Tag Archives: Socceroos

FFA: Psychological Problems, Future Blueprints and the A-League


Socceroos

Soccerwhoos?

 

At current, I am scouring Jonathan Wilson’s veritable magnum opus, Inverting the Pyramid. As I stumble through this dense and frequently daunting HIST2034/FTBL101 compendium, that has truly proved a jarring amalgamation of the bane academia of history with a pastime, that at its root, enjoys a gloriously perfunctory accessibility, it seemed apt to contrast the globalisation of the world’s most unencumbered commodity with the stagnant progress of Australia’s national competition.

This is a country that treats football, more pertinently domestic football, with indifference at best. Australian culture is steeped with a sporting identity, but for the floundering A-League, that competes with the more traditional national sporting codes, the forthcoming version 8.0 could a tipping point for the future, whether  positively or otherwise. While the rites of passage journeys of Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton have ignited a flickering spark on the sporting landscape, attempts by the Football Federation of Australia have been thwarted by an ineluctable fact: Australian domestic sides compete in the best leagues in the world for their respective sports, be it AFL, NRL, Super 15 or the Sheffield Shield. With the proliferation of international coverage of football abroad, accompanied by Australia’s naturally refined and expensive sporting palette, the A-League has stagnated as a purveyor of mediocrity. Australia’s footballing populace is characterised, most discerningly, by their lack of sleep and late night habits in watching the English brand.

If Inverting the Pyramid spun the wonderful tales of football enigmas who spread the crimson thread of British supremacy and its past times to far-reaching corners of the world, then Australia’s clear absence must be noted. For a land that is drastically embossed with the English watermark, the lack of football is striking. While football spread to the imaginative, but poverty-stricken, villages of South America and Africa, gained a foothold in the Eastern European life of degradation and has seemingly conquered the remote Asian landscape, Australia, with New Zealand in tow, have remained untouched. Some have suggested that the uncouth convict origins drew the population to a more physical endeavour, but this seems a difficult leap to make, as Wilson’s description of early-period football seems a more close breed of rugby than the modern-day round ball version.

It seems more likely, however, that while Australia may have been served by their very own Alexander Hutton in Frank Lowy, of which I could only provide an injustice through description, and who has almost single handedly overseen the development of football as we know it in Australia through the 1970s to current, the sport is yet to meet its next visionary. If Alexander Hutton is credited with introducing the game to South America, then it is Charlie Miller who enjoys the accolades of its expansion. As philosophers describe, a movement may begin with an individual and then be propelled by a follower, but it still remains in infancy before it gains “followers of followers”. Only at this third removal from the initial starting point will the trend gain any momentum. This phenomenon is axiomatic throughout society, with marketers and businesspersons developing strategies over social media campaigns and celebrity endorsement. This is shown most succinctly by Derek Sivers and his TED company relies on this notion to gain interest and attention: Watch it Here

For football in Australia, Lowy marks stage 2 of this extended trend. To move forward, the Australian audience needs their next persuasive character, whether it be player, manager or administrator to imbue the local game with its own identity. Surely, 2006 marked a serious window of opportunity, with only a thinly velied Fabio Grosso dive, who has bewilderingly been heavily linked with a move to the A League, and an errant Luis Cantejelo shrill of his whistle barring the Socceroos from an unlikely quarter final appearance in Germany. For the English, tournament heartbreak has become a part of the national identity, but for Australia the disappointing African adventure of 2010 has had more a more sinister fallout, with Pim’s lack of ambition driving fans away, rather than towards, the round ball.

If the Australian sporting public demands the best, then it seems the World Cup and national team success would be the most self-evident mechanism to shift the national paradigm. The FFA must cast aside their inhibitions and provide a platform for an earnest campaign in 2018. Rather than financing the now defunct North Queensland Fury or the Gold Coast United, the game’s governing body should be distilling the talent pool with the foremost training ideologies, techniques and scientific developments; 3 areas Australia traditionally excels at in other codes. Following the lead of the burgeoning Japanese footballing community, that has achieved domestic league growth following national improvement, if not overwhelming success, would be a start.

But surely the most promising avenue towards such an outcome must be Australia’s spectacularly fruitless  2018/2022 World Cup bid. To go back on the small, but nonetheless valuable, progress that has been made would be a retrograde step. While critics have bemoaned the financial waste of the Lowy-led recent World Cup bids, the FFA must rally to ensure future support does not wane. The Australian footballing community must demand a further bid when the time comes, for this would provide the impetus to embrace the one truly international sport as the preeminent Australian game.

