Category Archives: Uncategorized

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2010. That’s about 20 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 83 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 37 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 18th with 252 views. The most popular post that day was England held to shock draw by Algeria.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for graeme souness, marko marin, mick mccarthy, schweinsteiger, and bastian schweinsteiger.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


England held to shock draw by Algeria June 2010


Guest Blog: Die Mannschaft May 2010


No place for Ricardo Quaresma in Portugal squad May 2010
4 comments and 1 Like on,


26 man Mexico squad named May 2010


Spain’s Final 23 May 2010
1 Like on,


Technology debate rekindled in wake of questionable decisions

Two World Cup matches, two flashpoints. The widespread acclaim that greeted the referees at the outset of the 2010 World Cup has well and truly evaporated by now.

This World Cup has seen its share of controversial decisions. Having come back from a two goal deficit, the United States were wrongly denied a winner by referee Koman Coulibaly. The Malian official ruled out Michael Bradley’s late goal for a foul. Video technology would have revealed that no infringement took place in the Slovenian penalty area.

Kaká, one of the stars of world football, was dismissed for an apparent elbow against Côte d’Ivoire. Television replays revealed that Sebastien Lannoy was deceived by the Ivorian winger, Kader Keita. Kaká was suspended as a result of the incorrect decision.

The events of Sunday, June 27 will be impossible to forget for fans of England and Mexico. Frank Lampard’s legitimate goal against Germany, which may have had a profound effect on the outcome, was not given. A simple television replay would have given the referee the information required to make an informed decision. Goal-line technology has long been advocated by a large number of managers at both club and international level. A system similar to the famous Hawkeye technology  used in cricket and tennis matches could be utilised to great effect by FIFA. For some, the solutions are even simpler. Mark Ogden, The Daily Telegraph’s Northern Football Correspondent, shared a rudimentary, yet effective, idea via his Twitter page.

“Sandpit behind the line. If the ball is in, it will stop dead and won’t bounce. Simple.”

The suggestion initially seems laughable. On second look, it appears more sensible than ridiculous. In any case, it marks a marked improvement on incorrect or unfair decisions.

Sepp Blatter’s repeated rejection of calls for television replays are folly. Blatter, who once remarked that “we must never stop the match with videos or monitors to look at what has happened”, is clearly not a fan of other sports. Almost every other major sport has some form of “video referee”. In American football, coaches are given flags. In cases where a questionable decision is made by a the referees or umpires, the coach may throw one of his limited number of challenge flags onto the field and call for the referee’s decision to be ‘sent to the booth’. The match referee then consults the video replay and reevaluates his previous decision.

The apparent infallibility of referees in association football is misguided. As Carlos Tevez wheeled away in jubilation at having scored the opening goal in the Round of 16 match against Mexico, replays on the scoreboard at Soccer City showed how the Argentine was offside when Lionel Messi played the crucial assist to him. The fans, players, coaching staff and officials were instantly given access to a view at what had actually occurred. Mexico’s players were particularly incensed. They, rightly, angrily confronted Roberto Rosetti and his assistant. Having seen their mistake, the officials should have been given the authority to reverse the  decision. They were unable to do this. Mexico, demoralised by the goal, promptly conceded a second through a defensive error which may or may not have been the result of a lapse in concentration stemming from the earlier refereeing error.

The safety and welfare of referees is threatened by their inability to correct their mistakes. Referees have been targeted by tabloid campaigns and, far more worryingly, death threats. In the interest of fairness and in the interest of safety for their referees, FIFA must take positive action towards implementing corrective technology no matter what form that may take.

The Ellis Park Post-Mortem

It was coming. Italy exited the 2010 FIFA World Cup on Thursday, despite a dramatic attempt at a late comeback against Slovakia. The Azzurri failed to muster a single victory. While they were not expected to successfully defend their title, even Lippi admitted as much, no one could have foreseen the humiliation suffered by Marcello Lippi’s team in Ellis Park. “This is Italy”, we were told. And Italy always found a way. In South Africa, from the opening whistle against Paraguay in Cape Town on June 14, there were blindingly evident failings.

