Tag Archives: Soccer City

Germany beat Ghana to secure top spot

Germany 1-0 Ghana


Germany beat Ghana by a single goal in an enthralling contest in Soccer City. An unexpected win for Australia means that both teams progress to the Round of 16. Germany will now face England in what might prove to be the tie of the round, while Ghana will play Group C’s winners, the United States. In an entertaining match, both sides played for the win and created numerous chances. Mesut Özil, an early contender for player of the tournament, scored the crucial goal for Die Nationalmannschaft with a scintillating strike from just outside the penalty area.

Both teams, as they had displayed in their earlier games, played engaging, attacking football in the early stages. Both teams seemed eager to soak up pressure and unleash it back upon their opponents on the counterattack.

The best of the early opportunities came when Mesut Özil was played through on goal. The surging rush out by Richard Kingson smothered the Bremen midfielder’s shot before it could threaten his goal.

At the other end, Asamoah Gyan’s goalbound header was cleared off the line by German captain Philipp Lahm. Replays suggested that the Bayern München defender’s arm may have diverted the ball from it’s path but in any case it was accidental.

Tidy interplay between Thomas Müller and Sami Khedira allowed Cacau to get a volley away. Unfortunately for the Brazilian-born forward, his shot bounced into the arms of Richard Kingson in the Ghanian goal.

Ghana only needed a draw to progress but displayed plenty of vigorous intent in the first half but were unable to find a way past Manuel Neuer and his rigid defence.

The teams headed down the tunnel at the break with the scores somehow still locked at 0-0. Germany would need to be patient. They had looked menacing in the attacking third but had thus far been thwarted by a strong performance from the Mensahs, John and Jonathan as well as a much improved showing from Kingson.

The second half began with both teams showing the same offensive ambition. Asamoah was one-on-one with Neuer but failed to adequately control the bouncing ball and could only watch the Schalke 04 ‘keeper get his body in the way. The end to end marathon here was probably only bettered by the phenomenal duel at Wimbledon. Both sides taking turns to attack and break.

When it came, the breakthrough went Germany’s way. Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller exchanged tentative short passes before Müller, with his back to goal, turned and progressed with the football into the penalty area. He spotted Mesut Özil on the edge of the 18-yard box and slipped a pass back to the Werder Bremen midfielder. The ball bobbled and sat up perfectly for Özil, who unleashed a blistering shot into the top corner. Kingson, who had until then been exemplary, could only watch.

The goal put Ghana in a precarious situation. A goal for Serbia in the match at Nelspruit would doom their hopes of becoming the only African team to qualify past the group stages. News of a goal did come soon after Özil’s strike. However, it was the Soccerroos and Tim Cahill that were celebrating.

With the lead secure and Ghana still posing an accomplished threat to their goal, Germany were content to control possession and the flow of the game. Terrific spells of passing were instigated by Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger, whose transformation from pacy winger to a central-midfielder has been seamless. The importance of Schweinsteiger to Germany’s chances cannot be understated, which is why it was so worrying for German fans to see him limp from the field of play clutching at his thigh.

With Australia holding on to a 2-1 lead against Serbia, the game ended with both Germany and Ghana progressing. The results presented an accurate representation of the group. Ghana will now carry the hopes of the African continent as its sole representative in the knockout phase while Germany have reached the Second Round yet again.

England lie in wait for the Jogi Löw’s youthful squad. The German personnel will look at England’s performance today against Slovenia and have nothing to fear. It should make for an entertaining match. This talented German side will be boosted by the return of Miroslav Klose and could be on the verge of making an unexpected run into the latter part of this World Cup.

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Kaká sent off as Brazil rise to see off Côte d’Ivoire

Brazil 3-1 Côte d’Ivoire

Brazil took a commanding lead in Group G with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Sven-Göran Eriksson’s Côte d’Ivoire. Luís Fabiano of Sevilla was the hero for the Seleçao, notching the two opening goals. Galatasaray’s Elano added a third before Didier Drogba enkindled brief hopes of a comeback for the Elephants with a late consolation. A bad tempered second half saw numerous bookings, a repulsive tackle from Kader Keita on Michel Bastos and a potentially serious injury to Elano. The bearer of the famous number 10 shirt of Brazil, Kaká, was sent off in dubious fashion by Stephane Lannoy following a shameful deception by Kader Keita.