#tellhimhisdreaming

 

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Team of the Week


Remember, this is only based on first group round matches (even though you’re reading this after sides have played a 2nd match)

Ozil dominated all over the pitch...

Ozil dominated all over the pitch...

Goalkeeper

At the back we’ll employ the Nigerian Enyeama who shaded Howard of the US and South African Khune. Enyeama was the only thing preventing 1-0 from an extra zero; 10-0. It felt like one of those days where Martin Tyler pulls out the “he looks determined to not be beaten”, a phrase that gets its fair share of air time. Just as a preview: This bloke has booked his spot for next week with an astonishing display. Running out of superlatives.

Defenders

After one of the lowest scoring starts to a world cup we’ll play the defensive minded 5-4-1. It’s a shame that this wasn’t even the most defensive formation we saw, but nevertheless credit must be given to several stand outs who looked harder to break down than a pistachio. If we could play 3 right backs we probably would. Maicon and Phillip Lahm would have been certain starters in any given week if it wasn’t for Mauricio Isla bursting onto the scene for Chile. Isla showed a consistent attacking bent and a prominent threat down the flanks. Looks the complete package.

Stephane Grichting, Winston Reid and Oguchi Onyewu make up our flat back three. Other candidates include Frenchman Toullalan and Jung-Soo Lee who featured in a fluent South Korean display. It’s ironic that Reid books his place as a goal scorer. Grichting was simply colossal at the back and we very nearly played the entire Swiss defence. Onyewu stepped up for the US in a crucial game for them that could give them an outside chance to finish top of the group.

Bursting down the left, PTS fancies Gabriel Heinze who is once again picked predominantly for his aerial goal threat. Heinze’s goal was a superb header. He showed promise throughout the game as well.

Nadir Belhadj and Phillip Lahm are the most significant omissions (defending omissions) from our starting 11.

Midfielders

PTS has gone with Danielle de Rossi as the quarterback for the side. While the Italians didn’t get the result they hoped, they looked comfortable on the ball. De Rossi was central to all of their efforts. Alexis Sanchez will start on the right of midfield after leading his Chilean buddies to a famous opening win. He showed why Real Madrid are chasing his autograph. Creative genius at its best. He gets the nod as vice captain too, after showing his bag of tricks against Honduras. On the left of midfield it has to be Giovanni dos Santos who was an obvious standout way back on the opening night. The Mexcian showed incredible touch and while played centrally for his country, will threaten from the left for passthesugar. Our attack minded central midfielder is Mesut Ozil (Captain) who announced his arrival on the biggest stage in style. Tipped by passthesugar to “get yourself labelled as the hottest property by a commentator”, everyone at FFTD will be on the lookout for that phrase tonight when Ze Germans play Serbia. Had the ball on a string over the 90 minutes and could have scored a hat trick himself. Ozil captains the side, as he was the best performer of the first round.

Park Ji Sung, Lukas Podolski, Tshabalala and Fernandez are all unlucky to miss out. Abou Diaby was also a standout in a poor French outfit. While Slovakia didn’t live up the hype fuelled by passthesugar himself, Vladimir Weiss in the centre of the park still showed more quality than many of his compatriots.

Forwards

With no strikers impressing, we’ll squeeze an extra midfielder into the squad. Lionel Messi showed his Barcelona form is a transferrable commodity and that he will be the player of the tournament come July 12. While this selection is controversial, we’ll tell our players to keep the ball at their feet after the Jualani looked more eager to skid away than a horse at the start of the Melbourne Cup. Messi will look for the trio of Sanchez, Santos and Ozil to run into the space behind the defence.

Asamoah Gyan was the only player to even vaguely push for a place and could be considered unlucky. The Socceroos strker, Not Available, was also unlucky to miss out. Maybe the Asian Rooney Jong showed he’s not totally talk, but he wasn’t particularly impressive.

Substitutes

We’re limiting ourselves to picking players that actually came on as substitutes. The standout was probably Eljero Elia who gave Holland some much needed width and flair when he was introduced late into the game. We won’t be making too many subs, so remarkably, he’ll be the lone player on the bench. The Mexican sub that set up the goal is hard done by…

The Gaffer

Several coaches showed they’re still important in football, but the Swiss mastermind, Ottmar Hitzfield, will be in charge of the locker room. A bit more defensive please – and don’t have a heart attack either!

The fans

It has to go to the South Africans, who were unwavering in their Vuvuzela blowing skills. They celebrated madly before the tournament and after Tshabalala’s goal. They made the 1st week memorable in the homeland.