The most likely criticism which will be aimed at Lippi’s side is age. Nowhere was this more noticeable than in their captain, Fabio Cannavaro. At the age of thirty-six, having not been offered a new contract by a struggling Juventus, Cannavaro has been pilloried by Italian fans and the Italian sporting newspapers for months. It is a shame to see such a gifted footballer as the former Ballon d’Or winner wither into a spectre. In South Africa, Cannavaro was culpable for at least two of the five goals scored against Italy. The Azzuri captain could only  watch despairingly as Kamil Kopunek galloped past him to score Slovakia’s third. That Lippi was steadfast in his loyalty to Fabio Cannavaro was a tragedy.

Cannavaro was not the only member of the squad entering the twilight of his career. Gattuso, Pirlo, Di Natale, Zambrotta, Camoranesi, Iaquinta and more are all in their thirties. The squad did not have the vivacity or energy to tackle a World Cup tournament played mostly at altitude.

When Lippi first named his provisional side and later his full, 23 man squad there was outrage in the Italian media. The Tuscan manager was seen as being too loyal to his old club Juventus, despite their inauspicious season, with nine making the provisional squad. The selection of Pepe, Di Natale, Gilardino, Iaquinta, Quagliarella and Pazzini as his forwards was lambasted.

In every previous Italian squad for a World Cup there has been a fantasista, a trequartista, a gifted, creative attacker playing just off the strikers. Cast your memories back as far as Gianni Rivera, Sandro Mazzola, Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Baggio and even, most recently, Alessa Del Piero and Francesco Totti.

Lippi controversially opted against offering Totti a recall. This decision looking even more absurd when you consider that the Italian coach decided not to bring any of the following replacements for Totti’s guile and much coveted ‘footballing I.Q.’: Fabrizio Miccoli, Antonio Cassano, Mario Balotelli, Alessandro Del Piero and Giuseppe Rossi.

Stranger still was Lippi’s insistence that Italy should play with an attacking tridente of three forwards, usually with one of the three fulfilling the trequartista/Number 10 role. With none of the forwards brought by Lippi capable of fulfilling the role, the closest thing Lippi had to a visionary playmaker was Pirlo. The injury sustained by the AC Milan stalwart in training just before the tournament was fatal.

The question now is, where is the next generation? Which players will be promoted under the incoming regime of Cesare Prandelli. It was a cruel blow to Italy that one of the goals that sealed their demise was gifted to Robert Vittek of Slovakia by one of their stars of the present and future, Daniele De Rossi. De Rossi, who plays a dual role as a snarling, combative defensive midfielder and as a pass-machine in the mould of Pirlo, will be a focal point of Prandell’s Azzurri. Recalls may finally be offered to Mario Balotelli and Giuseppe Rossi in attack, while defenders Bonucci, Bochetti, Gamberini and Criscito offer Prandelli some intriguing combinations.

Looking even further into the future the likes of Di Silvestri, Forestieri, Macheda, Paloschi and Petrucci may yet realize their potential talent.

The future is not as bleak for Italy as many feel. However, the bitter anguish of Ellis Park and 2010 will live long in the memory and Italian calcio may take some time to recover.

Round One in Review

The first round of group stage fixtures at the 2010 World Cup is complete. Every team has now taken their World Cup bow in South Africa and we’ve already been left with some intriguing permutations for qualification to the last sixteen. World Cup Daily will now take a look back at this mini-milestone stage of the competition.

Group A:

Group A is a bit different by way of having already completed one game of the second round of fixtures. The result was a potentially crippling one for the Bafana Bafana, as they lost to Uruguay 3-0 while also losing their first choice goalkeeper to suspension. France play Mexico tomorrow with the winner of that game taking a massive step towards the next round. Here is the table as it stands.

Group A MP W D L Pts
Uruguay 2 1 1 0 4
Mexico 1 0 1 0 1
France 1 0 1 0 1
South Africa 2 0 1 1 1

The hosts, South Africa, achieved what may yet be their best result in the competition in the tournament’s opening game against Mexico. Siphiwe Tshabalala’s incredible strike will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it. 1998’s winners France stuttered in a 0-0 stalemate against Uruguay. Although they failed to impress against Les Bleus, Uruguay now control Group A courtesy of their victory over Bafana Bafana in Pretoria this evening. Diego Forlan lead the line with conviction and scored two goals, taking him to the top of the goalscoring standings for the tournament.

