Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup reflections: Week 2

Week two has provided us with more goals as requested by the viewing public, it also provided us vuvulaza-gate, missing North Koreans, a Jo-burg bomb scare and more surprise results than anyone could have expected. Who would have thought that Spain, every one's favorite to win the whole tournament would lose to Switzerland when having 70% of the possession? Also who would have thought that North Korea would play so well against Brazil? Yes they lost 2-1 but most people we predicting a cricket score in Brazil's favour. These results and others proves the old adage looking good on paper means nothing once you're on the pitch, just ask England.

So let me say a few words about the Vuvulaza, if you are not up to speed this is a long plastic horn that has been causing your T.V to sound like a hoard of bees are attacking your ear buds. There have been many complaints about the use of the vuvulaza the teams, the media and by you the viewers. Personally I have no real issue with the device, in fact I think it adds to the atmosphere of the match. However as the majority of viewers are not use to the sound of the vuvu, I can see how people get annoyed with it, but we should keep in mind that this is the way South Africans view and enjoy the game. The fact that there was a move from the media and teams to have the vuvulaza banned can be chalked up to cultural insensitivity. I didn't hear anyone complain when Swiss fans brought 5,000 cow bells to Germany 4 years ago and almost blew out Ukrainian fans ear drums!

Also last week, there was the strange case of the 4 missing North Korean players from their game against Brazil. This was noticed when North Korean officials handed in their teams sheet before the match and it only have 19 of the possible 23 players on it. Of course this sparked massive rumors that the 4 players had defected with the wildest one being that they had already gotten as far as Egypt. As we learned a few days later it was all a clerical misunderstanding. In the Asian champions cup teams are only allowed 19 players on the match day team sheet, team officials thought it was the same case for the World Cup. All four players a now back in training, but do not be surprised if we hear about a few players trying to make the jump out.

As for the results, we saw a few more goals, a few huge upsets and more Ronaldo hissy fits.

First off Spain was a massive shock as the team is the odds on favourite to win the tournament. However before we start to write off the Spanish as the great underachievers again let us put things into perspective. Spain bossed the game, the Swiss only had two chances on target although one went in and the second one should have gone in. Spain had the lions share of the position and should have put away a few of the great chances they had. Spain will be fine everyone, don't start changing your pool picks yet.

So...England...just to inform you the World Cup has started and if you don't realize it soon, it will be over for you before you seemingly know it. The Three Lions performance was insanely poor, there really is no other way to to say it. They had no creativity, I can't see where the goals are coming from even with Wayne Rooney in the line up. Plus he didn't help himself be criticizing traveling England supporters right after the Algeria match. Fabio Capello has it all to do in order to get England through to the next round, and it doesn't help when the former captain John Terry yaps to the press about his dislike over team selection and strategy. Like I've said in previous posts regarding England they always crumble under the enormous weight of expectations of its supporters, and it seems this tournament will be no different.

France...check out my post from yesterday if you want my opinion of the French national team. Let's put it this way, not good.

Another major upset last week as Serbia edging out Germany 1-0 after striker Miroslav Klose was sent off in the first half. Now I think the sending off was harsh as the first yellow card he received was a bad call by the ref, but credit Serbia for capitalizing on that and then hanging on for dear life afterwards. Like Spain, Germany will be alright after this loss they just have to be a bit more disciplined in their defensive play.

South American teams are bossing the tournament so far Argentina turned on the style and thumped South Korea 4-1, Brazil looked like Brazil winning 3-1 over Cote d'Ivoire and Paraguay and Chile look almost certain to progress to the next round. Out of all those teams Paraguay have been my favorite to watch so far. This is a team that when they get rolling are really hard to stop going forward. They also have a very organized defensive structure that allows for a quick counter attack when needed. Look out for this team as it seems Paraguay is emerging as a dark horse team.

My final words are reserved for the African squads who with the slight exception of Ghana have mightily disappointed so far. I spoke about this a few weeks ago but my one fear around the African squads was the pressure of play on "home soil". The world and FIFA more specifically want more than one African team to make the knockout stages of the tournament, this is now seeming unlikely as Cameroon is officially out and baring a miracle the hosts South Africa are as well. This leaves Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Algeria as the hopes for the continent. The Ivorians,Nigerians and Algerians need some serious help from other teams in the group to get through, whereas Ghana really only needs a tie in their last group game to get through. This in theory was to be the coming out party for African football with at least three teams making it though in most experts brackets. However this breakout looks more likely to happen in four years time at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil; Especially for Ghana and Nigeria who have extremely good under 20 squads to restock the senior teams by that time. Here's hoping from some miracles but it seems that Ghana will once again be the lone flag bearer for Africa in the round of 16.

Week three will conclude the group stages of World Cup 2010, it promises to be a serious week of jubilation for some and heartache for others, can't wait!


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