RoboCup Human vs Humanoid!!
Official World Cup Site
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1. Beckham to be
2. Last 16.
3. Last 8.
4. Last 4
ARGENTINA vs NETH
7. Crouch will
fail to trouble the scorers.
8. Rooney will
9. England will
lose to Argentina on Penalties when Sol Campbell stubs his toe taking the
10. All of the
above are probably wrong!
Just a thought (in song!)
"If Heskey plays for England, so can I
If Heskey plays for England, so can I
If Heskey plays for England
If Heskey plays for England
If Heskey plays for England, so can I"
Robert Scott lives
and works in Asia; born in England I have since lived in Canada, Hong Kong
and Singapore. I now work mainly in Bangkok.
If you want to know
more you only need to ask!
||15 June 2009
Three years on an we are one year away from the next world cup in South
I am amazed at how many people come to my website and access this page.
I have no idea what you are all searching for that brings you here.
Welcome; Go to my home page and see what
else interests you!
12 July 2006
The more I think about the final the more bizarre Zidane's actions were
and the more sordid everyone's reactions have been.
Zidane was 10 minutes away from a penalty shootout, in which Italy had
a horrid record. He was 10 minutes from possibly leading France to two
World Cup titles. He needed to stay on the pitch.
What was he thinking? Indeed, was he thinking at all. It was simple
What he should have done immediately after Sunday's game was apologize
to Materazzi, his teammates, France and all of soccer.
Instead he has yet to speak a word. It's coming, they keep saying.
Zidane has instead received the silliest MVP award ever seen and Italy
got a world championship.
Thanks goodness this doesn't happen again for another four years.
10 July 2006
You have to be joking: Zinedine Zidane has been awarded the Golden Ball as
the best player at the World Cup, despite his sending-off in the final
So head butting an opponent is OK with FIFA.
It was the 14th red card of Zidane's career, so he's probably used to
At least he can console himself with the knowledge that, hilariously,
journalists last night voted him player of the tournament. Maybe they were
not watching the final.
10 July 2006
I fell asleep towards the end of the world cup final and woke as the
penalties started to find that I had not missed anything. It was a poor
The Italians probably shaded the first half. After 19 minutes they
equlaised a dodgy French penalty. That was it for the first half.
The French dominated the second half. The Italians
rolled on the ground, feigned injury and passed balls 60 metres back to
goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Their approach was physical from the start.
In time we will probably find out what provoked Zidane ten minutes from
the end of extra time.
TV replays showed the thunderous look on his face, as he approached
Materazzi and butted him powerfully in the chest. Materazzi of course made
a meal of it. Zidane had to go. You cannot do that; whatever the
9 July 2006
Well done Germany; they were terrific hosts. They found a new sense of
patriotism. And they finished third playing thoroughly honest and
Best chant of the world cup - English supporters singing "I'd rather be
a cabbage than a Swede."
Saddest cheat - and there were too many - Thierry Henry. He really is
so much better than that.
Best pre tournament prediction (none of mine !!!): The Boston Globe:
'ENGLAND: like the New York Mets. Massively, ridiculously overrated by
their media, always involved in some sort of comic downfall, insane
injuries, woeful management. A car crash waiting to happen, at which stage
the local media go berserk.'
Best girlfriend: forget the WAGS. Gianluigi Buffon's 6ft-tall model
fiancée, Alena Seredova. No wonder Signor Buffon has not dropped a ball in
this world cup !!
6 July 2006
It's all over - with dripping irony Portugal go out of the world cup to a
penalty! And not a great penalty award either. Henry did get
a tap on the shins. But the theatrics of his fall were spectacular.
France leads 1-0 after more theatrics from Thierry Henry. That one
would get a 10 from all the judges. It got a penalty for Portugal and
Zidane showed the English how to take a penalty with very little effort !
The Portugese talent for falling like leaves in a slight breeze seems
to be working against them.
5 July 2006
Why the French need to be careful. The Portugese team have seen their
opponents draw 23 yellow cards and 4 red cards. Some of the Portugese do
fall over terribly easily.
4 July 2006
This is the Arrividerci Pizza that the Bild tabloid hopes Germany will
be serving up to Italy tonight.
Heck - a German sense of humour! This World Cup is a revelation.
Maybe the pizza will get served up by hardman Thorsten Frings who has
been banned for one match for throwing a punch in the argy-bargy at the
end of the Argentina game. FIFA is such a shambles - The Foolish and
Incompetent Football Association. The Argentine team which was at the
heart of the post quarter final fight have had no suspensions or even a
hearing. This should have been dealt with by FIFA after the tournament.
The Germans have every right to feel aggrieved.
And where did FIFA get the video pictures of Frings from - Sky Italia!
Smells like a big rat.
3 July 2006
This just about sums up the Eriksson years - from the Independent:
Will we learn this time from Eriksson's years of
Published: 03 July 2006
Blowing forlornly into the gutter here in the morning breeze in the
gritty Ruhr town of Gelsenkirchen, so far from the glory and the drama
that will engulf Berlin as it stages the final of the 18th World Cup in a
few days' time, is once again the question that haunts all those who care
about English football.
It asks quite simply: will intelligence and courage ever again be
applied to the shaping of our national game on the international stage?
