Thursday, July 29, 2010

Asian Cup 2015 Australia

Asian Cup 2015 Australia.
The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) on Thursday formally handed over its bid for the AFC Asian Cup 2015 finals at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur in AFC House.

AFC President Mohammed Bin Hammam received the bid book from FFA Chairman Frank Lowy in the presence of AFC Vice President Zhang Jilong, AFC General Secretary Alex Soosay and FFA CEO Ben Buckle.

Australia is the only candidate to bid for the 16th edition the Asian Cup tournament.

Mr Lowy said “We at the FFA are dedicated, honoured and privileged to make AFC Asian Cup bigger, better and more successful than the previous editions.

“It’s my honour to present the bid book and I can tell you that Australia is excited to host this event at all levels, sporting, government and the general public."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Europe's teen talent shines in France

England u-19 team.
With the World Cup exposing a number of ageing European teams in need of new blood, a glimpse of the immediate future can be seen at the 2010 UEFA U-19 Championship, taking place in France at the moment.

Reigning champions Ukraine, who hosted the 2009 edition, failed to qualify, but hosts France have stormed into the last four, trouncing the Netherlands 4-1 and Austria 5-0. Joining them from group A are England, who beat Austria 3-2, drew 1-1 with France and lost 0-1 to the Dutch.

Although the French are the tournament's highest scorers, top of the points charts are surprise, surprise, Spain, the only unbeaten team. The Spanish U19s defeated Croatia and Portugal 2-1 before a comfortable 3-0 dismissal of Italy.

Top of the goal charts with three strikes are Liverpool's Spanish prodigy Daniel Pacheco and Croatian midfielder Zvonko Pamic, who plays for Freiburg in Germany.

UEFA U-19 Semi-Finals Tue 27th July

SPAIN v ENGLAND
Saint-Lo 1600

FRANCE v CROATIA Caen 1900Final Fri 30th July


(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile


World Cup Posters

J. League Results July 25 2010

J. League Results July 25 2010.
Sunday 25 July

Kawasaki Frontale 1 Kyoto Sanga 0
Shonan Bellmare 1 FC Tokyo 3
Vissel Kobe 3 Omiya Ardija 1

Saturday 24 July

Urawa Reds 0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1
Jubilo Iwata 2 Kashima Antlers 3
Cerezo Osaka 3 Montedio Yamagata 0
Vegalta Sendai 2 Albirex Niigata 3
Yokohama F Marinos 1 Gamba Osaka 0
Nagoya Grampus 3 Shimizu S-Pulse 3

J.League Table

Kashima Antlers P 14 Pts 30
Shimizu S-Pulse P 14 Pts 27
Nagoya Grampus P 14 Pts 26
Kawasaki Frontale P 14 Pts 24
Cerezo Osaka P 14 Pts 23
Hiroshima P 14 Pts 22

Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 9
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 8
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 7
Renatinho, Kawasaki Frontale 7
Kazuma Watanabe, Yokohama F Marinos 7
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo Iwata 7
Shinji Kagawa, Cerezo Osaka 7
Marcio Richardes, Albirex Niigata 7

Previous Results

J.League News

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Football in Sun & Shadow - a look back at the 2010 World Cup

South Africa.
South Africa 2010 was being billed as a disaster ever since the Rainbow Nation romped home unopposed in the bidding war.

The country's high crime rate, political turmoil and level of HIV infection had given journalists a rich seam to of scare stories to mine, reviving a primal Western fear of darkest Africa as the World Cup boldy trod where no one had gone before.

As it transpired, Sepp Blatter's baby was delivered peacefully, with nothing more heinous than the high-decibel blast of plastic horns to assault the eardrums of fans across the world. Crime was an issue for the locals with their electric fences, multiple doors and roaming security staff, but it was soon obvious there was little risk of any visiting fans becoming another statistic.

The FIFA President was as disgusted by the ugly card-fest of a final as anyone, but will have slept soundly in the knowledge nothing seriously went wrong during his tournament.
Those of us who travelled to South Africa came away disappointed in the transport situation, which left us stuck for hours in traffic jams on inadequate roads, but fans could not complain about the cost of living in the Rainbow Nation, having shelled out an arm and a leg for the initial flight of course.

Frank Lampard's wrongly annulled strike against Germany followed by an offside Argentina goal on 'Technology Sunday' ensures that the TV replays debate is back on the agenda, and will never go away until something more advanced than the human eye is allowed to participate in decision making.

Talking of England, a milestone has surely been reached with no fans being arrested during the course of a World Cup for public order offences, apart from the dolt who briefly entered the dressing room in Cape Town. The team might have backfired once more, but the home of football happily failed to hit the headlines for hooliganism.

The Three Lions looked a more spent force than ever on the field, utterly eclipsed by a rampant young German team whose simple counter-attacking strategy wiped out Argentina as well before the Spanish passmasters reminded them who is still top dog.

The winners rarely wowed the crowds like they had at Euro 2008, showed a depressing tendency to surround the referee in order to get opponents booked and were not averse to the odd dive or two on their way to the trophy. And in bagging their first World Cup, Spain also took the prize as the lowest-scoring winners in the competition's history.

Yet la furia roja's final win was a huge relief to neutrals worldwide after the Netherlands, yes the Netherlands, had tried to foul their way to the Cup with the most unpleasant display seen in a final since Argentina in 1990. They gave the world an x-rated moment courtesy of Nigel De Jong's karate kick and to further blot their copybook, some Dutch players berated the referee when he had actually done them favours in not expelling De Jong and Mark Van Bommel, who after verbally abusing Howard Webb at the end, sealed his display of bad losing by not shaking hands with the Spaniards.

With Holland no longer the home of cultured football, Spain carry the torch, ironically a seed which may have been sown by Johann Cruyff at Barcelona in the 1970s.
Ghana apart, there were no heroic campaigns to get excited about. The Black Stars won the sympathy vote as the final African competitor and their heartbreakingly self-inflicted exit was the stuff of Greek tragedy, but it seemed too little too late for the underdogs, who had mostly been wiped out in the first round. Japan & South Korea both showed Eastern promise before succumbing to South American power, which briefly looked like overwhelming the competition, and Uruguay can be proud of going furthest from that continent.

The football was not as negative and defensive as some recent tournaments have been, but rarely caught fire with no unforgettable contests. There were some fine goals however, and a number of long-range peaches, perhaps a result of the controversial Jabulani, the latest official World Cup ball to annoy those who have to play with it.

While Uruguay's advance to the semi-finals may mean the death of 4-4-2 has been prematurely announced, 2010 will go down as the year in tactics of 4-2-3-1 and twin defensive midfielders. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira for the Germans exemplified this, while De Jong and Van Bommel guarded Holland's approaches like two of the three heads of Cerberus.

While formations mutate, it seems nothing revolutionary can happen again in World Cup tactics and it was telling that the inheritors of Total Football finally opted to play a disruptive game instead of taking attacking ideas to the opposition. Even that most isolated of nations, North Korea, showed discipline and organisation in their narrow 2-1 loss to Brazil, a world away from their all-out attacking style in 1966, although it all fell apart for them again against Portugal.

