Let The Smack Talking Begin ……………
Well the World Cup is but ten days away before the opening ceremony and I’m already reading such banality concerning the impending fortunes of the US team that it doesn’t bear mentioning. A 2-1 defeat of Turkey and you’ve got fans here thinking that “the result” will mirror the form shown by the team when they open up in group competition in the first round against England . The game itself will tell us greatly about the impending fortunes of both teams. South Africa as the host nation, is the first country on the continent to stage the event. And they’ll hope to not only show that they’ve turn the corner economically as well as politically but also socially.
Slide show gallery for your perusal.
Courtesy of FIFA.com
United States coach Bob Bradley believes the winter conditions in South Africa can have a positive effect in elevating the standard of football at the 2010 FIFA World Cup that kicks of on 11 June at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
Speaking to FIFA.com upon his team’s arrival at the OR Tambo International Airport, Bradley said the cold weather will be a blessing in disguise for many of the teams. He is also of the opinion that teams that have played on South African soil before will be in a better position to succeed this June and July, and the United States, having played here just 11 months ago, will be one of those teams.
So far the preparations have been good. We respect everyone in our group, we have some good teams. It’s going to be a tough job, but we have to be ready.
USA coach Bob Bradley
“We have been here before, we have played in these conditions. The players know what to expect. It’s good to be back in South Africa again. What I can say is that the team is ready to get started here. This World Cup is in the winter months, and that means it’s going to be cold. That is good for football, because that means teams are going to play at a high pace and tempo,” Bradley told FIFA.com.
The United States was one of eight teams that participated at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, where they finished surprise runners-up to Brazil. The final game was a painful moment for the Americans, who went into the break sitting on a 2-0 cushion following a first half performance that shocked everyone.
However, history will record that the Americans allowed Brazil to put three goals past Tim Howard in the second half. Since then, lessons have been learned and Bradley, the team patriarch, is now wiser – not only about the level of competition but also about the conditions that his team will be expected to perform under.
“We will be playing at the same stadiums, the same cities, so that means we will confront the same conditions. So far the preparations have been good. We respect everyone in our group, we have some good teams. It’s going to be a tough job, but we have to be ready. We have enough time between now and June 12th to acclimatise. I think it’s going to be great World Cup,” Bradley added.
The United States will face England at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on 12 June. They will then play Slovenia in Johannesburg before their last group match against Algeria at the Loftus Stadium in Tshwane/Pretoria. “We need a good start to the tournament, that’s important for us. We are looking forward to it,” the coach concluded.
The US national side has been assigned to Group C along with England , Algeria and Slovenia . England and the US are the presumptive favorites to make it out of the group with some ease. But as we all know nothing is ever a certainty when it comes to this piece particular event. But at the same time it would be remiss to think that because a team has one or two one descript performances against less than adequate opponents , that overnight it makes them all of a sudden world beaters as one blogger would have us believe as it concerns the US’s chances in the event. One, he fails to acknowledge that the US team has a lack of offense and two despite the optimism, the defensive play of this team is nowhere near as sharp and incisive as team coach Bob Bradley needs it to be. But low and behold the idiocy of it all ! At best if the US team does make it out of group play, then it should be seen as an added bonus for the fans the team , in particular for US soccer and that of MLS . The latter needing all the publicity it can get, given the fact that television coverage and the viewing audience has been less than impactful . For MLS chairman Don Garber and US Soccer Chairman Sunil Gulati anything that further publicizes the game and heightens its presence can only be viewed as an added bonus for the growth of the game here in North America.
Now when it’s all said and done I for one would like to see the US team progress over the course of the tournament . But I’m not about to buy into the idiocy that merely because of one or two friendly warm up matches this team is about to set the world on fire. That was the same idiocy we saw after their appearance in the CONACAF tournament that was held in South Africa in order to introduce a number of teams to the country and one or two of the venues that will be used to stage the event. And as spirited and heart warming a display that was given by the team during the competition. In all honesty when gauged against the world stage and the elite teams . It was nothing more than aberration at best. Now there’ll be some who will say look at the team’s FIFA rankings (14th in the FIFA World rankings) for a true measure as to where the US really belongs on the world soccer stage . Well if rankings were votes being bought by a politician , in order to get them elected then you could say that the US had done well. But looking at the body of their work it doesn’t give credence as to the justification of that ranking to begin with.