Will the lessons of Sven Goran Eriksson's disgraceful stewardship of
England be properly learnt or, under his successor and right-hand man,
Steve McClaren, will the old mythologies build again? Will we talk
ourselves once more into the preposterous argument that we are in a
position to beat the best of the world game? Here, despite the defiance
displayed by England's 10 men after Wayne Rooney's natural brilliance was
so terribly negated by that fundamental lack of discipline that in the
past has been conspicuously ignored by the England coach, it is impossible
to provide an encouraging answer.
Eriksson, a broken man but vastly richer than when he arrived as a
symbol of knowledge and winning experience five and a half years ago, was
not simply a beaten coach on Saturday night.
The charges against him were many and serious, but the greatest of all
was that he was a disastrous example of all that follows too many easy
choices, when investments are made in such myths that David Beckham was
the man to put at the centre of the hopes for a "golden generation", and
that you can keep changing your team, as you might your aftershave, and
still expect coherence and rhythm and confidence when the big issues have
to be settled.
Beckham spilt more tears yesterday when he announced that he was giving
up the England captaincy, a decision which guaranteed him another burst of
personal publicity at the end of his fifth major tournament - and how much
of it would be tempered by the hard truth that in all of his appearances
in three World Cups and two European Championships his influence and his
impact have been negligible? Probably not much. He was applauded from the
room in Baden-Baden despite the unassailable fact that the manner of his
resignation summed up all that has been wrong with the Eriksson-Beckham
The captaincy of England is a rare and precious gift and should be
received and returned at the bidding of the man in charge - the coach of
Zinedine Zidane was the man of 1998, Ronaldo of 2002, and this time it
could be the great Frenchman again. And where has Beckham been? The most
celebrated and rewarded player of his generation has never stirred, when
it mattered, from the margins. He sobbed in the dug-out after being
withdrawn from yet another match in which his captain's armband
represented not a natural right of leadership but a privilege granted to
him, and unchallenged, in all these years of numbing underachievement.
However, Eriksson, even as he neglected to find solutions to the
enduring failure to exploit the talent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard,
has always insisted that Beckham was the natural captain of England - and
that he never once considered changing that assessment. There, maybe, we
have the central problem of Sven Goran Eriksson, an intransigent ninny.
But if we are bound to catalogue the failures of Eriksson, the
relentless decline in belief that he could supply any of the necessary
answers to the problem of England's failure to begin to match the
standards set by Sir Alf Ramsey 40 years ago, the blame cannot be
A coach, of course, creates the ethos of his team, but it may also be
true that Eriksson perhaps believed that slavish loyalty to those players
favoured, in the face of all evidence, would inevitably bring at least one
dividend. Maybe if he told them they were indeed the golden generation
often enough, they would first believe, then prove it. They believed it
all right. Even after the final, sickening denouement, the tragicomic
failure in the penalty shoot-out, Lampard was lambasting the media for its
criticisms. It was an astonishing departure from reality.
This, unquestionably, was England's worst World Cup finals campaign
since their first in 1950 - when they were ambushed by a team of American
part-timers and amateurs. Portugal, though denuded of bite by the absence
of their playmaker, Deco, had rarely looked like being breached before the
dismissal of Rooney, and this was the first serious team England had
faced. They were appalling against Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago, played
one half decently and another catastrophically against Sweden, who were
eaten up by Jürgen Klinsmann's Germany, and the victory over Ecuador was a
triumph for the lesser of two inept teams.
Yet how could it be otherwise? Apart from chopping his men and his
tactics from one match to another, he picked a squad which defied all
logic, and in the selection of the untested Theo Walcott stepped on to
ground which Pele, no less, described charitably as "unique". Yes, that
was the word - unique. Uniquely misguided, uniquely uncaring for both his
squad and the boy, uniquely indicative of a man not serious about his
If the "great generation" has once again been revealed as one made not
of gold but clay - the likes of Lampard should not complain about such an
assessment but simply reflect on their lack of achievement - it is
possible only to weep for what might have been if the Football Association
had taken the decision that would surely have presented itself as
inevitable to any organisation of spirit and nerve after the failures of
Japan four years ago and Portugal in 2004.
On both occasions the combination of Eriksson and McClaren was found to
be utterly wanting. They had no tactical initiatives. They sat transfixed
as Luiz Felipe Scolari guided Brazil and Portugal past them as though he
had arrived at the traffic lights at precisely the moment they turned
It is reasonable to imagine that if the FA had acted on either of those
occasions something of the "golden generation" could have been rescued.
Could we imagine for a second the confusions and meanderings of
Eriksson happening under a Guus Hiddink or a Scolari, or the best of the
rest of the shortlisted candidates, Martin O'Neill? Could we begin to
believe for a second that the stupidity of a Walcott decision might occur,
that England would have come here to Germany with a strike force of one
player who had both full fitness and a modicum of experience? Would it
have been possible that, confronted with the years-long evidence that
Gerrard and Lampard simply did not have the natural instincts of true
midfielders, any one of those serious candidates for the job would have
allowed the situation to drift into the impotence that was displayed on
A Hiddink would surely have recognised, as Rafa Benitez did at
Liverpool, that Gerrard's remarkable talents did not sit easily in any
conventional midfield format. It would have occurred to him, surely, that
a solution would have been to play him alongside the right, where he has
generated so much power and dynamic intervention for Liverpool, along with
his freedom to move into striking positions from various points behind the
front line. Beckham would, of course, have had to move. To where? Maybe a
place in his life where he had to produce more than a daily forest of
Eriksson is gone now but then who takes his place? McClaren, the
willing assistant or the reluctant ally in decisions which were plainly
wrong? Take your pick. Certainly he was the man who was supposed to
provide flair and intuition at Eriksson's shoulder. The evidence mounted
here that his influence has been either too much or too little. Whatever
the reality, it is hardly possible to imagine a man less endowed with the
aura of someone who can easily bring in a new mood, a new sense of the
possibilities of the future.
