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The standard of goalkeeping in the early stages of this World Cup has not been the best but blame cannot lie with the controversial Jabulani ball.
Keepers and even strikers have criticised the adidas ball for being too light but the makers have said it is the roundest and truest ball ever created.
If we look at the three major keeping howlers so far in South Africa, I don’t think any of them are down to the ball.
England’s Robert Green let Clint Dempsey’s shot through his fingers in a 1-1 draw with the United States simply through a lack of technique and maybe nerves. The ball was bouncing along the ground so swerve was not an issue.
Join us for a late, late podcast from day four at the World Cup in South Africa … a frank look at some of the not so fantastic games we had today and a preview of Brazil v North Korea. Mark Gleeson, Theo Ruizennar, Pete Rutherford and Brian Homewood are the night’s victims.
Soccer is subversive in North Korea. The North Korean authorities, who try their best to keep the masses in the dark about what goes on in the rest of the world, cannot suppress news about soccer.
A few years ago, the government refused to publish the results of an embarrassing loss to long-time foe Japan in its official media, but according to diplomatic sources in Pyongyang and refugees who fled the state, most of the country knew the results within 24 hours of the match through a word of mouth network that state censors and security agents cannot suppress.
If it hadn’t been for Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, the 1-0 defeat to Argentina could have been much worse for the African side. That is one reason why the Nigerian supporter contingent, even if outnumbered by the Argentinian fans, remained upbeat throught the match.
The green-white-green stripes of the Nigerian flag were seen on toddlers, their parents and even foreigners at Ellis Park Stadium in central Johannesburg.
Diego Maradona, whose “Hand of God” goal and wonderful slalom against England in 1986 are among the most iconic images of any World Cup, emerged the undoubted victor with his astonishing touchline sideshow compared to England coach Fabio Capello’s unhappy performance.
Join us for our podcast on day one of the first African World Cup, as hosts South Africa prepare to test their growing confidence against unpredictable Mexico in front of 90,000 vuvuzela-blaring fans in Soccer City.
Click the audio box above to hear the thoughts of African football expert Mark Gleeson (@markgleesonfoot), sports editor Paul Radford, soccer editor Mike Collett (@mcfootball), the suave and sophisticated Helen Popper and Ossian Shine (@ossianshine) and your host, Kevin Fylan (@kevinfreuters).
Check out our first, slightly low-tech podcast featuring assorted Reuters football stattos Paul Radford, Mike Collett, Brian Homewood and the voice of African football, Mark Gleeson.
I’ll be here throughout this World Cup to discuss the big issues with our soccer correspondents from around the world. And we hope to have a better microphone next time!
A top player seems to get injured on the eve of every major tournament and this year it looks like Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand have suffered the World Cup curse.
Ivory Coast captain Drogba is seriously doubtful for the extravaganza after injuring his elbow in a friendly against Japan on Friday.
So England coach Fabio Capello has been pretty true to his word about only wanting in-form players in his World Cup squad.
Theo Walcott will not be going to South Africa after two patchy friendly performances where he did a lot of running but the end product again just was not there. That hat-trick in qualification in Croatia in the end did nothing for his cause.
When Germany captain Michael Ballack was ruled out of the World Cup following a scan on his ankle last week there was no doubt this was a major setback for the three-times champions. By far the most experienced player, Ballack was the team’s leader having taken Germany to World Cup and Euro finals. The loss of midfielder Christian Traesch, only days after Ballack’s injury, could prove an even heavier blow.
Traesch injured his ankle in a friendly match against South Tirol this week and will be out for six weeks. Traesch was seen as someone who could take over the bulk of Ballack’s midfield duties. But with both of them out coach Joachim Loew has got to seriously reshuffle his squad to strike the right balance in defence and midfield without compromising either.