No single theme hung over the tournament as heavily as penalty shoot-outs did in 1990 or player fatigue did in 2002, but only because the refereeing injustices did not affect the outcome of big games. Had Andres Iniesta strayed offside before receiving Cesc Fabregas' assist before scoring, or the Dutch seen a goal like Lampard's wrongly disallowed, the video issue would be burning like wildfire. As it transpires, some concession to technology, perhaps via the fourth official on goal-line decisions, seems likely sooner rather than later, certainly before the next World Cup.

FIFA are beginning to accept they are too remote in the eyes of the world, which perhaps prompted them to splash their logo over substitutes' bibs and TV replays in South Africa. They must be seen to be sensitive to public grievances over refereeing and technology, ticketing and other matters, so their tentative u-turn on video replays is cautiously propitious.

A global organisation of such magnitude demands more accountability and transparency.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

World Cup Posters

Nagoya vs Shimizu lives up to all the hype

Nagoya vs Shimizu lives up to all the hype.
Vegemite is a common sight on the shelves at Japanese speciality store Kaldi Coffee Farm, and there was another slice of Australia on display in downtown Nagoya overnight.

Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy ran out against another lanky Australian in the form of Eddy Bosnar, but their was little to separate their respective sides as Nagoya Grampus drew 3-3 with Shimizu S-Pulse at Mizuho Stadium.

The draw maintains the status quo in the J. League, with Shimizu remaining second and Nagoya third behind current league leaders Kashima Antlers.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

Friday, July 23, 2010

Transfer Mill Starts To Grind In South Korea

K.League.
In between football seasons comes the silly season - a time when clubs are looking for new players and vice-versa. The internet bulges with stories of interest, denials, refusals, offers, medical tests, breakdowns and then, sometimes, a picture of a beaming player wearing a new club shirt.

The World Cup comes around every four years to add extra impetus. The global stage acts as a month-long advertisement for players. In Korea’s case it lasted almost three weeks but it was enough to set a few wheels in motion.

Potentially the biggest transfer of a South Korean player this summer is that of Park Chu-young. The striker, who turned 25 last week, already plies his trade in Europe and has been with AS Monaco since August 2008. His solid performances in France were noticed in bigger leagues and then his impressive displays in South Africa, have, according to reports, persuaded English Premier League clubs to check their bank balances to find the $10 million or so that would be necessary to buy him.

Monaco doesn’t want to sell but that doesn’t always matter in the modern transfer market. The Ligue One team played an exhibition against Incheon United on July 11 after which coach Guy Lacombe was quizzed by local journalists about the future of the former FC Seoul star. The boss said the usual stuff about that ‘Park is a Monaco player’ but admitted that ‘never’ was not a common word in the lexicon of football.

The English media took notice of such remarks and so did, according to reports, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Aston Villa and Fulham. It is an impressive list and while such reports should often be served with a pinch of salt, there is a gathering of momentum that suggests that Park will be on his way north before the end of the summer. It will be a move welcomed by a Korean media that likes to see its stars in England, the most popular league in the world.

Those journalists would probably choose Liverpool, 18-time English and five-time European champions, as the preferred destination. With Park Ji-sung at Manchester United, another Park at United’s great rival just up the road would add an interesting extra sub-plot ahead of the new season.

New Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson, who hardly selected Seol Ki-hyeon in his time at Fulham, has asked the club’s loyal fans that if they have to read transfer reports, not to read too much into them."We are looking to add to and improve the squad, but I prefer not to talk or say what we are doing until we have something concrete to announce,” he told the club’s website. "We are being linked with players left, right and centre and it amuses me that we are sometimes linked with players we haven't even heard of.”

The well-travelled Hodgson has certainly heard of Park as it has been claimed in England and Korea that he tried to buy the star for former club Fulham in April 2009 only for the player to choose to stay by the Mediterranean rather than move to the London club with a stadium on the banks of the River Thames. Liverpool, as one of the biggest clubs in Europe, would be a different proposition despite the fact the club is in debt and seeking new owners.

Before the World Cup not many had heard of Cho Yong-hyung but the Jeju United defender played in all four games in South Africa and could be about to move direct from the K-League to the Premier League, something just two players, Lee’s Chung-young and Dong-gook, have done before.

The agent of the softly-spoken star has been happy to publicly declare interest. "Aston Villa and a few other European clubs have shown interest," said Yoon Ki-yeon. "I can confirm that he is on their transfer list and I expect the official deal will be made after the World Cup."

Some moves had been completed already. Cha Du-ri lined up in South Africa along with Ki Sung-yong and now the son of Korean legend Cha Bum-keun will be joining Ki in Glasgow at the home of Celtic.

The fun is only just beginning and will only intensify as mid-August and the start of the European season approaches.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Garry Cook & Roberto Mancini

Garry Cook, 10/07/2009 - "People have come to realise that you don't go from 0 to 100mph in no time at all. We don't want to be held to ransom, and have very clear directives."

Roberto Mancini, 21/07/2010 - "The problem is that when clubs know that it is Manchester City they are dealing with the prices go up. This is not good and it is not right."

Welcome to the real world Roberto. Basic economics says that if it is common knowledge that you have a bottomless wallet potential vendors will attempt to exploit that fact to the full.

It was exactly the same last year when City relentlessly pursued Joleon Lescott (who they eventually paid stupid money for) and Roque Santa Cruz (ditto) and John Terry (who saw sense and stayed put). And don't forget the £100m Kaka episode - they did not learn from the Robinho disaster and still don't realise how close they came to an even bigger one with Kaka.

And they are at it again - another £100m frittered on what appear to be gambles & unneeded players. More money splashed around with more greedy sharks circling the City pleasure boat.

Jerome Boateng is a 21 year old defender who doesn't know his best position. David Silva is a size zero waif-like winger who is not suited to the rigours of the Premiership. I hope somebody has told Silva he doesn't get a winter break. Yaya Toure is yet another defensive midfielder in an area of the pitch where Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong, Vincent Kompany & Patrick Viera already operate. Toure is not needed, not that good, and rumoured to be on around £200k a week.

Reportedly on the blue radar are Aleksandar Kolarov, a left back who will presumably displace Wayne Bridge, James Milner, the most overrated & expensive utility man in the world, and Mario Balotelli, the wild child of Milan who has triggered this "ransom" whinge.

Even when Mancini was quizzed about USA star Landon Donovan he replied “He is a good player. It could be possible.” Now call me Captain Sensible but surely saying something like "absolutely no chance, we don't need him." might be a better way of getting the price down should there be any substance to Mancini's comment?

City have made the bed that they will have to lie in for the duration of their Sheiky Love In. John Terry was not for sale. Neither was Lescott. Or Santa Cruz for that matter. This fact did not put City off in the warped belief that every player has his price. It is no surprise that they are being held to ransom as they once again employ the scatter gun approach of linking themselves with every player possible.