The image of England in defeat was tear-stained, but, as we might ask
of Beckham, for whom was the crying? For the disappointed nation, for all
those flag-waving, "football's coming home" optimists who believed they
had a serious chance of competing with the big guns? Or the implosion of
their own inflated belief in who they were and what they represented?
Could it really be the surreal circus that surrounded their headquarters?
One Brazilian observer, though consumed by despair that his own team
had failed to respond to the challenge of winning their sixth World Cup,
offered a view painful to English sensibilities. He said: "We know England
founded the game, but it it is amazing that every four years they seem to
assume that they have a right to win the great trophy. But on what is it
based? What have England done since they won at home in 1966? They simply
have not been in the big league - they haven't even won a European
Such realism surely needs to be applied at home, within and without the
game. But then where is the encouragement? One of the runners to succeed
Eriksson, Sam Allardyce, yesterday told the readers of the highest-selling
Sunday newspaper in the land that the cause of England's demise here on
Saturday was a cheating referee.
The mind - and the heart - recoils at such drivel. Rooney, who had
carried so many hopes, who remains a young footballer of brilliant talent,
stamped on Ricardo Carvalho in the region of his genitals - and inspired
an Irish wit to remark that the real question had turned out to be not
whether the problematic foot would stand up to a tackle, but whether
Carvalho's "tackle" would stand up to Rooney's foot - and anyone who had
thought such a flashpoint was not possible had been living deep in the
Eriksson land of myth and legend.
Not so long ago in the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Rooney lost control
of himself in a friendly against Spain and was withdrawn by Eriksson,
wisely in that it was clear the referee was on the point of showing a red
card. But then later he said, no, there was no long-term problem. Rooney
would not be taught a lesson, not dropped for a game or two, as an
indicator that merely being a superbly promising talent was enough to
guarantee your place in international football. As we saw so devastatingly
here at the week, chickens do have that bothersome habit of coming home to
Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo, who showed some of the less appealing
aspects of his nature while performing formidably on the field, and
dispatching England with a confidence and authority quite beyond Gerrard
and Lampard, is the available scapegoat. Alan Shearer, who is being lined
up as a McClaren assistant, and perhaps a man with the prestige to defuse
future criticisms of the England operation, suggested that Rooney was
entitled to chastise his Manchester United team-mate forcibly when they
next meet at the training ground. How easy, how convenient, to forget that
it was Rooney who caused his own downfall - and betrayed his team.
But then, also, how typical of the English football psyche, one which
has been so easily lulled by the platitudes and the inaction and the sheer
futility of the Eriksson years. Yes, he qualified for major tournaments,
but who did he beat, what force did he topple, except Germany on that
beguiling, deceiving night in Munich nearly five years ago? That he
succeeded where Kevin Keegan was plainly failing and Graham Taylor had
fallen eight years earlier when the challenge was against Dennis
Bergkamp's Netherlands, was an achievement hugely inflated when you
considered Eriksson's reputation and rewards - and the level of opposition
he faced. In Munich it did seem that the church bells were ringing for the
dawn of a new age of English football, but again it was a myth. England
struggled desperately in their next game, against Albania, while Germany
began to rebuild, all the way to the World Cup final less than a year
Once more Germany march on a World Cup, once more their team play with
a strength and a conviction well beyond the sum of their individual
Once more England fall well below the mountain top - and yet again
England pile up the excuses. But they do not wash; they are beyond the
blurring effect of Beckham's self-regarding tears. The truth is indeed
blowing along the gutter here. What happened, give or take some passing
heroics, is what England deserved. They simply didn't come up to scratch,
and they never will until they are given a little leadership - and some
Swede's smell of success - and failure
* ENGLAND HIGHS
Sept 2001: Thrash Germany 5-1 in Munich, rescuing qualification for the
2002 World Cup finals.
June 2002: Beat Argentina 1-0 in World Cup in Sapporo.
Apr/Oct 2003: Beat Turkey 2-0 in Euro 2004 qualifier, then draw 0-0 to
reach finals in Portugal.
Oct 2005: Secure qualification for the 2006 World Cup.
Nov 2005: Two Michael Owen goals in three minutes snatch 3-2 friendly
victory over Argentina.
* ENGLAND LOWS
June 2002: Knocked out by Brazil in World Cup quarter-finals.
June 2004: Eliminated from Euro 2004 quarter-finals on penalties by
Sept 2005: Shock 1-0 defeat by Northern Ireland in World Cup qualifier.
July 2006: Knocked out of World Cup quarter-finals by Portugal on
* RECORD IN FULL
In competitive matches
P W D L F A
38 26 9 3 69 26
P W D L F A
67 40 17 10 128 61
* IN HIS LOCKER
Apr 2002: Affair revealed with TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson.
March 2004: Pictured attending meeting with Chelsea chief executive
July 2004: Exposed for affair with secretary Faria Alam at Football
Association. Eriksson has "no case to answer", says FA.
Jan 2006: Exposed by the News of the World's "fake sheikh". Admitted
could leave England after the World Cup, criticised senior players and
made claims of corruption at Premier League clubs. FA says contract will
not be renewed.
