Saturday, June 19, 2010

World Cup 2010 - Day 9

This morning it's definitely been a "want my money back" day for World Cup viewers. Then came Denmark - Cameroon to provide some entertainment!

Holland and Japan did not show much. The Nippons displayed their typical hard-running do-or-die attitude, but got nothing to show for it in the end. Holland showed glimpses of what they're capable of, but had few chances and only capitalized on one of them. With 6 points already, they'll make it to the second round, but not so sure about their defense once serious questions will be asked of them [already looked a bit shaky against Japan on several occasions]

Ghana and Australia played one of the weakest games to day. With Ghana so promising after the victory against the Serbs, everyone expected a comfortable wig against the Socceroos (more so, since Kewell was ejected early on). But the duel between the oldest squad [Australia with no players under 24] and the youngest [Ghana had only 2 players older than 24 on the field] found no winner at the end of the 90 minutes. The young Black Stars had several chances to get all three points, but their passing, crossing and overall control play was really poor. The Aussies, on the other hand, had a big chance to go ahead, but Kinson in goal made amends for the earlier blunder on Australia's goal.

So now Ghana and Germany should provide a good game to decide who will advance, while Serbia should have no problem with Australia [who have not shown much so far] in the other game remaining in the group.

The last game of the day provided something more open (which has been the exception, rather than the rule so far). Both defenses were appalling (which is how Eto'o scored first; and could have had another one if not for the upright), the forwards missed chance after chance and both goalies had an inspired day [less Sorensen's mistake on the first goal] but I have appreciated the all-out attitude from two teams that lost their first game (and were now in dire need for points). In the end, the Danes got all 3, making Cameroon the first casualty of this World Cup [not even a mathematical chance any longer]. One would argue that other teams are "there" already (with South Africa having to play France next, or Australia to play Serbia) but at least they still have a chance on paper. Cameroon does not even have that any longer! Nor do I think they deserved to advance, either. They really did not show much...

One week into the competition, Cameroon is already out, and we've had more than a fair share of surprises, while the overall quality of the competition is relatively low. Hopefully things will pick up as group games become more of a do-or-die event. And as much we'd like to argue that the bigger teams take longer to warm up, the likes of England, France, Italy and even Spain, better step up quick, or avoid a very short tournament.

Before wrapping up, let me take another stab at Adidas and their controversial new ball. Do you really think all the players at this level are so poor that 70% of the crosses go astray? Or most of the shots sail over the crossbar? Or the goalies are so incapable that they can't hold on to the damn thing? No, I didn't think so either. But when FIFA is making a boat-load of money from the sponsorship deal with Adidas (actual figures not disclosed, but estimated at $350M) they feel obligated to turn the other cheek...

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