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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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Group Matches (P)review


Round-up Groups A-D

So the 2010 World Cup is well under way, and with a paltry average of 1.56 goals a game after the first round of group games compared to 2.43 at this stage in 2006, I think it’s fair to say that this has not been quite what global audiences hoped or expected. A closer look, however, would suggest that perhaps this lack of goals is not so surprising; the defensively minded 4-2-3-1 formation du jour has certainly made itself known at the competition. Let’s hope for some more goals second time round!

So, a quick round up and summary of what can we expect from the rest of the group matches:

Group A

Ok, well South Africa have already lost 3-0 to a far more attack minded Uruguay outfit than we experienced against France back in the second match of the tournament, quite understandably. Whilst the scoreline is slightly flattering in favour of the South Americans, they certainly deserved the win, and South Africa’s discipline was poor. South Africa didn’t show the energy and creativity they did against Mexico, and talismanic midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala was wasteful. Diego Forlan proved his worth to Uruguay, scoring the first two goals and playing a part in the third and they now look well-placed to go through the group.

Coming up tonight is France v Mexico, a must-win game for both teams. France will surely drop the awful Govou for Florent Malouda, in the form of his career, and perhaps Franck Ribery will pass the ball to a player? It’s anyone’s guess! It would be nice to see ‘Handball-Henry’ for more than 20 minutes but seems unlikely given Raymond Domenech’s tendency to be a stubborn imbecile. Mexico will look to speedy youngster Giovanni dos Santos again to provide the flair for the team, as well as the basis for everything good they create – another example of a player who hasn’t had much club game time in recent years experiencing a resurgence in his fortunes at the World Cup. And perhaps ManU new boy Javi Hernandez will get a decent run?

Prediction: France 2-2 Mexico

Group B

Argentina escaped the brick wall of Nigeria with a less than convincing 1-0 win, but we were still lucky enough to witness some of the gold that makes Lionel Messi the best player in the world. Some strange decisions by mad-man Maradona, but that’s not really a surprise at all, is it? He came out and said that the only three players guaranteed starting positions were Messi, Mascherano, and Gutierrez – a fairly startling claim considering the wealth of talent in the squad. Then we witnessed the latter playing at right back, quite different from his left-wing berth at Newcastle – another instance of players too good to be left out, perhaps.  A tough game tonight against South Korea will likely prove a greater challenge than Nigeria. The Super Eagles looked strong at the back but were undone by Heinze’s rocket-header into the top-corner early on. They didn’t look so good up front, but with attacking players like Obafemi Martins, John Utaka, and Kanu supporting the Yak, they will always pose a threat, especially in the air.  Vincent Enyeama put in a great display between the sticks to keep them in the match, and they’ll fancy their chances of picking up 3 points tonight against Greece.

South Korea showed that they’ve got what it takes with a solid 2-0 win over a poor and frankly negative Greece. South Korea meet Argentina tonight in what will hopefully prove to be the most exciting game the group, and could well decide first place. Park Ji-Sung looked good, and their stylish play is in stark contrast to most teams in the tournament thus far. They will have to hold back a bit against Messi’s men, but should put up a good fight. Dark horse for the quarters?

Greece have a reputation for being a strong and organised defensive side, but here they were undone by some slick passing, much more of which is to come when they face Argentina. Up front they looked lacking in ideas. Points for them in the rest of the group will be hard to come by. They have a chance to sneak a draw tonight against Nigeria, but my guess says they will finish as group B whipping boys.

Predictions: Argentina 2-1 South Korea

Greece 0-1 Nigeria

Maradona quotes this week:

“I am not afraid of anyone or anything – unless they are wearing a mask…”

On Pele: “He should go back to the museum and stay there.”

On Michel Platini: “He’s French and we all know how French people are. If they say ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ that’s something.”

More insightful than I could ever hope to be. Wonderful stuff, let’s hope they keep coming!

Group C

England opened their campaign with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with the USA – a decent result for them, despite what most people seem to think. St. Stevie’s early goal – a real skipper’s goal – was cancelled out by Rob Green’s decision to let Clint Dempsey’s pass trickle over the line. What? Surely that wasn’t an accident? Whatever. England should still win the group, and they’d better hope they do, otherwise they can expect to face a rampant Germany in the second round, who on first showing will tear them a collective new asshole.  Despite what most critics seem to think I still reckon Heskey was rubbish and should make way for Crouch, or alternatively, Gerrard move forward and Barry take over in the centre. Cole should replace the lacklustre Milner on the left.

The US, on the other hand, looked lively and much hungrier than England, but still failed to trouble the England defenders too much. Altidore was probably the pick of the bunch, strolling past the creaking bones of Jamie Carragher. Some increased invention from his team-mates in their next match against Slovenia could see a fair few goals scored, and if they’re lucky they might edge England out at the top of the group.

