World Cup in Africa Stumbles Over Strike

July 9, 2009

South Africa WCup Strike
“Thousands of South African construction workers walked off their jobs on Wednesday, beginning a nationwide strike that could threaten the biggest event in international soccer, the 2010 World Cup. However important the tournament may be to fans of the game, it represents nothing less than a defining moment for South Africa, the first country on the continent selected to host such a major sports competition.” (NYT)

Notes from South Africa: Final Thoughts (The Run of Play)
“The U.S. upset of Spain in the semifinal delighted everybody in South Africa. In addition to giving Bafana Bafana hope of an equally improbable victory against Brazil, the win by the U.S. erased the sour taste left by the previous crowd favorite, Egypt. The game was in Bloemfontein, on a bitterly cold night, and it started off slow. People were late in arriving to the gate, and expectations for the game were minimal. As everyone trudged to their seats, the mood seemed to convey a feeling of inevitability—how could Spain not win this game? At kickoff the stadium was only just over half full, with one contingent of fans making a bit of noise behind one of the goals.”

Soccer on Celluloid (NYT)
“Five soccer freestylers set off from England, destination Argentina and a meeting with their idol — Diego Maradona. Sounds like a far-fetched fantasy gambit, something out of the movies … which it is … “In the Hands of the Gods,” one of the films featured at the Kicking and Screening International Film Festival in New York July 14-18, as reported in the Times on June 30.”

John Terry & Roman Abramovich – Who’s In Charge? (twohundredpercent)
“It’s fairly safe to assume that John Terry has been operating under the assumption that his place at Chelsea was a job for life. There has been talk of him requesting a managing role at the club when he retires and his recent behaviour with regard to telling the club which players he thinks they should sign has been another indicator of a footballer that doesn’t particularly see his role as being, well, a footballer.”

FIFA Suspends Bradley the Younger … Sort Of (NYT)
“Bob Bradley is often characterized as cool, calm and collected as he directs his United States national team players during games and training sessions. Not quite dispassionate, but decidedly even-keeled, dare we say a bit boring.”

U.S. sowing the seeds of possibility (SI)
“In the context of the U.S. national team’s glittering performance at the Confederations Cup last month and Oguchi Onyewu’s lustrous move to AC Milan on Tuesday, the CONCACAF Gold Cup just doesn’t seem that shiny, does it? It’s more like a pewter mug: It obviously carries some heft — this is the continental championship, after all — but you won’t get much for it down at the Acme Pawn Shop.”

Copa Libertadores deserves golden final (BBC – Tim Vickery)
“The 50th Copa Libertadores has not been a vintage edition. South America’s premier club competition deserves better than some of the mediocre football that has been on show, especially in this anniversary year. Perhaps the final can come to the rescue. To be played over two legs on 8 and 15 July, there are grounds for hoping that Estudiantes versus Cruzeiro will live in the memory for positive reasons.”

Rafa rants at Man City as Johnson is unveiled

July 9, 2009

“Rafael Benitez used the unveiling of defender Glen Johnson to attack Manchester City’s “money, money, money” approach to transfers. The Liverpool boss splashed £17m on the England right-back, but paid substantially less than that to Portsmouth, who still owed money on the transfer of Peter Crouch. (ESPN)

Catch-22 for Rafa’s recruitment drive (ESPN)
“Clinical forwards tend to have an innate ability to identify opponents’ weaknesses. Yet while Fernando Torres stated the obvious recently when he declared that Manchester United will be weaker without Cristiano Ronaldo, it may represent the biggest boost to Liverpool’s title chances.”

Rafa’s 100 GREATEST PL GAMES: NO.43 (Liverpool FC)
“Crouch ended his much-publicised goal drought in style by bagging a brace as Liverpool turned on the style against Wigan at Anfield. The dubious goals committee even tried to take the opening goal off him when he found the net with a deflected strike from 20-yards out.”

Kop Star: Stephen Darby (This Is Anfield)
“Irrelevant of which side of the fence you chose to perch during the ‘flooding of the Reserves’ debate, there is no doubting, with the number of players fast-tracked to our reserve side, that it is tough times at Kirkby at the minute, if you are trying to break into the set-up at Melwood.”

Selfish; Inspirational; King of the Roost – Bob Paisley on Emlyn Hughes (Liverpool Kop)
“Emlyn ‘Crazy Horse’ spent 12 fantastic years at Liverpool FC and captained the club to consecutive European Cup victories in the 1970s. Here, in his own words, Bob Paisley provides an insight into how Hughes – never the most popular player at the club – fitted in at Anfield.”