Tag Archives: Jubalani

World Cup Brainstorming – the largely incoherent thoughts of a sleep deprived man

If you thought we’d been lazing around, doing nothing and watching football – then ahh, you’d be right! Despite the distraction of university exams for the majority of our correspondents, the World Cup has reigned supreme with daily FFTD conferences in front of the fireplace and SBS HD. And after all our late nights and maccas runs we’ve got a little to say:

Blast Off - The World Cup kicks off!

Blast Off - The World Cup kicks off!

Goalkeeping – The Tale of 2 Extremes

Shot stoppers in South Africa have been making the headlines far too often for most football fan’s fancy. First it was the ongoing whining about the Jubalani (shut up! We get it! It does funny thing and you can’t play the long balls so well! Cool!). Now it’s the remarkable keeping blunders that have towered over many a contest so far. Indeed it seemed that the “goalkeeping error” was the highest scorer throughout the first week. Amongst many other predictions, I suppose if you predict every possible outcome you’re bound to get something right, a lack of quality goal keepers was a more blatantly obvious theme than the theme of romance in Romeo & Juliet. More than half of our previews featured concerns over the goalkeeper including England, who produced the most significant blunder to date. Don’t think they can blame it all on the ball either – if you’re playing with an inflatable pool toy you still have to make the right decisions to come out and meet a cross or punch away.

Enyeama has been a veritable standout. Simply mesmerising against Los Pumas with his often beyond comprehension elasticity, I’m currently watching the poor boy shake his head after yet another keeping howler. Heartbreaking camera work, as the keeper looked like tears weren’t far away. In truth, Enyeama had kept his side in the contest, with remarkable save after remarkable save, but in the end, it seemed even he wasn’t immune from the goalkeeping curse that seems to be sweeping the Cup by storm. (As I finish the sentence – live reporting at its best – Enyeama pulls another cracker to hold the marauding Greeks at bay.) Another honourable mention goes to Tim Howard who showed his full array of shot stopping expertise against the English. His smothering save from a Heskey drive will stay in the memory for a while.

All in all, we had the good, bad and ugly.

“Our 10-0-0 just didn’t work today… maybe we’ll reconsider” Every manager so far

Defence has been the overwhelming centre piece of South Africa so far. Almost half the managers have opted for negative formations, and in many cases, formations counter to their standard practice. The Swiss were arguably the most dogged, although the Japanese, Uruguayans and Paraguayans all deserve mentions. Focusing on the Swiss, Grichting and Senderos (while he was on) were dogged and tireless. Employing a 4-4-1-1, they played a man-marking system rather than the regulation zonal system. Defenders would push up to 15 metres to latch onto their opposition’s shirts, ensuring he has no space to turn and little time on the ball. They’d obviously done their research, because the vast spaces in behind the central defenders at these moments were never exploited by a toothless Spain. No one was prepared to make the run in behind the Swiss into the space once Villa had dropped deep to have a touch on the ball. Further, the Spanish offered almost no width. At times you could throw the proverbial blanket over the midfield and striker. Ramos was the only man who looked to move forward into the space, but he lacked technical ability in the touch and in truth should have scored on at least one occasion. Although I’m not personally a fan of Jesus Navas – that kid just can’t cross the ball – he changed the game after his arrival, consistently popping up in dangerous wide positions.

Man-marking could be having a renaissance amongst tacticians. Chile have opted for such a defensive system and employ a deep lying sweeper who looks to trap any balls played through their back 3. Their 1-3-3-3 is highly unusual and unique, but hasn’t been tested as yet. But in theory, the formation is the ideal for what we’v been considering so far. Apparently, they’ll swap to a 3-1-3-3 when they face the better sides, not that that’s particularly defensive. The Asian teams so far (besides Australia) haven’t surprised with their prodigal defences. Their idea of football is to swarm the opposition akin to bees to a honey pot. Japan particularly, looked to be playing with 15 men at stages against the Cameroonians, who didn’t have enough time to shout Eto’o before the whole Japanese squad was standing on their feet.

Strikers with an eye for the wrong goal

The other feature so far has been defensive minded strikers. What? Hold on, let me explain. While the notion of defending from the front has become somewhat of a bedrock within the modern footballing rhetoric, 2010 South Africa has possibly thrown up its first major tactical addition to the collective brain trust. A pattern has emerged in which teams pass the ball along the ground, eventually finding a lone front man, who drops back towards midfield, opening space in behind the defender who has hopefully pressed up the pitch with his man. Attacking wingers or midfields such as Oezil, Gerrard, Muller, Robinho, Sneijder and Honda are prepared to run into the space left in behind the defence, posing their own direct goal threat. It seems that these creative midfielders are more about scoring themselves than assisting others. The Gerrard and Oezil goals were the clearest demonstrations of the feature. Maybe the Jubalani has had something to do with the pattern, as the long ball into a target man has so far been ruled out by players who can’t seem to get a grip on a ball nicknamed “the snitch” by at least one colleague.