The Slovenia v Algeria match was one of the poorest matches yet. No one on the field could come to grips with the diabolical Jabulani ball, with passes being floated almost out of the stadium. The highlight (lowlight?) of the match came when Algerian keeper Faouzi Chouachi threw West Brom alumni Robert Koren’s tame strike into the side of the net. Both teams looked defensive, with chances on goal coming at a premium. Nadir Belhadj looked lively for Algeria, getting forward regularly from his left-back role, but failed to inspire a goal. Interesting statistic: Abdelkader Ghezzal picked up two yellows in just 14 minutes and 19 seconds, making him the fastest substitute to pick up two yellow cards in World Cup history. There’s really not much else to be said about this game. Both teams will struggle again on Friday night and one would expect England and USA to push on from Group C.

Predictions: England 2-0 Algeria

USA 1-0 Slovenia

Group D

Aussie Aussie Aussie! Nein!

No cheering from the Aussies after their 4-0 demolition at the hands of a clinical German outfit that could have scored even more goals. Lucas Podolski played a big part just as the webmaster predicted, and his fine finish in the 8th minute started the rout. Mesut Ozil also had a strong showing, playing in the roaming role behind Klose. Ballack’s absence was hardly noticed with Bastian Schweinsteiger effortlessly slotting into a deeper role. That said, Pim Verbeek’s tactics were extremely negative, choosing not to field a recognized striker in a compact but ill-disciplined and ill-prepared 4-2-1-2-1 formation. Lucas Neill and Craig Moore looked out of their depth and far too slow at the back. Tim Cahill clearly forgot to eat the Weetbix he so heartily endorses. The only positive comments can come from the performance of Brett Emerton, Wilkshire to a lesser extent, and Brett Holman who injected some much needed energy at half-time. Verbeek’s questionable tactics have come under much criticism, and the Aussies will need to bounce back with gusto against Ghana on Saturday night if they are to have any chance of going through.

Ghana and Serbia produced the first victory for an African nation at the tournament, and it was quite an entertaining game to boot. Serbia looked surprisingly frail at the back, and human giant Nikola Zigic was wasteful up front. They failed to produce sustained pressure on the Ghanaian goal and suffered for it. Ghana were slightly better, pressuring the Serbian defence whenever they were in possession. Asamoah Gyan netted a penalty to take the lead after Serbia had gone down to 10 men, and this win gives them a good chance of going through to the next round. Serbia will struggle with the speed and efficiency of the German attack, and a loss will probably knock them out of the running for second round qualification. Ghana face Australia who will be desperate for a victory, and perhaps in this case, desperation will prevail over superiority.

Predictions: Australia 1-0 Ghana

Germany 3-1 Serbia

Acknowledgements: Thanks to editor and minor contributor, Fishface Shakur.

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the pecking order


The Pecking Order

The pecking order is our latest invention, or rather the latest thing we’ve pinched from Eurosport. The list starts with all 32 sides ordered based on their official FIFA ranking. After each round we’ll update the pecking order to represent good form on the pitch and also good form off it. This is the place for all your injury news, scandals or just for plain results. In brackets is their official ranking.

1 (1) – Brazil – Scrappy, but comfortable against a surprisingly robust North Korean side. Still plenty of room for improvement. Look destined for a 2nd round clash with Spain.

2 (6) – Germany – Easily the most impressive of the “big” nations in the opening round. If you’re looking for ruthless efficiency in the dictionary, you’re likely to find the word Germany straight after the phrase.

3 (4) – Netherlands – Similar to Brazil, unspectacular (if not downright boring), but still showed glimpses of their potential. Looked the goods with a little width from the impressive Elia.

4 (7) – Argentina – Poor, but move up thanks to the failing of others. Messi was all class and improving their finishing could see some routs coming up.

5 (3) – Portugal – Offered nothing going forward and were content with the draw in the 2nd half. Improvement needed.

6 (5) – Italy – Held by an impressive Paraguay, but were the better side and moved the ball around effectively – they always start slowly.

7 (2) – Spain – Showing that “tippy tappy” football is not necessarily the way to win… Were toothless up front despite the mercurial midfield and sublime skill of their side. If the Swiss win a game, then Spain could finish 2nd in the group and face the Brazilians – messing up everyone’s World Cup form guide.

8 (18) – Chile – While the opposition was only Honduras, the Chileans showed why they finished 2nd in qualification. Sanchez on the right proved Real Madrid’s interest is certainly not wasted. Darkhorse.

