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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nakamura Must Play Regularly To Get in Japan Side

Shunsuke Nakamura, recently of Celtic and now at Espanyol, has been told by Japan head coach Takeshi Okada that he must feature regularly for the Spanish side in order to be considered for the World Cup finals in South Africa 2010.

While I'm all in favour of giving players an incentive to perform at their best, is Okada really trying to convince us that he will leave out the man who is by far Japan's most creative player if he doesn't start, say, 30 matches for Espanyol next season.

Who is Okada trying to kid. I'll bet a pound to a penny that if Nakamura features mainly as a substitute, come the end of the season, Okada will be praising him for how fresh he will be for the World Cup.

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posted by mark_s at 6:40 PM 0 comments

Sunday, July 12, 2009

African Qualifying Round Up

Regular readers of this blog will know that I always enjoy the African qualifying groups a great deal. This is mainly because of the big teams ability to mess things up (see Cameroon this time around and Nigeria last time out), because of the frequent accusations of collusion and cheating; and, of course, the general air of chaos that surrounds football in Africa.

So, here's a quick round up of where things stand in qualifying for South Africa 2010.

Tunisia (Group 2) and Ghana (Group 4) both look in strong positions to qualify. Ghana, on nine points and 5 clear of Mali are pretty much already there, judging by the fixtures they still have to come.

African Cup of Nations Champions Egypt, who got off to an appalling start in qualifying turned things around last week by beating Rwanda 3-0 in their Group 3 clash.

The return match with Zambia, who currently top the group, will probably decide who wins that group.

Nigeria, who are two points behind Tunisia in Group 2, should be very careful. Mainly because they have to beat the Tunisians in September, but also because football legend Pele has tipped them to reach the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup.

Other predictions from the great man including Columbia to win the '94 World Cup Finals, China to qualify from their 2002 World Cup Group (they were bottom with 0 points and 0 goals); Argentina and France to be finalists in 2002 (neither qualified for even the second round). The list goes on and on!

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posted by mark_s at 9:35 AM 0 comments

Score More, Concede Less...It's Easy This Management Stuff

Let's be honest, we're all armchair managers. It all seems so clear when you're sitting in the stands or watching on TV just exactly what the manager needs to do to win a game. Why the managers themselves can't see what you can see is, of course, one of the enduring mysteries of football.

That's why I particularly enjoyed this piece in the South Africa Times giving the South Africa national coach some expert advice on how to get Bafana Bafana winning football matches.

Former South Africa manager Carlos Alberto Parreira has suggested that they might like to try scoring more goals, while adding "The focus should be on not allowing avoidable goals".

So, score more goals and concede less goals. Brilliant. Quite why current Bafana boss Joel Santana hasn't hit on this revolutionary new tactic for himself is unclear.

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posted by mark_s at 9:24 AM 0 comments