The problem is that the price of anybody half decent is vastly inflated so every other club is sitting waiting for City to close their wallet. Then they can all go out and see who is left or grab a bargain from the host of rejects that Mancini deems surplus to requirements at Eastlands.

BruiseLee

Monday, July 19, 2010

J. League Results July 18 2010

J. League Results July 18 2010.
Sunday 18 July

Kyoto Sanga 0 Shonan Bellmare
1 Gamba Osaka 3 Urawa Reds 2
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3 Yokohama F Marinos 0

Saturday 17 July

Omiya Ardija 0 Nagoya Grampus 1
FC Tokyo 2 Vissel Kobe 2
Shimizu S-Pulse 0 Jubilo Iwata 0
Montedio Yamagata 3 Vegalta Sendai 1
Kashima Antlers 2 Kawasaki Frontale 1
Albirex Niigata 1 Cerezo Osaka 1

J.League Table

Kashima Antlers P 13 Pts 27
Shimizu S-Pulse P 13 Pts 26
Nagoya Grampus P 13 Pts 25
Kawasaki Frontale P 13 Pts 21
Cerezo Osaka P 13 Pts 20
Urawa Reds P 13 Pts 20

Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 9
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 8
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 7
Renatinho, Kawasaki Frontale 7
Kazuma Watanabe, Yokohama F Marinos 7
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo Iwata 7
Shinji Kagawa, Cerezo Osaka 7

Previous Results

J.League News

Sunday, July 18, 2010

World Cup 2010 Review

2010 World Cup.
It took less than an hour of South Africa 2010 for South African hopes to be sent soaring as the man with the Motown ditty name, Siphiwe Tshabalala, blasted a crisply volleyed strike into the Mexican goal, cranking the vuvuzelas up to eleven. Ooh Tshabalala, Tshabalala ding dong. Played out to the soundtrack of a broken fridge the greatest show on earth was finally on the road but it was a false dawn for the hosts.

The joy lasted just 25 minutes before Rafael Marquez became the first to spoil the fun with a leveller that ultimately led to South Africa becoming the first hosts ever not to make the Last 16. Diego Forlan completed the party-pooping with two fine goals in a 3-0 win that propelled Uruguay to group winners and on to an eventual fourth place finish.

South Africa’s only consolation was beating an imploding France team in the final group game to condemn Les Blues to bottom place and home in shame, but a victory over a side coached by a walking dead man and chock full of incredible sulks is nothing to blow your horn about.

South Africa’s failure was mirrored by Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon & Ivory Coast and so African attention switched to Ghana. The Black Stars carried the hopes of a continent on a glorious run to the quarter finals which ended in heartbreak against Uruguay as Luis Suarez’s ‘hand of the devil’ hammered the final nail into the Ghanaian coffin with a 120th minute handball that earned him a dismissal and Ghana the penalty chance to make history. Asamoah Gyan’s ballooned miss and subsequent success in a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat provided this tournament’s Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce moment. African hopes withered and died but the vuvuzelas lived on, albeit with the pitch side microphones turned down.

Here’s a good quiz question – which was the only unbeaten team at South Africa 2010? Answer – New Zealand as I’m sure you already knew, you clever clogs. Three draws in the group stage saw the All Whites finish above an abysmal Italian side that went the same way as those moody Frenchies. Paraguay & Slovakia were the beneficiaries; both made it out of the group only to be sent packing by the two eventual finalists.

Spain did for Paraguay in the quarter finals en route to lifting the trophy on the back of four successive 1-0 wins, ensuring they became the lowest scoring champions ever with eight goals, five of them scored by David Villa who shared the golden boot with Germany’s Thomas Meuller and, very dubiously, Wesley Sneijder of Holland. Spain also became the first team to lift the trophy after losing their first game; to Switzerland, unsurprisingly 0-1.

Netherlands did not lose a game until the final where a late extra time Iniesta goal was all they deserved for attempting to clog their way to the trophy. Heavy footed spoiling tactics were an affront to the sublime total football attitude of their forebears but even then Arjen Robben had two gilt edged chances to win it. It was an inglorious end to a glorious run that featured wins over Slovakia, Brazil & Uruguay.

Brazil were generally disappointing with an unconvincing 2-1 victory over North Korea setting the tone in their opening game. They still managed to top a tricky group that included Ivory Coast & Portugal, and they saw off Chile easily enough in round two, but the Dutch were too strong in the quarter finals and Brazil were dispatched in a red mist of ill-discipline and acrimony.

Portugal racked up the biggest score of the tournament when they beat North Korea 7-0 but Cristiano Ronaldo failed to fire consistently and joined the growing ranks of underperforming super stars. Finishing second to Brazil ensured they met Spain to become the first of La Roja’s 1-0 victims.

For many an observer, Brazil had looked the most balanced team going into the finals. By the end of the first round of games it was Argentina who had snatched that title; and this for a team who were being guided by a madman.

Interlude: Diego Maradona is a madman; fact not opinion. His use of over 100 players in qualifying was topped when he selected 30 year old Ariel Garce for his final 23 man squad. Garce is a journeyman defender of 4 caps (3 friendlies in 2003 & a 4th recently against Haiti) who was taken because Maradona had a dream that Argentina won the World Cup and the only face he could remember was Garce’s. This story even beats Raymond Domenech’s cosmic selection strategy.

Maradona prowled the touchline in beard and suit and looked like he might bring himself on for Messi at any moment. In the end Messi ran out of steam, Maradona ran out of players to try and Argentina were walloped by those pesky Germans in the quarter finals.

Which brings us neatly to the only two football ‘super powers’ yet to be mentioned. The first, Germany, did as they always do – they brought their A-game to the finals and came third, scoring four goals in three separate matches and only being outdone by Puyol’s thumping header in the semi finals. They were very close to being world champions yet again with a team built on youth, ethics and teamwork.

The second, England, are a ‘super power’ in their own minds but actually couldn’t be further away from a second world title after a disastrous campaign in which their talisman left his heart at home, the coach lost his sanity, the defence lost each other, and the country finally realised they are simply not good enough. It’s like proud parents discovering that the apple of their eye has been placed in the remedial class at school. It was all topped off with an embarrassing Last 16 tonking by Germany and the most unbelievable non-decision in a World Cup game since the last unbelievable non-decision...which ironically involved England and a certain Argentine hand.

There were some players who made a name for themselves in South Africa (Thomas Mueller, Robert Vittek, Keisuke Honda, Mesut Özil, Asamoah Gyan, Landon Donovan), some who enhanced an already growing reputation (Diego Forlan, Wesley Sneijder), and several superstars who simply crashed & burned (Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, Kaka). There was also one, Miroslav Klose, who was cruelly denied by injury the chance to become the World Cup’s all-time leading scorer.

Ultimately the best team won and Paul the Octopus predicted it but South Africa 2010 will probably not be remembered for the football or Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s semi final goal, it will mostly be remembered for one thing – those bloody vuvuzelas.