 

Many fans were disappointed with Brazil’s lack of penetration against North Korea in the opening game but there can be no such criticisms following their victory here. The Seleçao took full advantage of every opportunity presented to them by the Ivory Coast and took the lead in the 24th minute via a clinical finish from Luís Fabiano. Kaká has struggled for fitness and form this past season but will have been pleased to see his measured through pass lead to a goal. The Real Madrid midfielder’s pass was taken in stride by Luís Fabiano, who revealed tremendous concentration to slow the ball before clinically finishing into the top corner.

Didier Drogba and the Côte d’Ivoire were stunned by the goal. Prior to falling behind, the Ivorians had produced some high tempo movement and passing but were thwarted by their inability to secure that elusive final ‘killer’ pass.

Brazil slowly manhandled the Côte d’Ivoire out of the match and were unperturbed throughout the remainder of the first half.

 

Brazil doubled their lead just five minutes after the restart. Fabiano again the scorer, this time with an even more impressive effort. The Sevilla forward flicked the ball over the head of one defender, then another before controlling the ball with his shoulder and unleashing a half-volley towards goal. Boubacar Barry was helpless. It was a tremendous moment of artistry, one worthy of the coveted number 9 shirt inherited from such magicians as Ronaldo and Tostao.

Some will point to the replays and what appeared to be two debatable instances of handball but the moment of inspiration was certainly worthy of a goal. Luís Fabiano’s efforts had effectively ended the match as a footballing contest.

The introduction of Gervinho for the lamentable Aruna Dindane did imbue some vigor into the Ivorian side. His slipperiness and willingness to try and beat defenders was sorely missed in the first half.

Slow and steady became quick and expressive for Brazil around the hour mark. Wingback Maicon, the scorer of that impossible goal against North Korea, marauded down the right flank and found Robinho, who in turn laid off for Kaká. A shot soon followed but was safely slapped away by Barry. Do not mourn for Joga Bonito for it has endured. The efficiency of Dunga’s Brazil may sometimes mask the exuberant element to his side but moments of swift interchanging still surface and we were beginning to catch rare glimpses of it.

Brazil soon added to their advantage. Kaká was finally finding his form again, beating Tiené effortleslly before gliding a pass along the turf for Elano who diverted it into the net. In the process he registered his second goal of the tournament in as many games.

Elano will be thankful that he reinserted his shinguards after removing them in his goal celebration. The former Manchester City midfielder was brought from the field by stretcher following a nasty tackle. The match was quickly becoming ill-tempered.

Brazil continued to display flashes of excellence. One touch passing set Maicon on another jaunt into the Ivorian half, this time he thrilled the 84,000 in attendance with a perfectly executed nutmeg.

Tioté should have been dismissed by Stephane Lannoy following a horrific challenge on Michel Bastos, who himself was lucky that he was not seriously injured by the Tioté’s recklessness.

The Côte d’Ivoire had been poor at creating chances in both this match and their previous fixture with Portugal. They created their first goal of the tournament out from nowhere. Gervinho was in an expanse of space in the centre of the field. It was there that he decided to embark on a rampage past three Brazilian defenders before he ended up at the byline. The Lille player spotted Romaric’s late run towards the penalty area and offloaded. Romaric himself showing terrific awareness to loft the ball onto Didier Drogba’s head after his captain’s well timed run. Drogba headed home and returned the ball hurriedly to the centre-circle.

The heated second half culminated with the dismissal of Kaká for a second bookable offence. The Brazilian star backed into Kader Keita and appeared to have his elbow slightly elevated into the Ivorian’s chest making Keita’s writhing fall to the floor all the more dispicable. Keita covered his face, conning the referee’s assistant into believing that Kaká had violently lashed out at the Galatasaray winger.

An appeal will surely follow for Kaká. In any instance, missing a somewhat meaningless game against Portugal will be of no great harm to Brazil’s World Cup ambitions.

Albiceleste turn on the style to humble South Korea 4-1

The College View’s News Editor, Niall Farrell, witnessed Argentina produce one of the best performances seen so far in this World Cup. Diego Maradona’s side defeated South Korea 4-1 at the Soccer City stadium, Johannesburg.


From the outset, Argentina were firmly on the attack. The first real chance came after eight minutes, but Gonzalo Higuain’s fluffed shot drifted harmlessly over.

Within twenty minutes, Argentina had opened the scoring. A crossed ball was diverted into the South Korean net by Park Chu-Yung ahead of the on-rushing Martin Demichelis.

