Day 9 belongs to anyone but Africa. Cameroon joined Nigeria in departing the tournament after a loss to Denmark was added to the one received from Japan last week.
This tournament has been full of love, via Advertising, for one of Cameroon and Africa’s endearing stars – Roger Milla. 1990 was probably the tournament which made people sit up and take more notice of Africa for the first time. Aside from it being a wonderful time for me – David O’Leary and Packie Bonner versus Romania for example – it was a wonderful time for African football. Cameroon appear to have fallen a long way since then.
In the first African World Cup the only two teams so far to lose twice and be eliminated have both been from Africa. Of the other African teams in the tournament, only Ghana and Ivory Coast have serious chances of qualifying for the next round. Though if Ivory Coast lose to Brazil in the morning, you might need to reduce that to just Ghana.
The hosts South Africa wouldn’t have qualified if they had had to. And even though the French have failed to respond so far to their luck in being in the tournament in the first place, they’ll likely beat South Africa on Wednesday morning.
While Algeria were impressive versus an embarrassing England outfit, the loss against Slovenija in the first game has pretty much sealed their fate. It’s not unexpected really, they don’t have much to offer up front. And up until that draw with England, they had apparently only won 1 of their 6 previous internationals.
Africa then has a way to go if Ghana is their prime candidate for success in this tournament. Despite playing much of the game against Australia against 10 men, they were unable to impose any dominance on the Footballeroos. And indeed if Rukavytsya had taken his wonderful chance late on, the Aussies might’ve forgotten about Harry Kewell’s ill-judged use of his arm which caused both the red card and the Ghanian equalising goal.
Instead we saw a stream of undeserved verbal excrement being thrown at a referee who did what pretty much every referee would do in the same situation. That is, give a Penalty and Send the offending player off. I dealt in some detail with reactions of the uninitiated in yesterday’s post, so can only say I’m glad I had already pressed publish before the Australia game kicked off.
I probably shouldn’t revisit it again, except perhaps to say, your emotion is worthy and note I often join you in the one-eyed stakes when supporting my own teams. Additionally, your team should be returned to your good graces with a fine performance. But you should try and recall the reasons why the Ghana game was a must win and also look at the abject defending by Emerton and Wilkshire in the lead up to the award of the penalty.
Earlier on day 9 we saw the Netherlands win unconvincingly again. They have joined Argentina in the second round and most likely will win the group and play either Paraguay or Italy (assuming Paraguay continue to win at the time of writing and Italy overcome New Zealand later) next Monday in Durban.
So far in the 160 minutes of Football Paraguay have played, they’ve been impressive. This continues their strong qualification for the tournament in an always tough South America group. Netherlands will have to up their game to get by them next week.
Japan, while not looking like they have progressed at all since the home tournament in 2002, gave the Dutch at least a game. Watching Slovakia labour against Paraguay for the last 70 minutes, reminds me of what I wrote a few days ago. Too many average European teams only in the tournament because, at 32 teams, it is 4 or 8 teams too many.
Perhaps after the first 10 days of the tournament, I might be changing my tune to say the same thing about Africa. Maybe we should get Roger Milla’s opinion, assuming he isn’t partying with all the cash I hope he made from the fizzy drink company.