ROME -- Cameroon needed just 90 minutes Friday to show why billions on the planet wait four years for the World Cup.
In arguably the biggest World Cup upset in 40 years, Cameroon swelled its national pride and drove Argentina to shame by opening soccer's month-long spectacle with a 1-0 victory over the defending champion.
Before 73,780 fans at Milan's Giuseppe Meazza Stadium and an estimated global television audience of 1.3 billion, Francois Omam Biyick scored on a 66th-minute header that brought sudden respect for the 300-1 longshot.
Biyick's goal, scored with Cameroon with one man short, also imperiled Argentina's bid to become the first country to win consecutive World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.
'This is the darkest day of my career,' Argentina Coach Carlos Bilardo said.
Argentina's Diego Maradona, who many deem the world's best, played with a sore toe and was hounded all game by the Cameroon defense.
'I felt OK until the goal because it was a goal I didn't expect,' Maradona said. 'It is no use to sit and talk about goals we missed. The result speaks for itself, and we have to applaud Cameroon.'
Five minutes after Biyick's brother, Andre Kana Biyick, was ejected for tackling Claudio Caniggia, Cameroon struck. A free kick on the left caught the Argentine defense off guard, and Omam Biyick's header went through goalkeeper Nery Pumpido's hands, off his knee and into the net.
The west African nation had another player ejected with three minutes left. French referee Michel Vautrot issued Benjamin Massing his second yellow card when he nailed Caniggia with a ferocious body block.
'I believe our tactics prevailed as the most important element in this match,' said Valeri Nepomniachi, Cameroon's Soviet coach, who communicates with his team through his chauffeur. 'I don't think Argentina were as fit as we were today.'
Asked if Cameroon would be the surprise team of the tournament, he said: 'Yes, why not? We are here to show what we can do.'
Badgered with questions about rough play, Nepomniachi sidestepped the issue.
'I am the trainer of the team. I am not involved in the referee's job.'
The outcome, perhaps the most startling in the World Cup since the United States beat England 1-0 in 1950, brought the Africans streaming onto the field in celebration.
In Argentina, the official television station, ATC, called the Argentine team 'a disaster.' Radio Continental said, 'You can't play worse.'
One 67-year-old Argentine told United Press International the game 'truthfully made me ashamed.' That sentiment came from a country whose fans chanted 'Victory or death' at the 1930 World Cup.
In the stands, Cameroon President Paul Biya received handshakes from Argentina President Carlos Menem, Italian President Francesco Cossiga and Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello.
The last time Cameroon appeared in the World Cup, it played eventual champion Italy to a 1-1 draw in 1982. Its victory over Argentina continued the poor luck of defending champions in inaugural games. England, in 1970, was the last titlist to open with a victory.
In an effort to contain drunken fans, an alcohol ban was in effect throughout Milan for the day, as it will be on all match days. Udine and Naples are the only two of the 12 World Cup cities not to announce alcohol restrictions.
About 3,000 armed police and paramilitary carabinieri threw a security cordon around the Milan stadium. Authorities reported minor scuffles near the facility. A group of youths who joined a protest march by steelworkers threw bottles at officers.
As police moved in to control the crowd, two demonstrators were injured, including a member of the union's national executive committee.
Three World Cup games are scheduled for Saturday: Italy vs. Austria in Group A at Rome; the Soviet Union vs. Romania in Group B at Bari; and United Arab Emirates vs. Colombia in Group D at Bologna.
The United States, like Cameroon a 300-1 longshot to win the tournament, can take heart from Friday's result. The Americans open Sunday against Czechoslovakia in Group A at Florence.
Bruce Murray, the U.S. team's top scorer, says the Americans must play more aggressively. The United States needs to win at least one game and tie another to ensure a place in the second round of the 24-team tournament.
'We are not creating opportunities, and when we do get them, we're not capitalizing,' Murray said. 'Early on, when we were first starting out, I could see us taking an fairly conservative approach. But now we've got some game experience and if we expect any kind of success here in Italy, we have got to take charge.'