South Korea aimed to peg Argentina back immediately, as Ki Sung-Yeung shot narrowly over the Argentinean goal on the counter-attack.

Argentina’s accurate passing ensured that the Koreans didn’t have the ball for long though. Ángel Di María and Lionel Messi made probing runs down the flanks.

A free-kick from Carlos Tévez on twenty-eight minutes almost yielded a second goal for Argentina. Tévez struck a fine free-kick just inches over the crossbar.

The South Koreans had two more chances before the half-hour mark from Beom Seok-Oh and Chung Yong-Lee but neither came to any avail.

The attacking tactic employed by Argentina bore further fruits as Gonzalo Higuaín scored the second goal on thirty-three minutes.A free-kick on the left side of the South Korean penalty area was drifted in by Maxi Rodriguez, and Higuain at the far post was left to simply head the ball past Jung Sung-Ryong in goal for South Korea.

Five minutes before half time, Ángel Di María had a chance for a third Argentinean goal. After goalkeeper Jung could only parry a cross, Di María was left with the ball at his feet just ten yards from goal. The Benfica winger aimed the shot at the top-right corner of the Korean goal, but Jung pulled off an outstanding save to deny the Benfica winger his goal.

Just before the break, Lionel Messi almost scored what would have been one of the goals of the tournament. A superb run and pass from Carlos Tévez let Messi in to turn inside a defender and attempt an audacious chip on Jung from outside the box that fell just wide and over.

It looked like Argentina would be in a completely dominant position going into the second half, but a shock goal from South Korea on the stroke of half time put them back in contention.

Following a back-pass to Martin Demichelis that looked easy enough to deal with, Lee Chung-Young managed to steal the ball from the Bayern Munich defender after Demichelis took a bad first touch.

All that remained was an easy finish for Lee as he slotted the ball past Sergio Romero to make it 2-1.

The second half continued at the same high tempo, with Argentina aiming to play a more expansive game than they had before.

Lionel Messi had a half-chance directly after half time, as he dribbled his way into the box only to see his shot deflect away.

South Korean ‘keeper Jung had to pull off another outstanding save after a flowing trio of passes let Gonzalo Higuaín crack a close-range shot at the goal after fifty-two minutes.

A minute later Carlos Tévez cut inside from the left and blasted a low dipping shot at goal for Jung to save again.

Ki-Hung Yeom had a fantastic chance on fifty-seven minutes as South Korea began to break forward with more gusto. Yeom got on the end of the last in a series of quick Korean passes but could only shoot into the side-netting from an awkward angle. Both teams really started to play a more daring game after the hour mark. South Korea were on the lookout for a killer pass to find the equaliser but just weren’t lucky enough for the passes to connect.

The seventy-sixth minute saw a flurry of action, as a South Korean attack let Argentina counter and grab their third goal. Substitute Sergio Agüero released Lionel Messi, who streamed down the left flank and ghosted past two defenders before shooting.

Messi’s shot deflected right into the path of Higuaín, who only had to tap the ball into the net for his second goal.

Four minutes later, a similar move found Messi again on the left side of the Korean goal and Higuaín waiting at the far post. Messi chipped beautifully over the heads of the Korean defence for Higuaín to head in for his hat-trick.

Argentina closed out the game with yet more attacks, their attacking brilliance was a joy to watch. The Republic of Korea may look back and rue Ki-Hung Yeom’s missed opportunity early in the second half, the potential equaliser may well have changed the game.

The Albiceleste will secure qualification to the Round of 16 if Greece are defeated by Nigeria this afternoon. For South Korea, their World Cup future will now depend on finding a result against the Super Eagles on June 22.


More at nfsport.wordpress.com

World Cup Winners & Losers – Day 4

Winners

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.

Holland


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.

Japan


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.

Paraguay

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

Losers


Italy


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.

Cameroon

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.

Own goal gets Holland off the mark

It was not a vintage Oranje performance but Holland marked their entry into the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Denmark. Bert Van Marwijk’s side endured a difficult first half in which they failed to create many opportunities but were gifted the lead less than a minute into the second half courtesy of a Daniel Agger own goal. The Netherlands doubled their advantage in the 84th minute with Dirk Kuyt converting a rebound from Eleandro Elia’s effort.

The Dutch, characteristically, enjoyed the majority of the possession in the first half but seemed unable to break down a rugged Danish outfit. Opta’s statistics showed that they were only able to have control of the ball in the Danish penalty area three times before the interval.

