Monday, June 21, 2010

Zizou, Radebe take different sides

Zizou, Radebe take different sides
Zinedine Zidane as he is interviewed
As 2010 FIFA World Cup™ hosts South Africa and former World Champions France prepare to square up in their ultimate Group A match, football legends Lucas Radebe and Zinedine Zidane have both thrown their weight behind their respective countries in what is likely to be fiercely contested game.

With both Uruguay and Mexico sitting on on top of the table with four points, South Africa and France have only managed to accumulate a point each. Mathematically, all sides in Group A are still within a chance of advancing to the knockout stages. But in order to do that, South Africa and France will have to fire from all angles and hope for a glut of goals at the Free State Stadium. There is romance in this fixture and some old scores to settle. One of the memorable moments between these two sides - their only World Cup meeeting - was back in 1998 where France emerged 3-0 victors in a fixture where both Radebe and Zidane featured prominently. But a lot has happened since then.

During an exclusive interview with FIFA, Zidane said he hopes the French team will peak in Bloemfontein. “There are no calculations to be made anymore. France will have to go forward and score many goals while hoping to have a profitable result in the other game," said the France 98 champion. "We all know what happened recently in the team and it does not matter to talk more about it. Even if it’s very tiny, there’s still a chance to go through. So France has to go for it. But we should never forget that South Africa is at home and have not done so well so far. They will give the best they can to make their fans happy. To give pride to the country.”

On the other hand, Radebe, who captained South Africa at two FIFA World Cups, in 1998 and at Korea/Japan in 2002, believes all is not lost. He has predicted an offensive game where both sides will be going for the jugular in an attempt to register maximum points. “It’s going to be a tough game, considering that both teams have not done so well, they are yet to collect maximum points.," he said. "This makes it a very tough encounter, they both have to get maximum points not only to go through but also to salvage the image of their countries."

Media reports have hinted at internal problems within the French team, but while Radebe said this might weaken the former European and World Champions, he has warned South Africa to write France off at their peril. “When [France] played Uruguay, they looked lively, but not strong. Against Mexico, they were not good enough, surely there might be some problems in their team. To be honest, we have seen a decline of this French team. But they are former World Champions, you don’t discard them. They will want to do well on this game, they are the former World Cup holders, they have a point to prove.”

France was held to a goaless draw by Uruguay in their first match at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. They, however, suffered a heavy blow when they were defeated 2-0 by an innovative Mexican side. Zidane said France will have to rise above their current situation in order to defeat what is likely to be a highly motivated South African side. “France has to show superiority. It’s as simple as it is," he said. "Players have to demonstrate on the pitch that they play in the biggest European clubs. We have talked about anything but football in the past days. And am sure the players will have that in mind when entering the pitch. They know that if they qualify, everything will be forgotten.”

Despite their tenacious performance in the opening game at Soccer City against Mexico, South Africa were a shadow of that team at Loftus where they went down 3-0 to an impressive Uruguay. It was a big blow to the host and their aspirations. “That was a painful game. We were not good enough and it hurts," said Radebe. "A lot will be said, but maybe I believe we could have been more offensive, we didn’t put them under any pressure, we didn’t force them to think hard. We had one striker while they packed their defence.

"I don’t want to point fingers because at the end of the day, everyone should shoulder responsibility for what happened, but I hope we won’t see the same performance against France. The boys must know that they are playing for the millions who have supported them throughout. They have nothing to lose, they need to go there ane give it their best."

Feel free to post your opinions and predictions on the upcoming World Cup 2010 third round matches.

My predictions for tomorrow's third round group matches:

France vs. South Africa 0-1
Uruguay vs. Mexico 2-0
Argentina vs. Greece 3-1
South Korea vs. Nigeria 1-1

Spain only win 2-0 against Honduras

A great game with a score-line which doesn't really show the dominance that Spain had this game, now for Spain to go through they have to beat Chile.

