Tuesday, 22 June 2010

NGA v SKO (1930 GMT)

22/06/2010 Venue: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban Att: 61874

Starting Line up

Nigeria: Vincent Enyeama (Y); Chidi Odiah, Danny Shittu, Joseph Yobo (Echiejile, 46), Rabiu Afolabi, Kalu Uche, Dickson Etuhu, Yussuf Ayila (Y), Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Obinna, 70), Chinedu Obasi, Nwankwo Kanu (Martins, 57).

South Korea: Jung Sung-ryong; Cha Doo-ri, Lee Young-pyo, Cho Yong-hyung, Lee Jung-soo, Kim Jung-woo, Ki Sung-yong (Kim Jae-sung, 86), Park Ji-sung, Lee Chung-yong, Park Chu-young (Kim Dong-jin, 90+3), Yeom Ki-hun (Kim Nam-il, 63).

Referee: Olegario Benquerenca (Portugal)

After getting smashed by Argentina, their manager Huh Jung-moo was under scrutiny playing Oh Beum-Seok over Cha Du-ri and they were correct to say so as most of Argentina's attack broke from right-flank. He changed it back to Cha prior to Nigeria match, acknowledging his performance was below par. Other than that change, he putted same side for this match

Nigeria were unlucky to face the exit. Having played well for half an hour against Greece, they fall apart after Sani Kaita stupidly sent off by being petulant. Defeat against Greece put them in difficult circumstance to qualify to next round but it seemed possible against defensively vulnerable Korean side.

Game started brightly from both side as they couldn't just rely on Argentina to beat Greece. Within first minute, South Korea had half-chance but Lee Chung-yong couldn't direct the ball towards the goal. Early chance gone begging.

Later on Nigeria took the charge in midfield and began to out-muscled them in the area. Eventually, their possession was paid off with goal on 12th minute, when Uche converts Odiah's fine cross. 1-0 Nigeria and pressure was on to South Korean side.

Nigeria continued to charge to get more goal in case of goal difference but their defensive lapse let them down yet against when they needlessly gave out free-kick, which was headed and kicked in by South Korean defender, Lee Jung-soo. 1-1 and all to play for in the second half.

Second half began exactly how Korean wanted it. They were awarded a free kick yet again, which was within right-foot of Park Chu-young's range. He curled it round the keeper. Enyeama wrong stepped and ball went in. Advantage South Korea.

But the lead didn't last long, when their veteran midfielder Kim Nam-il foolishly gave away a penalty by hacking Chinedu Obasi directly in front of referee's eye. It was moment for Yakubu to redeem himself, after missing a sitter just moments ago and he slotted in with ease.

Later on the match, it was all Nigeria as South Korea tried to lock the game down by playing 4-5-1 but they almost got caught out by Victor Obinna with fierce shot from range and Obafemi Martins with dangerous run into the box. Fortunately, none of them gone in and successfully went through to second round. FT: 2-2

Nigeria v South Korea

FRA v RSA (1500 GMT)

22/06/2010 Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein Ref: Oscar Ruiz (COL) Att: 39415

Starting Line up
France: 1-Hugo Lloris; 2-Bacary Sagna, 5-William Gallas, 17-Sebastien Squillaci, 22-Gael Clichy; 18-Alou Diarra (Govou, 82), 19-Abou Diaby (Y), 8-Yoan Gourcuff (R), 7-Franck Ribery; 11-Andre-Pierre Gignac (Malouda, 46), 9-Djibril Cisse (Henry, 55).
South Africa: 1-Moeneeb Josephs; 5-Anele Ngcongoa (Gaxa, 55), 20-Bongani Khumalo, 4-Aaron Mokoena, 3-Tsepo Masilela, 6-MacBeth Sibaya, 23-Thanduyise Khuboni (Modise, 78), 10-Steven Pienaar, 8-Siphiwe Tshabalala, 9-Katlego Mphela, 17-Bernard Parker (Nomvethe, 68).

France were in total disarray prior to crunch game against South Africa. Anelka sent back to France, players on strike and rift between squad and French FA meant they weren't ready to play any sort of match, even it was the team that well below in FIFA ranking. South Africa, on the other hand, had their pride on stake, after losing against Uruguay and fired up to play against this dispirited side.

At the start of match, France were much more brighter side. With Yoann Gourcuff in correction position, they seemed to move ball rather well, considering not training before the match. But the deadlock broke, when French defence collapsed once again and it was Bongani Khumalo with header that put Bafana Bafana ahead. France's night then went bad to worse as Gourcuff was harshly sent off by using his arm. Replay showed no malice.