The tedious nature of the game was emphasised by several rounds of Mexican waves that circled the pitch at Soccer City. The fans seeking some enjoyment in the beautiful weather in Johannesburg.

The best chance of the half fell to Denmark’s Nikklas Bendtner. The Arsenal striker faded off the shoulders of Mathijsen and Heitinga as he attempted to head goalwards. Denis Rommedahl’s cross reached him at an awkward height and the Arsenal striker’s attempt bounced harmlessly wide.

If Holland were to live up to their exciting reputation they would need to improve in the second half. The breakthrough came almost immediately. Van Persie whipped a cross in towards Dirk Kuyt but it was met by Simon Poulsen’s attempted clearance. The defender, who plays his football in the Dutch Eredivisie for AZ Alkmaar, turned his head too soon before meeting the ball. The ball rebounded off the back of his compatriot Daniel Agger and into the goal.

The goal did little to open up the game as chances remained scarce at either end and the game appeared to be petering out until Eljero Elia was brought on to replace Rafael Van der Vaart.

The twenty-three year old instantly lit up an otherwise dull encounter. He sprang an expertly performed turn to elude two encircling Danes before setting up Robin van Persie who failed to capitalise.

Elia was once again involved with yet more craftiness on the left-wing. The Hamburg winger sending in a challenging cross which eventually found its way to Mark van Bommel who crashed a shot towards Thomas Sørensen. The Danish goalkeeper equal to the effort.

Holland began to attack with more conviction in the latter stages. Wesley Sneijder’s long range attempt ricocheted off Agger and onto the crossbar.

In the 84th minute the Dutch finally claimed the second goal. Wesley Sneijder played an excellent pass through the Danish defence where Eljero Elia was poised to cap his cameo with a goal. He opened up expertly but his shot was denied by the post. Fortuitously it rolled into the path of Kuyt who applied the easiest of finishes.

South Africa 1-1 Mexico

South Africa were denied a dream start to the World Cup by a Rafael Marquez goal just over ten minutes before full time. South Africa had taken the lead courtesy of a thunderous strike from Siphiwe Tshabalala in the 58th minute.

We are finally underway. The hosts battled well from the latter stages of the first half and deserved a draw but may perhaps rue Katlego Mphela’s last minute effort which rebounded away off the upright. They were given the lead courtesy of an early contender for goal of the tournament from Siphiwe Tshabalala. Unfortunately for the 88,000 in attendance, the lax defending which Mexico failed to take advantage of in the first half was to undo their hopes of an historic victory.

Mexico started the game the brighter, dominating possession and setting about creating chances both along the ground and through the air to Guillermo Franco, who perhaps should have scored had he been more precise in the air.

If the enormity of the occassion was affecting Bafana Bafana then goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was not showing it. He displayed fantastic reflexes to deny Franco from close range when the striker was played through on goal by a delightful pass from Arsenal’s Carlos Vela.

Vela looked to have opened the scoring at the first ever African World Cup but his goal was rightly disallowed by the referee’s assistant. The linesman demonstration great presence of mind to spot Vela in an offside position beyond the goalkeeper following a flick on from the corner. Khune embarrassingly misjudging his attempt at a punch clear.

The incident seemed to energise South Africa. As the first half drew to a conclusion Pienaar and Modise began to create rhythm in the South African midfield, before releasing Siphiwe Tshabalala on the left whose cross was narrowly missed by the outstretched Mphela.

After the interval South Africa began to assert an air of dominance and were rewarded in the 55th minute. An exquisite long pass from the deep-lying Katlego Mphela was controlled by Tshabalala before he unleashed a shot from the edge of the penalty area, flying past Oscar Pérez and into the top corner.

South Africa looked set for a glorious day when five minutes later Khune produced another outstanding parry, this time preventing the industrious Giovanni dos Santos from equalizing.

Aguirre played his gambit soon after, introducing veteran attacker Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez in an attempt to wrest control of the game from Carlos Alberto Parreira’s side.

Mexico finally capitalised on slack South African defending from crosses in the 78th minute. Andrés Guardado, who was once again left out of the starting lineup by Javier Aguirre launched a deep cross into the South African penalty area where three Mexicans were waiting to pounce. The ball fell to Barcelona’s Rafael Marquez whose discipline allowed him to take a delicate controlling touch before finishing past the helpless Khune.