* WHAT NOW FOR SVEN?
Real Madrid: Possible destination, depending on outcome of club's
Internazionale: Another failure to win the scudetto may result in
Roberto Mancini's sacking.
South Africa: A lack of funds could scupper this idea, but the 2010
World Cup hosts want a big name to lead them.
Aston Villa/Newcastle: Neither is available, yet, but a few poor
results into the new season and Eriksson's name will be linked.
Beckham resigned as Captain - the arrogance. Annoying little bit of
cheap self publicity. The best job in English football is given to you and
then taken from you by the coach/manager that you are accountable to.
Everything that is wrong with English football was summed up in that
statement. The players became bigger than the game.
McLaren is not the man to cut them down to size. McLaren is part of the
old guard. He is as culpable as the overpaid, oversexed Swede. Nothing
will change; more of the same. Great expectations only......
Maybe worth noting that the only Englishman who could score in the
penalty shoot out is in fact Canadian !Ask Mr. Hargreaves where he was
The Rooney/Ronaldo feud simmers on! A far bigger headache for Grumpy
Ferguson than worrying about Rooney's metatarsal.
If Ronaldo turns up at pre-season Old Trafford he can expect a good
thumping from Mr. Rooney and his mates. In the meantime Ronaldo seems to
be saying that a deal has already been done with Real Madrid.
Personally I think they deserve eachother - if they merged they would
be Roonaldey - sounds like a nice peaceful Scottish town !
2 July 2006
A hilarious leader from the Observer newspaper who cannot have been
watching the same game as me:
Sunday July 2, 2006
Rarely have English nails been so fiercely bitten: an epic display of
football; a drama to jangle the nerves of the hardest fan; a feat of
collective bravery by 10 men. Hearts stopped. England lost. On penalties.
To wonder what might have been had England played at full strength, had
Wayne Rooney not had a moment of folly and been ejected from the pitch, is
scarcely relevant. The determination that galvanised his remaining
team-mates was inspirational. Like David Beckham eight years ago, Rooney
was the victim of youthful impetuousness. He has much to learn, but he
still has a glittering career ahead.
consolation, if there can be any, is in the performance that brought us so
close to victory. When the squad come back from Germany, for all their
flaws, they deserve to be greeted as heroes. We salute them."
What is this serious newspaper thinking: utter nonsense:
Flawed surely - not
underperforming, overpaid, and in some cases useless. The only payer to
emerge with an enhanced reputation was Owen Hargreaves. The rest should be
ashamed of themselves.
They are not coming how as heroes: They're coming home for a bit of a
rest, a few mumbled excuses and then training before the start of a new
So bye bye Sven. For gbp5 million a year England deserved something
better. The national team reached the quarter finals in two World Cups and
one European Championship. Not good enough with such talents available. Or
is there really that much talent? Probably not. False expectations. The
Premiership has too many foreign players.
1 July 2006
All too predictable. A foolish sending off - who else but Rooney. An
acrimonious game; some shameful play acting. Neither team good enough to
fashion a goal in normal time or in extra time.
So to penalties. Lampard and Gerrard should have been bankers. But
Lampard could not hit a barn door right now; and Gerrard was flat out
exhausted, England had played the last hour with 10 men in 29C heat. They
Poor Eriksson. Not a happy end to an England coaching career full of
what might have beens.
Mind you the Man U dressing room will be interesting at the start of
the new season. There will be little luv between Messrs Rooney and Ronaldo....here
are the simple facts of what happened:
"The incident occurred near the halfway line with Rooney battling to
retain control of the ball and being pursued by defender Carvalho and
captain Luis Figo.
The England forward appeared to be pulled back by Carvalho while at the
same time Figo wrapped his legs around Rooney who then seemed to tread on
his opponent's groin as he tried to disentangle his leg, but with no
Carvalho's reaction prompted Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo to
sprint some 40 metres to the referee, apparently to demand a card against
Rooney who pushed him and was sent off.
Television pictures appeared to show Ronaldo winking towards the
Portugal bench as Rooney made his way off the pitch."
Portugal had been winding up Ronaldo - the wink said job well done.
Portugal now play France - surprise, surprise! France beat Brazil 1-0.
So the semi finals are all European affairs. And to be honest the rest of
the world will lose interest. Suddenly it is not the world cup but a
rather parochial European affair. I doubt I will even watch the remaining
By the way - goalkeeper Ricardo saved 3 of 4 England penalties and
almost stopped the fourth!
No one else to blame. Rooney was the villain. An accident waiting to
30 June 2006
Strange - English commentary on Thai TV.
Argentina imploded in Berlin. Creating few chances Argentina took the
lead to be pegged at 1-1 by a well constructed German goal.
And so to penalties - and an inevitable German win.
Jens Lehmann was the hero with two penalty saves - though Argentina's
penalties lacked any conviction. The result was taken with supreme
gracelessness by Gabriel Heinze and Carlos Tevez, who waded into the
celebrating German melee swinging haymakers. Expect FIFA to review this
Their coach Jose Pekerman similarly disgraced himself, though in
decision rather than deed. Argentina finished the match with all their
best players on the bench: Juan Roman Riquelme and Hernan Crespo had been
withdrawn to protect a precarious one-goal lead, while Lionel Messi, who
had illuminated Argentina's display during the second-round win over
Mexico, never saw any action at all.
Argentina who for so much of this tournament had looked the best side
in it, let themselves down badly.