The outcome of Mexico v France is key to the future of the group. If there is a winner to that game then the hosts will be all but eliminated and the victor should progress to the last sixteen alongside Uruguay. A draw will throw open a range of possibilities and will ensure an exciting climax, with South Africa’s participation in the World Cup still very much alive.

Group B:

The Republic of Korea and Argentina sit loftily atop Group B at the moment courtesy of victories over Greece and Nigeria respectively. The two sides meet tomorrow in the early kickoff at Soccer City.

The Republic of Korea were comfortable victors of Otto Rehhagel’s Greece. The Euro 2004 champions were both lethargic and sloppy and possessed none of the defensive nous that saw them capture the European Championships six years ago. On the other hand, Korea were excellent. Their captain, Park Ji Sung, has excelled in the playmakers role for South Korea for years and demonstrated his immense capabilities in their 2-0 win.

Lionel Messi was at his dazzling best in the Albiceleste’s 1-0 success over Nigeria. The tight scoreline flattered the Super Eagles and Nigeria will need to improve drastically if they are to have a future in the competition. Nigeria will face elimination from the competition should either South Korea or Argentina win and they are defeated by Greece. Lars Lagerbäck will refuse to accept a group stage exit and Nigeria should get the better of a Greek side devoid of ideas.

Group B MP W D L Pts
South Korea 1 1 0 0 3
Argentina 1 1 0 0 3
Nigeria 1 0 0 1 0
Greece 1 0 0 1 0

Group C:

To everyone’s surprise Slovenia sit in pole position in Group C. They capitalised on England’s 1-1 draw with the United States, beating Algeria 1-0. Slovenia were vulnerable on the flanks, where Ziani was a constant threat. The United States’ Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan could pose similar problems to the Slovenians should they be allowed to transgress deep into Slovenian territory. Slovenia’s goalkeeper Samir Handanovic carried his remarkable Serie A form into the World Cup and will prove a difficult obstacle for Bob Bradley’s side.

The United States themselves were lucky to escape from Rustenberg with a point, Robert Green’s now infamous catastrophy allowing Clint Dempsey to score. USMNT are capable of producing a much superior performance against Slovenia. The Americans’ defensive core of Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit were solid against England, a huge boon considering Onyewu’s terrible recent history of injury. Bob Bradley will need to consolidate that defensive strength with a more potent strike force if the United States are to wrestle command of the group out of Slovenian hands.

England’s performance has been evaluated countless times since that night in Rustenberg. Last minute call-up Jamie Carragher was beaten easily on occassion by the pace of Jozy Altidore and if the rumours of him starting the next game are proven to be correct then John Terry will need to be on top form.

The conundrum of who is the best candidate to partner Wayne Rooney in attack has not yet been solved by Fabio Capello. Emile Heskey’s performance against the United States was bafflingly praised by some pundits in the immediate aftermath of the game. The reality is that Heskey is not a striker of genuine international-quality. Perhaps the best solution for Fabio Capello would be to move new captain Steven Gerrard forward into a support role for Rooney with a four man midfield behind the two.

Group D:

It is no surprise that Germany are the stand out performers in Group D thusfar. Their 4-0 demolition of Australia was founded on individual brilliance from Mesut Özil and Lukas Podolski and fantastic distribution and holding from Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger. It will be a great relief to Jogi Löw to see Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski performing so effectively after both had endured difficult seasons for their club sides.

Australia on the other hand seem destined for elimination. They were powerless to prevent a drubbing at the hands of the Germans and to make matters worse their talisman, Tim Cahill, has been suspended. They must now face Ghana, who were better than their 1-0 scoreline indicates.

Stade Rennais’ Asamoah Gyan gave the Black Stars victory over Serbia. The real star performer, however, was Kevin Prince Boateng. The Portsmouth midfielder was busy, creative and determined against the Serbs and if he can continue that form against Australia then Ghana will stand on the brink of qualification for a second successive place in the last sixteen.

