Tag Archives: Yakubu

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.

Advertisements

Enyeama shines but cannot prevent Argentina victory

Argentina 1-0 Nigeria

Argentina’s quest to add to their World Cup victories in 1978 and 1986 got off to an ideal start with a victory against Nigeria. It was a frustrating display by the Albiceleste who outplayed the Super Eagles but were repeatedly thwarted by the efforts of Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

Enyeama produced several astonishing saves from a barrage of efforts from La Liga duo Gonzalo Higuaín and Lionel Messi, who shone on the World Cup stage. Coach Diego Maradona created a stir before the kick-off, naming a starting eleven featuring a front trio of Higuaín, Messi and Carlos Tevez. Jonás Gutierrez, the Newcastle United winger was named as the starting right-back.

The scene for today’s victory was Ellis Park, Johannesburg. The iconic stadium was the setting for scenes of great national unity for South Africa when Francois Pienaar was presented the Rugby World Cup by Nelson Mandela in 1995. Maradona’s Argentina looked suitably united for the stadium, as the Albiceleste seemed relaxed and jocular in the tunnel before the game. Any reports of unease within the Argentine camp appeared to be grossly exaggerated.

Argentina began brightly, Messi sparkling as he evaded the challenges of Nigerian defenders before curling a shot towards the top corner, forcing a sensational stop from Enyeama. Nigeria coach Lars Lagerbäck, whose Swedish sides were traditionally well versed in the art of defending set pieces, will have cursed his team’s defending from the ensuing corner. Juan Seba Verón’s cross finding Gabriel Heinze unmarked. The former Manchester United defender producing a marvellous header from deep to give Argentina the lead in the sixth minute.

Argentina looked supreme in possession but were not as convincing when forced to chase Nigeria. Jonás Gutierrez’s unfamiliarity with the right-back role was exposed recurrently by Ogbuke Obasi and Victor Obinna.

In spite of this defensive uncertainty, Argentina were unrelenting in their attempts to earn a second goal. The midfield, marshalled by captain Javier Mascherano and guided by Verón, were in fine form as they slowly created opportunities for the front three to flourish.

Messi brought more saves from Enyeama before Gonzalo Higuaín had perhaps the best chance of the first half, a beautifully weighted pass from Carlitos Tevez setting the Real Madrid striker through on goal. Higuaín was unable to beat Enyeama however and once more Argentina were thwarted before half-time.

Enyeama’s efforts will have undoubtedly attracted the attention of the many managers from Europe’s preeminent leagues who were in attendance at today’s game.

The early second half was paced almost identically to the first. Messi, at the heart of every chance created by his country, caught Taiwo out with a precise rolled pass to Verón who returned the ball expertly to his compatriot. Man of the match Enyeama once again rescuing his country with a fine save.

Lagerbäck’s side desperately needed an injection of verve. It looked to have come in the 51st minute when Vfl Wolfsburg’s Obafemi Martins replaced the persistently obstructed Victor Obinna. Nigeria admirably attempted to fight their way back into contention but failed to create meaningful opportunities as cross after cross sailed harmlessly through the penalty area.

The brilliant Verón was replaced by Maxi in the 73rd minute, Maradona perhaps seeking to bring some cover for Gutierrez on the right. Argentina continued to threaten but were incapable of finding away past Enyeama, whose display was surely the best seen in this year’s competition thus far.

The Super Eagles’ best chance at an undeserved draw came in the final ten minutes. A magnificent cross was pulled behind the aligned Argentine defenders. Unfortunately for Icechukwu Uche the ball bounced uncomfortably in front of him preventing him from finding the target.

As they match drew towards its conclusion Argentina failed to keep control of the football, with some reckless passing allowing Nigeria to break forward. Nigeria’s valiant efforts came to nothing as the Albiceleste held on to secure what could be a vital opening victory. They finish the day behind the Republic of Korea on goal difference, with the game between the two sides on the 17th of June poised to decide the winner of the group.

For Lars Lagerbäck there is much work to be done. He may take solace from the inspiring efforts of his goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama. If he can coax performances of similar quality from his outfield players then their World Cup journey may not be over yet.