World Cup – Saturday 19th June

The Day After Yesterday

This evening’s world cup update comes a little early. You see I’m off to the pub so the evening match hasn’t yet kicked off. Don’t panic – aside from my blog you can actually catch world cup matches live on television and via the internet, while there has also been some newspaper interest in reporting events in South Africa.

Results – Saturday 19th June

  Group E: Holland 1 – 0 Japan
  Group D: Australia 1 – 1 Ghana
  Group E: Cameroon L – L Denmark
Post Match Review
 What a refreshing game we saw today between Australia and Ghana after yesterdays rubbish from England. The Aussies got a pummeling in their last outing against Germany so they were out to make amends today and when they took the lead there looked to be a way back for them in this competition. Then striker Kewell handles the ball in the box and gets sent off and it’s backs against the wall. Don’t forget they had Cahill sent off in their last match too. Ghana scored from the spot and kept on coming against the 10 men. It really was squeaky bum time but they held on in the end for a point. They like to do things the hard way down under.
 That’s right Ron. If Kewell had just taken the catch cleanly then the Ghanaian striker would have been back in the pavillion and the other team would have been a man short. Instead he spills it and it’s a penalty. Captain Lucas Neil will be asking himself why he didn’t move Kewell to a deeper fielding position against that sort of pace attack. It’s that old footballing cliché again – “catches win matches.”. It’s hard to see the Australians winning the world cup ashes now. They need to win all their remaining matches and I can’t see that happening.

Fixtures – Sunday 20th June

  Group F: Slovakia vs Paraguay
  Group F: Italy vs New Zealand
  Group G: Brazil vs Ivory Coast
Gazza’s Daily Football Factoids
 New Zealand striker Rory Fallon plays for League 1 Plymouth Argyle. His father was manager of the national side in their only previous World Cup finals outing in 1982. People from New Zealand are always amused to be mistaken for Australians.
Mystic Ron’s World Cup Horoscope
Mystic Ron Ooh – is it that time? It’s earlier than usual – what’s going on? I’ve only just finished a pack of digestives and I haven’t even opened my evening ration of ginger nuts! I don’t even know who’s playing tomorrow. I’ll stick a hair pin in the TV guide to predict the results – that is as scientific as my other methods. Here goes…

…Paraguay to beat Slovakia…
…Italy to beat New Zealand… – this seems to be working!
…and Brazil to beat Antiques Roadshow.

There. Do I get the evening off now? That means I can watch “Mary, Queen of shops”. Anything but this bloody non-stop football. I’m sick of it!

Pre Match Comment
The competition is really starting to hot up now and Brazil’s match with Ivory Coast has been hotly anticipated since the draw was made last year. Brazil seemed a little subdued by their own standards last time out while Ivory Coast will feel they have something to prove so this could turn out to be the match of the round. Mind you, we have said that about other matches and been bored to tears. I’m just hoping that Robinho produces his international form instead of his club form, and that Drogba reproduces his club form and not his international form.

England Update

Injury Report
Bones I’m afraid there’s bad news to report from the sick bay. Emile Heskey remains as fit and skillful as a carthorse. FIFA rules prevent me from using my phaser on him. Not even with it set to stun.
Tabloid Roundup
Scum Reporter We salute David James for his bristling sarcasm when interviewed after England’s bore draw with Algeria. There’s also reaction in todays paper (and tomorrows chip paper) about Rooney’s criticism of the crowd for booing after the match in our feature article “Roo Boo Stew”, and we have an interview with the fan got into the team dressing room after the match and managed to talk with Becks. We think this could have been a potential security disaster. I mean what if it had been Posh?

View from the sofa

I have been absorbing events today minus the sound as I don’t want to listen to endless speculation about England. That’s made for an interesting experience and also meant I have missed a few key moments because I have been looking away and didn’t hear the crowd roar.

Here’s a roundup of a few things that have caught my attention in the last day or so…

  • In case you haven’t already seen it there’s a fabulous video clip from an interview with Maradona in which an innocent interview question is lost in translation. Even if you have already seen this I know you won’t be able to resist watching it again.
  • Four North Korean players are rumoured to have defected – a claim denied by the team coach. I don’t know if it’s true but it raises questions about North Korea’s claims to be an eden of democracy. I do hope they aren’t fibbing
  • French striker Nicolas Anelka is reported to be going home following a huge row with manager Domenech. For the first time in his career Anelka appears to have done something the fans can respect him for. Well done!