Serbia were predestined to be the tournament’s dark horses. They were abject against Ghana. Their celebrated defence was challenged by an under-strength Ghana and it is forgivable to think that they will have even greater difficulty against Germany’s multi-pronged attack.

Group D MP W D L Pts
Germany 1 1 0 0 3
Ghana 1 1 0 0 3
Serbia 1 0 0 1 0
Australia 1 0 0 1 0

Group E:

Holland failed to reach their potential against Denmark but still managed to escape with a comfortable 2-0 victory. The return of winger Arjen Robben will only add further strength to their challenge and they may yet become the swaggering champions that a large section of the world’s observers reckon they were born to become. The revelation of the game against Denmark was Eljero Elia. The young Ajax winger replaced Rafael van der Vaart and made an immediate impact. His energy and innate skill were clear to see and further appearances for the youngster are almost a certainty now.

Japan were everything their reputation told us they were. They were organised. They were boring. And they numbed Cameroon into submission. Keisuke Honda’s goal gave them a 1-0 victory over the Lions. They will not be so fortunate against Holland.

Cameroon’s performance was toothless (pardon the pun). Samuel Eto’o was the only player to emerge with any credit and even he seemed powerless to prevent Japan from hanging on to a clean sheet and a victory. Cameroon should improve against Denmark, they have too many players of high quality not to. A victory is required. Anything less may spell an embarrassing early exit.

Group E MP W D L Pts
Netherlands 1 1 0 0 3
Japan 1 1 0 0 3
Cameroon 1 0 0 1 0
Denmark 1 0 0 1 0

Group F:

Paraguay 1 0 1 0 1
Slovakia 1 0 1 0 1
Italy 1 0 1 0 1
New Zealand 1 0 1 0 1

The immediately striking aspect of your first glance at the Group F table is Italy’s absence from top spot. The World Champions were perhaps the better side against Paraguay but could not convert their superiority into sincere shooting opportunities. If Marcello Lippi insists on keeping the 4-2-3-1 formation then he will need to remove Iaquinta. The Juventus forward was unthreatening throughout the encounter with Paraguay and his place in the starting line-up ahead of Antonio Di Natale is ponderous at best.

Of more immediate concern to ‘gli Azzuri’ is the fitness of Gianluigi Buffon. The decorated goalkeeper has suffered a recurrence of a herniated disc and may play no further part in Italy’s quest to retain the World Cup. Into the breach will step young Federico Marchetti. The Cagliari goalkeeper was a revelation in Serie A this past year and may yet prove to be a worthy replacement to one of the world’s greatest shot-stoppers.

Slovakia controlled the game against New Zealand but concentration lapses ultimately proved to be their undoing. Marek Hamsik, their captain and Vladimir Weiss were stand-out performers against New Zealand and must retain their creative flair if they are to overturn Paraguay as the second side to progress from the group.

There is a feeling that New Zealand have already achieved what they set out to do in drawing with Slovakia. It is unthinkable that they may claim another point against Paraguay or Italy despite their obvious strenghts in defensive organisation.

Group G:

Brazil showed their usual flair but were unable to score more than two goals against North Korea. Robinho and Maicon were the outstanding performers on the night for the Seleçao. They should prove too strong for Portugal, who were terrible against the Côte d’Ivoire, but may yet be tested by the Elephants.

North Korea were the unknown quantity in the ‘Group of Death’. Their star player, Jong Tae Se, garnered a lot of attention for his tears at the national anthems and his subsequent display which culminated in an assist.

Côte d’Ivoire were far more structured than they were in the Cup of African Nations. In Gervinho and Salomon Kalou they have players to supply the now fit Didier Drogba and also to beat fullbacks. If they can achieve a draw against Brazil and proceed to thrash North Korea, then the Brazilians may yet face an unlikely elimination from the World Cup.