Minutes later, in came second goal. French defence was all over the place and Katlego Mphela benefited from it. 2-0 and it was Au Revoir to their twelve years of wonderful era of so-called Art Soccer. Franck Ribery had late chance to put one back before the interval but his shot was far too high. HT: 2-0

After knowing Mexico was losing against Uruguay, South Africa started the second half with more attack-minded and it almost got paid when Mphela found himself unmarked in French penalty box but his shot only hit top of bar. Since then, South Africa seemed to lose their concentration and introduction of Florent Malouda in the second half livened up France a bit and it was him who ended their dream of qualifying in 70th minute when he scored in front of empty net. Although South Africa continued to work hard to find another goal, in the end they lacked quality to find another one. Sad ending for the host nation. FT: 2-1

MEX v URU (1500 GMT)

22/06/2010 Venue: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg Ref: Viktor Kassai (HUN) Att: 33425

Starting Line up
Mexico: 1-Oscar Perez; 5-Ricardo Osorio, 15-Hector Moreno (Castro, 57 (Y)), 2-Francisco Rodriguez, 3-Carlos Salcido, 18-Andres Guardado (Barrera, 46), 4-Rafael Marquez, 6-Gerardo Torrado, 17-Giovani Dos Santos, 9-Guillermo Franco, 10-Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Hernandez, 63 (Y)).
Uruguay: 1-Fernando Muslera; 2-Diego Lugano, 6-Mauricio Victorino, 4-Jorge Fucile (Y), 16-Maximiliano Pereira, 15-Diego Perez, 17-Egidio Arevalo, 7-Edinson Cavani, 11-Alvaro Pereira (Scotti, 76), 9-Luis Suarez (A. Fernandez, 85), 10-Diego Forlan.

Having known draw will send both side through to the second round, I really could not careless about this match and considering how poor South Africa were against Uruguay, Mexican's qualification to next round seemed to be guaranteed, certainly starting 37 year-old veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco shows their attitude towards this match.

However, the match was quite entertaining as they played some thrilling attacking football. With Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan continuously threatened Mexican defence, Mexico also pressured Uruguayan defence with Andres Guardado and Giovani Dos Santos. The closest Mexican came to score was in 23rd minute when Guardado took a shot from 40 yard out. Unfortunately his effort only found top of bar and game went on with no in particular in possession. Just before the half time, however, Uruguay had their golden chance, when Edinson Cavani's cross found Luis Suarez in the box. No Mexican defenders marked him and Suarez's header found back of Mexican net. 1-0 and it was the end of the first half. HT: 0-1

Second half, Mexico became more urgent, as they heard the news of South Africa leading France by 2-0. However, Mexico were somewhat less organised than last match against France and with continuous misplacing pass and wrong shot-selection, they struggled to break Uruguayan defence. Even when the chance came to Francisco Rodriguez, his head couldn't direct the ball to their net. Fortunately, France scored in the second half and it meant Mexico didn't need to risk to attack and after meaningless contest, it was Uruguay that finished first in the group, avoiding probable Group B winner Argentina. FT: 0-1

Monday, 21 June 2010

ESP v HON (1930 GMT)

21/06/2010 Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg Ref: Yuichi Nishimura (JPN) Att: 54386

Starting Line up
Spain: 1-Iker Casillas; 15-Sergio Ramos (Arbeloa, 76), 3-Gerard Pique, 5-Carles Puyol, 11-Joan Capdevila; 22-Jesus Navas, 14-Xabi Alonso, 8-Xavi (Fabregas, 65), 16-Sergio Busquets; 9-Fernando Torres (Mata, 70), 7-David Villa.
Honduras: 18-Noel Valladares; 23-Sergio Mendoza, 2-Osman Chavez, 3-Maynor Figueroa, 21-Emilio Izaguirre (Y); 19-Danilo Turcios (Y) (Nunez, 63), 8-Wilson Palacios, 20-Amado Guevara, 13-Roger Espinoza (Welcome, 45); 15-Walter Martinez; 11-David Suazo.(J, Palacios, 84)

Iker Casillas

It was a big shock to me when Spain lost against Switzerland last week. Well, not they lost the match but how they lost the match really surprised me. With no Torres inside the box, they tried stupidly tried crosses that wouldn't be headed by any Spanish player and when they realised that didn't work, they seemed to be no alternative plan. This is focused on one thing: was the last match just a blip? Or are they choking in a major tournament once again?