29 June 2006
Is Thierry Henry a cheat? Yes. Collapsing like a Canadian pine he
feigned being hit in the face by Puyol; that could of had the Spanish
player sent off. He was booked and from the free kick France scored their
go ahead goal.
He used to have class. Now he is a simple cheat. Someone should rescind
his footballer of the year title. Henry denies it. Watch the replay.
A pity. It spoiled a genuine resurgence from the French side.
Perhaps the best of the British soccer writers previews the
"Yes, it's true, the Netherlands essentially fashioned a riot, were
peevish and mean where their great predecessors generally behaved like a
mutinous crew even while playing football of spell-binding quality, the
Italians pulled a Machiavellian move dark even by their own standards,
and Thierry Henry besmirched the night when France reminded themselves
they were once the best in Europe and the world.
Yet there is still a way to measure the enduring quality of this 18th
World Cup which persuaded some of us even before the opening action that
it had the potential to rise above anything we had seen since Diego
Maradona 20 years ago invaded Mexico with as much single-minded purpose
as any conquistador.
The litmus test is to ask yourself to whom you would now most
willingly say goodbye when the quarter-finals are over.
Now no doubt the question is most challenging for those who remain
loyal to either England or Ukraine. These certainly are the teams who
have arrived at this point trailing least glory. Though Ukraine fought
hard after being dismantled by Spain in the opening game, their
round-of-16 match with Switzerland brought new nuances of tedium. That
the Swiss lacked the poise to convert a single shoot-out penalty made
its own bleak commentary on all that had gone on before, but then when
you think of the convulsions that have shook their country in recent
years you are bound to give at least a little sigh when the Ukrainians
succumb, as they surely will, to the machinations and brilliant defence
of Italy, in this department way out in front of all their tournament
rivals. But then Ukraine do have impressive spirit - and Andrei
So far England have played just one half of reasonably coherent
football. Their squad selection is increasingly a bad joke. Their
tactical pattern is unfathomable. But then how do you easily say
farewell to players of the quality of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, the
currently demoralised Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, who has performed
the formidable trick of playing himself into form under the greatest
pressure any professional footballer can experience?
Rooney would be the most killing loss. Even as he fights for fitness,
and operates in a team that sometimes suggest they have been told to go
out to play a version of blind man's bluff, he carries the most
extraordinary promise every time he touches the ball. It is the blinding
hint that, for all his difficulties, including thus far a lack of
intelligent service, he is capable of anything.
But then here we are still talking about possibilities. In Berlin
tomorrow the choice is between two sets of already formidable
Germany have grown before our eyes, especially the striking pair of
Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. Not so long ago, when it was still
fashionable to disparage Jürgen Klinsmann's team, the front two were
sometimes sneered at as scurrying, "Polish rats". Now everyone agrees
they are authentic eagles of the Fatherland. The consensus was reached,
thunderously, when they combined to destroy Sweden in just a few minutes
the other day. Klose is the craftsman, a pro to his toes. Podolski is
the young runner, hugely emboldened by the idea that he is halfway to
being a national hero of the ages.
It is cruel that Germany may be denied the chance to discover
destiny's hand on the last day of the tournament. However, if they are
to fall in crushing anti-climax in Berlin's magnificently renovated
Olympic stadium tomorrow, no one has a better right to administer their
fate than Argentina. Germany have hosted the World Cup brilliantly, but
it is Argentina who have furnished it with the most extravagant skill.
Though it is bewildering to note the reluctance of the Argentina
coach, Jose Pekerman, to give the breathtaking Lionel Messi more than
cameo roles, and even that some say it is a straight choice between the
playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme and arguably the most arresting pure
attacker since the days of George Best, there is no way to minimise the
impact of Argentina.
Then, hauntingly, there are Brazil and France, a replay of the 1998
final and the possibility that, second time around, we could have the
sublime duel that dwindled the moment we heard at the Stade de France
that the young Ronaldo was suffering something close to a nervous
breakdown. It turned out to be Zinedine Zidane's day and it is beguiling
to think that, eight years on, it could be his again.
In France's opening game against Switzerland, a low key goalless
draw, some said they had seen Zidane's officially assumed status as a
They said it was tragic to see him struggling through the motions.
Not everyone agreed, and for those who said so, who saw in his work
traces of the old brilliance, and a genuine attempt to impose himself on
the action, there was a beautiful satisfaction when he allied himself so
skilfully with the thrusting young French idol Franck Ribéry in what
some saw as the shocking defeat of Spain.
Spain had encouraged our hopes, but they tend to do that every four
years. In the end the Spanish fault line was plain enough. Their defence
was too deeply flawed to maintain an authentic challenge.
Brazil? They were the sleeping representatives of football genius in
the early going. Now they are at least half-awake and Ronaldo is as near
to being half fit as he is ever again likely to be. However, as a
predator he is proving that, as in boxing, it is a true striker's "shot"
that is last to go. Ronaldinho is also at last stirring to his
responsibilities as the world's most talented footballer. Those who have
backed Brazil, as a recurring romantic gesture, have no reason yet to
When you mark down the names of the survivors you are drawing a plan
of wall-to-wall intrigue. Four years ago the last eight included teams
like Turkey, the United States, Senegal and South Korea. Even allowing
for some brilliant coaching, it was not a roll call of football
excellence. It is different now.