BruiseLee

Thursday, July 15, 2010

World Cup 2010 Memorabilia

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is over but make sure you have something in hand to remember a great tournament.

What better than a Cotapaxi World Cup pen?

Cotapaxi plastic pens are made of the finest ABS and Poly Carbonate Plastics.

Each Cotapaxi World Cup pen comes equipped with their patented gel refill that has a stainless steel point and a Tungsten Carbide Ball which allows for the smoothest writing on the planet.

World Cup Pens.

Cotapaxi cares about our planet and that is why every Cotapexi Pen is covered by our free refills for life program.

Buy these World Cup 2010 souvenir pens

From clogs of war to winsome whiners

From clogs of war to winsome whiners.The mystique surrounding the Netherlands took a severe battering in Soweto.

Eight yellow and one red card for two bookable offences were the proof the Dutch did not play the Beautiful Game at the World Cup Final.

Nigel de Jong's karate kick on Xabi Alonso will live long in the memory, as will the cheek of Mark Van Bommel in berating the match officials after a game in which he was lucky to even participate let alone stay on the field, following persistently rough challenges in both the semi-final and final.

Spain were no angels with five bookings themselves, but kept it cleaner than the Dutch, whose ugly approach brought back memories of Argentina in the final of Italia '90, having decided pre-game they could not beat their opponents with superior football.

This was not the brilliant orange of qualification but a rotten apple of a team in the end, taking the greatest stage of all to spoil and disrupt instead of triumph and entertain. Holland left its talent on the drawing board in favour of its studs and Nelson Mandela and the 17 heads of state in attendance must have been as repelled as the rest of the billion or so watchers worldwide.

That the Dutch chose the beast over beauty was a de facto betrayal of their heritage, a legacy the Spanish had cherished since Johann Cruyff's days at the Camp Nou and polished into a finished article called tiki-taka, which has now conquered the world.


The Netherlands used to be special in so many eyes, a small nation over-achieving at football thanks to a religious commitment to honing skill and intelligence in players and a tactical enlightenment which flowered most wondrously in their 'total football' of the 1970s. Ajax has been a beacon to the soccer world in its player development and it is a feather in their cap if their fans really do boo a 4-0 win achieved without panache.

All the respect built up over the years was shattered, perhaps irreparably, in Soweto, and the world may start to look elsewhere in future for the torch-bearers of the Intelligent Game, starting with the Dutch's vanquishers, Spain.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fifa World Rankings July 14 2010

Fifa World Rankings July 14 2010.
Fifa's World Rankings were announced today. World Cup winners Spain are in top spot followed by The Netherlands, Brazil and Germany.

England are in 7th place, while Argentina are in 5th.

Egypt is the highest African team in 9th. The USA is up one spot to 13th.


1 Spain
2 Netherlands
3 Brazil
4 Germany
5 Argentina
6 Uruguay
7 England
8 Portugal
9 Egypt
10 Chile
11 Italy
12 Greece
13 USA
13 Serbia
15 Croatia
16 Paraguay
17 Russia
18 Switzerland
19 Slovenia
20 Australia

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

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Soccer Books & DVDs

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Espana World Cup 'Souvenir Scores' posters to support UNICEF





A must buy for all Espana football fans - the Espana World Cup 'Souvenir Scores' as featured here.

Trebleseven Design has designed 16 new 'Souvenir Scores' poster designs with World Cup results / scores included etc. The last 8 teams have their own unique colour poster and scores highlighted of how they progressed to reach the later stages - making it a great 'memento' if you are a fan of Spain / Netherlands or even the Quarter finalists ( Ghana / Paraguay etc) and I've even designed an England version!

To raise as much money as possible for UNICEF - I want to encourage people to buy en mass so will be offering the posters in 2 ways -

1) High Res A3 vector based PDF files priced at a bargain £1 per poster pdf or only £5 for all 16 poster pdfs - these will be emailed + can then be printed up by the buyer to A2 / A1 etc

2) High Quality Giclée print - email david@trebleseven.com for details

Poster artwork pdfs and prints can be ordered through my website www.trebleseven.com

2010 World Cup Final Wrapped Up

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup having reached a conclusion, Ben Shires and the Wrapped Up team are back for one final flurry of World Cup wrap up action.

In this episode... we see how a World Cup game might look in the year 3244 PLUS Diego Maradona demonstrates how to awaken the Maradona within YOU! If you like this, join us on Facebook





Monday, July 12, 2010

Back To The Bread And Butter (Or Kimchi And Rice)

Back To The Bread And Butter (Or Kimchi And Rice)
Football never stops. The World Cup has just finished but a full program of K-League returns this weekend after the summer break. Much has happened since May 9 when the 15 teams were last in action not least the fact that the national team reached the second round in South Africa for the first time ever in a World Cup held overseas.

There is always a ‘World Cup effect’ to be felt domestically after the quadrennial competition comes to an end. The beautiful game has been unavoidable for the past few weeks and the success of the national team will give a boost to attendances around the country. How much and for how long, well, those are the questions currently being asked by a number of journalists. As always, we will just have to wait and see.

Unfortunately for local fans, many of the stars who shone in South Africa are already back in Europe and not too many K-Leaguers who took the pitch in the Port Elizabeth, Durban and Johannesburg will be in action in Gwangju, Ulsan and Incheon over the coming weeks. The ones that did return may have their ranks thinned further as the Taeguk Warriors’ good performances on the global stage caught the eye of European clubs.

Defender Cho Yong-hyong has already been linked with a move to English Premier League team Aston Villa and with the European transfer season about to reach full throttle in the next few weeks, more rumors, reports, links and even moves are sure to happen.

Other World Cup related K-League action is the fact that a number of teams have had their coach linked to the vacant national team position after Huh Jung-moo stepped down on July 2. There have still been a couple of coaching changes already.

The biggest story is that of Cha Bum-kun. South Korea's 1998 World Cup boss left Suwon Bluewings on June 6 after six years in charge of the two time Asian champion. The first part of the season was a terrible one for the club’s many fans who are accustomed to tasting, or at least getting a whiff of it. After eight defeats in eleven games, Suwon is bottom of the standings.

His replacement is an interesting one. Suwon is a team accustomed to big name players and coaches but the club appointed Yoon Sung-hyo. The former Suwon player and assistant coach has enjoyed some success coaching Soongsil University but will find life at the Big Bird a little different. In years to come, the club’s appointment will either be seen as a stroke of genius or symbolic of a lack of ambition. His first K-League match comes against fellow strugglers Daegu FC on Sunday.

Incheon United is also in the midst of change. Serbian boss Ilja Petkovic quit in June as his wife was reportedly ill and they wanted to return home. Soon after though, reports came through that Serbia’s 2006 World Cup coach seemingly had his geography a little confused as he ended up in Qatar, a land renowned for lucrative coaching contracts, to take over Al Ahli. Assistant manager Kim Bong-kil will take charge of the team until the end of the season.