The near-constant hum of the vuvuzelas from the 88,000 in attendance instantly silenced.

South Africa nearly achieved one of the greatest results in their history when Khune’s long kick was brought down by Katlego Mphela in the 90th minute. Mphela, Mamelodi Sundowns’ star striker, held-off the challenge of the Mexican defence and slotted the ball beyond the advancing Pérez and onto the post.

Some members of Bafana Bafana were visibly disappointed at the final whistle. Itumeleng Khune and goalscorer Tshabalala among the many wondering what might have been. For the fans, however, the joyful atmosphere supplanted any regrets.

They will no doubt be following Uruguay versus France this evening closely with the intention of going one better than they have against Javier Aguirre’s Mexico.

South Africa 1-1 Mexico

Ke Nako – It Is Time

South Africa v Mexico

Venue: Soccer City, Johannesburg

Date: Friday, 11 June

Time: 15.00 BST (16.00 local)

The hosts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup enter the tournament’s opening fixture buoyed by recent performances and by the unbridled devotion offered to them by the South African public. Hoping to upset the party will be Javier Aguirre’s Mexico, a side with a strong recent World Cup history and players of genuine pedigree.

When the draw for the World Cup was made the instant reaction was that South Africa would become the first World Cup hosts to fail to progress from the Group Stage. Placed in Group A alongside France (winners of the 1998 World Cup), Uruguay (winners in 1930 and 1950) and tomorrow’s opponents Mexico, many believed that South Africa would struggle to muster even a single point.

That belief, potentially a correct one, still exists in some quarters. However, Bafana Bafana, guided by former World Cup winning coach Carlos Alberto Parreira come into Friday’s game unbeaten in twelve fixtures, a run stretching back to October 2009. The same pessimism greeted South Africa’s participation in the last summer’s Confederations Cup where they narrowly missed out on Third Place. If South Africa are to enjoy another successful international tournament then achieving a result against a talented Mexican side is an essential prerequisite.

Mexico should prove to be a formidable opposition for the hosts. So adept at controlling possession and tempo, El Tri would

usually look to release their pacy wingers Andrés Guardado and Giovanni dos Santos in a bid to terrorise the South African full-backs. However, Javier Aguirre has surprised many with his selections in recent international friendlies. He has left out Guardado of Deportivo la Coruña, wily veteran Cuauhtémoc Blanco and coveted goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa with varying consequences. The uncertainty surrounding the lineup perhaps revealing that Aguirre is not entirely convinced that El Tri can win games at the World Cup in their conventional 4-4-2/4-3-3 setup.

For all of their skill and competence with the football, Mexico must improve their cutting edge. Against England, they dominated a potential World Cup winning side but were unable to capitalise, losing 3-1. In qualifying, six players were equal top scorers with three goals each.

South Africa have suffered problems with strikers as well. The omission of West Ham United’s Benni McCarthy was not a popular decision. Without a recognisable goal scorer, South Africa will struggle to win the one game that is usually required to qualify for the Round of 16. Step forward, Katlego Mphela. Four goals in three games for the Mamelodi Sundowns striker including goals against strong Columbia and Denmark sides has relaxed criticism of the ponderous decision to leave McCarthy out.

Despite this, Mexico are still favourites for this opening encounter. Under normal circumstances, Mexico should and probably would win this match. These are not normal circumstances. Bafana Bafana have united the Rainbow Nation. When the two teams emerge from the tunnel at Soccer City they will be met with one of the most impassioned crowds yet witnessed at a World Cup. Vuvuzelas, hard-hats, altitude and up to 90,000 fans combined will make any fixture against Parreira’s side a challenge even before kick-off.

This match will tell us a lot about the balance of power in Group A. Should Mexico overwhelm South Africa en route to a comfortable victory then they will be favourites for a place in the Round of 16. If they are stifled by the raucous atmosphere and the combative nature of captain Aaron Mokoena and his side and draw then all attention will refocus on Mexico v Uruguay. If, however, South Africa are able to pull off an upset and win, then there is a genuine opportunity for the host nation to avoid breaking precedent and progress to the next round.

That is the aim of Carlos Alberto Parreira, who informed the media that people must fear his side.

“Everybody has to respect us. We are ready to fight. We respect everybody, but they must also respect us. We will take every game as a final. We will fight in every game.”

Prediction – South Africa 1-2 Mexico