Here, without doubt, are still the makings of a truly great World
28 June 2006
Brazil got a little lucky - one goal seemed well offside and Ghana could
not take their chances.....and the Spanish as always continue to
Lots of protests from Africa - but in the end did Ghana score a goal?
And other than one header they did not look likely to score either !
So the quarter finals are:
Germany v Argentina
Italy v Ukraine
England v Portugal
France v Brazil
27 June 2006
One piece of good news - no more "Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi" - which
is almost as bad as you-ess-eh.
Interesting. In Thailand we are all complaining that all we receive is
the Thai language commentary.
On ESPN tonight there were complaints about how poor the English
language commentary is. And they are right - it is poor.
How it works is FIFA provides what is called the World Feed.
Broadcasters can take this if they are not using their own commentary
team. The World Feed is in English with only a single commentator at each
game. There is no expert analysis or colour commentary.
In between describing the game John Helm, the commentator, was telling
is what a nice journey he had enjoyed by train.....
27 June 2006
Poor old Aussieland - welcome to the joys of international
football. This is how the Guardian wrote up the last minute of the game
that just finished....."No sooner had the ball hit the back of the net
than the referee blew the final whistle. What a sensational finish to the
game. Lucas Neill looks gobsmacked - it was a soft enough penalty. Grosso
was dribbling in from the left, Neill foolishly committed himself to the
tackle and the Italian committed himself to falling over in as extravagant
a fashion as possible. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the
spot. Going so close only to be shafted by a last-minute Italian
It is never over until its over. Italy had played most of the second
half with 10 men and had struggled. But the game looked set for extra time
and with neither team looking like scoring penalties would have been a
The trouble is that in this world cup the referees are becoming the
story - not the teams - and that is wrong.
26 June 2006
There has been some terrific attacking football in this World Cup. None of
it was on show last night. England beat Equador 1-0 with a goal from a
Beckham free kick. The game was almost entirely played out in the middle
third of the pitch. Dull.
Meanwhile my tip to win, the Netherlands, lost 0-1 to Portugal. I did
not see the game but there appears to have been very little football
played. Plenty of drama but little to commend. Here is the Guardian's
"An evening of mayhem and spite, sometimes synchronised cheating and
complaining - and one goal - ended with nine men against nine men, 16
additional bookings, no handshake between the distinguished managers Luiz
Felipe Scolari and Marco van Basten, at least on the pitch, and Portugal
in the quarter-final against England in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday
afternoon. It was a night when a lot of people forgot a lot of things, not
least how to behave but also that the logo of this tournament is A Time To
Beware Figo; he is getting so old that he seems to fall over even more
readily now. This is a man who really does think that the football pitch
is a stage.
Globalisation - sitting in an Australian owned bar in Bangkok,
Thailand, watching England play Equador, delivered via a Satellite from
Africa; so that the half time advertisements are for Nigerian banks and
Kenya Airways. Very strange.
25 June 2006
What the best painted football fans are not wearing ! Brings a whole new
meaning to football strips!
24 June 2006
So at last the World Cup proper begins. The sideshow is over. In 1966
there were only 16 teams. There are now 32 to bring in teams from Africa
and Asia and even the Yanks. But these teams will not win anything; not in
48 games gone; 15 that matter left; and a silly third place play off
that no one will remember.
So how were my predictions? Well I got 13 teams right; it is an early
goodbye to Poland, the Czechs (who were awful) and Croatia. And a big
welcome to Equador, Ghana and Australia. This is good as it keeps the
world cup global with interest from Asia, South America and Africa.
Netherlands v Portugal
Italy v Australia
England v Equador
ARGENTINAvsPORTUGAL Argentina v Mexico
Brazil v Ghana
Swiss v Ukraine
So what next:
Germany vs Argentina
Italy vs Switzerland
England vs Netherlands
Brazil vs Spain
Semis: Argentina vs Switzerland and
Netherlands vs Brazil. And I still get to my Argentina vs Netherlands
Switzerland have done well; their win over the Koreans was a strong
23 June 2006
Soccer-mad monks hit for missing
alms-giving - from The Nation newspaper
Local villagers have complained that
monks and novices in this northern province have been watching World Cup
matches throughout the night, causing them to skip their morning walk to
beg for alms.
A woman who asked that her name be withheld said she and her family
had prepared food to give to monks at a temple on the occasion of her
However, at the temple she found a sign saying the abbot was not in.
So she gave alms to a monk who told her that most monks had been
watching all the World Cup matches and were too exhausted to wake up next
When she was about to leave the temple, she saw the abbot and some
other bleary-eyed monks stumbling from the residence where the sign
declared that the abbot was not in.
Wallop Namwongprom, a member of a monks' administration committee, said
it was not against the rules for monks to watch football.
"But their viewing TV will be considered against the rules if it
affects their morning activities," he said.
It would surely be considered a serious violation if they were involved
in gambling, he said.
"We beg senior monks to act properly and warn their juniors to refrain
from any improper activities concerning the World Cup," he said.
Meanwhile, Phra Kru Sophonkaweewat, deputy abbot of Jedee Lung Wiharn
Temple in Chiang Mai, said the temple has a school and a university for
monks under its jurisdiction, attended by some 700 ordained students.
"We have issued strict regulations for the student monks during the
World Cup," he said.
"We allow them to watch some matches but they are prohibited from
watching all of them and engaging in noisy cheering.
"And no gambling is allowed," he said.
If anyone violates the rules or excessive TV viewing affects their
studies, the maximum penalty is dismissal, he said.
