Monthly Archives: June 2010

World Cup Update 4

So the last 16 have been identified and there have been a few shocks and surprises

Italy was knocked out by an uncrowned Slovakia…Japan kept Denmark out and all the South American teams have done well..Only representative from Africa is Ghana…Spain is getting into the groove and so is Argentina…England scraped through and USA played some adventurous football

Round of 16
Uruguay Korea Republic 26/06/10 16:00
USA Ghana 26/06/10 20:30
Germany England 27/06/10 16:00
Argentina Mexico 27/06/10 20:30
Netherlands Slovakia 28/06/10 16:00
Brazil Chile 28/06/10 20:30
Paraguay Japan 29/06/10 16:00
Spain Portugal 29/06/10 20:30

All times quoted are South African time. (courtesy: FIFA)
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World Cup update 3

Between this post and my previous one, lots have happened. The final round matches in the group phase are over for the first two groups and the first four teams in the round of 16 have been identified. The biggest news is probably France crashing out of the World Cup amidst drama off the field and Portugal thrashing a hapless North Korea.

Group A: France team dominated the headlines for news which was not related to on-field activities. Player revolts and coach issues were all over the print, the team refused to train and the captain came out and said there is a traitor in the team. So the final match against the host nation started with the captain, Evra sitting out from the start. They were beaten 2-1 which should be one of the biggest footballing victories for South Africa. I am glad that Domenech will be leaving the squad after this debacle. Now Laurent Blanc needs to put some sensibility into this squad.

Meanwhile, South Africa played wonderful football and rode their luck and host nation fortune and beat France to hear that the Mexico-Uruguay match had not gone in their favour. In the end it boiled down to the goal difference. Hope the South Africans had a good time supporting their team in the world cup and will now support the others and make this a memorable world cup. So it is Uruguay and Mexico who qualify from this group into the round of 16. Uruguay has a solid defence and a good attacking twosome in Forlan and Suarez.

Group B: Argentina had already qualified from this group and hence Maradona decided to rest some of his players and give some practice to his bench players. Milito could have done better and Aguero did have his chances. Messi, the Captain for the day had his shining moments and in the end it turned out to be a win for them against Greece. Greece lost and hence lost out to the South Koreans who drew with Nigeria 2-2 and thereby ensuring qualification.

So it will be Uruguay vs South Korea and Argentina vs Mexico. I think Argentina  and Uruguay should make it to the Quarter finals.

Group G: This group, the group of Death produced some good thrill with Brazil beating Ivory Coast 3-1, a match in which Kaka got sent-off and was not as good as the scoreline suggests. But one match which was as good as the scoreline suggests was the Portugal match against North Korea which the Portuguese won 7-0, one of the biggest margins of victory in World Cup history. The half time score of 1-0 was not an indication of how the second half  panned out to. Cristiano Ronaldo was in his elements and so was Tiago. Good to see a lot of goals finally.

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World Cup update 2

There was lot of drama towards the end of the round1 of the World Cup. These are the kind of stories which makes for good reading and viewing. The North Koreans gave a scare to the Brazilians and the Swiss shocked the Spanish team and the whole world.

Kaka was non-existent in the match against the Koreans as he mis-passed and virtually contributed nothing to the match. The Koreans defended stubbornly and it took Maicon to break their defence and score. The Koreans showed no fear in the big stage. Hope the team to do well in the remaining matches.

The Swiss gave a good defensive lesson to the Spanish team. They passed around brilliantly but could not find the net. I had David Villa in my fantasy team and he was a bad pick 😦 Hope they bounce back in the last 2 matches.

Argentina brought the World Cup to life in the 2nd round with a 4-1 win against a resolute South Korea. Higuain scored the first hat-trick of this World Cup. Messi was mesmerising as usual. The defensive frailities in this Argentine team was there on display in the goal that they conceded.

Germany got their stock of the shock when they got beat by the Serbians. There were too many cards with a red card being handed out to Miroslav Klose. Podolski missed a penalty. There was all drama in the match which ended up in a defeat to the high flying Germans.

Let me not talk about the pathetic pathetic French team and not as bad but still pathetic England team.

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Round 1 of WC 2010 in progress

The World Cup 2010 has started in South Africa and it is quite a special event with the Cup happening for the first time in the African continent. Lets hope that the tournament will feature a lot of goals, some wonderful memories/matches and a worthy winner. 32 teams, 64 matches featuring 736 players and there will be one winner, 23 players and their staff who will go back home with the Cup and one hell of a moment in the history of their Football dreams.

The World Cup got off to a slightly boring start but picked up as the days progressed. As I write this blog, the African heavy-weight Cameroon is playing our Asian super power Japan. Both teams are mighty in their continent but might not feature in the best 8 or maybe even 16 teams in this edition of the World Cup but it might throw up a wonderful match. The clash of styles will throw up new stars and their fans around the world.