We all knew how game will be played before the kick off: Spain will dominate the possession and Honduras will aim counter attack. Question is whether Spain could benefit from majority of possession. When the first half started, however, they looked different from last game, as Spain had more purpose and desire on attack and their passes were much more meaningful and direct than before. Within seven minute, they could've broken the deadlock by Villa's long range effort. Although his effort only hit the bar, I could sense that goal will come eventually and it was 17th minute when Villa single-handedly score by dodging three Honduras defenders. 1-0 and game was well and truly over. Spain continued to dominate and with Torres and Villa constantly threatening, Honduras could not get a player up front and that's how the first half ended. HT: 1-0

Second half wasn't much different, as Spain continue to dominate in possession. Although Honduras tried to change the game by introducing George Welcome, they couldn't do any attacking with limited amount of possession. Spain yet again scored and it was Villa once again and this time, it was a curler from outside the Honduras penalty box. Later on, Villa could've hat-trick by scoring penalty, given by challenge on Jesus Navas, but he failed to convert it, failing to close the gap on Raul's goal scoring record of 44 goals. The match continued with Spanish Tika Taka and without any Honduras attacking threats, the game finished in disappointing manner. FT 2-0

CHI v SUI (1500 GMT)

21/06/2010 Venue: Nelson Mandela Stadium, Port Elizabeth Ref: Khalil Al Ghamdi (KSA) Att: 34872

Starting Line up
Chile: Claudio Bravo, Waldo Ponce (Y), Mauricio Isla, Carlos Carmona (Y), Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal (Gonzalez, 46), Humberto Suazo (Y) (Valdivia, 46 (Y)), Matias Fernandez (Y) (Paredes, 64), Jean Beausejour, Gary Medel (Y), Gonzalo Jara.
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Stephane Grichting, Steve Von Bergen, Reto Ziegler; Valon Behrami (R), Gokhan Inler (Y), Benjamin Huggel, Gelson Fernandes (Bunjaku, 77); Alexander Frei (Barnetta, 42 (Y)), Blaise Nkufo (Y) (Derdiyok, 68).

With Chile's first win in 48 years at the World Cup the moral was high amongst their player. The win came from their developing youth talent such as Alexis Sanchez, who finished third in Under-20 World Cup in 2007. They face another surprising package, Switzerland, who beat the tournament favourite Spain in their first match. Both sides were in ascendency before this clash and I expected much great match from both sides.

Sadly, it wasn't so. While Chile continuously threatening both wing of Switzerland, they were waiting for their moment to counter. The match itself was exciting and end-to-end stuff. Problem was whistle-loving referee. From the very beginning of match, he lashed out cautions in numerous occasion, resulting four yellow cards and one red. But send off was fully justified, as Behrami slung his arm twice against opposition. After Behrami got sent off, match tilted towards Chile but after some half chances, they couldn't convert any of them into a goal. HT: 0-0

Trend of booking continued as players became more reckless on tackling and challenge. Apart from bookings, Chile actually put decent performance in second half. Sanchez and Valvidia with good chances in early second half made sure Switzerland to get pushed back. Eventually, their work was awarded, as head of Mark Gonzalez, with help of Valdivia's cross found back of Swiss net. Switzerland came close though in the last minute but Eren Derdiyok side-footed effort went wide - their only meaningful shot of match. Nine bookings and one sending off. Thanks ref! FT 1-0

POR v PRK (1230 GMT)

21/06/2010 Venue: Green Point Stadium, Cape Town Ref: Pablo Pozo (CHI) Att: 63644

Starting Line up

Portugal: Eduardo, Bruno Alves, Miguel Brito, Ricardo Carvalho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pedro Mendes (Y), Hugo Almeida (Y) (Liedson, 77), Simao Sabrosa (Duda, 74), Raul Meireles (Veloso, 70), Tiago, Fabio Coentrao.

North Korea: Ri Myong-guk, Cha Jong-hyok (Nam Song-Chol, 75), Pak Nam-chol (K-I Kim, 58), Ri Kwang-chon, Ji Yun-nam, Hong Yong-jo (Y), Mun In-guk (Kim Yong-jun, 58), Pak Chol-jin (Y), Ri Jun-il, An Yong-hak, Jong Tae-se

This match looked so one-sided by just looking at the FIFA ranking. Portugal are in third in the ranking, whereas North Korea are sitting on 105th. But after their heroic first half against Brazil, they proved their odds wrong and made concern Portugal on their opponent, especially after their lacklustre performance against Ivory Coast.

