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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Who Are You Trying To Kid, Robert

Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe is not a man noted for having self-doubts. Which, presumably, is why he's hopeful that a number of World Cup football squads will want to base their training camps in what is left of his country.

The Unity government is trying to persuade Brazil, Nigeria and England to come to Zimbabwe, in the hope of attracting tourism from neighbouring countries.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi commented :

"We have put England and Nigeria on our top three list. When it goes to top five, we have added Cameroon and Egypt. "

If he or his boss really think that the England team are going to go anywhere near Zimbabwe, he's truly delusional. This all smacks of just another Mugabe publicity stunt. Who are you trying to kid, Robert.

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posted by mark_s at 12:55 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Russia Looking Strong, Portugal Pretty Much Gone

Today's European group qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup football tournament taught us a few things.

Firstly, that Carlos Queiroz, the current Portugal manager, is not up to the job. Yeah, OK, it was a friendly and Queiroz rested a few players, but 0-0 against Estonia indicates the man is not capable of leading a talented squad of players to South Africa 2010.

Sweden's 4-0 victory over Malta makes the situation even worse as the two sides are both now on 9 points and well behind Denmark and Hungary.

Secondly, Fabio Capello's England are going to be at the Finals. A 6-0 thumping of Andorra means 7 wins out of 7 and they aren't likely to be caught by either Croatia or Ukraine.

Thirdly, Macedonia's victory over Iceland gives some hope to Scotland. They're going to have to pull it out of the bag to even be in with a chance of the play offs. Now, however, they do actually have a chance and should - hopefully - grab it with both hands.

Fourthly and most importantly, Russia's 3-0 away victory over Finland puts them one point behind Germany in Group Four. And, as all us punters know, betting against a Guus Hiddink side in tournament competitions is a mug's game. Russia could even win this group.

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posted by mark_s at 10:22 PM 0 comments

Ever Seen Anything Like This...No, Didn't Think So

With a tip of the hat to the marvelous Football365 people, here's a - quite literally - Lazarus like resurrection from a footballer.

Admittedly, this has nothing to do with World Cup football, but how often do you get to see a professional footballer (albeit a lower league Belgian player) suffer cardiac arrest and then be revived by an internally implanted defibrilator.

I know this is prurient to the point of being perverse, but here's the video :

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posted by mark_s at 10:13 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

South Africa 2010 - It's All Going To Go Wrong...Or Maybe Not

There's always something faintly Xenophobic whenever a major sporting event is held outside of your own country, don't you think?

It doesn't matter if you're English, German, American, French or wherever you are from, you will read reports in the newspapers about how everything in that other, somehow alien, country is behind schedule. You'll read about corruption, crime, poor quality of services, etc. etc.

We read about it before Greece hosted Euro 2004, before Mexico in the 1986 World Cup Finals, about Ukraine and Poland for Euro 2012. And frankly, it's all nonsense.

So reading about 'problems' that South Africa is facing before hosting 2010 World Cup Finals should be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

The article I've linked to above mentions "The South African bid was once dogged by stadium delays, labour unrest, bureaucratic and political disputes and an obsession in the local media that the sport's governing body FIFA had a "plan B" to move it elsewhere."

It talks of crime, murder and fear...focusing in on 'facts' like the high murder rate in South Africa.

Isn't it about time that people grew up. This is a big undertaking. It's run at a national level. There are going to be delays, bureaucracy, political disputes and all. These will be true of any country in which the finals are held.

But, in the end, it's meaningless as South Africa will put on an impressive World Cup Football tournament. There'll be faintly patronising editorials in the British press about how well they've done, of course, but much of the rest of the world won't be surprised.



posted by mark_s at 9:01 PM 0 comments

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Australia, Japan and South Korea All Qualify

From the Asian groups, Australia, Japan and South Korea all qualified for South Africa 2010. The quality of the football wasn't high, but all three sides did enough to get through.

Hardly surprising names, I admit, but that just leaves one place for one of North Korea, Saudi Arabia and, at an outside bet, Iran.

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posted by mark_s at 1:22 PM 0 comments

It's Looking Good For Some...And Terrible For Portugal

So, with yesterday's 2010 World Cup Qualifying matches out of the way, things are looking a little clearer, especially in the European groups.

The Dutch have qualified already, from admittedly the weakest possible Group (Scotland are the next placed team, a mere 11 points behind the Netherlands).

Almost certain to qualify now are England, who beat Kazakhstan 4-0 and then saw Croatia and Ukraine draw 2-2 : the ideal result for Capello's side.

Spain, too, are pretty much there, although they didn't play yesterday.

However, some big teams are struggling. Portugal were being held by Albania until a last minute goal got them a much needed win. They're still languishing in third in Group 1 and have away matches at Denmark and Hungary to come. So, I doubt Portugal will be at the 2010 World Cup Finals.

Elsewhere, spare a thought for Israel. They don't lose many matches in World Cup qualifying campaigns and yet never seem to qualify. They're currently 4th in Group 2 and yet have only lost once.

Their record in the last 3 qualification campaings stands at 24 matches played, just three lost and yet still they haven't managed to qualify.

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posted by mark_s at 12:57 PM 0 comments