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Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Angola Shooting Means Nothing For The World Cup

In the aftermath of yesterday's events in Angola, some journalists have, typically, raised question marks over the security surrounding this year's World Cup Final in South Africa.

Let me just say this is the kind of tabloid nonsense that we just don't need at the moment. Angola is not South Africa. Cabinda, where the shootings took place, is disputed territory and, because it is oil rich, there are constant battles between Angolan government forces and rebels who want independence.

There simply no comparison between this and the potential security issues in South Africa. It's like comparing Baghdad with Budapest, which, by no coincidence whatsoever is about the same distance as Cabinda is from Johannesburg.

So less of ill-researched, unnecessarily sensationalist rubbish like this, thanks.

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posted by mark_s at 4:18 PM 2 comments

Friday, January 08, 2010

Togo Players Shot In Angola

Usually, I try to keep this blog pretty lighthearted, but occasionally serious stuff gets in the way.

So, the news that gunmen fired on the bus carrying Togo footballers , including Emmanuel Adebayor, is pretty shocking. Particularly as the driver was killed and some of the players were wounded.

Apparently, Togo were supposed to be flying to the Angola capital, Luanda and from there to Cabinda for their African Cup of Nations match.

Quite why they were being driven in a bus going through the disputed - and critically, oil rich - territory of Cabinda is unknown. But, needless to say, the players aren't really in a state to play football.

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posted by mark_s at 8:21 PM 0 comments

The Top Five Players Who Won't Be Playing At The 2010 World Cup

There's no doubt there will be some incredible talent on show at South Africa 2010, but - as with every World Cup - there are some players who are going to miss out. And here are our top five, complete with the obligatory YouTube videos showing how fantastic they are.

5: Edin Dzeko

Because Bosnia lost their play-off match against Portugal, the 2010 World Cup will be without Europe's top striker. Dzeko knocked in an amazing 26 goals in 32 games and helped propel Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga title. He would have been my each way bet for the Golden Boot if Bosnia had made it. They didn't. And here's why it's a real shame:

4: Luka Modric

I may be a little biased as Modric plays for my team, Tottenham, but the Croatia playmaker is a stunning footballer : the ideal combination of skill and creativity. I don't think it's any coincidence that his absence from the Croatia national team due to a broken leg contributed to their failure to reach the finals. Here's a little snippet of Modric genius :

3: Frederic Kanoute

At Sevilla, Kanoute has shown what he always threatened during his injury plagued years at West Ham and Tottenham and that is: he is a consistently dangerous forward. 63 goals in 133 games for the Spanish side is a testament to this. Unfortunately, he decided to represent Mali rather the country of his birth, France. Had he made a different choice, he would almost certainly be at the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.

2: Andriy Arshavin

Russia and Arsenal playmaker Arshavin is currently one of the best players plying their trade in the English Premier League. He combines balance, pace and skill and has an eye for goal. And even better, you can spell his first name a different way every time you write it down. Which makes Andrei Arshavin's absence from the 2010 World Cup all the more disappointing.

1: Mohamed Aboutrika

Another guy whose name you can spell lots of different ways. For those who don't know, Aboutrika is Egypt's playmaker and is an unbelievably skillful footballer. Egypt's loss to Algeria in the play-offs means that, once again, the world won't get to see just how good this guy is. So just check out the YouTube video below and marvel :

Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts.

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posted by mark_s at 10:46 AM 0 comments

Thursday, January 07, 2010

What Price Holland To Win The World Cup

While the focus is, as it should be, on Spain or Brazil as potential winners of the 2010 World Cup Finals, it appears that no one is really touting the Netherlands as possible victors. So, allow me to step in and say: I think the Dutch could win the 2010 World Cup.

Now, like anyone who has watched football for more than about ten minutes, I know that the Dutch regularly shoot themselves in the foot by arguing a lot and acting like a bunch of overpaid prima donnas (oh, wait a minute...). I also know that they tend to lose matches they should win. But, frankly, I don't care. I think they're in with a chance.

