Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
The following is a guest post by David Henry Sterry, who is co-author of “The Glorious World Cup: A Fanatics Guide, for those who like their soccer with a side of kick ass.” The opinions expressed are his own.
It was do or die today for USA and Algeria. When do you ever get to put “USA,” “Algeria,” and “do or die” in the same sentence? That’s what we love about the World Cup. After the draw that was ripped from the jaws of victory by the evil Coulibaly of Mali, everyone from noted Scottish/Berkeley soccer pundit Alan Black to venerable English broadcaster Martin Tyler to American tennis sensation Andy Roddick called the decision a pox on the backside of world soccer.
But the Americans were using the calamity for inspiration, full of brimstone and fire, mixed with piss and vinegar, confident that with their fate resting in their own hands, they could secure a victory, and move one step closer to glory. Algeria, fresh off a well-deserved tie against once mighty, but now sadly suffering England, were relishing the hot spotlight of the world, and ready to lay a large smackdown on the Americans.
For the USA, this was, in some ways, the most important game they’ve ever played. With ESPN and Nike pumping tens of millions of dollars into the World Cup, and so much riding on bringing World Cup 2018 to America, Team USA knew that a loss today would be nothing short of disastrous. A victory, on the other hand, would take them through to the next round, and after that, the sky’s the limit.
Chile’s Group H game against Switzerland was wrecked as a spectacle by the dismissal of Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami for what the referee saw as a serious foul on Chile’s Arturo Vidal — to the disbelief of Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld and his players.
It was an incident that changed the game from a nicely balanced encounter into one where Switzerland were forced to defend with 10 men for the best part of an hour eventually losing 1-0.
I watched the Brazil v Ivory Coast match in the bar of a Cape Town media hotel on Sunday and, not that it was really needed, was given another reminder of what an impossible job referees have in modern football.
When Luis Fabiano broke through to score Brazil’s second goal, the reaction of around 60 watching journalists ranged from joy to disappointment – but nobody was crying “handball.”
I work in an arts and crafts shop, and I can tell first hand that the tourists are either hiding because of the weather in Cape Town or we’re too expensive for them. Either way, they are not showing their faces.
During the December holidays they get our four shops cramped up, because everyone wants a piece of our African art. But, during the World Cup, the only thing that’s helping the Old Biscuit mill’s tenants is the food market on Saturdays and sometimes during the week when they have a night market.
Feral pigeons, stray crows and roaming rodents have been trying to make a home for themselves at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. But they have been kept at bay…by trained falcons.
“Birds and rodents are controlled inside the stadium by using trained falcons to disturb and hunt them. Birds attempting to roost at night inside the stadium are disturbed, ” so says Port Elizabeth poison-free pioneer and Wildline founder Arnold Slabbert.
New Zealand could not quite pull off a win over Italy in their second Group F game on Sunday but a 1-1 draw still represented an extraordinary achievement.
New Zealand are at number 78 in the FIFA rankings and began the tournament as 1,000-1 outsiders while Italy are the World champions yet you would never have known it from the game in Nelspruit.
After England treated their fans to a second excruciatingly dull World Cup performance in South Africa on Friday, those wanting answers were left with a bemused looking Fabio Capello and an irate Wayne Rooney rant to television cameras.
England 0 Algeria 0 was not what anyone had in mind for Friday’s Group C showdown in Cape Town and Three Lions’ fans certainly were not expecting to wake up to British tabloid headlines such as ‘Roo-boo-zela’ and ‘Cape Clowns’ the next morning.
Can there be a more difficult job at the World Cup than providing the simultaneous translation when Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa is speaking?
The enigmatic Bielsa, who coached his native Argentina at the 2002 World Cup, has a unique manner of expressing himself — he actually says much the same things as other coaches but talks like an eccentric professor.
The opening group stage matches at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa produced only 25 goals in 16 matches, 14 less than the same stage of the competition at the 2006 event in Germany.
The low average of just 1.56 goals per game can probably be attributed to a number of factors: the much-criticised World Cup ball, cagey defending by teams playing against stronger opposition and even unfamiliar weather conditions for this time of the year for all non-African teams.