Thursday, 3 June 2010

World Cup News

Just a bit of quick-fire World Cup news from the last week or so... Just to keep you up to date.


The hosts South Africa have released their final 23-man squad for the finals, the main surprise being the omission of their all-time record goalscorer Benni McCarthy. The West Ham striker has been struggling for fitness recently and seems to be a bit out of shape, the team may miss his talismanic goalscoring ability, but it was a brave choice to exclude him.

Meanwhile their group rivals France have made a few surprising choices in their squad selection, leaving out Karim Benzema and Patrick Vieira. Les Bleus forward Thierry Henry has also admitted he expects to feature in this World Cup only as a substitute after failing to get a starting place in France's recent friendlies. The Barca striker said that "the most important thing is the team" and that "we're all in this to go as far as we can together."


Argentina boss Diego Maradona has raised a few more questions surrounding his managerial decisions, as he is choosing to go with four natural centre-backs as his defensive line for this year's Finals. Velez Sarsfield star Nicolas Otamendi is expected to be forced to play as a right-back. Maradona also chose to exclude big names like Riquelme, Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti in his squad selection.

Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has been pronounced 'fully fit' and has joined up with the rest of the Nigeria squad. Mikel was feared to be a doubt for his side's opener against Argentina after he underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The Super Eagles have also had their departure to South Africa delayed, after their aircraft at Stansted Airport "developed unspecified problems". They do not know yet when they will be flying out, but the Nigerian government are sending a new aircraft from Paris to fly the team.

There has been mixed news for the Korea Republic, with in form striker Lee Dong-Gook managing to regain fitness in time to be included in the final squad. However defender Kwak Tae-Hwi has had to pull out of the squad with a knee injury.


England boss Fabio Capello has announced his final 23-man squad for the finals excluding Leighton Baines and Theo Walcott. Baines was expected to be in the squad as back-up for Ashley Cole at left-back, but that spot has been handed to the relatively untested Stephen Warnock. Walcott's exclusion also comes as a surprise, four years on from his shock inclusion in the 2006 World Cup squad.

Group opponents Slovenia have instilled an interesting mentality ahead of their World Cup campaign. Forward Valter Birsa believes they have "nothing to lose". The striker went on to say that "all we can do now is carry on giving our all and fighting for every ball, like we have up until now". Team captain Robert Koren is also reinforcing the team spirit in the Slovenian camp, saying the team do not have individual stars, but a strong unit as a team.


Before the World Cup there are always injuries to important players, this year there have been few more important than Germany's Michael Ballack. The Chelsea star was injured in his team's FA Cup victory over Portsmouth and will miss the finals. This adds to the existing injury problems for the Germans, with 'keeper Rene Adler missing out, and midfielder Trasch is struggling for fitness.

Australia's final squad selection included one Middlesbrough player, while omitting two others. Boro 'keeper Brad Jones will be on the plane to South Africa, whilst right-back Rhys Williams and former Celtic striker Scott McDonald missed the cut. Manager Pim Verbeek has blamed Middlesbrough directly for Williams' exclusion, saying that he had been carrying an injury and continued to play for the Teeside club through a series of injections. Verbeek said he "could never train fully", and the manager was disappointed to have to exclude him.

Despite looking like a squad to really surprise everyone at the finals, Serbia's poor warm-up form has drawn its critics. The problem got serious in their friendly defeat against New Zealand, as fans rioted in the stands. Defender Nemanja Vidic had to act as the peacemaker, addressing the fans via a microphone in the middle of the field, asking for calm.

Along with the aforementioned injury to Michael Ballack, Group D has suffered another major injury, with Ghana losing star player, and fellow Chelsea midfielder, Michael Essien. Essien has been injured since January, but he was confident of making a return in time for the finals. After much assessment, Ghanaian medical experts said he would not be fit until the end of July.

Group E

The Netherlands have chosen not to pick striker Ruud van Nistelrooy for their campaign in South Africa, throwing his international future into extreme doubt. van Nistelrooy has a fabulous record for the Oranje, scoring 33 times in 64 games.

Former Celtic icon Shunsuke Nakamura has recovered in time from an ankle injury to be fit for Japan's World Cup squad. After missing the friendly defeat against England, it was feared that the player (now at Yokohama Marinos) could miss out on the final squad selection due to injury.

Cameroon star man Samuel Eto'o had threatened to pull out of this year's World Cup, after national legend Roger Milla had criticised his performances for the national team. Eto'o has since been named in the final squad and will be taking part at the Finals, but this latest scandal is one of many which could unsettle a talented Cameroon side.