Ulsan Horangi starts the second part of the season in top spot and face third-placed Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the biggest game of the weekend. Ulsan boss Kim Ho-gon has shown tentative interest in the vacant national team coaching job while his Seongnam counterpart Shin Tae-yong has ruled himself out of the running. By the time the two meet, the decision will be made and there could be a part of Kim hoping that he will not be sat on the UIsan bench on Sunday.

The Tigers may be in first place but it is tight at the top with just three points separating first and fifth and six between the leaders and Busan in eighth. Jeju United is a surprise second with Seongnam, Seoul and Gyeongnam all close behind. There is still more than half of the season to go however and much football to be played.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

World Cup Posters

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spain win World Cup

Spain have won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa thanks to a 116th-minute winner from midfielder Andres Iniesta.

The Barcelona star converted a pass from substitute Cesc Fabregas with just four minutes of extra-time remaining, after the two sides failed to break the deadlock in normal time.

Dutch players in training
The Dutch were confident of victory before the game, however Spain's win continued the remarkable soothsaying run of Paul the Octopus, who before the match predicted that Vicente Del Bosque's team would come up trumps.

Football fans were no doubt relieved that the Oberhausen-based oracle was not turned into octopus paella after Germany's narrow semi-final defeat to the Spaniards, as the eight-legged marine oddity once again picked the winner.

Spain are now the current European and World champions - and deservedly so - following an outstanding 2010 World Cup campaign.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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World Cup 2010 Semi Finals Wrapped Up

World Cup 2010 Semi Finals Wrapped Up.
Ben Shires and the Wrapped Up team are back to wrap up the round in which four teams became two - the 2010 FIFA World Cup semi finals.

There's a trippy recreation of the Van Bronckhorst goal with commentary from a couple of Dutch stoners, PLUS we see why nobody would refuse an offer from Fabio Capello...

If you like this, join us on Facebook

Winning the Cup with the Art of War

"Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought."

Vicente Del Bosque and Bert Van Maarwijk will probably not be sleeping too soundly tonight, wondering if they have left any stones unturned in their quest to win the World Cup tomorrow night.

Whichever coach triumphs will see his name etched into the annals of the game forever as the first Spanish or Dutch World Cup-winning manager; the expectations are huge, the nervous anticipation inevitable as their heads hit the pillows in South Africa.

Questions will be scurrying through their minds - How can the Dutch contain the tiki-taka of Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, how can they shut down David Villa and stop Pedro or Fernando Torres running amok in their last third?

Will the Spanish have the steel to avoid the meaningful attentions of Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong? Can their defence cope with the craft of Wesley Sneijder in the middle and the high-speed threat of Arjen Robben slicing down the flank?

If Del Bosque or Van Maarwijk have exhausted their years of football knowledge for answers, perhaps they could turn over two and a half thousand years back to the Chinese wisdom of Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War', a perennial favourite for learning how to beat your enemy and win. Hey, if it worked in the 6th century B.C....
  • He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks - a united team spirit, where everyone pulls in the same direction
  • Attack is the secret of defence; defence is the planning of an attack - get ready for the counter
  • Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him - Not sure pretending to be rubbish works, but playing catenaccio and break can
  • If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him - pinpoint their hotheads and wind them up, a la Materazzi and Zidane
  • If he is in superior strength, evade him - Attack the ropey right-back, not the classy left-back
  • If his forces are united, separate them - Get between their centre-backs, exploit that danger zone
  • Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected - Overlap fullbacks and make blindside runs
  • Show them a little prospect of gain to lure them, then attack and overcome them - A classic feature of counterattacking, wait until they have committed numbers forward before hitting them on the break at speed
  • The highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans - Sounds like Jose Mourinho's extensive counter-planning and the antithesis of Brian Clough's 'let them worry about us'
  • He will win who is not interfered with by the sovereign - Let your star men express themselves
  • Prevent the junction of the enemy's forces, disrupt them, cut their supply lines - Seems obvious enough, break-up their passing by closing down and pressing high up the pitch
  • The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided Attack their weak points, or more literally, don't lump high ball after high ball into the area if they are strong dealing with crosses
  • He will invariably conquer who knows whether it is right to take the offensive or defensive - Oh yes, understand the phases of the game, when to soak up the pressure, when to frustrate, when to attack in numbers
  • If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat - Do your homework on the opposition, get your scouts to follow them and prepare a battle plan and how you would play yourselves, because others will be penning them on you
(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Friday, July 9, 2010

2014 logo unveiled

Brazil & FIFA unveiled the logo of the 2014 World Cup in Johannesburg last night.
2014 logo unveiled.
Ricardo Teixeira, head of the Brazilian FA, revealed the design, entitled 'Inspiration', which shows three hands in national colours forming the shape of the trophy, to 500 guests at the traditional presentation by the tournament's next hosts.

"I can assure you the 2014 World Cup will be a perfect and unforgettable celebration," assured Texeira, rejecting fears of an even more disorganised World Cup than South Africa has been at times.

Brazil is a huge landmass with stadia, airports, roads and hotels in serious need of rebuilding before 2014. Add to that a crime problem to match or even beat South Africa's. Fans will mostly have to fly to get around the venues in four years' time, although plans are progressing for a high-speed rail link between Rio and Sao Paolo.

With such an exceptional footballing heritage in Brazil, and with the absence of alternative South American candidates, a World Cup in the land of Pele was always on the cards. Pele himself was not there in Joburg last night, perhaps because of a spat with Texeira, but former stars Romario and Carlos Alberto were, along with the nation's president Lula.

The preliminary qualifying draw takes place next July.

- Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tiki-taka halts Teutonic march to the final

FIFA World Cup semi-final - Spain 1:0 Germany
So in the end the Germans were human after all.

After a double demolition of England and Argentina which sent shockwaves throughout the soccer world, Joachim Low's lions were mown down by raging Spanish bulls.

Yogi was lost in the woods as Spain revived their Euro 2008 glory to hand him a sobering football lesson in Durban. Germany, so awesome in the knock-out stages that they had begun to acquire an unbeatable whiff, were cowed by the defiantly intricate passing of the European Champions, who persisted with their Beautiful Game in the face of the tournament's most dangerous outfit.

It was indeed a victory for football as the winners delighted at times and never resorted to a route one approach or launched the ball aimlessly out of defence. The Spanish allegiance to one-touch passing to feet rarely placed them in danger and ultimately had the desired effect of tiring out the chasing Germans physically, while their taking the game to them won the psychological battle.

Scoring first was key in the end as it prevented Germany playing their counter-attacking game which had speared England and Argentina so successfully. When the Germans did play on the rebound, Spanish bodies scuttled back and Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol held up the 'No Pasaran' banners.

After proving such a razor-sharp attacking force in previous rounds, the Germans were a blunt butter knife last night, limited to a single shot on target from substitute Toni Kroos. The suspension of Thomas Mueller had removed the Mannschaft's right-wing menace, but Bastian Schweinsteiger also failed to exert an influence, pinned back from advancing by the red shirts buzzing around him, while Mesut Ozil's rising star waned for a second match in succession.

