World Cup Merchandise
Click Here
World Cup Betting & Odds
Click Here
2010 World Cup Tickets
Click Here

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Players Who Really Shouldn't Be At the 2010 World Cup...But Just Might

You'll hear ex-players, with their cushy jobs as 'state-the-bloody-obvious' media pundits, bang on and on about needing experienced players in national squads who know what to do when the team is up against it.

And, I concede, it's a fair point. However, what often happens is that managers end up playing safe and picking players that are way past their prime. I expect this World Cup Finals to be no different, and here a few of the players that may end up in South Africa this summer, but really shouldn't be anywhere near the place.

1: Vincenzo Iaquinta (Italy)

Agreed, Iaquinta has scored plenty of goals in a decade long career in Serie A and seems to have had something of a rennaisance at Juve under Claudio Ranieri and Ciro Ferrara. This presumably is why Marcelo Lippi recalled Iaquinta to the Italy squad for the 2010 qualifying campaign.

The thing is, though, he's just not world class. He's scored only 5 goals in 35 international appearances and 2 of those were in a friendly against New Zealand.

At the 2006 World Cup, he got only one goal in five matches and looked out of his depth. Lippi really should say 'thanks, but no thanks' to Iaquinta.

2: Martin Palermo (Argentina)

Argentina have a fine array of attacking talent : Messi, Tevez, Aguero, Milito, Higuain. The names just roll off the tongue.

They also have Martin Palermo. You might remember that Palermo scored the goal that took Argentina through to the World Cup Finals and saved manager Diego Maradona' job.

What you probably don't know is that Palermo is 36 and, until his recent recall to the national team, hadn't played for Argentina in 10 years. The reason for that is: he's not a great player as his time in Spain showed and there are loads of others ahead of him in the queue.

However, who knows what goes through the mind of Maradona? And he did score 'that' goal.

3: Mark Viduka (Australia)

I suspect that Mark Viduka is sitting on a beach in Oz at this very moment, sipping a lager and counting his money. What he definitely isn't doing is playing football, as the 32 year old is currently without a club.

When he could be bothered, Viduka was a great centre forward, but mainly he couldn't be bothered. He couldn't even be bothered to play for Australia when specifically asked by manager Pim Verbeek.

So, it's very, very unlikely that Viduka will get anywhere near the 2010 World Cup, right? Well, answer me this question. Name me three forwards currently in the Australian national squad? No? OK, name me one?

You see my point. Currently, Australia doesn't have a single striker that is known outside of Australia itself. So, if Viduka does decide to play a little soccer again, it's just a very small possibility that the lazy bugger will be recalled for the 2010 World Cup Finals.

4: David James (England)

At the other end of the likelihood spectrum we have David James, currently at Portsmouth and still - when fit - England's number one goalkeeper.

How this state of affairs came to pass is a mystery to me. England used to churn out top class 'keepers like a production line : Banks, Shilton, Clemence, Seaman. There were loads.

Now, they've got a 'keeper whose nickname is 'calamity' and who still, despite a significant improvement in his overall game, makes stupid mistakes on a regular basis.

In an ideal world, there is no way David James should be playing at the World Cup Finals. Unfortunately, unless Joe Hart makes an undeniable case for himself in forthcoming friendlies, he probably will be.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


posted by mark_s at 5:28 PM 0 comments

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reserving Judgement on the African Teams At The World Cup

So, the African Cup of Nations is well underway and, in between pretending to do some work, I've been watching a fair bit on Eurosport TV.

And the conclusion I've come to so far: I don't think any of these teams is consistent or, frankly, good enough to even reach the quarter finals of the World Cup.

Every time a World Cup Finals comes around, there is always media speculation about the potential of an African team to do well. Even more so this time as the competition is in Africa. However, every time, the major African teams - Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon - flatter to deceive.

While all of these teams have some exceptional players, what they seem to be lacking is a sense of identity as a team. They've got the pride and the skills, but they just don't seem unified. At least, on the evidence of the AfCON so far, that's how it appears.

I'm just wondering if it's a lack of top level coaching, or if the facilities and background organisation let these teams down. Could it be that because their best players all play in Europe, there is a lack of cohesion as a national unit?

Whatever it is, I hope what I'm seeing at the Africa Cup of Nations doesn't translate into South Africa 2010 because, once again, the African sides will all get knocked out in the early stages.

Labels: , ,


posted by mark_s at 5:47 PM 0 comments

Thursday, January 14, 2010

England 2018 World Cup Bid Already In Doubt Shocker!

Forgive the headline, please. It's just that, on occasion, it's nice to pretend to be writing for the Daily Star. In fact, that's probably preferable to actually writing for it, which, I would imagine, would be soul destroying.