As an expat Brit now residing here in the US. I have to admit as much as I had favor England’s chances. I do believe that Fabio Capello’s ______ team at best are capable of making it to the latter stages of the tournament. But herein lies the caveat , as to the team’s fortunes . I’m really surprised by the lack of a proven goal scorer on the squad other than Wayne Rooney in the true sense of the word. And given that the player though said to be match fit , if he’s not firing on all cylinders then there’s a serious chance that the team could struggle to find their offensive legs when they will be needed to.
Courtesy of Associated Free Press & Yahoo Sports
LONDON (AFP) – Fabio Capello’s decision to leave Theo Walcott out of his final 23-man squad for the World Cup has sent a clear message to England’s stars as they head to South Africa.
Walcott is the latest high-profile victim of Capello’s ruthless determination to stamp his authority on his teams and his absence should leave the squad in no doubt that their manager won’t tolerate underachievement in the finals.
The Arsenal winger was widely expected to feature in Capello’s plans for the World Cup in South Africa after playing a significant role in the qualifying campaign.
He appeared to underline his importance with a hat-trick in the vital 4-1 victory over Croatia in September 2008, but injuries and a series of erractic performances for Arsenal this season have changed Capello’s thinking.
Walcott showed his pace remains a tremendous asset when he briefly flickered into life in last week’s friendly win over Mexico, yet his decision-making is poor and his crossing well below the standard required at the highest level.
He had been receiving lessons in delivering the ball from David Beckham but in the end Capello decided that the more experienced Shaun Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon would provide better options on the right flank.
Four years ago Walcott was selected by then England coach Sven Goran Eriksson for the finals in Germany, even though the teenager had yet to make his Premier League debut.
Walcott has since admitted he didn’t deserve that call-up but he felt certain he would make it this time and being disgarded by Capello came as a big shock.
Yet it whouldn’t have been so surprising if he had remembered how easily Capello dispatched Michael Owen into international exile despite the Manchester United striker’s superb goal-scoring record for his country.
Walcott said: “I am very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South Africa, but completely respect Mr Capello’s decision.
Click on link shown to read article in its entirety.
The squad his a litany of creative midfield players but if I’m to believe that Peter Crouch , Jermaine Defoe , Emile Heskey and Shawn Wright-Phillips will provide this team with the fire power Capello seeks. Then he could be in for a very rude awakening once the competition gets under way. And with there being a great deal of angst in some circles as to the omission of Theo Walcott from his final 23 man roster. Capello , rightly or wrongly will be judged on the decisions made by he and his coaching staff. The one thing we can be sure of off is that if the team fails to make it to the latter rounds of the tournament. Then it will be his head on the chopping block with the media making him the scourge within the British press and them asking for his to be placed on the proverbial silver platter.
But at the end of the day it all comes down to what the coach feels gives his team the best chance to win in terms of the overall makeup of his side. He may well be of the opinion that the team will be able to eke out easy victories over the teams considered to be the minnows of Group C in Slovenia and Algeria . And if that is Fabio Capello’s assumption then he had better think realistically as to the team’s plight. To underestimate any competitor in this competition is to severely misjudge the determination of an opponent. As we’ve seen all so often ,the World Cup can be full of surprises. This World Cup will most certainly offer up its fair share of surprises along the way as well as the predictability of one or two of the scheduled games .
Taking nothing away from either Algeria or Slovenia but should they do the unthinkable by either pulling off a defeat or draw against either England or the US then all kudos to them !. Because that only proves that the depths and alleged margins in terms of what the pundits deem as a team’s potential isn’t as wide as they would like to have us all believe. However , I’d preface that by saying that it comes down to determination and wanting to play with honor and pride when representing one’s country on the greatest international sporting stage outside of the Olympics .
So with the Opening Ceremony about to take place on the 11th June and with all of the apparent “smack talk” about to begin. We shall now see who are indeed the contenders and those who are the pretenders , as the stage is set for sport’s most lavish and entertaining team spectacle. With an estimated 1.6 billion people expected to be viewing the event globally and along with the hundreds of thousands who’ve traveled to South Africa. The stage is being set for what we can hope will be a wonderful sporting spectacle.
As to the event itself will you be watching in part any stage of the World Cup ? Or is soccer a sport that doesn’t at all interest you ? By all means do chime in with a comment.
NB : Countdown To The One was an initial piece written by me concerning the upcoming World Cup being staged in South Africa. In order to view and read the piece in its entirety just click unto the link provided herein.
Click here to view a list of the teams competing in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Click here to view the Group makeup of the competing teams.
Tournament schedule and kick off times .
Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………………….
Petey Pablo ……………………….. “Freak A Leek”