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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.
That was until last night when I was effectively “mugged” by two uniformed police officers who demanded “pounds or dollars” before they would let me go on my way. In the end I handed over 200 rand (about 15 pounds) — and they showed their “gratitude” in the most astonishing way.
I covered the Spain-New Zealand match for Reuters in Rustenburg on Sunday evening and drove the 120-miles back to my hotel in Sandton City after the game.
I left Rustenburg at midnight, made good time without incident, dropped off my travelling companion at his hotel and was nearing Sandton when I saw a flashing light about 200 metres ahead and realised a policeman was indicating by torchlight for me to stop. I did.
Now that the dust has settled on the Ronaldo story (at least until he actually signs) I wanted to go back to something that bothered me about last week’s on-field action.
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.
Their progress through the tortuous South American qualifying campaign – which has included a memorable home win over Argentina — has been almost exclusively credited to the work one of the world’s most reclusive and enigmatic coaches Marcelo Bielsa.
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.
Africans are deeply frustrated by the tendency of foreigners, including investors, to see Africa almost as one country instead of more than 50 extremely diverse nations. Meltdown in Zimbabwe can impact on investors’ perceptions of countries thousands of miles away on the other side of the continent. By the same token, a successful World Cup will not only change the way people see Africa but also encourage future mega events and the huge investment that they can bring.
Mexico’s recent tribulations — four coaches in the last three years, two defeats to Honduras in five months, an even more humiliating loss in Jamaica — have left many supporters with a certain nostalgia for former coach Ricardo La Volpe.
Gruff and outspoken, La Volpe brought almost unprecedented stability between 2002 and 2006 as he actually completed the four-year cycle between World Cups. He made Mexico one of the world’s most tactically versatile teams, boldly drafted in numerous young players and enjoyed competitive wins over both Brazil and Argentina.
This week’s two World Cup qualifiers between Spain and Turkey have prompted the Spanish media to look back at a dramatic moment in the history of the two nations’ soccer teams.
It came at the end of the last of three matches the pair played in early 1954 to decide which would qualify for the World Cup in Switzerland later that year.
Italy coach Marcello Lippi probably expected to be grilled for again overlooking Antonio Cassano, but England counterpart Fabio Capello may not have foreseen the furore surrounding him actually picking a player.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Ledley King has a chronic knee problem which prevents him training yet Capello still deemed the centre back good enough for an England squad recall for the friendly with Slovakia and World Cup qualifier with Ukraine.
from Africa News blog:
It is hard to fathom what the motivation for Jean Thissen’s decision would be. He takes on the job as national team coach of Togo just over two weeks before the resumption of Africa’s World Cup qualifiers and with the very real prospect of having to do without his best player.
Thissen is the third new coach to take over at the helm of a side who are still in the World Cup race and set out at the end of this month on the final leg of the fight for one of the five berths for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
Resistance to plans for a unified British soccer team for the 2012 London Olympics means the idea may well be a one-off, if it gets off the ground at all.
The four home nations are wary of setting precedents that could harm their independent status, despite their lack of success as separate entities.
There’s been a lot of talk about whether South Africa will be up to staging the 2010 World Cup but what about the hosts for the following event in Brazil?
A three-man FIFA team is currently in the South American nation, visiting the 17 cities which have put themselves forward as potential venues. The 12 lucky ones will be announced by FIFA on March 20. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) describes the FIFA trio as an “inspection committee”.