Tag Archives: Rehhagel

Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Day 12

Winners

The Irish

Although it is somewhat bittersweet. It’s quite something to almost (and I do mean almost) feel sorry for the Irish media sponsored “Ireland’s nemesis” but once the dust had settled, there was something rather depressing about seeing such world class talent go to waste.

While many generous observers believed that Ireland would easily escape Group A, the reality may have been much different. What we can be sure of though, is that Ireland would have given everything they had in the process. That France poured salt on the wound by lying down and dying is the bigger insult. That said, you would hard pressed to find an Irishman who is upset at their failure, and despite my attempt at seeing it from both sides of the coin, I am not one of them.

Argentina

82% possession in the game, a 100% record in the group and a tie they will fancy against Mexico in the next round. Job done.

Diego Maradona

Credit where it’s due. While the group may not have been terribly challenging, Argentina were extraordinarily poor in qualifying. This is where it really counts though and while other fancied nations are self-destructing, Diego is steering the ship comfortably. For now.

Martin Palermo

A lovely and deserved moment for Saint Martin.

Uruguay

In the end deserving winners of a tight group. Finishing at the summit means they will avoid Argentina and take the (potentially) easier route through Greece.

Mexico

Goal difference keeps them in it, but Diego’s men are waiting. A repeat of the excellent 2006 second round clash which went 120 minutes and was won in fine style by one of the goals of the tournament courtesy of Maxi Rodriguez, is welcome stuff.

South Korea

By the skin of their teeth. It’s nice to see a good footballing team progress at the expense of Greece.

South Africa

Although they become the first host nation in history not to see the second round, Bafana Bafana (Whatever will ITV say now?) brought entertainment, pride and team spirit to their games, winning over many new fans in the process. A famous victory against a disgraceful French side will do little to cushion the blow of bowing out at the group stage, but there should be no shame in the South African camp.

Darragh Maloney

In reference to Patrice Evra’s now-infamous “I’ll give the Irish a replay…on my Playstation” quote, the future Bill O’Herlihy remarked; “He’ll have plenty of time to play with his Playstation now.” Sick burn Darragh, sick burn.

Adrian Chiles

Even ITV stuck the boot in as Chiles exclaimed: “As we say goodbye to two more teams from the 2010 World Cup, one of them will be sadly missed; the other, well, in all honesty, won’t be.” Zing.

Losers


France

What goes around comes around and other such clichés. In truth, this team were beaten before a ball was kicked. The message from the French players’ faces and body language was clear; “I want to go home”. Nicolas Anelka couldn’t keep the smile off his face when confronted by reporters and photographers after being sent home in disgrace. His verbal condemnation of the manager likely echoed the thoughts of the majority of the French dressing room.

The story of France’s World Cup campaign is a fascinating one that some of the best Hollywood scribes would fail to better. From the villainous method of their qualification to the mutinous players to an exit laced with apathy and self-contempt, Les Bleus have shown their true colours, making a disgraceful embarrassment of themselves in the process.

This is a broken team and incoming manager Laurent Blanc has the biggest and most challenging task of his life on his hands.

Raymond Domenech

Standing in the centre-circle, arms-folded and staring into space, Domenech looked like a lost man surveying the damage following a lengthy and bloody battle. However, when the soon-to-be-former French manager took up his stance on the halfway line, the game had yet to even kick off.

90 minutes later his team (or rather what was left of them) were out of the World Cup and Domenech cemented his legacy as both a fool and poor loser when he refused to shake the extended hand of South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. While both men had managed their last game in South Africa 2010, the gulf in class between them was shown to the entire world.

Domenech had announced that he would step down after the tournament whatever happened, so there will be no axe to fear, but the mystery remains as to just how he remained in the job for so long. It’s a fitting tribute that he leaves France rooted to the bottom of their group in a World Cup finals for the second time in eight years. Guess it was written in the stars. Au revoir Raymond, please disappear into obscurity.

Greece

Guess Nigeria was a one-off then. More horrible anti-football from the masters. Good riddance.

Nigeria

Worked hard but never really got going.

Yakubu

I would have scored that.

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Sani Kaita red card is the catalyst for Greek revival

Greece 2-1 Nigeria

A moment of madness from Nigerian midfielder Sani Kaita gave Greece the ideal platform to mount a comeback against Lars Lagerbäck’s side.

Following Argentina’s earlier 4-1 victory over the Republic of Korea, both sides were in desperate need of a victory to keep their chances of qualification for the next round intact. Despite the pressing need to win, neither side looked likely to threaten in the early stages. Greece’s Katsouranis tried a speculative chip from near the halfway line but his effort was easily saved by Vincent Enyeama, whose performance against Argentina had impressed the footballing world.

