Sunday, June 20, 2010

Well Kempt Referee's 2 Socceroos 0: World Cup Ghana Analysis

There are not enough swear words in the English language to express the anger, rage and frustration of a Socceroos fan who was been watching Australia at the World Cup in South Africa.

Australia swept aside the memory of the Germany game and started their second World Cup game against Ghana like men possessed. With eyeballs popping out of their heads every Socceroo was pressing a Ghana player every time they got the ball. It would not be re-miss of me to say that some Australian players looked like they had taken the route of some members of the 1978 World Cup winning Argentinean team who were doped to their eyeballs in that tournament. Not that I am saying the Socceroos were doped up, but they just looked like it.

The first half was frantic, wacky and frustrating. A Mark Brecsicano free kick tamed the Jabulani ball, the Ghana keeper couldn’t handle and the most derided player in the history of the Socceroos Brett Holman scores the rebound and only goal so far for the Socceroos at South Africa 2010.  1-0 nil all up and it’s the perfect start. But then a few minutes later the Socceroos were conceding good position to Ghana, the verve and drive of the Socceroos had disappeared for a small moment and the most dangerous player on the pitch winger Andre Ayew beat two players down the right flank to send in a dangerous cross and then the swear words came out when Harry Kewell was sent off for deliberate hand ball on the Ghana goal line. After Tim Cahill’s send off in the first game it almost felt like I was getting used to this but Gyan struck the penalty, Ghana are level the Socceroos have 10 men and Gyan still dances like he has to go to the toilet real quick.

My friends and family were shouting at Half Time: “don’t worry; we are going to have two chances to score in the second half.” And we did.  Scott Chipperfield who was brilliant when came on missed a header with his first touch and Luke Wilkshire failed when he had a one on one situation with the keeper and Josh Kennedy disappointingly did a Peter Crouch air swing with the rebound.

The game was one of those unforgettable World Cup games and the final score of  1-1 sets up final game against Serbia needing the Socceroos to win big and other results to go our way.  We should believe Australia because anything can happen in this absolutely crazy and mental Group D.

It’s amazing that the Socceroos are still in with a chance to progress to the second round.  The World Cup has been a nightmare; most of the big refereeing decisions are going against the Socceroos. Our two best players getting sent off in consecutive games both appear to be very harsh decisions and technically you can say yes they are red cards but you can also argue that  the other teams have not been punished like Australia. Just like the Ghanaian midfielder who tackled Bresciano from behind, he only received a yellow card and you just wonder if Brecs had rolled around and milked the challenge and if the other players circled the referee he could have been pressured to give a red instead of a yellow but the Socceroos don’t play like that.

The sight of these well kempt referees with their little shorts, over elaborate use of hair product and their awful decisions during this World Cup makes me think we should let them have their own Nike commercial, that way they don’t have to feel like being the centre of attention all the time. It’s not enough for these sporting sociopath’s to be on TV and blow a whistle no they have to spoil a free flowing game.

After the game I indulged in some post match banter with Ghana journalist Gary Al Smith the Ghana football writer for
“Lucky Ghana what can I say. One of your midfielder's should have got a red card, Kewell's handball was not a red card and now I wait for Germany to kick your lucky Ghanaian ass.”I said.
To which he replied: “Well, tell Mr Kewell to stop handling balls in the vital area, then? And don’t forget that the Roos destiny is in GHANA's hands.”

So to the last game against Serbia, we need a miracle to happen and you have to believe it can happen considering all the unbelievable results that have occurred in South Africa so far.
Just like Serbia’s previous two games I’m sure they have a handball in the box waiting for us. It would be rude of them not to give Australia the same gift they shared with Ghana and Germany. I posed this thought to Nikola Burazer the Serbian writer for the website and he said:

“Yes, that would be polite from Serbia.  Do you have any idea who might be the next one to handball? Ivanović, Subotić, Stanković?  No, seriously, you should not expect a penalty from Serbia, only a red card. At every tournament, we concede two penalties and receive two red cards. So, expect some of our boys to go red.”

So make sure you look out your window you might see some pigs flying around this week,, at least the Socceroos are alive for the final game we get Timmy back and have a another few days of hoping ,worrying and dreaming.

Monday, June 14, 2010

German Blitzkrieg Destroys Soccerpoos

Pim Verbeek took a gamble on his conservative side and doubled it up. Forget the lone striker Pim technically went with a 442 with Tim Cahill and Richard Garcia up front. But really it was a  team with seven players in defence and three players in attack.

With three defensive midfielders in the side, Harry Kewell Mark Breciano and Josh Kennedy were left on the bench and stayed there.

