Posts Tagged Sven Goran-Eriksoon

World Cup Preview: Ivory Coast vs. Portugal

Group G  for the 2010 world cup has Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast and Democratic Republic of Korea. It has been rightly called the ‘Group of Death’ since it will see at least one and possibly 2 big footballing nations go out without reaching the knockout stages of the tournament. Many believe that there is only one place is up for grabs in this group, since it is impossible to conceive the possibility of favourites Brazil going out in the group stages. Just like it is being taken for granted that Brazil will go through, it is also almost certain in everyone’s minds that Democratic Republic of Korea will surely not go through. So that leaves Ivory Coast and Portugal, the two countries that play each other today to battle out it out for that precious spot in the knockouts that Brazil have available to lose.

Both teams therefore, have everything to play for. It seems almost certain that whoever loses will most probably see their 2010 World Cup campaign come to an end. Ivory Coast are Africa’s best hope to advance further in the competition while were Portugal to lose, the 2010 World Cup would lose one of its major stars in Cristiano Ronaldo. Lets hope the fear of losing doesn’t dictate the game and that we don’t end up with the very likely 1-1 scoreline.

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Ivory Coast

Ranking:  27

Ivory Coast’s manager Sven-Goran Eriksson knows all about the pain of losing to Portugal at the World Cup. He might want to take revenge as last World Cup, the Swede was in-charge of England and lost on penalties to Portugal which subsequently cost him his job. He took up the Ivory Coast job after the Elephants shock exit at the quarter-finals stage in the African Cup of Nations in January. Eriksson says that he has been focused on organisation than revolution and will look to unleash the pace of Solomon Kalou along with the talented Gervinho, who was named as the best African player in the French League last year. The news of  Didier Drogba being allowed to play with a protective cast in today’s match must have renewed confidence in the squad and is a definite boost.

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Portugal

Ranking: 3

Portugal have had to deal with injuries to key players and an unconvincing qualification run. Their ‘golden-generation’ is now a thing of the past but they do still have the world’s most expensive player and undoubtedly the world’s  most-eye-catching player in Cristiano Ronaldo. He hasn’t been in great for form for his country but everyone is aware of what he can achieve if he hits form which is also like ‘Ketchup‘ I am guessing. The team is managed by Carlos Queiroz, who did get Ronaldo to play at his very best when he was at Manchester United. Another great advantage that Carlos might have because of his time at Manchester United is that he would know Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Solomon Kalou’s game to a T. Portugal have managed to reach at least the semis in three out of the last five major tournaments and have a team brimming with talent. The defense is strong with Ricardo Carvalho, Bruno Alves and Pepe while going forward Cristiano Ronaldo, Simao and Leidson can be quite a handful. Zenit St. Petersburg’s midfielder Danny Miguel is another player who could make the difference for Portugal.

Manager Speak

“To go through would be a success from a group like that. If we can reach the quarter-final I think everyone should be thinking it’s a great success from an African team, for the Ivory Coast. That’s the first target.”- Sven Goran-Eriksson, Ivory Coast manager

“The semi-final is not our aim, it’s our ambition. We want to get there. To have the ambition to be champions we don’t need to win all our games. We need to be running ahead of Ivory Coast, then North Korea and thenBrazil. That’s how we have to approach it.” – Carlos Queiroz, Portugal manager

Stars to Watch Out For

Ivory Coast: Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Solomon Kalou, Gervinho (Gervais Kouassi)

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo, Liédson da Silva Muniz, Simão, Alves

Go figure!

Didier Drogba hit six goals in five appearances for Ivory Coast during qualifying.

During qualification for South Africa, Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score or assist a single goal for Portugal in seven appearances.

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World Cup 2010 Preview: South Africa vs. Mexico

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Its finally here. The first World Cup on African soil kicks off today with hosts South Africa taking on Mexico. So far, no host nation has ever failed to move past the group stages. Bafana Bafana are being considered the weakest host nation ever and many fear their early exit. Mexico on the other hand are among the elite group of only 3 countries to have reached the knockout stage of the last three World Cups. With France being in the same group, neither South Africa nor Mexico can afford to lose.

A lot of people have been saying jokingly, that the 3 advantages that Bafana Bafana have is the altitude (which leaves the opposition player breathless), the vuvuzelas (which leave opposition player deaf) and most importantly the crowd support. If Bafana Bafana lose their opening match, the crowd’s pre-tournament optimism would be severely hit and South Africa’s key advantage diluted but if they avoid defeat, they’d come out so much stronger with an entire nation urging them on with even more belief.

South Africa

Ranking: 83

South Africa’s manager Carlos Alberto Perreira is a veteran of many a World Cup battle with the experience of having guided five different nations at the World Cup. Bafana Bafana’s all-time top scorer Benni McCathy was not selected but they do have Mamelodi Sundowns striker Katlego Mphela who has been good form and netted quite a few goals in the friendlies. The player who has the ability to win games for South Africa is Everton’s Steven Pienaar and a lot depends on whether Perreira plays winger on the right where he will come up against the very experienced Carlos Salcido or in a more central role. Defensively, South Africa have one of the best defenders in the world in their captain Aaron Mokoena along with Masilela and Siboniso Gaxa.

Mexico

Ranking: 17

Mexico is a team of youngsters. It is at that stage when the talented youngsters aren’t the complete ‘experienced’ footballers and the experienced players are getting too old. Carlos Vela, Giovanni dos Santos and Javier Hernández are all playing their first World Cup and playing the most supported team in their very first match can be daunting. Mexico are managed by Javier Aguirre, who took over after Mexico were lead adrift by the befuddling managerial ways of Sven Goran-Eriksson. Aguirre helped Mexico to qualify for the finals twice and has swiftly emerged as Mexico’s most successful coaches. He has at his disposal a team with attacking talent in Giovanni Dos Santos, the oldest outfield player in Cuauhtémoc Blanco and midfielder Andres Guardado. The defence is lead by Salcido, Marquez, Rodriquez and Osorio. Castro and Torrado dominate the midfield. Aguirre will be hoping he got the mix of experience and youth just right for today’s game.

Manager Speak

“Everyone has to respect us. I believe the team has shown itself ready for the World Cup. We will go to the event with confidence” – C A Parreira, SA manager

“We are going to the World cup without fear of success. We’ve played Italy, England and the Netherlands… and we are here.” – Javier Aguirre

Stars to Watch Out for

South Africa: Steven Pienaar, Katlego Mphella

Mexico: Rafael Marquez, Giovanni Dos Santos

Go Figure!

Eight of the last 11 opening matches at World Cups have produced one goal or none.

South Africa are only the third African side to play in an opening game at the World Cup, the previous two both won 1-0

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