In Group A, South Africa drew with Mexico and Uruguay and France played a goalless draw. France do not look like they have any firepower in them. I am betting big on Uruguay to make it through. Mexico should have won their match so that they could have given France a headache with respect to qualifying to the next round.

In Group B, Korea put up a fighting display against Greece sending warnings to both Nigeria as well as Argentina. Though Argentina won their game against Nigeria from an early goal, Nigeria did have their chances to equalise. This could be an interesting pool. Messi showed glimpses of his skill, but the forwards need to put in that extra effort and convert more chances.

In Group C, Slovenia beat Algeria by a solitary goal and England showed why they are vulnerable at the back, especially under the crossbar when their goalie, Robert Green let in a silly goal by virtue of his own mistake. With Ledley King getting replaced midway in the match, they also need to sort out their defensive worries. This group might produce some surprises going forward.

In Group D, World Cup’s form team, Germany put four goals past a hapless Australia. This edition of the World Cup had its first set of full scale goal bombardment in this match and it is as if new life has been given to the first few days slow pace. Ghana became the first African nation to win a match in this edition by beating Serbia. Germany should carry on comfortably from this pool.

In Group E, Netherlands had an unconvincing 2-0 victory over Denmark. Everyone who supports Holland feel that maybe this slow start will pick up momentum as the group matches carry on. Japan beat a strong Cameroon which might be considered an upset in football parlance, thus making the first upset of the tournament.

We have been playing the FIFA Fantasy league and it has been some good fun, choosing 23 payers and then a playing XI. May the fun continue and the matches get more exciting.

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My World Cup memories

Everyone has their own World Cup memories which they cherish. In India most of us would have grown up seeing the country against country battles fought in World Cups every four yeards before we started watching the League Football. Even I have such memories tucked away somewhere.

The National Broadcaster, Doordarshan ensures that they show all the World Cups free of cost to whoever can buy a TV and fix an antenna. They ensured that the common man was not deprived of the game that millions of people play around the world. And growing up in Kerala you can have a sensible football discussion right from your newspaper vendor to your tea-shop uncle. I was influenced by Brazil because my dad used to support them. And I thought at that time the whole world just wanted to see the World Cup so that their favourite team (Brazil) can lift the cup again. I remember that we bought  a new TV everytime there was a World Cup. Not just a TV, but also a new antenna so that we could catch the signals better.

But my support to Brazil grew as I grew older. Seeing Romario, Bebeto, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and then Ronaldinho the love for the team just increased. Then I think it was some kind of a stagnation which set in. The match in 1994 I think where the Dutch played Brazil in the semis was like an eye-opener, and again the Dutch played some sublime football in the 1998 edition against Brazil in the quarters and then Sweden also had a thrilling WC in 1998 to lose to Brazil. That is when I realised that even other teams can play equally exciting football and sometimes Brazil is plain lucky! So slowly I shifted my support. And in 1998 Zinedine Zidane changed it all. I saw the finals in my 2nd year hostel TV room (Diamond) supporting Brazil and saw them lose to Zidane’s brilliant headers. That is when it changed. And ever since then I have supported different teams – France, Argentina, Netherlands. So this year I will be supporting Argentina and Spain. Spain because Fabregas will be playing for them.

My first memory of the WC was reading about it. My dad used to buy Sportstar the only sports magazine available in India at that time. And he had the copies of the entire 1986 WC. Reading through the columns of football I could journey through the Argentina team as they won the WC. Maradona’s goals in the quarter finals and the semis , his pass for the decider goal in the finals to Burruchaga which sealed the finals 3-2 in Argentina’s favour in the Azteca stadium, it was absorbing reading through the article. It was a World Cup that belonged to Gary Linekar, to Rudi Voeller, to Careca…The best thing is that I have not just the 1986 WC Sportstars, but also of every edition after that. It is now nicely bound and kept with lost of Football posters as well. My prized collection.

My first memory of actually seeing a WC on TV was the 1990 one, Italia ’90. In hindsight, it was one of the most boring World Cups ever played, but since it was the first one that I saw on TV, I was very excited. Schilachi (don’t know the right spelling), Baggio, Lothar Mattheus and Maradona…A whole host of players meemerising the crowd who are watching it in the stadium or on TV. I still remember the pony tailed Baggio scoring a wonderful goal in one of the matches and the very handsome Mattheaus holding aloft the WC.

So here we go again into the next edition in South Africa, where again Brazil are the favourites, followed by Spain, England, Holland and Argentina. Hopefully one of the African teams should make it to the Semi finals atleast. Lets hope there are more goals and many exciting matches in this edition. I will be blogging with Vickerman in MTJAG on the teams before the WC starts and then on the matches. So will try to post some of the articles here as well. Meanwhile, let me subscribe to Sportstar for this edition of the WC 🙂

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