Pim Verbeek will no doubt cop it from the fans and media for the personal and tactical decisions he made. And so he should, No team in this World Cup will play with such conservative tactics.  Three defensive midfielders there to screen the defence were opened up with ease. At  times the Germans had the choice of going in behind, wide or through the middle of our ageing defence and did it with ease and with regularity.

Everything that can go wrong did go wrong for the Aussies.. Early in the second half Tim Cahill got sent off for a challenge that did not deserve a red card but the well kempt Mexican referee thought otherwise.

This was a nightmare for any Socceroo fan. After a bright start that led to a Tim Cahill header almost being hooked in from the rebound by Richard Garcia it all turned pear shaped. Germany scores the opener after 10 minutes. Lucas Neill was playing the offside trap by himself. The Fanatics had a chant pre-game that was “Where’s’ your Ballack ?, Where’s your Ballack?” sung to the Basement Jaxx tune “Where’s your head at?” And the answer was the German midfielder Mezet Ozil. He destroyed Australia. The German fans where also heard to sing “Where’s your defence at?”

So 2-0 after 25 minutes the Germans pre-match talk of destroying Australia was not arrogance it was a warning. Brett Emerton was Australia’s best player and Brett Holman who replaced Vince Grella at half time also played ok.

It’s not a hopeless situation but it is close to it. Two goals in the second half made the final score 4-0 to Germany and Australia now face Ghana without Tim Cahill. Ghana played well against Serbia to win 1-0 in the earlier game and newspaper and football pundits will be saying Australia has an uphill battle to make the second round as this result means that Australia will need to beat both Ghana and Serbia.

Ghana was without Sulley Muntari ansd Stepehn Appia from the start of the game against Serbia yet still played very well.  They have a team that looks quick and skilful something that the Socceroos are not. The Germans can be considered favourites for the World Cup after that performance while the Socceroos will struggle to score or get a point based on theirs.

But like the cliché goes tomorrow is the next day of the rest of your life, or is it today is the worst day of the rest of your life?, Anyway we got a few days to sulk and point fingers, let’s hope Verbeek  and the Socceroos can get their shit together for the next game, no pressure boys it’s only the World Cup and it can’t get any worse can it?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

World Cup: The Teams

Now the World Cup is upon us, it’s time to make fun of the cultural differences that exist on and off the football field. Here is part one of my politically incorrect assessment of all the World Cup teams.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Famous philosopher Albert Camus played as goalkeeper for Racing Universitaire Algerois.
His famous football quote is worn as t-shirt by football hipsters or nerds (mostly nerds).
Prediction: They have England and USA in their group. Pundits say you’re out! Romantics and Algerians dream of causing an ‘absurd’ upset.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Maradona has chosen a very weird squad. Omitting experienced players and
including unknowns from the Argentinean league.
After Argentina won their last two WCQ matches a demure Maradona gave it to the press:
“They can suck it and carry on sucking it,
This is for all Argentines, minus the journalists.”
Prediction: Will meet Brazil in the final and beat them.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Playing funny sports, an assortment of animals that will kill you, bogan (wannabe) gangsters and racist politicians.
Prediction: Football pundits in Australia and around the world give us no hope, the opposition don’t know who our players are and the conservative coach is scared to death of playing any attacking football. I reckon we will make the Quarters after beating England and lose to France by some dodgy way in the quarters.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Being the most famous football team in the world and for their ex-players falling to earth with a thud! Garincha (the drink) Ronaldo (the lady boy) and mostly beating every other team at half pace.
Prediction: Will make the final of the World Cup where they will be beaten by Argentina.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Having a cool nickname, Roger Milla goal celebrations and sleeveless shirts.
Prediction: Will get knocked out by Italy in the round of 16.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Dodgy dictators and being overshadowed by Argentina and Brazil.
Prediction: Will be knocked out by Brazil in the round of 16.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Drawing cartoons of famous religious figures and making me and the rest of the world go to sleep while their games are on.
Prediction: Will not make it out of the group stage. Some groups will fall asleep, others will want to blow them up.