Brazil 1 1 0 0 3
Côte d’Ivoire 1 0 1 0 1
Portugal 1 0 1 0 1
North Korea 1 0 0 1 0

Group H:

This group looked to be all about Spain. The European Champions and favourites to lift the World Cup were expected to breeze through this group with minimal fuss. They did not expect to encounter the managerial powerhouse that is Ottmar Hitzfeld and his appropriately strong Switzerland defence. The Swiss demonstrated the frailties within this otherwise exceptional Spain side.

Spain were unable to show the requisite cutting edge and for all of their possession, they mustered very few threatening attempts on goal. They will have a chance at redemption against Honduras, who were disappointing against Chile.

Chile were every bit as entertaining as we were led to believe. Marco Bielsa has created an attacking side with a remarkable flair and creativity to it. The tactical decision to field only three players was not exposed as folly by a blunt Honduras but achieving the same result against Spain may prove to be too difficult a challenge.

Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Day 5



Two moments of magic did little to disguise a fairly rote and disappointing Brazil performance. Fantastical scorelines were predicted before kick off, and while anyone who paid attention to Dunga’s defensive tactics throughout their qualifying campaign would have known not to expect a massive rout but 2-1 is a shocking result despite the best defensive efforts of the North Koreans.

Consider that Brazil are second favourites while North Korea are currently listed with odds of 2000/1 and you would expect a routine and comfortable victory from the five-times champions. The jury is still very much out on Brazil and the knives are already being sharpened for Dunga.


Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant it. (Ed: Definitely meant it)

North Korea

Lost the game but won our hearts. From Jong Tae Se crying during his national anthem to their gritty determination to a well-deserved consolation goal, North Korea tore up the script and while their game was undoubtedly defensive, they played with conviction and spirit that was unexpected from everyone who wrote them off.

Ji Yun Nam

A statue to commemorate his “winning” goal against Brazil is no doubt being erected in North Korea as we speak.

New Zealand

Provided some much-needed drama with their late equaliser and felt like winners in the process.



He’s no Joachim Low.

Hopeful spectators

From blogs to forums to the man in the pub, it seems South Africa 2010 is being viewed as something of a letdown thus far. On the evidence of the last two days it is difficult to argue. The highly anticipated contest between Portugal and the Ivory Coast promised much but delivered a tedious and irritating scoreless draw. The optimists among us are speculating that teams are playing their opening matches with extreme caution out of fear of coming away with no points. That theory remains to be seen but gives added spice to the forthcoming second round of group matches. Fingers crossed.


How the mighty have fallen. Dreadful in qualifying, barely scraped through their playoff and lifeless in their opening tournament match, Carlos Quieroz and his players need to stop the rot very quickly before they find themselves booking flights home on June 25th.

Cristiano Ronaldo

It took just six minutes for Portugal’s petulant prima-donna to hit the deck, exaggerating the contact made by Didier Zokora and urging the referee to book the former Tottenham player, which he duly did. Fifteen minutes later he “won” a foul but received a yellow of his own for his reaction to the challenge.

Aside from one stunning shot that rattled the post, the most marketable player in the world was a shadow of his former Manchester United self and looked every bit the footballer who hasn’t scored for his country in sixteen months. Disinterested, childish and lethargic, Ronaldo made a fine captain for a team that are rapidly disintegrating.


Hauled off after sixty ineffectual minutes, the occasional Chelsea midfielder marked his last major tournament with the type of painfully average and anonymous display he is becoming known for.

Clive Tyldsley

Apparently Maicon’s “did he or didn’t he mean it?” goal was actually a North Korean own goal. Cheers for clearing that up for us Clive.

Robbie Earle

And speaking of bumbling ITV; pundit Robbie Earle was given his marching orders when tickets to games in his name somehow found their way in the hands of 36 women clad in orange mini-dresses. The women were part of a Dutch marketing attempt. Robbie Earle denies he had anything to do with the situation, but he’s an idiot.

Côte D’Ivoire v Portugal

Tuesday brings with it perhaps the most eagerly anticipated fixture of the tournament to date. Côte D’Ivoire (or Ivory Coast) v Portugal is a match of immeasurable importance to both sides. With both teams drawn in Group G alongside Brazil, it is fair to suggest that only one of Côte D’Ivoire and Portugal will progress to the next round.