Vicente del Bosque's tactical plan triumphed. Painfully aware how lethal Germany were on the break, he shrewdly dropped the sluggish Fernando Torres to add an extra body in the middle, with a twin shield between defence and midfield of Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets to block any German advances. Busquets in particular watched Ozil like a hawk and the passing in midfield from Alonso, Iniesta and Xavi was so crisp that Germany were left to chase.

In the event it was Spain's taking the game to Germany which handed them victory. They refused to be scared by Germany's previous results and their quick passing and commitment to possession in all areas of the field zapped their frightening opponents' venom.
"They are the masters of the game. You can see it in every pass. They can hardly be beaten," admitted Low ruefully.

German sub Marcell Jansen concurred: "Spain's organisation and tactics are in a different league," he said. "When they attack, the whole team comes forward, and when they defend, they all work together to keep it tight."

So many critics had hailed Germany's youth as the key to their winning, but the young guns of Deutschland were handed a footballing lesson by some old masters in Durban and put back in their place as a promising team of the future.

The spirit of 2008 breathes again. A beautiful team winning at the Beautiful Game. What is not to celebrate?

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

World Cup Posters

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

England's Football Fans Need Your Help - World Cup 2010

These men need your help. Desperately.



Taken from episode 2 of Wrapped Up: World Cup – an online comedy series that wraps up each stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in a unique and lo-fi style.

See more at wrappedup.tv or join us on Facebook

Monday, July 5, 2010

On The Buses: Traveling World Cup 2010

As usual I ignored all the hype and planned to do my own thing for this World Cup. Having befriended a South African in Ghana during CAN 2008, I was offered accommodation in Cape Town. I decided to take up this offer and spend my first week there.

Arriving in Cape Town on the first Sunday of the tournament I immediately set about finding the ticketing centre based in the airport, as no tickets were sent out of the country, all tickets were to be collected in South Africa by providing the card used for payment and the applicants passport.

Rainbow.


The centre was quickly located and my request just to have my tickets for Cape Town released was granted. This meant that I did not have to carry my other tickets around with me. I was delighted to be able to report that this is the most efficient ticketing process discovered on my travels.

Having done my homework on my hosts whereabouts I found that there was a restaurant at the foot of the block of flats - Arnold's. A useful reference point for finding the accommodation.

Unfortunately the weather in Cape Town for the first few days did not live up to its surroundings, as the days were overcast and wet, whilst the nights were cold especially at home where central heating appeared unheard of.

Ocean to the right.


The weather did improve towards the end of the week and this enabled me to see the beauty of the area. Numerous golden beaches adorn the peninsula and a trip to Chapman's Peak brought back memories of the Amalfi coast, (to help you, think of the minis in the Italian Job driving along the costal roads, with rocks falling!!!!)

The first match I saw was Italy v Paraguay, outside the stadium news broke that the security guards had gone on strike, but the police handled affairs with no apparent problems. It seemed a very European crowd, until of course the vuvuzelas got going.

I am sorry but anyone who thinks that this adds something to the game needs their head examining. The game itself was cagey with Italy managing to scrape a draw. Remembering the scenes at the Fan Fests in Germany I decided to try the South African version. Whilst the backdrop with the town hall and Table Mountain looked good, unfortunately the weather proved to be the deciding factor. In Germany the weather had been glorious here it was still wet and miserable. Fan Fests in winter don't work as well as they do in summer.

On The Buses: Traveling World Cup 2010.


My next game was England v Algeria, the highlight of this was strolling down the Fan Mile to the stadium, pedestrianised with plenty of bars and eateries and being made to realise how good this was compared to what I have to come, by friends who had already visited a number of stadiums. By this time the weather had turned and it felt like a warm summer's evening back home in the UK, so of I went to freezing Johannesburg the next day.

I had read all about the Gautrain, the new rail link which connected the airport with Sandton a popular area for tourists, in fifteen minutes. So upon arrival at the airport I headed off to find the local transport intent (as ever) on making my own way to my accommodation. Eventually I located the local mini buses, in order to get into town I would need to change at Kempton Park. Then I would be dropped off near the train station. From there I could catch a train to Soweto.

On The Buses: Traveling World Cup 2010.


I remember the advice given to me by South African friends in Cape Town, and realised that within three hours of arriving in Johannesburg I had done most of the things that they told me not to. But I had made it, finally by hijacking a minibus near Orlando station, to tour the area in order to find my accommodation.

The B & B was frequented by a number of Mexicans, all of whom had hired cars. They warned me that it was not easy to get around with out them. Undeterred I set out on the afternoon of the Brazil v Ivory Coast match to make my way to Soccer City.

I was aware of a new bus service provided by Rea Vaya that had started a few weeks ago and was I believed set up to provide transport to and from the games in Johannesburg. Despite the fact that no locals appeared to know about this I made it to the stadium by bus with just a fifteen minute ride. The instructions for getting back were simple get the bus from wherever you were dropped off. So after the game I did exactly that only to be told that this was not the case. (This is Africa.) A trek around the perimeter and I found the bus back home.

On The Buses: Traveling World Cup 2010.


I had found details of a bus company that were taking fans to games outside of Johannesburg, so I decided to use their services to get to Rustenburg for the Mexico v Uruguay game. Whilst Rustenburg is a mere 121 km away from Johannesburg and therefore what I would class as a two hour journey, the truth was from from this. The town of Rustenburg is reached by a single lane road which meant a horrendous build up of traffic approaching the town.

However just when you reach Rustenburg you realise there is no stadium in sight and the situation persists for another 30 minutes until you reach the Park and Ride the other side of town. On the bus one passenger decided he had had enough as we slowly crawled towards the Park & Ride entrance and he decided to get off for a toilet break. One minute later we reached the entrance and as the cars turned off we sped down a deserted dual carriageway.

Traveling World Cup 2010


His son was still on board and gave his dad directions. I directed his dad back to the Park and Ride to get a lift. A good job as the stadium seemed to be a further 10 miles out of town. As ever the Mexican supporters provided good entertainment on a day when both teams were virtually assured of their place in the next round.

Returning back to Johannesburg around 11, the next dilemma was, how to get back to Soweto. I heard someone nearby say that he was going back to Soweto so suggested we go together. He agreed and then asked how brave I was as we got off the coach at Johannesburg Park Station! Fifteen minutes later and we were in a minibus in Carlton Square where a certain Dr Mutalezi drove us back to Soweto going through every red light as though he was coiour blind!

Traveling World Cup 2010.


On Thursday I had a choice to make. Do I stay in town and go to Ellis Park to see Slovakia v Italy, or do I take another four coach ride to see Paraguay v New Zealand. Off course I took the coach.