Well done Australia. They beat Japan and drew with Croatia and survived
being refereed by the awful Markus Merk and the even worse Graham Poll.
ENGLISH ref Graham Poll may have blown his
chances of taking any further part in the World Cup after a series of
Poll showed Josip Simunic three yellow cards before
sending him off and missed two clear penalties, a wrestling foul and a
second and clear handball.
His conduct and performance will now be investigated by
FIFA who may decide not to give him any further assignments in Germany
He was extremely poor.
Was last night the death of soccer/football in the USA.
Around the world hundreds of thousands of people watch the games on the
streets; even in the middle of the night in Korea and Japan.
In the USA about fifty people gather to watch the big
screen in Time Square.
Time also for a change of coach. Arena has so far
managed to blame everyone but himself.
23 June 2006
It may only be a game but there is something wonderfully symbolic about
the USA being beaten by Ghana. The world's richest nation beaten by one of
the world's poorest. The whole of Africa and much of the rest of the world
celebrates. And frankly the USA have been feeble throughout the
The USA must rank as the most patronised and, possibly disliked, side
in the World Cup.
Ghana looked a capable team and quite at home with forceful tackles and
time wasting to preserve their lead. Sadly influential midfielder. Essien
will miss the quarter final after a second booking. German referee Markus
Merk was officious and card-happy. The Ghana penalty to go 2-1 ahead was
very doubtful. Ghana will meet Brazil in the last 16 unless Brazil fall to
a sensationally heavy defeat to Japan.
The Guardian Blog on the fussing Mr. Merk; There is even a suggestion
that Merk was helping FIFA to ensure that Africa is represented in the
last 16. Consciously or not there may be some truth to that.
"Something needs to be done about incompetent referees. Seriously, a
rebuke from some bureaucrat is nowhere near severe enough for an
infuriating official such as Markus Merk, who today deformed a potentially
beautiful Group D clash between Ghana and USA. But of course, Merk won't
even be rebuked: his pernickety, at times perverse performance will in
fact be praised by Fifa blazers. Which is outrageous because if the German
dentist took the same approach to his first trade as he does to his
refereeing, then his hometown would be teeming with gummy youths who had
their teeth wrenched out during dinner for getting food on them.
Merk, who drew the ire of Australian players in his previous match
at this tournament by allegedly jeering them over their defeat to Brazil,
today booked Michael Essien in the first few minutes for a tackle that was
about as dangerous as Bob the Builder. Moments later, he cautioned Eddie
Lewis for not spontaneously amputating his hand, which was the only way he
could have prevented the ball making contact with it after it was smashed
straight at him. Two minutes into time added on for fussiness, Merk
awarded Ghana a penalty after Oguchi Onyewu refused to step aside to allow
Razak Pimpong to control the ball and score. It was an absurd decision,
one that could only have been made by a referee whose vision is warped by
a determination to be centre-stage.
The upshot was the players became nervous and uncertain, knowing
that at any moment they could be penalised for running too fast or kicking
the ball with excessive force. John Pantsil dared to try something special
in the 58th minute, but instead of admiring the defender's acrobatic
overhead kick, Merk punished him for raising his feet too high.
Watching a match with Merk in charge - or, for that matter, one run
by equally annoying Englishman Graham Poll - is like going to the cinema
and finding yourself sat behind a gigantic fool who spends the film
guffawing inappropriately and farting most pungently. But at least the
theatre-owners don't invite that offender back and pay for him to have the
most prominent seat in the house. Fifa, on the other hand, are no doubt
planning to unleash Merk and Poll several more times throughout this World
Cup, possibly even in the final."
22 June 2006
Come on England !!!
21 June 2006
So England stumbled to a 2-2 draw with Sweden. A strange game with some
interesting messages. Owen, injured after a minute, may be out ofr the
rest of the tournament. But instead of giving Theo Walcott a match, the
coach brought on the gangling Crouch who is simply not good enough at this
Joe Cole scored a great solo goal. Owen Hargreaves was just what
England needed as a ball winning midfielder. Campbell, on for the injured
Ferdinand was horrible. And Beckham was invisible. Carrick for Beckham?
Terry as captain. Eriksson's loyalty to certain players is hurting this
Now maybe England will be forced to play 4-5-1 and that should at last
play to England's strengths.
20 June 2006
One helpful observation from the USA: What do NASCAR
fans and soccer fans have in common? More of them should keep their shirts
All those chants at the US Golf Open - "Get
in the Goal" don't seem to be a great help to the US team and must have
distracted the hapless Mickelson (such a shame - not!).
19 June 2006
The world cup coverage on Thai Tv is getting plenty of well deserved
abuse. The coverage is only in Thai which is fine. But I put the Tv on
with the Thai commentary and then come and play on my pc. I cant see the
TV from here.
But I assume I will know when there is an incident on a goal by the
hint of excitement in the commentators voice - but there is no change in
tone - they may as well be reading the weather forecast - and because the
commentary is from a Bangkok studio the crowd noise is hardly noticeable.
So Switzerland scored twice and the commentators were probably reading
Then there is half time; a full 8 minutes of advertising. And then the
two talking heads appear. They are separated by a TCL laptop. The trouble
is there appears to be no power to the laptop and neither of the
presenters has ever dared to touch the computer ! And they look totally
bored by the whole event.
15 June 2006
Truly scary! Bambi on ice!
Good news. No goals conceded. Bad news. England look like Bolton but
without the talent or the energy.