Match started in high tempo, as North Korea seemed more attacking minded then last match against Brazil. However, it was Portugal, who threatened to score first. Little lapse of concentration in North Korea defence let Ricardo Carvalho for free header near 6 yard box, which only found the post. This didn't deter North Koreans to go forward though, as Cha Jong-hyok's thunderous drive from 30 yards scared Portuguese side momentarily. Unfortunately, North Korean defence didn't pay off, as moment of magic from Portugal broke well-drilled North Korean defence. Raul Meireles finish their move. Since first goal went in, North Korea seemed to lose their way to play the game and with not many chances falling for Portugal, first half came to end. HT: 1-0

Second half began with Portugal charging front. Tiago's shot inside first minute of second half was only a warning to incoming goals near future. They began to rip North Korean defence wide open from 53rd minute, they managed to score three goals within seven minutes, Simao, Almeida and Tiago the scorers. Blistering pace from Ronaldo sat Tiago's goal and almost scored for himself too but his shot only found top of the bar. North Korea tried to hit back after several substitutions. But this was no use as Portugal scored three more, without much effort put into it. Liedson, Ronaldo and Tiago were the scorers and special goal for Ronaldo as he ended his two years international goal drought. Deserved win by Portugal in the end. FT 7-0

Sunday, 20 June 2010

BRA v CIV (1930 GMT)

20/06/2010 Venue: Soccer City, Johannesburg Ref: Stephane Lannoy (FRA) Att: 84455

Starting Line up
Brazil: 1-Julio Cesar; 2-Maicon, 3-Lucio, 4-Juan, 6-Michel Bastos, 5-Felipe Melo, 8-Gilberto Silva, 7-Elano (Alves, 69), 10-Kaka (2Y), 11-Robinho, 9-Luis Fabiano.
Ivory Coast: 1-Boubacar Barry; 21-Emmanuel Eboue (Romaric, 72), 4-Kolo Toure, 20-Guy Demel, 17-Siaka Tiene (Y), 5-Didier Zokora, 19-Yaya Toure, 9-Cheik Tiote (Y), 8-Salomon Kalou (Keita, 68 Y), 11-Didier Drogba, 15-Aruna Dindane (Gervinho, 54).

Brazil's first victory was not easy as expected. After drawing first half against North Korea, some expected a shocking result is on the way. However, as Zonal Marking pointed out the goals were coming slowly but surely to Brazil. 2-1 was not bad result against counter-attacking team like North Korea and with Robinho starting to player as we expected to play, they were only getting stronger day by day.

World Cup in Africa did not give much help to African teams so far. Recording only a single win out of 11 matches, it made me question their World Cup preparation. Ivory Coast were no exception. Although they were without Drogba, I expected more than 0-0 from the team with full of talented players, like Dindane and Toure brothers. Pressure on Sven!

The match started brightly as Brazil broke in to Ivory Coast's territory a few minute after kick-off but Robinho could not neither target nor his man on the flank. From that point onwards, literally nothing happened. Many misplaced passes and bad ball control dominated opening 25 minutes of the match.

But suddenly, a goal. All of a sudden, Brazil pressed on and with through-ball of Kaka, Luis Fabiano blasted past Ivory Coast keeper, Boubacar Barry. 1-0 and I thought the match will open up but how wrong was I.

After conceding goal, Sven and his players continue to play in dull fashion. No reaction from Ivory Coast and with Brazil in possession, Ivory couldn't do much. Only valid effort came from Emmanuel Eboue but his shot was off the target HT: 1-0

2nd Half began well for Brazil and within 5 minutes, they scored another goal, courtesy of two Fabiano's handball. However, introduction of Gervinho from Ivory Coast made the match more tasty, as the Elephants put some pressure on Brazilian defence. Did they score? Nope. It was Brazil once again with Kaka and Elano's brilliance. Ivory Coast eventually hit back though and it was Drogba with guiding header but it was too little too late from Ivory Coast and Drogba.

In latter stage of match, things got ugly as Kaka and Kader Keita continue to shove each other in several occasion. Eventually, in the 90th minute, Kaka was sent off but debating point still remains as Keita acted, like Rivaldo in 2002, to get Kaka to red-carded. FT 3-1

ITA v NZL (1500 GMT)

20/6/2010 Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit Ref: Carlos Batres (GUA) Att: 38229

Starting Line up
Italy: 12-Federico Marchetti 19-Gianluca Zambrotta, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 4-Giorgio Chiellini, 3-Domenico Criscito, 22-Riccardo Montolivo, 6-Daniele De Rossi, 15-Claudio Marchisio (Pazzini, 61), 9-Vincenzo Iaquinta, 7-Simone Pepe (Camoranesi, 46), 11-Alberto Gilardino (Di Natale, 46).
New Zealand: 1-Mark Paston; 4-Winston Reid, 6-Ryan Nelsen, 5-Ivan Vicelich (Christie, 80), 19-Tommy Smith, 3-Tony Lochhead, 11-Leo Bertos, 7-Simon Elliot, 10-Chris Killen (Barron, 90+2), 14-Rory Fallon (Wood, 62), 9-Shane Smeltz.