In the build up to this fixture most of the speculation pertained to the participation of Ivorian Didier Drogba, who sustained a fractured elbow in a World Cup friendly against Japan. Drogba, who captains the Elephants, and will play in today’s game. FIFA have ruled that the Chelsea striker is permitted to wear a protective cast against Portugal. Doubts will remain about Drogba’s mobility and fitness until kick-off.

Portugal’s hopes will be pinned to the shoulders of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo, who impressed for Real Madrid this past season, failed to score a single goal in qualification. The sparsity of goals for Ronaldo is a genuine concern for the Portuguese who have failed to impress without the former Manchester United star at his best. Ronaldo himself has predicted that goals would flow like ‘ketchup from a bottle’ as soon as the first goal arrives.

In a difficult match to predict, the battle in midfield will be crucial. The Portuguese central-midfield duo of Deco and Pepe will be harried by Yaya Touré, Didier Zokora and Romaric. There is a possibility that Carlos Quieroz’s midfield, so important in providing ammunition to Cristiano Ronaldo, Liédson et al, will be overrun. The Ivorian midfield combines an undoubted physical presence but is also capable of splendid football as they release Gervinho and Kalou forward to imperil a stodgy Portuguese back four.

It is rare for an opening fixture at a World Cup to carry such weight and both sides will depend so much on the form of their star attractions, Drogba and Ronaldo respectively. Before the tournament this Ivorian side was hyped as the best African side yet assembled for a World Cup. Today’s clash at Port Elizabeth will tell us so much about whether the hype was justified.

Prediction: Côte d’Ivoire to notch a vital first win. 2-1 to the Elephants

World Cup Winners & Losers – Day 4


Anti-football fans

Whoever they may be. Day four delivered three rather dour games in which teams scrapped and scraped for possession much to the chagrin of spectators clamouring for goals. While some knee-jerk doom mongers are already condemning this World Cup to the scrapheap after less than a week, today’s entertainment did little to shut them up.

Holland were largely contained by a defensive Danish side, Japan gave 110% but were content to win ugly while Italy and Paraguay played out a tepid stalemate. While mental battles and seeing who blinks first are part and parcel of football, South Africa 2010 is in dire need of a real spectacle fast. A North Korean mauling at the feet of Brazil would go some way to placating the naysayers.


Just about. While the Dutch were lively and never looked terribly troubled (thanks in part to the rock-solid central midfield partnership of Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong) they didn’t look quite the same team that took maximum points from their qualifying campaign. Robben’s absence was noticeable and despite never looking too shaky, Holland struggled with an admittedly strong Danish defence.

Hype is a dangerous thing and Bert Van Marwijk’s team have been touted as potential winners. On the basis of this start they will need to put a team to the sword in the remaining group games lest the sheen start to come off. At least they’re not fighting among themselves. Yet.


While not exactly invoking the park-the-bus nature of Greece, Japan know they do not possess the skill and flair of other teams and thus played a smart, safe and ultimately boring game. Their workrate was admirable and their win deserved, but few casual fans will have been converted by their brand of football. However, given recent incidents involving own goals and broken arms, at least Japan are making headlines for the right reasons.


Little is expected of the South Americans and although they didn’t excel, they took the game to Italy and fully deserved their point.



World Champions in name only. Make no mistake; this is not the same team that lifted the trophy in 2006. This should come as no surprise to Irish fans, given Ireland were unlucky to only draw with the Italians away and at home, but for others who didn’t follow their qualifying campaign it may have come as a shock to witness such a poor display from the champions.

Petulant and ponderous, Italy have a lot of work to do to improve their prospects. They shouldn’t be troubled by New Zealand or Slovakia, but stranger things have happened.


Suffocated by the Japanese, this is not the start that the Lions expected. Saturday’s game against Denmark is now a must-win showdown.

Simon Poulsen

You’ve just helped set up an own goal. Probably not the best idea to grin like a Cheshire cat.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Turn your phone to vibrate you fool!

Vuvuzela haters

Get used to it kids, that noise is here to stay.