.)

Elano (Brazil) vs Portugal  (friendly) 11.19.08 (And a bit of finesse to go with all that high-calibre artillery.)

2008 World Club Cup

Cristiano (Adelaide United) vs Al Ahly 12.18.08 (A wicked blast from distance by the other Cristiano, this the Brazilian one– easily the best goal of the tournament.)

Daniel Mullen (Adelaide United) vs. Waitakere Utd  12.11.08 (The runner-up–second goal on this clip, the big header by the man in red creates another happy moment for Adelaide United fans everywhere.)

and for a brief intermission, a message brought to you from the Church of ESPN…

ESPN Top 5 Goals of 2008:

and should you like to choose views of the above from alternative clips:

5 Emanuel Adebayor (Arsenal) vs. Liverpool  4.08.08 (Champions League) (plus the Walcott run)

4 Sulley Muntari (Inter) vs. Napoli 11.22.08i

3 Ronaldinho (Barcelona) vs. Atletico Madrid 3.01.08

2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter) vs. Bologna 10.04.08

1 Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Fiorentino) vs. Torino 5.21.08>

The Best Goals of 2008 – Navigation:

In Pursuit of the Elusive Perfect Goal: 2008
The Best Goals of 2008 – Part 1 (World Football)
The Best Goals of 2008 – Part 2 (England / Scotland)
The Best Goals of 2008 – Part 3 (Europe)
The Best Goals of 2008 – Part 4 (Americas)

The Best Goals of 2008 - Part 2 (England and Scotland)
Scolari a Sack Favorite, Beckham Tops Footballers' Rich List, An Apology to Tottenham, and more


  1. BD Condell 8 January, 2009
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  3. Madschester United 8 January, 2009
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  5. Aditya 9 January, 2009
  6. tom clark 9 January, 2009
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