Who/what are ya famous for?
After trying to colonise the world, what remains from the fallen Empire is the phrase “fuck off” and the game of football.
Prediction: Will be beaten by Australia in the round of 16.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Making the 2010 World Cup by cheating their way past the unlucky Irish.
Prediction: Will lose to Brazil in the semi final.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Upon hearing that their captain Michael Ballack was ruled out of the World Cup it made me wish that there was a German word that describes the joy you feel from somebody else’s misfortune. (Thanks Sid Lowe for that one).
Prediction: Will make the quarter finals where they will be knocked out by Argentina.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Hopefully not knocking Australia out of the group stages.
Prediction: Will be knocked out in the group stages.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Let us see: modern civilization, democracy, music, art, theatre, maths, all that stuff. But then rested for a couple of thousand years, did not pay any tax during that time, sang the same song and danced the same dance and now is broke.
Prediction: My dad says Greeks are good for two things: dancing and drinking ouzo. With Argentina, Nigeria and Korea Republic in their group they will be lucky to score a goal ala USA 94.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Fighting a football war with El Salvador in 1969!
Prediction: Will struggle to make the round of 16.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Will be fitted with the tightest shirts and shorts of any team in this Wold Cup. They are openly proud of being a bunch of mummies’ boys. They love late drama, cheating and cattenacio (10 defenders and a goal keeper).
Prediction: Will be beaten in the semi final by Argentina.

Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire)
Who/what are ya famous for?
Didier Drogba and the only country besides Holland that has more than one name.
Prediction: Lose to Spain in round of 16.

Who/what are ya famous for?
The land of Hot. Hot ladies, hot food and their strikers always melt when in front of goal.
Prediction: Will be knocked out in the group stage.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Gardening and illegal aliens with rights. Hosting two of the best world cups on record (1970 and 1986).
Prediction: Knocked out by Argentina in the round of 16.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Preferring to win and look good than winning and playing ugly. They are so arrogant, they wear orange and think it looks cool.
Q) What does a Dutch player do after they win the World Cup?
A) Turn off the Play Station.

New Zealand
Who/what are ya famous for?
Not laughing at sheep jokes. Hating Australians and being nice to everyone else.
Prediction: The Kiwi’s have nothing to lose except pride and being the butt of more sheep jokes.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Not being able to beat Argentina in three previous world cups.
Prediction: Will lose to France in the round of 16.

North Korea
Who/what are ya famous for?
Egomanic Dictators Wanting to start World War Three and bowl haircuts. Being able to dance in synch with large groups
Prediction: Will be knocked out in Group Stage

Who/what are ya famous for?
Being confused with Uruguay
Prediction: Knocked out by Holland in round of 16

Who/what are ya famous for?
Pretty boy footballers who speak English in Castrol advertisements very badly.
Prediction: Will fail to reach the group stage.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Getting confused with Croatia and hopefully being kicked out of the World Cup by Australia.
Prediction: Will be knocked out in the group stage.
Who/what are ya famous for?
Getting confused with Slovenia.
Prediction: Will be knocked out in the group stage.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Getting Confused with Slovakia.
Prediction: Will be knocked out in the group stage.

South Africa
Who/what are ya famous for?
The institution of apartheid.
The iconic Nelson Mandella (played badly by Morgan Freeman in the 2009 Movie Invictus) was arrested in 1962 and released in 1990. After that, apartheid was dismantled in a series of negotiations from 1990 to 1993, culminating in elections in 1994, the first in South Africa with universal suffrage. Mandela became president in 1994.

Have you heard that song I’ve never met a nice South African? Here are some lyrics:
No, he’s never met a nice South African
And that’s not bloody surprising, mun
‘Cos we’re a bunch of arrogant bastards
Who hate black people.

Prediction: Will be knocked out in the group stage, the only home team to suffer that fate in the history of the world cup.

South Korea
Who/what are ya famous for?
The South Koreans are the world’s best break dancers and made the semi-finals in 2002 with some of the dodgiest decisions ever seen in World Cup history.
Prediction: Will be knocked out in the group stage unless they get the same refs from 2002.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Having one the best leagues in the world of football and always failing at the big time events. Except two years ago, when they beat Germany to win Euro 2008.
Prediction: Injuries to key players will mean they will be knocked out by Italy in the quarter finals.

Who/what are ya famous for?
Being neutral. Which is ironic since the neutral fan hates Switzerland.
Prediction: Did Switzerland really play in this World Cup?

United States
Who/what are ya famous for?
Being the World Champions in sports where they are the only country that participates. Trying to bring democracy (steal oil from) to other countries.
Prediction: Will be knocked out by Germany in the Round of 16

Who/what are ya famous for?
The first winners against Argentina in 1930 and winning the World Cup against Brazil in their own back yard (1950) and then not much else really.
Prediction: Will be knocked out in the group stage.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


 Ghana football writer Gary Al Smith's report on  Ghana's 4-1 loss to Holland is very interesting from an Australian perspective. Most of these international friendlies are training sessions or just warm up games. It's all prelude till the real thing, the big WC.. But RATM did not sing a tune called Know Your Enemy for nothing.