Nigeria took the lead in the 16th minute. An inswinging freekick from Kalu Uche eluded an attempted header from Peter Odimwingie before finding its way into the Greek net. Goalkeeper Alexandros Tsorvas was clearly expecting Odimwingie to make contact with Uche’s freekick as he dived away from the cross. Greece were facing an early exit from the World Cup.

Nigeria looked comfortable in the lead. Otto Rehhagel’s side, as they were against South Korea, were reduced to punting long balls forward into their opponents penalty area. These poor passes posed no problems for the Nigerian central defenders, Danny Shittu and Joseph Yobo, who headed each of them away with ease.

The game’s pivotal moment arrived in the 33rd minute. Torosidis and Kaita jostled for the ball after it had gone out for a through in with the latter aiming a kick at the Greek’s thigh. Torosidis collapsed to the floor clutching his face in a shameful attempt to capture the referee’s attention. Despite Torosidis’ clear overreaction, Kaita deserved the subsequent red card. The AS Monaco midfielder could hardly believe it, falling to his knees as the referee produced the card before trudging from the field with his shirt covering his face.

Rehhagel sensed that his side’s chance had arrived. He almost instantly summoned Georgios Samaras from the bench, the Celtic striker replacing Papastathapolous.

Nigeria’s players were visibly rattled by the dismissal of their talented midfielder. Greece on the other hand were buoyant. Far from their uninspired ‘Route One’ football that they had displayed at this World Cup until then, they played sublime high tempo passes along the ground. Salpigidis almost benefited from this newly acquired lust for goals and was played through on goal. He was unable to shoot past the onrushing Vincent Enyeama who was once again the hero for Nigeria, producing a wonderful save.

The Maccabi Haifa ‘keeper was powerless to prevent the inevitable equaliser however. Salpigidis, who had shown some effectiveness after coming on as a substitute against South Korea, fired a low shot towards the bottom right corner. On its path to goal it was deflected by Haruna and ended up high to the left of Enyeama. Salpigidis wheeled away with his teammates as they celebrated Greece’s first ever World Cup goal.

The half time whistle was welcomed by the Super Eagles who huddled on the pitch before jogging purposefully towards the tunnel. Lars Lagerbäck had the difficult task of re-organising his unnerved side.

The Swedish coach’s team talk clearly had little effect on his side as the pattern of the second half bore a vivid resemblance to that of the first. Greece, perhaps out of character, controlled possession for long spells and always seemed the more likely to score the goal that would separate the teams.

Nigeria suffered another blow in the 55th minute. Talented fullback Taye Taiwo pulled his groin as struck an overhit cross into the Greek penalty area. The Marseille stalwart’s combination of defensive knowhow and his intrinsic athletic ability were sorely missed by the Super Eagles over the following 35 minutes or so.

Shittu and Yobo remained steadfast in their defiance of repeated Greek attacks. The corner count was rising rapidly as cross after cross was headed away confidently by the Premier League duo. Yobo was culpable for what proved to be one of the match’s decisive moments, however. His failed attempt at a clearing header fell to Gekas. The superb Enyeama prevented the striker from scoring with an outstanding save with his feat. From the save the ball was pumped forward and Nigeria found themselves in an attacking position with Yakubu Aiyegbeni in a one on one situation with Tsorvas. The Greek goalkeeper matched his Nigerian counterpart’s efforts with a magnificent parry. His block looked to be in vain as it dropped into the path of Chinedu Obasi. Obasi rounding off a tremendously exciting passage of play with a horrific miss from six yards, one which may yet rank as the worst of the tournament.

Enyeama was once again the pillar on which Nigeria’s hopes lay. He produced perhaps his best save of the competition to date as he flew across his goalmouth to deny a header from Gekas.

For all of his wonderful goalkeeping the Nigerian goalkeeper was culpable for Greece’s second and what proved to be the critical goal. A low shot from the edge of the penalty area swerved at the last possible moment and Enyeama failed to adjust his body to meet it firmly. The ball rolled into the path of Torosidis who dispatched the winning goal and prompted an ecstatic reaction from both the crowd and the Greek substitutes.

Enyeama protested the referee’s decision to allow the goal as Yobo was injured in the build-up after clashing heads with Samaras. His complaints went unheeded.

Greece continued to dominate in the closing stages. Nigeria’s best chance at an unlikely equaliser fell to Everton’s Yakubu who curled a shot just to the left of Tsorvas’ goal.

Criticisms of Lars Lagerbäck proved to be valid. The Swedish coach did little to console his side after the fatal dismissal of Kaita. His failure to readjust his formation accordingly was capitalised on by Otto Rehhagel, who had contended that his side would play attractive football if Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta were amongst the members of his squad. His side may not have produced a display of the same calibre as Argentina’s earlier today but the exertions of his squad and their gritty determination to overturn Nigeria were commendable.

Nigeria must now beat the Republic of Korea and hope that Argentina beat Greece for the Super Eagles to have any chance of reaching the Round of 16.