I digress.

So, what could derail England's fledgling World Cup bid, I hear you ask? Well, how about the fact that the Museum of Football in Preston will be closing down at the end of this year.

Yup, that's right. According to Steven Broomhead, the chief executive of the Northwest Development Agency (NWDA), the museum's closure may put the England World Cup bid in jeopardy.

Here he says :

"My position is I want to see a National Football Museum open in the region and if it's not open, you have to think of any message that may give when trying to land the 2018 World Cup."

"I'm worried about that message."

OK, let's look at this a little more critically than Mr Broomhead seems capable of being.

Firstly, the existence or otherwise of the National Football Museum is going to be so far away from the criteria by which FIFA will decide who get the 2018 World Cup as to be irrelevant.

Secondly, the National Football Museum is going to be reopening in 2011 in Manchester. By the time 2018 rolls around it will have been in it's new home for seven years.

I'm not sure what Mr Broomhead's agenda is here, but he's going to have to do a little better than this if he wants to keep the museum in its current location of Preston.

Labels: , , ,


posted by mark_s at 6:08 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Weird People Who Are Backing World Cup Bids

It is, it seems, a competitive business trying to persuade FIFA to bestow their munificence upon a nation and condescend to allow them to host a World Cup.

That, presumably, is why each country rolls out a host of big celebrity names to 'back' their bids. What this means is that the FIFA delegates get to meet the aforementioned celebrities on one of their many all-expenses paid jollies.

But, frankly, I'm frequently left scratching my head at the choice of the celebrities. Who chooses these people and, er, why?

For example, Spike Lee is backing the USA 2018 bid. Spike Lee? Why? Apparently, he is an Arsenal fan and a season ticket holder at Inter Milan, so I guess he's got some interest in the game, but still...

Weirder yet, is legendary diplomat Henry Kissinger, who is also on the board of the USA Bid Committee. Henry Kissinger, I'm sure you'll know, was the man largely responsible for secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Clearly, then, the ideal man to represent the USA to the world game.

It's not just the Americans that have strange choices of celebrities backing their World Cup bid. England, do, too. For example, Gavin and Stacey actor James Corden is one of the names backing the England bid.

Yeah, James Corden. I knew you'd be impressed. I'm sure that will impress FIFA. Once they've Googled him and found out who he is, of course.

Labels: , , , ,


posted by mark_s at 1:17 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Not Looking Good For Algeria

England have a friendly match lined up against Egypt as part of their World Cup preparation. They've chosen Egypt because they are supposed to be on the same level and have a similar style to Algeria, who England will face in their World Cup Group matches.

However, having watched African minnows Malawi demolish Algeria 3-0 on Eurosport yesterday, I have to confess I have no idea how Algeria managed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. They were truly shocking. The goalkeeper, Fawzi Chaouchi, had a nightmare and the defence were pretty much asleep.

If this truly represents the standard of Algeria's national team - and I hope it doesn't - then, in the immortal words of Anne Robinson, they will leave...with nothing.

Labels: , ,


posted by mark_s at 2:56 PM 0 comments

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's Snow Joke...Weather Could Affect England's World Cup Preparation

Over the last couple of weeks, bunches (that's the technical football term, OK?) of matches in the top tier of English football have been postponed.

Luckily, I'm not the guy that has to reschedule them in a season that already ends earlier than usual due to the World Cup Finals. The plan was to finish the English season a couple of weeks early in order to give players more time to prepare for the World Cup.

However, if more matches are postponed, there is the possibility that the FA and Premier League will have to extend the season to accomodate them. And that's the last thing we need in a World Cup year.

PS: Please accept my apologies for the title of this post. I couldn't help myself. Sorry.

Labels: ,


posted by mark_s at 1:38 PM 0 comments

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Feng Shui And Other World Cup Nonsense

Let's be honest, no matter how much certain journalists keep writing about him, Michael Owen is not going to make the England World Cup squad. This is because he's lost his pace, his eye for goal and is, frankly, rubbish these days. It's not, as professional Yorkshireman and ex-cricketer Geoff Boycott would like you to believe, because Owen hasn't spent enough time feng shui-ing his living room.

On a tangentially related note, I'm stunned that South African commentators are still debating whether it's worth calling up Benni McCarthy. Who cares that he's lazy and falls out with managers more regularly than Pamela Anderson falls out of her top, he's still a great goalscorer. With him, South Africa have a chance to get out of their group, without him....very doubtful. Oh yes, he's not now nor has he ever been a false number 9. : what were you thinking?!

Just because he can link play doesn't make him Lionel Messi.

Labels: , , ,


posted by mark_s at 6:48 PM 0 comments