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Friday, February 03, 2006

Fitness Is The Key, Thinks Jurgen

German coach Jurgen Klinsmann is threatening to drop players from the World Cup squad who do not pass a fitness test next month.

As reported at SportingLife, he said this : "We taught everyone how to watch his fitness and how to work out so we expect our troops to be in top shape."

Far be it from me to tell such a legend of the game how to run his national side, but do Germany actually have enough quality players that they can afford to drop some because they haven't been doing their push-ups. I think not.

And look, I managed to get through this whole post without mentioning Jurgen's use of the word 'troops'. Didn't I do well ?

posted by mark_s at 2:57 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

It's The Wrong Teams, Gromit

I've been watching a little African Cup of Nations football on EuroSport here in the UK and have been thoroughly enjoying it, if only for the chaos, madness and air of impending calamity that always seems to surround African football teams.

I've particularly enjoyed Ej Hadji Diouf's comments about the quality of the African teams that have qualified for the World Cup.

Before his Senegal side's match with Ghana, he said that the "wrong teams" had qualified for the 2006 Finals and that "we need to beat them [Ghana] to show our people that it’s an accident that we’re not going to the World Cup". Good rousing stuff, even if it did annoy the Ghanaians more than a little. Final score: Ghana 1 Senegal 0 . Oops !

However, a more serious point is that the African teams that have qualified for the World Cup have not been playing so well in the African Cup of Nations and there is a feeling among commentators that African soccer will do itself no favours in Germany this summer.

Angola, Togo, Ghana and Tunisia have all stuttered during the group phases and none are exactly covering themselves with glory. In fact, only the Ivory Coast is looking a worthwhile team.

A column on the AllAfrica website shows just how pessimistic people are about African nations chances at the 2006 World Cup.
Read it and weep.

Maybe if the established African footballing powers like Nigeria and Cameroon hadn't been quite so arrogant about their World Cup qualification chances, then African football wouldn't have lost it's mojo.

posted by mark_s at 12:18 PM 0 comments

More On Sven

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed a lack of posting in the last week. While I could have thrown in my opinion about the FA's decision to terminate Sven's contract after the 2006 World Cup Finals, the fact that - really - I couldn't care less, somehow stopped me.

The speculation about who will replace him is fun though. While my cold hard cash is on Guus Hiddink (particularly because Sven told some people in Stockholm that
Hiddink would get the job !) , I would like to see Sam Allardyce get the gig. He's a clearly very astute manager at the cutting edge of the latest management techniques.

Further, all that old nonsense about 'he's never worked at that level' and 'can he handle the big star/millionaire egos ?' is just a red herring. Getting Bolton into Europe is surely a greater and more difficult achievement than telling 11 of the country's most talented players to go and play a bit.

As for the 'big stars' thing - well, he's handled Ivan Campo, Youri Djorkaeff , El Hadji Diouf and many others better than their previous - more high profile - managers, so he obviously knows a thing or two about man management.

Even better is that England's European Championship qualifying group gives him two years to learn the job while England's finest turn over Macedonia, Andorra, Estonia, etc.

Big Sam really is the man.

Incidentally, there's
a great article here from a US perspective on the whole thing. Well worth a read.

posted by mark_s at 12:02 PM 0 comments