Tag Archives: South Africa

How to play a vuvuzela properly

The Guardian helpfully provides a video on how to play the vuvuzela properly. Seriously: Samora Ntsebeza is a vuvuzela orchestra member.

On a lighter note, goal.com has this tutorial via YouTube:

Leave a comment

Filed under FIFA, World Cup

Pace is the trick

Rafael Márquez scores v. South Africa (Getty Images)

On the opening day of the 2010 World Cup, it became clear that South Africa was inspired, Mexico was hungover, France is not as good as it should be, and Uruguay may be the monkeywrench.

Mexico should have beaten South Africa but they looked uninspired (which is the nicest way I can put it). I don’t know if Javier Aguirre was taking lessons from Diego Maradona about how to unsettle one’s team, but it certainly appeared that way. He made a series of questionable decisions, beginning with Guillermo Franco up front and ending with Oscar Pérez in goal. Really? Oscar Pérez when you have Guillermo Ochoa, who is, in fact, the best keeper Mexico has right now. Of that, there is no doubt. I think Aguirre over-analyzed and figured if he shook things up, everyone would respond. But they didn’t. Athletes in general, and players on the Mexican national soccer team in particular, love stability. In Mexico, the starting XI should be reasonably obvious and, with a few key subs, can play the entire tournament. There is a reason that Mexico does well in CONCACAF, but not in international tournaments. It’s not entirely dependent on the endemic instability (it also has to do with a chronic attitude problem, in which they think they’re automatically better than everyone else, but that’s another post entirely). It’s time to let the young bucks play. In Ochoa’s case, he’s been the number 1 keeper for 3 and a half years; to not play him now is inexcusable. Put quicker players up front and use the pace provided by Carlos Vela and Giovanni dos Santos (who continues to impress) to create havoc for the opposition’s back four.

I will say that the decision to play quickly, and at a high pace, suits the current Mexico squad (except for Franco, who can’t outrun me). Use Gerardo Torrado as the midfield decision-maker/hard man and let him spring Vela, dos Santos, and anyone else who can streak forward. It’s important that Mexico force the pace in their second and third games because both Uruguay and France want to play slow (as demonstrated by their extraordinarily boring draw). For that, Aguirre needs to make only 1 or 2 changes. And I think he will.

Aguirre is lucky his poor decisions didn’t cost Mexico. Fortunately, France and Uruguay drew, meaning that the group standings look the same today as they did yesterday: everyone is equal, though with only two games left. Mexico needs at least one victory and preferably two. Or else they’ll be heading home early with nothing but pointless tinkering to blame.

PS. Ditch the stupid black jerseys. They look awful.

Leave a comment

Filed under World Cup

World Cup 2010: Group A jerseys

With the World Cup just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at what the teams will be wearing. I’ll start with Group A and move on from there over the next few days.

France home jersey for the 2010 World Cup

Let’s start with everyone’s least favorite team, France. Ever the traditionalists, the French are going with blue as their primary color. Red and white thingamajigs on either side of the player’s number serve to break up the monotony. I’m not a fan of random accents on jerseys (as will be demonstrated later) and these are no exception. But at least they’re symmetrical, so good on Adidas for not screwing that up. Overall, it’s a pleasantly banal shirt.

Mexico home jersey for the 2010 World Cup

Mexico continues a pattern established in the previous few years where it experiments with its jersey. Okay, Adidas was experimenting, but the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol was a willing co-conspirator. And at least it’s back to normal green. I like the simplicity and the small accents within the shirt’s body but the red armpit stains have to do. I suppose this is an Adidas thing (the random stupid lines, I mean) as they’re featured on a number of Adidas-dressed teams. That said, I like the Mexico shirt and hope they stick with the green because the black away shirt is awful.

South Africa home jersey for the 2010 World Cup

One would think that the hosts would come up with something original for the tournament. But no. The South African Football Federation, along with Adidas (them again!), decided to go with what is basically a Brazil knock-off. Perhaps they’re hoping yellow will bring some Brazilian karma. Perhaps they’re uncreative. Who knows? What I do know is that the shirt is uninspired and was best left on the drawing board. An opportunity lost.

Uruguay home jersey for the 2010 World Cup

This shirt, by Puma, is interesting. I like the subtle sunbursts and the blue color but I don’t like the white stripes on the armpits (though the ones on the sleeves are less offensive). I love the collar as it brings back memories of a simpler time in soccer kits. This is, overall, an interesting mix of modern and retro and it works for me.

Leave a comment

Filed under World Cup

Confederations Cup: Spain sets new world record

Getty Images

Getty Images

Spain’s 2-0 victory over South Africa this afternoon set a new world record for consecutive wins, with 15 (also, Spain has no gone 35 matches without losing, which breaks another Brazilian record). They broke the old record of 14, held by Brazil. It was, in fact, the most noteworthy thing to happen today in a lackluster day at the Confederations Cup. I will say that Spain looked good but their first real challenge will be in the semi-finals versus either Brazil or Italy (likely Italy, though my crystal ball has been off for about a year).

