A View From Below

Sporting debate and opinion

World Cup Previews – Group B

So the first day of the 2010 World Cup is over, with Bafana Bafana suprising many to claim a deserved 1-1 draw with attacking Mexico. The aptly named Tshabalala rifled home a beauty before Mexico nabbed a late reply through captain Rafael Marquez. A good game to start the tournament. Then came the French, who bored fans into submission. They didn’t deserve the win, and didn’t get one as a team with flair players such as Franck Ribery, Youan Gourcuff, Sidney Govou and Nicholas Anelka stuttered in a 4-5-1 formation. They must do better or risk failing to make it out of a relatively tough group. Uruguay look decent, with a powerful strikeforce in Diego Forland and Luis Suarez key to their hopes. If they can keep 11 men on the field they may well qualify.

Group B

South Korea

Qualifying – Went on a 27 match unbeaten run to qualify for the World Cup, South Korea have formed a strong and work-horse like side who boast a few Premiership talents and a sprinkling of players plying their trade in Europe.

Manager – Huh Jung Moo. Former international who played in Europe and has coaching experience in the domestic league. 3rd time managing the Koreans.

Star Man – Manchester United’s Asian star Park Ji-Sung has become a well-used player for the Premiership runners-up and his energetic displays will be key for the Koreans.

One to Watch – Chung-Yong Lee, Bolton’s winger has proved himself in England and impressed with his pace, stamina and passing abilities in a struggling team.

Left at Home – Unfortunately Fulham’s forgotten man, Seol Ki-Hyeon was deemed too injured to take, and will miss the finals.

Prediction – A well drilled side who make use of their super fitness levels in games to tire out the opposition. Players like Park, Lee and Monaco’s pacy Chu-Young Park have the potential to break out the group.

Greece

Qualifying – Came 2nd to Switzerland in qualifying and Squeezed past Ukraine in the play-offs to make the finals, Greece’s striker Theo Gekas scored almost half of their goals en route.

Manager – Otto Rehhagel. Veteran coach who unbelievably won the 2004 Eurpean championships with an unfavoured side. Experience in his native Germany peaked with a spell with Bayern Munich.

Star Man – Theofanis Gekas scored 10 in qualifying, one more than Wayne Rooney and will be charged with the task of fronting the Greek attack.

One to Watch – Playmaker Giorgos Karagounis is 33, but the teams playmaker and man who makes the side tick. A decent shot on him and passes well, he is also national captain.

Left at Home – Expected to make the squad, Grigoris Makos and Giorgos Tzavelas were both dropped from the preliminary 30. Their absence isn’t going to send shockwaves around world football.

Prediction – A nation with rich sporting history, founders of the Olympics and a seriously football-mad population, their World Cup history is positively awful. Likely to do better than their only previous appearance in 1994 when they lost all 3 group games. They should do better than that, but not by much.

Nigeria

Qualifying – Had to win against Kenya on the final day, and were lucky that Tunisia didn’t nick their spot. Actually stayed unbeaten, but weren’t playing champaigne football.

Manager – Quit Sweeden after failing to qualify with them, moving to Africa for a 5-month contract. Likely to quit after the World Cup, but the Nigerians could have a worse man in charge.

Star Man – A few to pick from, i’ll plump for defensive rock Joseph Yobo. A successful career in England with Everton, he hasn’t had the best of season but possesses pace, tough tackling and aerial ability.

One to Watch – Obafemi Martins is a super-fast striker who forms a decent partnership with Yakubu. An explosive player, Martins has enough talent to drag Nigeria out of the group, although the odds are against them.

Left at Home – John Obi Mikel will miss out through, injury. One of the many Chelsea players to miss this World Cup. (Ballack, Essien and maybe Drogba)

Prediction – You want African nations to do well, for some reason I can’t explain, although Nigeria aren’t the powerhouse they could be, just like their economic situation. A decent side, Yobo, Utaka, Shittu, Martins and Yakubu et al face an uphill struggle to make the last-16.

Argentina

Qualifying – Shocking by their standards, Maradonna seemingly plucked players out of the air in a selection policy that amounted to guesswork. Just about got through, at which point Maradonna celebrated like he did in ’86 and embarked on a  foul mouthed outburst against critical journalists. Will be exciting to see how their World Cup unfolds.

Manager – Diego Maradonna, the star of Argentinian football will attempt to lead his country to their 3rd World Cup triumph. Extremely limited footballing credentials, could become the third manager to win the World Cup as a player and a coach.

Star Man – Who else but Lionel Messi, the world’s best player who has created too many comparisons with his coach. Could join the plethora of all time greats with an impressive campaign here.

One to Watch – Reports from South Africa are claiming winger Angel di Maria has told team-mates he is to join Real Madrid from Benfica after the World Cup. A real talent, he can shine if given half a chance.

Left at Home – A list of useful players have been ommited, Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso the most famed. Maradonna’s selected players over his tenure so far means many will be gutted to not make the squad.

Prediction – Shouldn’t have any troubles topping the group, but with Maradonna as coach, anything could happen. Insatiable attacking options including Messi, Tevez, Milito, Aguero, di Maria, Gutierrez and Higuain, who would you leave out?

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June 12, 2010 - Posted by | Football

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