Let's face it : they cruised into the finals, scoring 17 goals and conceding only two. And before you point out that their Group was rubbish, so was Spain's and you can't do better than winning all your matches.

Looking at the current Netherlands squad, you will see some highly skilled but fragile talents like Robin Van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneider. You will also see some battlers, like Nigel De Jong, Dirk Kuyt and Johnny Heitinga and, yes, a few mediocre players as well (Andre Oojer, anyone?).

Being honest, I think that the Dutch will need at least 3 of the first four named players to be fit if they are to stand a chance, as these are the players that can turn a game. But if they are fit, Holland are a match for anybody in the world.

Their squad has a good balance between attacking and defensive talent and Marco Van Basten's 4-2-3-1 formation is both flexible and designed to get the best out of the players he has available.

So, I think that Rafael van der Vaart was being more than a little disingenuous when he tipped Spain, Argentina and Brazil as favourites for the 2010 World Cup.

At a best price 14/1 with Bet365 to win the World Cup, Holland have got to be worth an each way bet. If you don't already have an account, they'll give you a 100% bonus on your first deposit too!

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posted by mark_s at 3:15 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

South Africa Not Up To The Job...Because They Have Rubbish New Year Parties!

Very strange article in The Guardian yesterday that I couldn't quite get my head around. The essence of it is this: because Johannesburg didn't put on a New Years Eve party on Dec 31st, 2009, the whole nation of South Africa isn't up to delivering a decent 2010 World Cup Finals!

You can read it here. Frankly, if you have a better explanation of the point the journalist was trying to make, I'd be interesting in hearing from you.

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posted by mark_s at 2:39 PM 0 comments

The Power Of Positive Thinking In Ghana

While scouring that new fangled interweb thing for interesting 2010 World Cup news, I came across this piece on

In it, the author suggests that the fact that many of Ghana's key players - Michael Essien and John Mensah among them - are injured for the African Cup Of Nations is, in fact, a very good thing for Ghana.

His argument is that the absence of these players means that scouts from other World Cup nations will not be able to work out Ghana's tactics in advance of the World Cup Finals; and that it is good for Essien, Mensah and all to have a break.

Not withstanding obvious flaws in his argument (like the fact that national teams need to play their strongest line-up in order to gel), I have to say I loved how positive the article was.

I can't imagine an English journalist writing a piece saying: Good News For England: Roooney's injured, Ferdinand's injured, Gerrard's injured, Ashley Cole's injured. But may be they should try it.



posted by mark_s at 1:53 PM 1 comments

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Seen Avatar? Keep Those Stupid Glasses

If you're going to see James Cameron's clunky, moralising, overblown sci-fi epic 'Avatar', may I be so bold as to suggest you keep hold of those stupid 3D glasses you need to watch the film.

Because those (cough) innovators in sports television, ESPN, are going to be showing 3D matches, starting with what is sure to be a riveting tie between South Africa and Mexico at the 2010 World Cup Finals. I can hardly wait.

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posted by mark_s at 1:23 PM 0 comments

No Ireland...So Guinness Are Sponsoring Who?!

Thanks to the hand of Henry, the Republic of Ireland won't be at the 2010 World Cup Finals, which is a shame as brewers Guinness were hoping to sponsor the team.

Luckily, they have followed in the grand old tradition of ridiculous World Cup sponsors from days gone past and found another team to sponsor.

So, which lucky side could best represent hundreds of years of Irish brewing history, you ask yourself.

Well, Nigeria, of course. Seriously. Nigeria.

If you are a masochist and have a particular desire to read meaningless marketing-speak, go here to learn that a new label "has been created specially to show support for the Super Eagles and the belief that together we can unite in the power of the Nigerian spirit..." and similar nonsense.

More World Cup sponsorship lunacy coming soon, no doubt.

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posted by mark_s at 1:14 PM 3 comments