In the other semi-final, Iraq looked like crap while New Zealand got their first point ever in Confederations Cup competition. Gotta have something to hang your hat on, eh?


Filed under Confederations Cup

Confederations Cup: No alarms and no surprises

David Villa scoring his goal (Getty Images)

David Villa scoring his goal (Getty Images)

Today’s Confederations Cup action saw no surprises.

Spain 1-0 Iraq: I suppose one could be surprised by the fact that Spain only scored one measly goal. And that it took them 55 minutes to score. I suppose I could criticize David Villa for not appearing to be worth the absurd amounts of money being thrown around. But at least the goal he did score was really good.

Iraq’s tactics were clearly based on Chelsea’s tactics versus Barcelona in the Champion’s League. That is, they packed, at times, all 10 outfield players in front of the ball. The thing that sort of impressed me was that they closed the ball down quickly, unlike New Zealand, which attempted to slow the game down on Monday. It’s a credit to Iraq’s coach, legendary wanderer Bora Milutinovic, that they were able to push Spain as far as they did.

In any event, Spain is through to the semi-finals. Perhaps they’ll play someone good there. Oh, and that’s 35 straight wins, tying Brazil’s record.

South Africa 2-0 New Zealand: New Zealand are clearly the worst team in the field because South Africa is not nearly as good as they looked today. Though Bernard Parker’s goal celebrations were interesting. Anyone know where that comes from? I feel sort of bad saying this, but I’m going to anyway: Oceania’s champion should not be in the Confederations Cup. In fact, Oceania should probably be folded into the Asian Confederation because the former is not nearly competitive enough.

That said, South Africa looked good. They might qualify for the semi-finals but they’ll need New Zealand to win or draw against Iraq. I doubt it, though. So South Africa really needs to hope the Kiwis allow fewer than 2 goals.

Leave a comment

Filed under Confederations Cup

Confederations Cup: Italy and South Africa have new home kits

Italy Confederations Cup Shirt 2009Italy: The most striking thing about this shirt is that it’s not the traditional Italian blue. That’s kind of shocking. Apparently, this shirt is a one-off, in that it’ll be used for the Confederations Cup and that’s it; the regular shirt will return for the 2010 World Cup.

As a one-off, I like the departure. It’s akin to the development of a third jersey. The slanted stripes have 4 stars with “Italia” above or below them. The country shield has four gold stars, one for each of Italy’s World Cup victories (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006). The gold stars are one of my favorite features of soccer jerseys.

Overall, this is a good one-off kit. I’m sure most Italy fans will be pleased to have the familiar colors back after the Confederations Cup.

South Africa Confederations Cup Home KitSouth Africa: Like the Italian jersey above, this away kit is also a one-off. The South African team will have another new kit for the 2010 World Cup.

Designed by Adidas to have a “South African feel“, it’s far too busy. There are too many lines and it reminds me (and others) of the infamous Mexico kit of a few years ago.

I like the colors. The green and gold look great and the Adidas logo fits in. Because it is an Adidas kit, it has the ubiquitous stripes on the shoulders and the completely unnecessary stripes on the arms and down the body.

I’ll give South Africa credit for trying to drum up interest but hopefully their World Cup jersey will be simpler and, thus, better.

1 Comment

Filed under Confederations Cup

So why should you care about the Confederations Cup?

Confederations Cup 2009

I’m glad you asked.

1. It’s a mini-World Cup. Eight teams, all champions of some sort (except the host nation, South Africa). All looking to prove something ahead of the real World Cup next year. Where else are you going to see Spain, Italy, and Brazil playing, other than a World Cup or some sort of super-duper friendly schedule? Nowhere, that’s where.

2. How good is the US? Will the Confederations Cup provide a concrete answer as to how good Bob Bradley’s boys are? No, I don’t think so. But it will be high quality competition with something on the line. International friendlies are great practice. But let’s be honest: with a trophy on the line, people try harder. The US will not send a B-team, like the Gold Cup. Spain’s A-team and Italy’s A-team will be on display. Not to mention everybody’s second favorite team, Brazil.

3. Is South Africa ready for the World Cup? We’ve all read the horror stories of getting stadiums prepared in South Africa. Consider this a dry run.

4. What will the underdogs bring to the table? The top dogs are Spain, Italy, and Brazil, likely in that order. The US exists in a netherworld between elite and underdog. That is, it should be able to beat the underdogs but likely can’t compete with the top dogs. So, what will South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt, and Iraq bring to the table? I’m hoping for competitive games to get all of those countries hyped for the World Cup.

Who are your key players to watch, esp. for the lesser known teams? List them all with short reasons below!

Prediction: Spain will take the Confederations Cup.

A bunch of games will be on ESPN, starting tomorrow (Sunday, July 14) at 10am EST.

Leave a comment

Filed under Confederations Cup