The Confederations Cup, effectively a warm-up tournament for the World Cup, rarely captures the imagination but fans in the United States aren’t lacking enthusiasm for the tournament after their team produced a major upset by defeating European champions Spain 2-0.
Reuters Soccer Blog
Is the fact that Brazil are Argentina’s next opponents in the World Cup qualifiers getting to Argentines worried by the precarious position of Diego Maradona’s team in the standings?
from Left field:
The South African sporting public were a little underwhelmed by the early stages of the Confederations Cup and the British and Irish Lions tour but the last few days has seen a major turnaround and there is now something in the air.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, World Cup organiser Danny Jordaan and just about everyone else involved in the 2010 finals have been playing down the risk of violence and crime in South Africa and in hundreds of reports over the last five years I have always been prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.
In the previous post, Martyn Herman looked at soccer’s international minnows while here Mark Gleeson discusses the particular plight of New Zealand.Oceania, as a confederation, threatened to disintegrate under the weight of a quick fire Fernando Torres hat-trick on Sunday night.The match-up in the Confederations Cup between European champions Spain and New Zealand, who represent FIFA’s smallest and least competitive confederation, was almost as one-sided as any major international in decades.As Torres banged in three goals in the first 17 minutes, so the legitimacy of the 11-member confederation came under a stark spotlight.Fortunately for Oceania’s cause, the Spanish managed just two more, albeit one profiting from a schoolboy error, but there will surely come a time when the gulf between the collection of Pacific island nations and the rest of the footballing world no longer produces a remotely equitable contest.Despite their best lobbying effort, Oceania are repeatedly denied a direct berth to the World Cup on sporting grounds. Their best team must playoff, usually against a South American country, or in the case for 2010, an Asian side, to qualify.Australia moved from Oceania to Asia because they felt it was uncompetitive and not advancing the standard of their game. Now New Zealand, where football is hoping to evolve from its current status as a minority sport, rules the roost against the islands, often barely breaking a sweat to dominate the confederation’s competitions.On the evidence of Sunday’s performance, New Zealand football would do well to join the Asian confederation too. They frankly need more exposure.Indeed Oceania’s collective cause is best served by folding into the Asian confederation where the island teams will find many other countries of the same footballing pedigree and have more competition too.Already Asia have created two tiers to accommodate its less proficient members and end years of ridiculous mis-matches.As Torres was riding roughshod in Rustenburg, I wonder whether that thought crossed the minds of any of FIFA’s top leadership.PHOTO: Spain’s Fernando Torres (C) rises above the New Zealand defence to score his third goal during their Confederations Cup soccer match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg June 14, 2009. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Chile ‘s 4-0 win over Bolivia in their World Cup qualifier on Wednesday has left them on a brink for only their second World Cup appearance since 1982.
The countdown has begun for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, an event, now only a year away, that could change perceptions about the whole continent and show the globe a festival of sport that reverses obstinate stereotypes of a region in constant crisis and violence.