Thursday, 1 July 2010

End of term reports

Here in Israel school is out for the summer and the world cup is also having a break, so now would seem like a good time to give out report cards.
We shall do this by continent. There is no doubt, which is top of the class. South America, four out of the five nations have reached the last eight, and Chile was unlucky in that they had to play Brazil. S America has also provided 3 of the most entertaining coaches. If the football is not up too standard, then watching the reactions of the coaches of Paraguay, Chile and Argentina is entertainment in itself. It is interesting to note that all 3 coaches are Argentinean by birth, what do they say about hot blooded Latinos ? However nothing is perfect and Paraguay played out one of the worst games in world cup history against Japan. It will be interesting to see what they do against Spain. Grade A

Moving up the continent, let’s look at Central and N America. Overall they did well. The USA won their group and probably should have beaten Ghana, they had enough chances and were left to rue their profligacy in front of goal. Interesting fact, the USA were the only group winners not to advance to the last eight. Mexico was entertaining and very unlucky against Argentina to go behind to a goal that was clearly offside. Until that moment they were giving the Argies a very good game and as with England against Germany, there will always be the what if issue hanging over the game. It would be best if we could ignore Honduras as they brought nothing to the tournament. For them just Qualifying was the main achievement. Grade A-

Asia, this has been a good tournament for Asia, Japan and S Korea, both did well to qualify for the last 16 coming through difficult groups. They both played S American opposition and put up a good showing. Even N Korea brought something different to the table, apart from the 2md half against Portugal when they let in 6 goals, they were well organized and fought hard. Grade B+

Oceania- i.e. Australia and New Zealand, New Zealand surprised everyone, they did not lose a game and this will be a big boost for football in a country dominated by the oval ball. Australia on the other hand will be disappointed. They forgot to turn up against Germany, managed a draw against Ghana and beat Serbia. It is possible that the witch doctor employed by Harry Kewell to remove the curses on him, actually made things worse. Kewell got sent off after 25 minutes and he seemed to spread his bad luck over the whole side. Grade B

Africa. This has not been a good tournament for Africa, save for the exception of Ghana. Cameroon, Nigeria and Ivory Coast all disappointed bitterly. The Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathon (I kid you not, that is his name) has issued a decree banning the national team from competing in any tournament for the next 2 years while an investigation and overhaul goes on. This will likely lead to FIFA banning Nigeria, as they don’t like to see government interference in the running of football. Cameroon lost all three of their games and the Ivory Coast only managed to beat N Korea. Although S Africa is the host, not a lot was expected from them and as for Algeria, well they were actually France B as they had 10 French born players in their side that only played for Algeria because they weren’t good enough to play for France and we saw how bad France was. Grade C- (even if Ghana advances I would only award a C+)
Now, we come to the bottom of the class. Europe. Europe has to be divided up somewhat. At the top we have Germany, Spain and Holland, although I still have reservations about Holland and Spain. Holland has had an easy path to the last eight and despite winning all 4 of their games they have not impressed. There were also, in the last game, signs of the normal strife which for some reason always appears in the Dutch dressing room. Let’s see how they do against Brazil, more on that tomorrow. Spain also has not played to expectations, but there are signs that they are peaking at the right time. Germany has definitely been the teacher’s pet of Europe. They have scored nine goals and been entertaining and the officials have more or less favoured them.
The smaller Europeans did OK, not much was expected from Slovenia and Slovakia, for them qualifying was an achievement. Then comes, Denmark, Greece, Serbia and Switzerland, they were all disappointing even though they all won one game, they did not entertain and never looked like doing so.
Finally we come to the real under achievers, France, Italy, England and Portugal. With the talent at their disposal, they were awful. The mudslinging and recriminations will be long and hard. The Press in the respective countries is like a pack of bloodhounds waiting to tear their rabbit’s to pieces. The question is how, will these countries respond? I will be writing a separate post on views on this subject. Grade D-

Your comments will be appreciated

Tomorrow we will preview the Quarterfinals.


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