Poland right back ANTONI SZYMANOWSKI (4) of Wislaw Cracow is pursued by Brazil midfielder DIRCEU (21) of FR Botafogo, who later starred for Atletico Madrid in Spain before spending five seasons with as many clubs in Italy’s crack Serie A, at the Olympiastadion in Munich, West Germany, during the traditional 3rd Place Match for the 1974 FIFA World Cup.
BRAZIL, the 1970 FIFA World Cup champion, and POLAND, the defending Olympic gold medalist, had collided in the Third Place Match at the Olympiastadion in Bavaria just two years previously. This time around in Toronto, however, the circumstances were entirely different. Not only was the tournament title still on the line, but the Brazil would have to do without its “professional” players, as well.
The Poles, unaffected by such Olympic restrictions, fielded nine players in the Startelf at Varsity Stadium for the semifinal of the Montreal Games who had also appeared in the 3rd Place match against Brazil at Munich. A tenth man for Poland in Canada, veteran midfielder LESLAW CMIKIEWICZ of army club Legia Warsaw, had come on as a substitute against the Brazilians in West Germany, as well. One of the two missing from the powerful Polish side which defeated Brazil to finish third at the last World Cup was ROBERT GADOCHA, the 1974 Polish Footballer of the Year and former Legia Warsaw winger who was now collecting a paycheck with FC Nantes in France.
The Brazilian Olympic XI was trained by CLAUDIO COUTINHO, the one-time army captain who would be appointed to lead the senior national side of Brazil at the 1978 FIFA World Cup staged in Argentina. Four of the youngsters in the Brazilian Startelf to face Poland in the Olympic semifinal later graduated to represent Brazil at multiple World Cups, as well. Their collective sight at this point, however, was set on a medal at the ’76 Montreal Games.
Striker ANDRZEJ SZARMACH was eventually permitted by Polish authorities to travel West in the summer of 1980 in order to sign a contract with AJ Auxerre in Burgundy, where the aging native of Gdansk shot a very respectable 94 goals in 148 games over the course of five seasons in the French first division.
The ambitious Brazilians, anchored by future national team captain EDINHO of FC Fluminese at the back and the midfield pair of BATISTA of Internacional Porto Alegre and JUNIOR of CR Flamengo, managed to hold the exploisve Poles at bay heading into the halftime break. Poland had already made one change on the pitch when winger KAZIMIERZ KMIECIK of Wislaw Cracow replaced Cmikiewicz shortly before the half hour mark. And then the 21,743 spectators on hand at Varsity Stadium in Toronto saw the deadlock broken six minutes into the second half.
ANDRZEJ SZARMACH of Stal Mielec, the 26-year-old striker who finished tied for second with five goals at the 1974 World Cup, scored his fifth goal at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games to give the regining gold medalist Poland a 1-0 lead in the 51st minute of the semifinal. The Brazilians responded ten minutes later by withdrawing a defender, 22-year-old right back ROSEMIRO of SE Palmeiras, in favor of an extra midfielder, the 19-year-old MARINHO of FC Santos. But the experienced Poles, backstopped by well-regarded goalkeeper JAN TOMASZEWSKI of LKS Lodz, were entirely too busy posting a third clean sheet in four football contests thus far at the ’76 Olympics.
Szarmach, the leading scorer already at the Montreal Games, netted his second goal of the match in the 82nd minute to effectively end whatever hopes of an equalizer the South Americans had entertained. The brace against the Brazilians also marked the third two-goal game of the Olympic tournament proper for the prolific Poland striker. The 2-0 result in Toronto provided the reigning champions a return ticket to the Gold Medal Match at the Olympic Stadium in Quebec as well as the rare opportunity to retain the crown won at Munich four years earlier.
Poland striker GRZEGORZ LATO of Stal Mielec, the Golden Boot winner who scored the only goal of the consolation contest at the Olympiastadion in Bavaria, engages in an aerial duel with Brazil defender MARINHO CHAGAS (6) of FR Botafogo during the 3rd Place Match at the 1974 FIFA World Cup.
Summer Olympic Games — Varsity Stadium, Toronto
Football Semifinal — July 27, 1976
POLAND : Tomaszewski – Zmuda – Szymanowski, Gorgon, Wawrowski – Maszczyk, Kasperczak, Cmikiewicz (Kmiecek 28′) – Deyna – Lato, Szarmach
BRAZIL : Carlos – Rosemiro (Marinho 61′), Edinho, Tecao, Chico Fraga – Junior, Batista, Alberto Leguele – Erivelto, Jarbas (Eudes 77′), Santos