Archive for June 19th, 2010

What We Learned From Ghana vs Oztralia (1-1)

It Was Cardtastic

Now part of the charm of the World Cup is that you get to see fairly poor quality teams from other continents being roundly taught a lesson by the footballing elite. One of the downsides is that often these teams are made up of the kind of clod-hopping hoofers who’d stand out as too shit for even the lower leagues. The Ozzies can boast many of them. Third raters like Lucas Neill and Bret Emmerton, propping up the basement clubs like some latter-day Norwegian mercenaries. And when faced with quality they revert to type. The good thing about the World Cup is that not only do these guys get found out, but they often get punished. None more deserving than former Liverpool winger and Benitez chouchou Harry Kewell, who has long been a red card waiting to happen. The fact that his card came after some patently cheating protestations that he hadn’t committed a handball while his arm was still vibrating made it all the more enjoyable. So that’s played two, sent off two. Way to go Oztralian convict boys.

It’s Yet Another ‘Green’

Ghana couldn’t have started more ineptly. A free kick that should have been harmlessly gathered by the keeper was instead spooned in now-classic Green fashion into the path of onrushing Oz striker Holman. You couldn’t make it up.

Out Of Africa

It’s pretty clear that South Africa, Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria and in every likelihood Ivory Coast are going to be knocked out in the Group stage, leaving Ghana as the sole possible African representatives in the last 16. So the Ghanaians failure to take advantage of the Australians’ 10 men by attacking them with pace, width and accuracy was doubly irritating. Oztralia should have been utterly humiliated, instead they dug in and frustrated Ghana showing up their lack of experience and overall naivety. And you’ve got to be worried about Ghana’s chances against Germany, who will take them apart if they defend this badly and have to win to be sure of their own qualification. Yes they’ve been really stuffed by the injury to Michael Essien, but that’s not really an acceptable excuse, they have to be better than this. Which leaves us in a situation where in every likelihood there will be no African teams in the last 16.

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Archive for June 19th, 2010

What We Learned From Holland vs Japan (1-0)

That Engerland World Cup Hangover Keeps On A-Coming

Offside Trap Magnet Jermaine Defoe attempted to keep up spirits in the Engerland camp by saying, “At the end of the day we’re still a great side”. Now we can quietly forget the delusions of grandeur that accompany the word ‘great’. After all these are players who are pampered beyond belief and, like despoiled little children whose every spastic action is delivered to the lying praise of their deluded parents, seemingly believe every word their sycophantic agents, managers, entourages and klingons shower upon them. What we cannot stomach for even a second is the use of the word ‘still’. This implies that at some point in the past this team has, in fact, been great when all the historical evidence reinforces the conclusion that they have been at best mediocre, at worst abysmal. This is a team that has merely mastered qualification, rather than any kind of effective tournament football. Admittedly that’s more than teams like Russia, Scotland, Wales and Luxembourg have, but it doesn’t bestow greatness on a team. In fact, the sooner the Engerland team appreciate that they’re not a great team by any means, the sooner they will work up the mental strength to take on teams like Algeria and actually give them a game. Because you suspect the problem with last night was that the entire team believed not that they could beat Algeria, but that they should beat Algeria. They believed that it would be easy and that they wouldn’t have to try that hard. And when it proved to be a challenging task, they proved once again, that they are not capable of raising their game in any way whatsoever. Hey boys, it’s the World Cup, it’s what you’ve dreamed of all your life – you can’t cower in your bunker and pretend you’re not here – you have to enjoy it.

The Dutch On The Other Hand

Seem to be playing a fairly canny game. They, like everyone else, are finding it hard to overcome the Mourinho defences their opponents put up, but you sense that they have the confidence to overcome it. So much so that I suspect that they are keeping their real powder dry. For the whole first half they tried their best to work the ball through the two banks of four the Japanese had put in front of them. In fact by the end of the first half, it looked like the Japanese had found the better opportunities, with their strikers finding space immediately in front of the Dutch defence and having a number of shots on goal. But the Dutch emerged in the second half playing slightly faster and eventually got the goal they deserved – and a nice stinging shot that bent enough to disturb the keeper it was. Once they’d scored, the Japanese had to expand their game and that opened up more opportunity for the Dutch.  So much so that they didn’t have to really activate Option 2, which is the wingplay of Elia and Affelay, who bring more balls into the box and actually provide more balance in the midfield as the Dutch are able to pull Van de Vaart out, which gives Wesley Sneijder full control there.

Meanwhile The Japanese

Played a decent game, were unlucky to go behind and made every effort to get back into the game, knowing that any result here would help them in their final match against the Danes. Ultimately, they were let down by poor finishing and inadequate set-piece play. Still they should give the Danes a really good match and have every chance of going through.

And Virgin Media?

Big letdown again as the much vaunted V+ box seems incapable of recording more than 10 hours of HD TV. Given that a weekend’s World Cup schedule amounts to more than that, this is a fundamentally pathetic level of storage that should not be tolerated. However, you know it will because the people running Virgin Media are the same low level grunts who ran Telewest and NTL into the ground with fundamentally inadequate technology. They are the pin-up boys of the incompetent service sector. Zero out of several million.

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