After indifferent performance against Paraguay, Italian became more pessimistic over their World Cup campaign. To make the matter worse, Buffon became latest member of World Cup injury list, which made Italian defence even more disorganised.

Following their heroic performance against Slovakia, New Zealanders' team moral could not have been higher. With no major injury before this match, they were ready to do all again, just like last game and against unsettled Italian side, they have every chance to get a point again.

Match started with Italian domination. With De Rossi, Montolivo and Marchisio in the central midfield, New Zealand had no chance of matching against them. However, in the seventh minute, miracle occurred as Shane Smeltz from Gold Coast United scored against reigning world champion. Although it was offside (inconclusive whether Winston Reid touched it or not) but it was goal that shocked the world and woken up the Italians to attack. From that goal onwards, New Zealand half was bombarded by Italian players and as pressure piling on New Zealand defence, more desperate they got.

After Montolivo hitting the post, eventually, in the 29th minute, penalty was given by shirt pulling. After several delay, Iaquinta scored and Italy was relieved over defeat. They continued to press until the end of half but by some desperate New Zealand defences, the score was level until half time whistle. HT 1-1

In comes second half. Unlike before, Italy were quick to change their tactic, as New Zealand were not much of threat at attacking end. Converting their formation to 4-3-3 certainly stretched Kiwi's defence and during entire second half, Italy had most of possession.

But, as this year's Champions League final showed, possession meant nothing but mere statistic. With great goalkeeping from Mark Paston and Ryan Nelson, it seemed New Zealand defence was invincible. New Zealand, in fact, could've got winning goal when Chris Wood, Kiwi's substitute, took a shot inside Italian penalty box. Fortunately, it went wide to keep minimal Italian dignity intact. Fantastic achievement from a country without a professional league! FT: 1-1

SVK v PAR (1230 GMT)

20/6/2010 Venue: Free State Stadium Ref: Eddy Maillet Att: 26633

Starting Line up
Slovakia: 1-Jan Mucha; 2-Peter Pekarik, 3-Martin Skrtel, 16-Jan Durica, 6-Zdeno Strba, 7-Vladimir Weiss, 8-Jan Kozak, 21-Kornel Salata (Stoch, 83), 17-Marek Hamsik, 11-Robert Vittek, 9-Stanislav Sestak (Holosko, 70).
Paraguay: 1-Justo Villar, 6-Carlos Bonet, 21-Antolin Alcaraz, 14-Paulo Da Silva, 3-Claudio Morel, 13-Enrique Vera (Barreto, 87), 15-Victor Caceres, 16-Cristian Riveros, 9-Roque Santa Cruz, 18-Nelson Valdez (Torres, 68), 19-Lucas Barrios (Cardozo, 82).

Paraguay had excellent match against current world champion, Italy and could've beat them if it wasn't De Rossi's tap in. However, throughout the game, Paraguay showed their full potential of their own ability, proving their qualification was not a fluke.

Slovakia, on the other hand, had a shocking start. Until the injury time against New Zealand, they thought, they snatched their victory by Vittek's goal. Instead, it was their promising player, Winston Reid's header, denying Slovakia's first win at World Cup final. Missed opportunity and they are facing a lot harder opponent to record their first victory at this stage today.

With Roque Santa Cruz back in the squad, Paraguay looked more threatening than sloppy Slovakian side and, after various chances from Paraguay, in 27th minute, with Barrios' excellent pass, Vera slotted in to make 0-1. Slovakia fought back in set-piece but Salata's header put the ball over the bar. Paraguay almost had second when Slovakia was dispossessed in their territory but Santa Cruz's was well-saved by Mucha. HT: 0-1

Unfortunately, Slovakia did not wake in the second half. Besides the game, they were never able to press Paraguayan midfield and became far too exposed on both flanks. Several chances to cross went badly wrong and with better Paraguay pressing, they stood no chance.

After several chances gone begging for Paraguay, in 85th minute, Riveros eventually converted one of their numerous chances to make it 0-2 and Slovakia couldn't do anyhing to fight back. No desire and willingness from key player, like Hamsik, cost Slovakia the game dearly and they will face World Champion Italy next. FT: 0-2