Giuseppe Rossi and Mattia Cassani were surprise exclusions in what is an otherwise very strong Italy squad. However, Rossi and Cassani had both been expected to make the final squad, with Rossi's place taken by Giampaolo Pazzini of Sampdoria, and Cassani being dropped in favour of extra striker Fabio Quagliarella of Napoli.


On Tuesday 11th May, Brazil coach Dunga announced his seleção, sparking many debates all over the world. First of all, there was no room for fantastistas Ronaldinho and Adriano, after they both failed to impress for the national team in recent times. Secondly, Dunga refused to give in to national pressure and select the Santos duo Paulo Henrique Ganso and Neymar. Thirdly, there was surprise inclusions for Wolfsburg striker Grafite and Flamengo midfielder Kleberson (formerly of Manchester United), and surprise exclusions for AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato and Juventus midfielder Diego.

Now, there are a lot of talking points here, and I'll go through them a bit here instead of writing a new article.

I am very pleased with Dunga's selection. The main way he has chosen his team is by those who have impressed when given the chance for the national team. This explains the exclusions of everyone mentioned there. On the other hand, when called upon by the national team, players like Grafite, Josue, Julio Baptista and Kleberson have really impressed.

However there is one player I'd probably have picked instead. Hernanes of Sao Paulo is a 25 year old defensive midfielder, a truly fantastic player, I've always said he could walk into most squads in Europe. Unlike other prospective picks like Pato and Diego, when Hernanes has been called upon for Brazil (2008 Olympics squad) he has really impressed. So my only change would be Kleberson out, Hernanes in. Feel free to suggest your own changes.


Spain's striker David Villa has said that he will happily play on the wing for the European champions if it means he will get a spot in the starting line up. This follows the news of Fernando Torres' return to fitness and the general consensus that El Nino of Liverpool will get the starting spot up-front. New Barcelona signing Villa says that "the important thing is to play".

Tips for success Chile are sweating over the fitness of their top striker Humberto Suazo. Suazo is suspected to be suffering from a muscle injury, and would prompt significant changes in the Chile system. However some people in the know are putting this down to Coach Marcelo Bielsa's mind-games, trying to get teams to change their strategy to playing a team without Suazo. Such doubters are confident Suazo will not miss any games, should be interesting to see how that plays out...

So that's it for now, just to keep you all up to date on what is happening around the nations. Its only 8 days away, and I'm sure that like me, you can't wait for it to begin.


Charles said...

Nice post, Euan. Even I'm starting to look forward to it. A bit early to start making predictions, I know, but who do you fancy as the main candidates for an early flight home?

Euan said...

Well every World Cup brings some big surprises, it's what makes it so interesting, but I guess right now I'd be able to hazard a guess at most of the teams going out...

Group A: South Africa (but of course they are the hosts, who knows?)

Group B: Greece (they play anti-football, can't see them getting enough points against big attacking teams)

Group C: Algeria and Slovenia (England and USA look good. I'd like to see Slovenia go close though)

Group D: Ghana (Essien is too important to them, and he is injured)

Group E: Cameroon and Japan (sorry! but Holland and Denmark look great, and both Cameroon and the Samurai Blue look half the team they need to be.)

Group F: New Zealand and Slovakia (barring a miracle, NZ will go home early. and Slovakia, well I dont really rate Slovakia.)

Group G: Korea DPR (not saying they will be embarrassed or lose every game, but I cant see any scenario where they will go through)

Group H: Honduras (same as Korea DPR)

Chas said...

Another pre-competition special on TV tonight. Ex-player Noborito, now a sports presenter, was trying out the new official ball at the high altitude stadium where Japan will play Denmark. They were having a good laugh showing Shunsuke Nakamura the video of this new ball going tremendous distances because of reduced air pressure at that altitude, and flying all over the place because of its new 8 panel construction. Nakamura grinned and said he'd 'bear it in mind'. Any similar comments from other countries on the effects of the high altitude? I know opinion on the new ball is divided.

Euan said...

As usual it seems to be goalkeepers complaining about it being too light and prone to moving alot in the air. They have a bit of a point though, before the 2006 World Cup there was similar debate about how much the ball moves in the air, and in the first game Germany scored two goals where the ball did seem to move more than usual.

Good thing is we should see a lot of pretty spectacular goals, and thats always nice to see.

Chas said...

Supporting Brazil in Brazil, surrounded by Brazilians, must have been a hoot, but even so, this competition has been a bit of a yawn so far, except for the upsets. Looking forward to some entertainment from Okada's men tonight.

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