Here's how Group H stands after Spain's win:

Chile               (6)
Spain              (3)
Switzerland    (3)
Honduras       (0)

SOCCER/FUTBOL WORLD CUP 2010 ESPANA VS HONDURAS Action photo of David Villa of Spain celebrating a goal, during World Cup 2010 game held at the Ellis Park Stadium Johannesburgo, South Africa./Foto de accion de David Villa de Espana celebrando un gol, durante juego de la Copa del Mundo 2010 celebrado en el estadio Ellis Par de Johannesburgo, Sudafrica. 21 June 2010 MEXSPORT/OSVALDO AGUILAR Photo via Newscom
David Villa celebrating his goal
Spain - Honduras

Spain needed a positive result against Honduras, while they looked a little shaky at the beginning, they eventually got into their groove in the 17th minute with David Villa. Villa receives the ball out wide, cuts in and takes on the full-back and another two defenders with great dribbling and eventually even though he's falling is able to curl the ball into the top corner.

Spain dominated but only found their second goal in the 51st minute, Villa from outside the box takes a shot which is deflected and ends up in the back of the net. Spain continued to dominate with huge chances for Sergio Ramos who constantly got up the field from his right-back position and Fernando Torres. Eventually Spain's pressure paid off with Jesus Navas having his feet swept from underneath him in the penalty area, a penalty for Spain and David Villa looks for the hat-trick. Villa sends the keeper the wrong way but shoots it just wide of the post.

Then late on in the 86th Villa has another chance to complete the hat-trick but takes a touch too much and has it swept away by a Honduran defender. At the end, Spain had 7 shots on target while Honduras had 0, a great match.

Portugal 7-0 to DPR Korea and Chile 1-0 to 10-man Switzerland

Two different wins, while they are both very important for Chile and Portugal, they were different types of wins, we saw Portugal eventually break the floodgates open to score 7, and Chile having to grind out a goal for a tight win.

Here's how Group G stands after Portugal's win:

Brazil             (6)
Portugal         (4)
Ivory Coast    (1)
DPR Korea   (0)

June 21, 2010 - Cape Town, South Africa - epa02214529 Picture combo shows Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo balancing the ball before scoring the 6-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group G preliminary round match between Portugal and North Korea at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, 21 June 2010.
Ronaldo's head juggling right before the goal
Portugal - DPR Korea 

In the first half we saw a tight game, with Portugal having difficulty to break down a tight DPR Korea defence, all this while DPR Korea attacked Portugal with organization and speed. It was a tight affair but eventually the first goal came, Tiago right outside the area with two defenders on him was able to slip a pass through to Raul Mereiles who coolly finished. This was the only goal of the half as Portugal still weren't as confident as they could've been as they went into the second.

After halftime the flood-gates opened for Portugal, first Simao finished through Ri Myong-Guk's legs from a through ball, then Hugo Almeida headed home the second from a wonderful counter-attack. After that Tiago with a low shot got one followed by Liedson and then Cristiano Ronaldo, who trying to round the keeper had the ball flicked up as he ran with it juggling on his head/neck to then realize where it was and pass the ball in the net. And finally the seventh came again from Tiago in the 89th minute, as Portugal finished off DPR Korea and prepare to face Brazil next round.

Chile's Esteban Paredes and Jean Beausejour (R) celebrate after scoring against Switzerland during the 2010 World Cup Group H match at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth June 21, 2010.        REUTERS/Michael Buholzer (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Paredes and Beausejour celebrate Chile's only goal
Chile - Switzerland

Chile started attacking right away, in the 10th minute we saw Benaglio parry two long range shots one after the other from Vidal and Carmona. After this shaky start for the Swiss, Behrami was sent off in the 31st minute with a direct red card. As he was shielding the ball, his elbows were flying up high near a Chileans face and eventually there was contact which the referee punished. So Switzerland finding themselves in a situation where they have to defend.

Chile continue to press as Sanchez did well to get a shot from right outside the six yard box which was central and saved from Benaglio. In the second half Chile pressed very high up the field and eventually caught the Swiss defence off guard, Sanchez 1 on 1 with Benaglio who does well to save from the rushing winger.

Finally Chile find the winner with a through ball to Paredes who gets past Benaglio and provides a great cross for Gonzalez who heads the ball into the net, there was a sniff of offside but the referee was probably right with the decision. Then late on Paredes misses a 1 on 1, and the Swiss also create a great opportunity but have the ball go just wide. So the final score 1-0 to Chile.


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