Arriving at the pick up point fifteen minutes early I was not surprised to see no-one else there. Found that the set off time had been delayed by an hour and that we were to wait for people to be brought from Sandton. We eventually set off at 10.30 for the 4p.m. kick off in Polokwane. I noticed the driver seemed unsure of his directions and read the signs with him and realised we were not heading north as I expected.

He answered a phone call (whilst driving) and then explained that he was now heading to the airport to pick up some other passengers. This decision did not go down well with the current passengers as we sat stationary in queuing traffic. We then had the farce of picking up the passengers and driving round in circles trying to get out of the airport.

We finally made it out of the airport and headed towards our destination, only for the driver to answer his phone again and then slow down. His boss was bringing another passenger from the airport and we were to wait for him. The rest of the passengers told the driver, in no uncertain terms, that he should not stop.

On The Buses: Traveling World Cup 2010.


Seeing police at the side of the road he quickly parked up and walked towards the police for refuge. Whilst he did this the passengers argued between themselves about who should drive the minibus to its destination. A foolhardy thing to do when the driver was with the police just 50 metres away. Several members of our party decide to relieve themselves at the side of the motorway. One of our party approached the police to complain about the service we had received as he had an important football match to go to.

The policeman well aware of the unrest on the bus, threatened to arrest all of those urinating in public. This turned the tables, and silence ensued. At this moment I asked the policeman if you were allowed to answer your phone whilst driving, he replied that you were not. I was confident now that we would finally get going. We eventually arrived 30 minutes before kick off after I directed the driver to the correct parking spot.

On The Buses: Traveling World Cup 2010.


The game itself wasn't great but the atmosphere was better than I had experienced elsewhere. There was a large number of South Africans present and to hear them sing their national anthem, instead of blowing on their vuvuzelas was a welcome relief.

My final few days and some better football games. Chile gave a good account of themselves against Spain at Loftus Versfeld, whilst on Saturday I returned to Rustenburg for the USA v Ghana match, the journey back home being completed by 4a.m. My final match was Argentina v Mexico, would you believe, this time, on my third visit to Soccer City I caught the bus back from where I was dropped off.

© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cracking Quartet of Quarter Finals



What a fantastic quartet of Last Eight matches. They had everything - shocks, drama, red cards, controversy, goals, own goals, penalty’s, penalty misses, penalty shootouts. And after all the talk of the South American countries dominating this World Cup (even predictions of the semi finals being an all Latin affair) the semi final stage has a very European flavour.

First up Holland shocked everybody’s favourites, Brazil, who lost their cool and lost the match 2-1 from a winning position. Felipe Melo was dismissed for a cynical & nasty stamp on that cheeky chappy Arjen Robben and the Samba Stars imploded under Dutch pressure. Wesley Sneijder validated my decision to drop him from my dream team by scoring two, although one was definitely on OG so how FIFA can give it to the Dutchman is a mystery.
Following this first shock came Africa’s last hope, Ghana. The vuvuzelas were in full cry and Sulley Muntari turned them up to eleven with a long range cracker just before the break. That man Diego Forlan hit back with a sweet free kick that caught Kingson out and the 1-1 draw was played out through extra time with the match ebbing and flowing as each side applied the pressure.
Both teams had chances in extra time but nothing could prepare them for the drama that unfolded as the clock hit 120 minutes. One last assault from Ghana saw Luis Suarez earn this tournament’s “Hand of God” accolade as he batted the jabulani away with his hands. He was off and Asamoah Gyan was handed the opportunity to write himself & Ghana into the history books. This he duly did by smashing his penalty against the bar as Montevideo breathed a sigh of relief.
Gyan admirably tucked away the first penalty in the shootout for his own immediate “Psycho” moment but he was inconsolable as the Uruguayans won it 4-2 to reach their first semi final for 40 years – Sebastian Abreu’s winning penalty was as cool and cocky as you will ever see under such pressure.
With one of the favourites out it was the turn of another, Argentina, to step up to the plate and restore some South American confidence. Nobody read the script to Germany though...again...and they hammered Maradona’s men 4-0 in a result that makes England’s look reasonably good.
How do the Germans do it? Time after time after time. After time. In the 17 World Cups they have contested they have reached the quarter finals or better in 14 of them, appearing in six finals and winning it three times. They look the most likely champions again as Spain stutter along and Holland might just come up short.
Germany’s defence is miserly as usual but it is their attacking play that has been jaw dropping at times. They counter attack with such speed, fluency and precision that teams have folded under the onslaught. With a midfield supremely marshalled by Bastian Schweinsteiger and propelled by the creative flair of Mesut Ozil, it is a bedrock that their deadly strikeforce can revel in.
Miroslav Klose is on course for the Golden Boot for the second tournament in a row and is one short of Ronaldo’s all time record of 15. He has been Germany’s main threat with Lukas Podolski who between them scored 9 goals for the club last season. Couple that with Thomas Muller who had not scored for his country before the finals and now has four, and you wonder how they manage to peak at just the right time, every time. Germany have now scored four goals in three separate matches. The mind boggles.
Nobody wants to take on the Germans but if any team has the confidence and ability it is Spain. They narrowly passed their test again with a scrappy 1-0 win over a solid & unspectacular Paraguay but it could have been so different. Spain have yet to spark in this tournament and are grateful to their talisman, David Villa, for his five goals that have carried them through and put him out front in the Golden Boot race.
Villa got the winner once again in the last ten minutes but the match hinged on a dramatic few minutes on the hour mark in which Paraguay were awarded a penalty following Gerard Pique’s best Hulk Hogan impression in wrestling Oscar Cardozo to the ground. A nervy looking Cardozo dusted himself off and tickled the ball into Iker Casillas’ hands.
Spain went straight up the other end and won themselves a penalty through David Villa which was coolly put away by Xabi Alonso. However the ref had spotted encroachment and ordered a retake which Alonso switched to the opposite side and was out-guessed by Villar to keep the score a 0-0. In the melee, as Paraguay scrambled the ball clear, Spain shoud have had another penalty as Villar tripped Cesc Fabregas but the ref inexplicably ignored Spanish protests.
In the end it mattered not as Spain got the job done with the aid of their main goal threat and three posts. Pedro was set up cleverly by Andres Iniesta but his shot cannoned back off the post, into Villa’s path who scooped it onto the other post. The ball rolled across the line, hit the left hand post again and finally trickled into the net to put the favourites through to a German showdown. That match will be a belter.
Semi Final Line Up: Uruguay v Netherlands | Germany v Spain

World Cup Posters

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Huh Steps Down From Korea Job

Korea.
Back in September 2008 when South Korea struggled to a 1-1 draw with North Korea in the opening match of the final round of qualification for 2010 World Cup, few would have thought that the departure of coach Huh Jung-moo would be a cause for sadness and concern.

Almost two years ago, the issue was all about whether a lacklustre looking eleven would reach South Africa at all - last week Huh admitted that he considered resigning after the Shanghai stalemate. In the end, there was little need to worry as the Taeguk Warriors marched into the last 16 of an overseas World Cup for the first time ever and can even regard themselves a little unlucky to go down 2-1 to Uruguay in Port Elizabeth.

