Take A Chance On Me! – Second Chances In Football

After Celtic’s sensational reinstatement to the Champions League, we look at other teams who’ve received a second chance in competitions and how they’ve done.

Denmark, European Championships 1992
Denmark failed to qualify for 1992’s European Championships, finishing second in their qualifying group to Yugoslavia, but got an unlikely call a week before the tournament commenced. The Yugoslavs, in a state of civil war, were kicked out of the tournament and the Danes literally had to round up a squad, most of whom were on holidays.

With no pressure or expectations, Denmark scraped out of their group and shocked holders Holland in the semi-finals. The Danish fairytale was complete with a win over Germany in the final, with players who’d been on the beach a month before now champions of Europe.

Celtic, Europa League 2011/12
Cetlic have previously been beneficiaries of ineligibility rulings when they were reinstated to the Europa League group stages in 2011. They’d been beaten by FC Sion in a qualifier but it emerged the Swiss side had breached a FIFA transfer ban by fielding five ineligible players.

However, the Scottish club will be hoping to make more of their second chance this time around. They subsequently failed to qualify from their group, finishing behind Atletico Madrid and Udinese.

Leeds United, Champions League 1992/92
Eric Cantona inspired Leeds United to a 4:1 win over Stuttgart in a Champions League second round at Elland Road but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 3:0 deficit from the first leg.

However, it transpired that Stuttgart substitute Jovo Simanić, a Serb, was the fourth foreigner used by the German side, thus breaking UEFA’s “three foreigner” rule at the time. A rematch was swiftly arranged at a neutral venue, Barcelona’s Nou Camp, and Leeds progressed with goals from Gordon Strachan and Carl Shutt. Stuttgart’s boss Christoph Daum was christened “Christoph Dumb” by the English tabloids, but Leeds failed to capitalise on their good fortune – losing to Glasgow Rangers in the next round.

Tunisia, World Cup 2014
Fielding ineligible players is rife in African football and the most recent, costly example is Cape Verde’s expulsion from this year’s World Cup. The Blue Sharks had themselves benefitted from Equatorial Guinea fielding an ineligible player, a decision that helped them top their qualifying group.

They were on the brink of becoming the smallest nation ever to qualify for the tournament, but despite topping their group to reach the play-offs they were expelled for fielding a banned player.

Tunisia, group runners-up, were awarded their place but failed to take advantage, losing to Cameroon in the play-off.

Steaua Bucharest, Champions League 1997/98
PSG’s 3:2 defeat away to Steau Bucharest in a 1997 Champions League tie was deemed satisfactory, with two away goals in the bag and the French side as clear favourites for the return leg. However, UEFA ruled that they’d fielded a suspended player in Laurent Fournier, and awarded a 3:0 result to the Romanians.

PSG incredibly admitted they’d “forgotten” about Fournier’s suspension and conceded that “statistically there are not such great chances for qualification after losing a first leg 3-0 defeat”.

Steau had made no protest to UEFA and felt the sanction on their opponents would only spur them on in the second leg. Their fears were well-founded with a fired-up PSG scoring five without reply to progress.