Developing Soccer in South Africa: Where’s the Game?

June 21, 2010

The vandalized locker rooms on the pitch
“I’ve seen a lot of soccer in a little over a week in South Africa, but I realized something strange the other day: almost all of it has been in stadiums. The trope of African soccer is the barefoot child playing on a dirt field with a rag ball—and in my previous experiences in Africa that scenario has been harder to avoid than to find. But in the greater Johannesburg megalopolis circa 2010 the grass roots game seems conspicuously absent from anywhere other than FIFA propaganda.” (Pitch Invasion)

Does England Just Need a Good Shag?

June 21, 2010

“Things are not looking good for England. Two draws against opponents many in the global football community had quickly written off. The passes aren’t coming through, the runs are being cut off, the set pieces are blasting over the cross-bar. Exasperation was clear and bright red on the faces of players during Friday’s match against unexpectedly impressive Algeria. They were snippy with each other, with the officials and with their coach. Their game could simply be described as frustrating. While I don’t want to discount Algeria’s quality of play, I think England’s poor performance in the match and the World Cup as a whole can be blamed on Coach Fabio Capello’s overzealous coaching tactics. Not on the field, but in the bedroom.” (TNR)

Henry Winter Interview: World Cup, Premier League and Custard Creams

June 21, 2010

“EPL Talk’s Laurence McKenna had an opportunity recently to sit down with Henry Winter, one of the most accomplished English football authors and writers in the United Kingdom. Just minutes before the England versus Mexico friendly at Wembley, McKenna had a chat with Henry Winter, outside the hallowed Wembley Stadium, about several fascinating topics revolving around the World Cup, England national team and the Premier League including…” (EPL Talk)

World Cup 2010: Chile 1-0 Switzerland

June 21, 2010

“Well if I’ve only got one pre-tournament prediction right so far, I’ve got it right even more convincingly than I imagined – that the South American teams would all do well. Their combined record for the first two rounds of games reads Played 10, Won 8, Drawn 2. (Compare and contrast with the combined records of Europe’s big five: England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy can boast Played 9, Won 1, Drawn 5, Lost 3 – with Spain still to play this evening.)” (twohundredpercent)

Chile 1-0 Switzerland – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 21 June 2010
“Two teams who could take control of Group H met on Monday, June 21, 2010 as Chile faced Switzerland. With both teams winning their opening match, it was a chance for either side to move one step closer to the knockout stage. Switzerland has been on a solid defensive streak but showed against Spain they are capable of gettting forward.” (The 90th Minute)

Brazil 3-1 Ivory Coast: Brazil always in control

June 21, 2010

“Classic Brazil under Dunga. A comfortable victory, won by controlling the ball when they have it, and controlling the space when they don’t. Brazil kept the same first XI as in the first game – a proper XI, numbered 1-11. Sven-Goran Eriksson made a single change – bringing back Didier Drogba after his elbow injury, with Gervinho (surprisingly) dropping to the bench.” (Zonal Marking)

World Cup 2010: Brazil 3-1 Ivory Coast
“There is a lot of hyperbole spoken about the Brazilian football team. Probably more than is spoken about any club or national side on the planet. It’s almost a mythology. Admittedly, it’s a mythology based on a handful of the most gifted players that have ever lived (see, even I buy into it, to a degree): Pele, Garrincha, Rivelinho, Zico. Even Brazil teams have their fair share of poor players in the national side: Serginho, Roque Junior, most of the team they took to Italia ‘90. It’s because of the former group of players that every Brazilian who is remotely half decent becomes overrated to the point of greatness: Careca, Romario, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and of the current crop Kaka.” (twohundredpercent)

Italy 1-1 New Zealand: Why did Lippi start with a 4-4-2?
“A heroic defensive performance from New Zealand, who now have two more points than most people expected, but Italy’s tactics made it easy for them. Italy had a change in goal because of Gigi Buffon’s injury, but otherwise Marcello Lippi kept faith with the same ten outfield players that started the 1-1 draw against Paraguay. New Zealand boss Ricki Herbert also used the same players as in their 1-1 draw against Slovakia.” (Zonal Marking)