There. That’s your lot for today. I’ve got a pub to go to…

World Cup – Tuesday 15th June

It’s a country of two halves

The “group of death” played out their first fixtures today. A dangerous Portugal side featuring Ronaldo took on a powerful Ivory Coast with Didier Drogba. Joint Favourites Brazil played the deadly North Koreans. Drama guaranteed?

Results – Tuesday 15th June

  Group F: New Zealand 1 – 1 Slovakia
  Group G: Ivory Coast 0 – 0 Portugal
  Group G: Brazil 2 – 1 North Korea
Post Match Review
The eagerly anticipated match of the round has just finished and it was supposed to be a landslide victory for joint favourites Brazil against the unfashionable and unfancied North Koreans. The plucky minnows ran their socks off and played with such heart that Brazil were mightily relieved to take the lead after half time and then grab a second later on. Nobody could begrudge the Koreans their consolation goal. We are lucky to have North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (or his stand-in if you believe like some that he died in 2003). Kim, you must feel very proud of your boys despite the defeat.
Kim Jong-Il This was a wonderful victory for the homeland. We showed the imperialist west that they are no match for our mighty nation. This 5 goal victory for my country will force the world to take notice of us
Well, it was as you say a spirited performance but Brazil did actually beat North Korea. The score was 2 – 1.
Kim Jong-Il There is no such place as North Korea! Brazil were beaten 6 – 0 by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. We will not accept any interference with our internal affairs and the result stands. If you disagree with me we will invade somewhere.
OK, let’s talk about your team instead. Young striker Jong Tae-Se has been called the Wayne Rooney of Asia. I have to say that I was very impressed with his contribution. Do you think that the comparisons with Rooney are valid?
Kim Jong-Il He is better than Rooney, better than Ronaldo, better than Messi. He is as good as Jimmy Hill in his prime. I personally taught him everything he knows about football. The glorious world cup winning team will devote their 7 – 0 World Cup final victory to me in a special parade in the people’s capital.
Whatever you say Kim.

Fixtures – Wednesday 16th June

  Group H: Honduras vs Chile
  Group H: Spain vs Switzerland
  Group A: South Africa vs Uruguay
Gazza’s Daily Football Factoids
Bambi Chile keeper Rojas faked injury from a firework in an attempt to get a qualifier match with Brazil called off, with his team losing. He received a life ban from the game and Chile were denied entry to the 1994 world cup finals. In an interesting parallel Rob Green faked the ground swallowing him up after last Saturday’s goalkeeping blunder against the US but unfortunately for him it was just in his mind.
Mystic Ron’s World Cup Horoscope
Mystic Ron Cooeee readers! What an exciting day it’s going to be with a lot of fluidity across the zodiac spectrum. And you know what that means? Goals – lots of them! And not just goals. Curiously there will be romantic advances from an unexpected quarter during the Honduras vs Chile game. It will also be a ding dong game with Chile scoring the most. Meanwhile the reign of Spain goals will fall mostly on the Swiss who will be in for a disappointment and also a welcome invitation from a friend. Then we are back into the second round of games with a stalemate for South Africa and Capricorn Uruguay who will at least be in a positive mood with career opportunities just a finger tip away. What a lovely world cup it has been so far. I’m celebrating with mint tea and some garibaldis!

View from the sofa

There haven’t really been any upsets so far but today was perhaps the closest we got. New Zealand are the lowest rated side in South Africa and qualification was a victory in itself. They trailed the competent Slovakians until the last minute when an equaliser sent them into raptures and earned them their first even world cup point. Congratulations to the All Whites!

Today’s big game between Portugal and the Ivory Coast was by contrast a big let down. It finished goalless and was for the most part incident-free. The ultimate mismatch though was reserved for the mighty Brazil versus North Korea – a team almost as secretive as its origins suggest. The Koreans worked tirelessly to close down the Brazilians who loped around the pitch without any urgency except for (surprisingly) Robinho until the half time whistle blew.

Eventually a couple of moments of genius saw Brazil go two up through Maicon and Elano (both in my fantasy team – yeah!) and just when you thought the floodgates might open the North Koreans pulled back a consolation. It wasn’t what many people would have expected but it was enthralling in its own way. This is the beauty of football – you often know what to expect but sometimes it just doesn’t pan out that way.

Off the pitch ITV pundit Robbie Earle was sacked after complimentary tickets issued to him ended up in the hands of the wrong people. I have to say it’s a shame because he’s one of the few pundits who talks any sense and he is also one of the nicest guys around. Speaking of nice guys England defender Matt Upson today visited an orphanage to meet for the first time the boy he has been sponsoring. The boy was found to be wearing an England shirt – bearing the name of Rooney. It obviously takes more than money to persuade a child to have their football top adorned with the name or a third choice reserve defender.