The players left the Rainbow Nation with their heads held high and Huh leaves his post in similarly upright fashion. The 2-0 win over Greece started the campaign in style and the incisive football and the pleasing technical ability of the players were hailed around the world. The 4-1 defeat against Argentina came against a team at the top of its game and the 2-2 tie with Nigeria that sent Korea into the Promised Land may not have been a perfect display but it was thrilling entertainment - not least for the 500,000 or so fans who took to the streets at 3.30 in the morning.

If there are any regrets it comes in the form of the knockout match against a solid Uruguay team. Trailing to an early goal, Korea pushed the South American semi-finalists evermore on to the backfoot. Lee Chung-yong grabbed an equalizer and the Asian team had chances to score again both before and after Luis Suarez’s late strike that eventually won the game.

It was expected that Huh would step down after the tournament but the success of the team prompted hopes and then reports that he may stay on at least for long enough to lead the team to the Asian Cup in January. The theory was that with the same coach and a similar set of players then Korea has a genuine chance of winning the continental competition for the first time since 1960.

Last Friday however, Huh finally confirmed that he was vacating the hotseat.
"I'm out of competition for the job," he told reporters in Seoul. "I've reached this early decision so the KFA won't have much burden in choosing the next national team coach."

"It's not exactly resignation because my contract expired at the end of the Korean World Cup campaign," he said. "I'm content with what the national team has achieved this time. Now I would like some time to recharge with my family."

It was not easy for the braver of his relatives who read some of the criticism that came Huh’s way during the early stages of qualification and then a shock 3-0 loss against China in February –the first time ever that Korea had lost to its giant neighbor. Overall though, Huh will be remembered well.

After the slow start, the team picked up and qualified smoothly for the World Cup despite being placed in a tough group. Then the World Cup itself was a success with Korean players such as Park Chu-young, Park Ji-sung and Lee Chung-yong winning plaudits in the international media.

Huh also demonstrated that going local can pay dividends. There may have been concern within the KFA a couple of years ago at the way things were going but the body stuck with its coach and was rewarded with a place in the second round. Financially the World Cup is very important to the KFA and doing well just increases those benefits. The same can be said of the fact that this success wasn’t achieved by a big-name highly-paid foreign coach but by the man who was taken from K-League club Chunnam Dragons. Huh’s success is going to make it more likely the next man is Korean.

The KFA’s international committee deals with such matters and meets on Wednesday for initial discussions. As usual in these matters, the media has got there first. Hong Myong-bo, the captain of the 2002 team that reached the semifinals would be a popular choice but the ‘eternal libero’ is in charge of the 2012 London Olympics challenge, has never coached a club team and has already said ‘thanks but no thanks.’

There are few other options that spring to mind. Kim Hak-bom enjoyed success with Seongnam Ilhwa before stepping down in December 2008 and he is available and has experience of winning the K-League. Huh’s assistant Jung Hae-sung is also in the frame.

Others, both domestic and foreign will be added over the coming days and weeks.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

World Cup Posters

Where to now for Japan?

Keisuke Honda criticised his team's defensive football and admitted that he wouldn't even have watched the match.

Takeshi Okada apologised to the nation for failing to achieve his goal of steering Japan to the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, broadcaster TBS is under fire for wringing a tearful apology from the mother of defender Yuichi Komano in the aftermath of Japan's heartbreaking 5-3 penalty shoot-out defeat to Paraguay.


As the dust settles on Japan's dramatic shoot-out exit from the FIFA World Cup, questions now turn to the future of the Japanese national team - and more specifically just who will coach the Samurai Blue following the rollercoaster reign of Okada.

The former Consadole Sapporo and Yokohama F. Marinos coach went into the tournament under a hail of media scrutiny, yet Okada revamped his public image by guiding his unfancied Japanese side to the Round of 16 in South Africa.

In the process, Japan recorded their first ever World Cup wins on foreign soil, beating Cameroon 1-0 and Denmark 3-1 en route to the knock-out stage.

Yet it was the conservative nature of their tactics against an equally cagey Paraguay which disappointed some critics - including CSKA Moscow midfielder Honda, who told the Asahi Shimbun that he wouldn't even have bothered to watch the game.

"My football life will go on," he told the newspaper after the loss. "We played defensively at this World Cup, but I hope we'll pursue winning through more attractive performances at the next World Cup," Honda added.

A disappointed Okada admitted his sorrow at failing to fulfill his pre-tournament ambition of reaching the semi-finals, but it was an apology of a different kind which drew fierce criticism in traditionally conservative Japan.

Broadcaster TBS drew widespread scorn when they interviewed Yuichi Komano's visibly upset mother in the wake of the defeat, with Jubilo Iwata defender Komano the unlucky player to miss during the shoot-out as his spot-kick clattered against the crossbar.

The Tokyo-based network appeared determined to wring an apology from the 28-year-old's mother, with the tacky interview drawing immediate condemnation across the four main islands of Japan.

Just why TBS felt compelled to force the issue with the ageing Komano matriarch remains a mystery, but a more pertinent question for fans of Japanese football is just who will take over at the helm of the national team.

Former Urawa Reds coach Guido Buchwald appeared to be the frontrunner prior to the World Cup, with his previous working relationship with JFA chief Motoaki Inukai often cited as an important factor.

Many domestic observers would like to see Gamba Osaka coach Akira Nishino handed the job, despite the fact that Nishino appears reluctant to throw his hat into the ring.

However, a new candidate has now emerged, as reports surface that Kashima Antlers coach Oswaldo de Oliveira may be approached to take over just three years after arriving in the country.

The Brazilian has won three successive J. League titles with the Ibaraki outfit, with many pundits now suggesting that the fiery tactician is the perfect candidate to take over from the departing Okada.

Whether de Oliveira takes charge of Japan remains to be seen, but if he does move into the international hotseat, he may drastically overhaul the Japanese squad.

Just two Kashima players were named in Okada's squad - defenders Atsuto Uchida and Daiki Iwamasa - and neither of them saw a minute of action in South Africa.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

World Cup Posters

Coaches' Heads Continue To Roll

Brazil's Dunga became the latest coach to be shown the door after his team's shock 2-1 loss to The Netherlands in Port Elizabeth yesterday. Dunga joins Javier Aguirre, who quit as coach of Mexico after their 3-1 defeat to Argentina in the Round of 16, Takeshi Okada, who stepped down as manager of Japan following the Samurai Blue's penalty shootout exit to Paraguay at the same stage and Huh Jung Moo, who threw in the towel after South Korea were knocked out by Uruguay also in the first knockout stage.


Okada.

Several head coaches had already announced their intention to quit before the tournament even began including the hapless French coach Raymond Domenech, the Socceroos' Pim Verbeek and Italy's Marcello Lippi.

Fabio Capello survived an anxious waiting period from the English FA before being confirmed in his post for the 2012 European Championship qualifiers that begin in September.