9 (16) – Uruguay – Boring and defensive against France, but attacking and explosive against South Africa. Have almost sealed qualification from a difficult group.

10 (8) – England – Were poor, but not terrible against the US. Expectations are so high they’ve been just about deserted by fans. Looked frail in defence and a little weak in attack, but don’t hit the panic button just yet.

11 (24) – Switzerland – Showed the same kind of defensive skill that saw them concede no goals in the group stage in 2006. They also had technical skill aplenty in the forward half. Injuries to key players may derail their campaign (and stop them from a higher place in the pecking order)

12 (14) – USA – Showed tactical astuteness against the English and have a sneaky chance to top the group, which would take them a long way to Quarter final action. Look to be the real deal.

13 (17) – Mexico – Offered plenty in the 1st half against South Africans, but didn’t give the best display of water tight defence. Dos Santos was brilliant.

14 (9) – France – One word: Abysmal. Actually 2: Atrocious.

15 (27) – Cote d’Ivoire – Drogba returning is an enormous boost. They showed promise in the 2nd half, but still face an uphill battle to qualify.

16 (32) – Ghana – They’ll be smelling qualification after a crucial win over Serbia. A win on Saturday over the Aussies will just about do it. Not particularly fluid however.

17 (47) South Korea – Typically Asian, one of PTS’s smokies were impressive in their first outing. Probably because of the Greek deficiencies though…

18 (45) Japan – Will be almost impossible to break down for mid tier sides. Not impressive, but a big win for their chances.

19 (31) – Paraguay – Were lucky against the Italians, but move a long way up the pecking order with their unexpected point.

20 (83) South Africa – Showed glimpses in the opener, but flopped miserably last night. Probably the end of their campaign.

21 (21) – Nigeria – Were better than expected despite losing to Argentina.

22 (34) Slovakia – Robbed of 3 points and that could see them miss out on qualification. Were the much better side for the majority of a dour affair.

23 (105) North Korea – Who would have thought? But grabbed a goal and some respect against Brazil. Could snatch a draw against a much more fancied side.

24 (36) Denmark – Weren’t outclassed against Holland, but need to lift in their next 2 games. Showed little ambition.

25 (78) New Zealand – Outplayed, but showed bounds of tenacity. Described by some as the biggest moment in sport in New Zealand… ahh probably not, but still an historic point.

26 (25) – Slovenia – Boring

27 (30) – Algeria – Boring

28 (15) – Serbia – Despite being talked up as outside chances due to their resolute defence, showed absolutely nothing at the back. Disastrous for the Europeans.

29 (19) – Cameroon – Confusing tactics and listless performance. Eto’o and Assou Ekotto were 2 of their worst and need to lift if they are to have any chance of qualification.

30 (20) – Australia – Bereft of creativity, sub-par defending and negative tactics/mindset see the Aussie slide down the rankings. Need to rekindle their ’06 spirt, and fast! It’s not all lost, however, they were always expecting a loss to the Germans.

31 (38) Honduras – Proved they really are making up the numbers. Too much time and space for every Chilean and they were dominated from start to finish.

32 (13) – Greece – Our biggest sliders of the opening round. Were woeful against the South Koreans and could be in for more spankings in the coming weeks. Book your ticket home now!

Before it all started:

A few interesting points – on paper, forget Group D or Group G as the group of death, it’s Group C featuring England that have the smallest range between their sides. England are top in 8th and Algeria are bottom in 22nd. Just to clarify, Group F is the worst ranked group, with 3 teams featuring in the bottom 10 sides… Group E also features 2 sides in the bottom 6. The struggle in Group A will be titanic between Uruguay and Mexico, who are the closest teams on the list that are in the same group. They’re separated by the solitary place! (South Africa will cause a few upsets in that group though…)

Just to confirm: On paper, the teams below Ghana should be watching from the stands. They should be replaced by Croatia, Russia, Egypt, Norway, Ukraine, Israel, Romania and Turkey. Out of that bunch, I would have particularly loved to see Israel and the Romanians – but maybe next time…

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WORLD CUP HIGHLIGHTS


With so much football action being almost suffocated by university exams and other joyous ventures, FFTD has taken a bit of a hit, but just to make the 1 reader we have happy, here’s a quick post…

These videos are outstanding!

In case you wanted to take a peak at the Socceroo’s drubbing again, well here it is! (Analysis to follow) (It’s awesome that Cacau has a black face, but white/yellow hands – Michael Jackson eat your heart out)

The opening game has still probably been the best spectacle and you can check it out here:

Who could forget Mr Green’s howler:

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