Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Meet Your World Cup Groups: Group A


Who'd have thought that South Africa of all places would be holding a FIFA World Cup. A guy I knew got mugged not five seconds after he'd stepped outside the terminal at Johannesburg airport. You wouldn't under any circumstance consider stopping at a red light over there. In fact, you might even want to speed up. A guy seriously invented this as a solution to car-jackings:

Rape is so common that women carry condoms to offer to their attacker. But other than all that, it's a beautiful country...Sepp Blatter loves the place. Everywhere he goes there, he gets his balls rubbed.

As a footballing nation, South Africa makes a great rugby and cricketing nation. They greatfully accepted automatic entry as hosts from Blatter in exchange for some under-the-table action. If you look back over the years, home crowds make a massive difference in World Cups, so we can expect the Jaapies to greatly over-perform. This will probably be mostly due to soft-cock refereeing in the form of lop-sided foul counts and a couple of ludicrous penalties. But will it be enough for them to make the knockout stages? Most of their squad will come from South Africa's national league which obviously pales into insignificance compared to the leagues in Europe. Their only real star player is Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar. Up front, Benni McCarthy can be a bit hot and cold, but is dangerous and needs to be respected. He'll likely be very busy with the urgings of the home crowd, as I'm sure the referees will be too, but he'll need a few of his mates to lift. This is a tough group, and I would say that while not impossible, it's very unlikely they'll advance.


With the ugly time zone difference between Australia and South Africa, matches will be at 9:30pm, midnight and 4:30am, i.e. all freakin' night. So there'll be no sleep, but plenty of alcohol, and plenty of my favourite midnight snack:

I'm gonna murder me some of this come June/July...

Mexico were in genuine danger of not qualifying for the World Cup during the short and ill-fated reign of Sven-Goran Eriksson as manager. The second coming of Javier Aguirre turned around the confidence and form of the players dramatically. Aguirre knows how to get the best out of individuals and is not afraid to give the boys some lessons in sneaky tackles:

The team has strung together a nice string of results, winning 14 of 18 matches under Aguirre and I like the schedule of friendlies they have leading into South Africa 2010. They play other WC qualified teams in Chile, England, Netherlands and Italy as their final lead-up games...and that is how you prepare for a World Cup right there. Key players include Barcelona's Rafa Marquez in central defence, the dos Santos brothers, Jonathon (Barcelona) and Giovani (Galatasary), and Mexico being Mexico, they have a whole horde of players who can get on the scoresheet. I'm expecting a strong showing and I think they'll definitely fancy their chances of going through, despite a tough and open group.

URUGUAY (you-are-gay)(FIFA Ranking: 18)

Australia's old nemesis had a better time qualifying for the World Cup against Costa Rica in their 2010 playoff, after once again finishing 5th in CONMEBOL qualifying. That doesn't sound all that impressive but we all know the strength of competition in South America. It's hard to believe that Uruguay have a population of just 4 million people and continue to qualify for the WC Finals, 2006 aside! Anyway, Uruguay is located here:

Shenanigans aside, Uruguay have players scattered all over the world, none at the really big clubs, but it's a very capable squad nonetheless. They have a pair of formidable strikers in Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) and Luis Suarez (Ajax), and another player to watch is talented young midfielder/winger Nicolas Lodeiro (Ajax), who was man of the match in the 2nd leg of the playoff against Costa Rica. They are definitely in with a shot to qualify for the knockout stages, and the more you look at this group, the key match seems to be Uruguay's match against Mexico.

FRANCE (FIFA Ranking: 10)

Qualifying for South Africa in the dodgiest possible fashion, with Thierry Henry celebrating his clear hand-ball goal assist, it's hard to know what to expect from the Frenchy Fag-Nasties sometimes. They were uninspiring throughout the whole qualification process but one gets the feeling that, with the talent and depth at their disposal, and with a history of strong World Cup showings, that they'll have their shit together come June. Most of their squad play in teams that were in the last 8 of the Champions League, so there is a multitude of options for their manager. Unfortunately for the players and fans, Raymond Domenech is a weirdo, prone to erratic selections/tactical decisions, and refuses to explain said erratic selections/tactical decisions, and doesn't trust Scorpios. That said, he somehow got them to the 2006 Final. Henry, Anelka, Malouda, Sagna, Evra, Gallas, Ribery, Diarra, Diarra, Gourcuff...do I really need to go on? They should top the group if they bring their A game...and leave all the Scorpios at home.

Group A

Match Date Venue Team 1 Team 2 Kick-off (AEST)
1 12 June Johannesburg South Africa Mexico 00:00
2 12 June Cape Town Uruguay France 04:30
17 17 June Tshwane/Pretoria South Africa Uruguay 04:30
18 18 June Polokwane France Mexico 04:30
33 23 June Rustenburg Mexico Uruguay 00:00
34 23 June Mangaung/Bloemfontein France South Africa 00:00

PREDICTION: My early tip is France and Mexico to progress to the round of 16.


JB said...

Fantastic preview captain! There will certainly be plenty of nachos and accompanying beverages to sooth the nerves as the world cup is played out.

Would have to say that strong cases to be made for both uruaguay and mexico to go through and mexico can be disapointing on the world cup stage.

Can't wait for your group b preview.

Captain Carnage said...

My Group B preview is currently under construction...will be up soon...