So all in all, we’ve seen a disappointing opening to Africa’s 1st World Cup. But already, the standard has lifted. Last night was probably the best football I’ve seen in 2010, with a pulsating Greece/Nigeria clash displaying the type of urgency we’ve come to expect. The Mexicans continued on their impressive way over a dismal and dispassionate France and Argentina leapt to favouritism and qualification on the back of a Lionel Messi extravaganza. But more on all that to follow…

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There’s been a whole lotta action in the last 24 hours or so, and we don’t want you to miss a thing at FFTD!

Adios Rafa

Football forums and facebook statuses are awash with a coat of acronyms that could only mean one thing – Liverpool are at another turning point. Showing, once again, that they really set the benchmark for abbreviation, the Anfield faithful have come out in never-before-seen force, claiming the statuses of friends, relatives and thousands of unknown victims with their indecipherable codes. After all the speculation and that protracted media circus seeming to follow Benitez’s every move at the start of 2010, Anfield has “given him the chop”, “given him a severance package” or “let their gaffer walk away”. Whatever the story, and whatever the payout (gernerally regarded as from 3 – 6 million of the English denomination), you really have to question the politeness of the club’s decision. After all those long stakeouts in the bushes of the main man’s mansion, PTS and his colleagues were sprung with the story at the one time in the last 4 years where we probably haven’t had to talk a whole bunch of crap to make news. 1 week from the World Cup? The UK’s biggest shooting massacre in 30 odd years? This won’t even make the back page, let alone the front. Have a bit of decency and just break the news when we write the headlines thanks very much.

Just a quick serious word: I always get a little upset at how sportspeople’s past is so easily forgotten. Benitez was unlucky in the sense that he did it all back in ’05 after only the 1 season in the job. His Champions League win, in the end, set a benchmark and precedent that was not only unsustainable, but simply unreasonable. It’s a shame that Rafa’s record will be forever tarnished by the poor ’09/10 campaign that’s been lambasted everywhere. Benitez is a true hero of the club and deserves the respect shown to him, as club officials refuse to say the word “sack”.

You’ll never walk alone Rafa, and we’ll never get to see your ridiculous gesticulations… Vail RB. Rafamusement no more.

Did any of you muppets read the script?

As if Rafa hasn’t messed things up enough, all these world cup players and managers are just destroying the form guide for 2010. Just about every football fan is reaching their climax after 2 solid weeks of non-stop footage of training fields, passing drills and talk about the Jubalani. After 1 week of surprise results it wasn’t too hard to brush them off as friendlies that don’t count for nufin’. But I just can’t take it anymore… I’ve cracked, I wrote the article I said I’d never write…

Last night, Spain were simply dismal against a highly efficient and industrious South Korea. At half time, the dog-eaters were undoubtedly the better side. Spain, a team that previously could swat away opposition like a fat bogan on an outdoor toilet waves away flies, looked bereft of any confidence, nervous and severely underdone. World Cup holders, Italy, have largely flown under the radar, which generally would be considered ominous for the competition. But last night they blasted onto the scene with a 2-1 loss to a Mexican side that didn’t feature many regular starters. Um, what! Thought that was enough? Well, last night we got the trifecta, as Germany fell behind against established minnows, Bosnia and Herzegovina before winning 3-1. That is almost worse than the previous 2 results.

For how much longer must be maintain our rhetoric that the best teams grind out victories and that the best is being saved for next week – this is getting ridiculous.

Just a final note. It’s worth mentioning the ball for just a minute (and I mean just a minute) Step 1: Manager’s ban players from talking to the media about everything from their love life to their new boots. 2. Player’s circumvent the orders by framing the majority of their personal problems, and the majority of the world’s wider problems on the ball. (If that shmuck on the flotilla hadn’t used the new rounder and more advance ball, it wouldn’t have curved just as much and missed the Israelis – wow that’s terrible) 3. Okay, everyone take a deep breath, and on the count of three, let it all out – get rid. Once we’re done, we can all pinkey promise to just leave it alone for another 4 years.

Major news story? Big factor in the finals? You’ve gotta be kidding! This is just yet another media beat up that comes around on the eve of every World Cup. Critics have likened the under fire ball as a “volleyball that you buy outside a service station for a couple of bucks”. Well good on ya, that’s the ball you’ll be playing with.

Right’o then, let’s practise a few more corners…

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