Here are the ratings for Ghana and a link to his story:

GK:Richard Kingson: 4 – Played like he was on Skelaxine (a popular type of arthritis medication). Jittery, indecisive and totally out of his depth. Disappointing, really.
 LB:Hans Adu-Sarpei: 6 – Once again, hardly lost the ball and kept his left side of the field generally safe. Only problem is his lack of pace, but it seems Ghana have no option to stick with him as his replacement is also a right-footed Rahim Ayew.
John Paintsil: 5 – The Fulham man was quiet. Didn’t do much and was symptomatic of the whole team’s first half showing. Still, a dependable soul whose starting role is guaranteed.
Isaac Vorsah: 7 – Stood tall in defense, literally and figuratively. At a point, he was playing a holding midfield role alongside Annan and Boateng and was being overworked. But he was quietly effective, calm and solid for the whole match, especially preventing Van Persie from scoring. Shows his class more and more all the time.
Lee Addy: 5 – Did his best under the circumstances yet he is a bit shaky. That said, the only thing he needs is an injection of confidence and a little inspiration from experienced defenders like Mensah.
Anthony Annan: 4 – His usual combative levels were lost today. The first half was not good for him, like for the rest of the side. Was played in a holding/mopping role with Derek Boateng, a position he’s usually comfortable in. An off-day he had, perhaps, as he allowed Sneidjer to run rings around him.
Stephen Appiah: 4 - If Rajevac declines to the use the captain against Latvia or even against Serbia, there would be very few complaints. He was overrun, outplayed and outmuscled. His inspirational and leadership qualities on the field are very much in question now. Despite his calss, it is crystal clear that Appiah is not the same player he was. When he was in Ghana a few weeks ago, his body language said he was ready for one last hurrah. Never happened today.
Sulley Muntari: 5 – Was restricted by the coach not to move forward, so his role was limited. He loves to surge forward on occasion but it was clear he had been defined as a supplier for Amoah. He could not do this because he was heavily closed down by the Dutch midfield. He still needs to be a starter because his hard tackles bring a lot to the game.
Quincy Owusu-Abeyie: 3 – Where to begin? When given a starting role in front of a nation that is divided about your importance, you do not do four stepovers on every ball. On one occasion he had Amoah in his sights and the team lost a good chance because of his over-deliberation. Has shot himself in his fast-paced feet. Would be shocked if he ever gets a starting role again.
Derek Boateng: 6 – Was one of few players still on in the second half. With the right support he is able to move forward and give out the balls. But anyone who has watched him for Getafe knows he is not half the player he’s been for Ghana in his past two internationals.
Matthew Amoah: 4 – His inability to replicate his club form is baffling. For Ghana, he does not chase down lose Dutch balls in the opposing half and does not run at defenders. Unfortunately, the young Dominic Adiyiah and Prince Tagoe staked a better claim to start than he does.
Used subs:
Prince Tagoe: 5 – Not firing at all cylinders, but getting there. Desire to do the dirty work is clear. However, a lack of playing time also shows in his game as he is not as sharp as we know him to be.
Andre Ayew: 6 – One of the better players on the field after his coming. Came on at the start of the second half, with purpose. Went in for the 50-50 balls without fear. Over the past year or so, the main issue with him has been his over-deliberation; today it was just touch-and-go stuff from Abedi’s son.
Dominic Adiyiah: 4 - Came on with some spirited runs but was soon dealt with by the Dutch expreince. Even had a rare shot on goal and showed that with more international exposure, he can face off with the big boys even at his age. Looked a bit starry-eyed at times.
Kwadwo Asamoah: N/A – Came on too late to make a meaningful impact. Should he have been brought earlier for Derek? That’s open to question, as Derek was also finding his rhythm late on.
John Mensah: 6 – Came on at the start of the second half and his job to be captain (leader and inspirer) was well done. Brought immediate stability to his defense. Do I hear 23 million Ghanaians praying for him to be fit for the entire duration of the World Cup? I think you know why.
Asamoah Gyan: 6 – Heckled the Dutch backline on more than one occasion, earning himself a caution in his zeal. The goal would do a lot for his confidence. Clearly a starting role is guaranteed for him.

Coach Milovan Rajevac: 7 – The Serbian has made his point. In the first half he used a team he's not too confident in, with a few exceptions. They did not disappoint. Most of them were a sweet mistake. That's why he brought on the preferred team in the second half, to make a simple point to all of us: when he decides to drop certain ‘big boys’ in the coming games, can anyone complain?
No. The 4-3-2-1 in the first half and the 4-3-3 formations used in both halves respectively were all part of his shuffling of roles for the players. At a point in the first half, Muntari was even moved to the right while Quincy was moved to the left. Clearly trying them out.
Two sets of players have shown that to be in this team, you have to be match fit and you need regular club time.