Portugal 7-0 North Korea: Korean defence pushes up, Portugal exploit the space
“A crushing victory in a game that was extremely tight for the first half hour. Portugal made four changes from the first game. Hugo Almeida was in as the lone striker, Simao Sabrosa was on the right wing with Miguel behind him, and Tiago replaced Deco. North Korea were unchanged from their 2-1 defeat to Brazil in the first game.” (Zonal Marking)

Portugal 7-0 North Korea – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 21 June 2010“Portugal faced North Korea in a Group G match needing a victory as they would face Brazil in their final match. North Korea would be eliminated with a loss in the match. Portugal are battling Ivory Coast for the last knockout stage spot from the group as Brazil have six points from two matches and already clinched their knockout stage spot.” (The 90th Minute)

South American stars shine in South Africa

June 21, 2010

“The time for definitive conclusions on the World Cup is 12 July. Until then, as we have already seen, Monday’s marvel can easily be transformed into Friday’s flop. On what has been served up so far, though, it is safe enough to argue that Brazil look best equipped to win the competition. The 2010 model might not be the easiest Brazil side to love but it is one of the hardest to beat. Well balanced, physically and mentally strong, sure of what it is doing and blessed with deadlock-breaking moments of individual magic, Dunga’s team will take some stopping.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

World Cup Typography: Paul Barnes

June 21, 2010

“Football and typography may seem like an unlikely pairing, but they’ve been getting along quite well since a while. In 2006 Dalton Maag claimed the team with the best typography won the World Cup. The type and logo design agency with offices in London, Brazil, and Cairo designed Puma Pace, used for the football shirts of world champions Italy. This year the shirts of the Puma teams again caught the attention of type spotters.” (The FontFeed)

Foul Enough

June 21, 2010

“Alex Massie is a smart and fair-minded man, but in this case he is wrong—at least, by the standards he lays out. Alex argues, drawing on this post by Simon Haydon, that because Carlos Bocanegra did indeed foul Nejc Pečnik on Landon Donovan’s 86th-minute cross into the Slovenian box, referee Koman Coulibaly was indeed warranted—or at least not unwarranted—in making the call he made.” (Run of Play)

Referee Bashing 101

June 21, 2010

“Paul Kennedy recently noted at Soccer America that we owe a big thank you to Koman Coulibaly, the suddenly world-famous referee who made a controversial call against the U.S. a few days ago. “He accomplished what no one else could in more than 100 years. He made Americans care passionately about soccer.” Indeed, I may have to take back what I wrote last week in my post ‘Happy at the Margins.’ Maybe soccer has arrived in the U.S. On Friday it suddenly seemed as if we’ve joined the venerable ranks of the aggrieved nations of international soccer, the righteously indignant, the purveyors of rage and — in some quarters — bizarre, xenophobic, and racist conspiracy theories all aimed at one man and his whistle.” (Soccer Politics)

Out of Tune and Harsh

June 21, 2010

“hat do we mean when we say a referee’s decision is “harsh”? In talk about soccer it’s a term of art, having shades of meaning it lacks in other contexts. Consider the red card Australia’s Harry Kewell got in Saturday’s match against Ghana. On ESPN’s halftime show, Ruud Gullit and Roberto Martinez debated it. “It is a red card,” Gullit said, “he stopped it with his hand.” (Not true, actually: it was his upper arm, which was nearly pinned to his side. But I digress.) Martinez didn’t simply disagree with Gullit, but said that he thought the red card was “harsh’.” (Run of Play)

Epoch of Days

June 21, 2010

“The France crisis was visible from space for weeks before it hit, like a blot on a map churning its way toward some helpless island port. Weather services beeped out bulletins; brave teams of scientists piled in a helicopter and flew toward the raging edge. Rain shredding the surface of the sea told the world that William Gallas was never going to survive a dune-buggy crash so that Patrice Evra could lead his men in peace.” (Run of Play)