13 June 2006
Durex company has produced a range of World Cup condoms in three varieties
(England, Germany and Brazil).
There must be some jokes there ! Clearly anything that maximises
England's performance must be a good thing.
The German condoms come in different flavours; bratwurst or sauerkraut.
The Brazilian Condom is likely to be on the subs bench for the entire
11 June 2006
This little gem of benevolent thinking comes to
you care of the Hong Kong Government:
Health tips for the World Cup fans
Soccer fans are reminded to stay health-conscious while watching
World Cup games, which kick off tomorrow.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said today (June 8) that
even though delicious snacks such as potato chips and fried food as well
as alcoholic beverages could add festivity to the World Cup, it is
important to maintain healthy eating, avoid tobacco or excessive alcohol,
and get enough sleep.
"Insufficient sleep can lower your immunity and make you prone to
illnesses. It will also affect your work performance and subject you to
higher risks of accidents and injury," he said.
The following are some tips for soccer fans to keep healthy while
watching this international event:
* Snack only when you are hungry. Do not snack for the sake of snacking.
* Avoid fatty and sugary snacks such as potato chips, candy bars and
* Choose items such as fresh/dried fruits/vegetables/vegetable juices
without added sugar.
* Drink plenty of water or plain tea (without added sugar).
* Avoid excessive alcohol. Drinking large quantities of alcohol is harmful
to health. Know your drink and its alcohol level.
* Sip your drink slowly and do not gulp. Don't get into rounds.
* Never drink and drive. Use public transport.
* Have a trusted person bring you home if you should become drunk.
Stay away from tobacco:
* Both active and passive smoking are hazardous to your health.
* Offer co-watchers some healthy snacks and drinks if they are about to
light a cigarette.
* Ensure good ventilation of the venue.
* Stretch and move around while watching the matches.
* Sit properly while watching the soccer match to avoid muscle aches
* Make sure you have enough sleep. Insufficient sleep can lower your
immunity and make you more prone to illnesses; affect your working
performance and may make you prone to accidents and injury.
* Watching soccer matches is not enough. Do some exercise yourself.
* Strike a balance between watching matches and fulfilling your social
Members of the public can call the health education hotline 2833 0111
or visit the Central Health Education Unit's website
for related information.
11 June 2006
England were horrible. But a win is a win; even if it needed an early own
goal to win it. Lampard worked hard in the second half. Joe Cole and (I
hate to say this) Crouch showed real effort. No one else turned up.
Shaka Hislop - immense for 10 man Trinidad as they held Sweden 0-0.
Group B is poor.
And here is some more class from the England team: good effort by BA!!
Spoiled brats !!
Lampard partner removed from flight
Saturday June 10, 2006 10:18 PM
The partner of England football star Frank Lampard was kicked off a
World Cup flight when she threw a tantrum on the Tarmac, British Airways
Elen Rives, 28, swore at plane staff when she was told at Heathrow she
had too much hand luggage to take in the Club Class cabin to Stuttgart,
The Spaniard refused to allow her belongings, including a push chair,
to be put in the aircraft's hold as an alternative.
An airline source said: "Staff tried to reason with her but without
success, so the decision was made to take her off the flight.
"She was being very aggressive and disruptive."
Following her dismissal, Ms Rives was later allowed on an evening
flight after calming down and apologising.
Her partner, 27-year-old Chelsea midfielder Lampard, faces Paraguay in
England's first World Cup fixture.
A BA spokeswoman said: "Frank's partner was yellow-carded after she
tried to board a plane with too much hand luggage and would not play ball
with suggested alternatives.
"But we made sure she jetted away on time to see Frank play Paraguay."
9 June 2006
It is the Battle of Wounded Foot. Imagine the language that was used:
"Ferguson voiced his misgivings in the strongest possible terms during a
series of fractious top-level telephone calls to, among others, the FA
executive director David Davies."
Mr. Ferguson does not want his boy Rooney to play in the world cup;
protecting his broken foot so that he is fit for the start of next season.
The World Cup must be every player's dream. It is held every four
years. It's like taking a kid to a candy store and saying none for you.
There is no love lost between Eriksson and Ferguson. England believe
the United manager has been guilty from the start of exaggerating the
seriousness of Rooney's broken foot, and has misled the public with the
depth of his pessimism. England have always been confident that Rooney
would heal in time and greeted each negative interjection from Ferguson
with angry bemusement.
The risk is that Rooney's toe break again and a rash of lawyers pour
off the substitutes' bench.
Rooney cost Man U a cool £27m. If he is not available at the start of
next season expect United to pursue the matter in court. United are
clearly making sure that if anything happens it will be down to England
acting contrary to United's wishes.
Honestly, bollocks to Ferguson. He is Scottish, he is managing a side
that is now American owned and he has never managed an international side
and unlike 40 million other folk he probably does not care how well
England do. He is charmless and well past his sell by date.
5 June 2006
There are many reasons not to love the England team heading to the World
Cup. This is a real love hate affair. I would love to see England do well
but this is an English team utterly lacking in charm or goodwill.
Rio Ferdinand sets a leading example by failing to piss in a pot
despite being reminded of his drugs test half an hour before he should
have attended it. Instead, he sauntered off on a shopping trip, looking
for another pair of ripped jeans or a dubious hair cut.
John Terry and his Chelsea team-mate, Frank Lampard, enjoyed abusing
American tourists in a hotel lounge immediately after 9-11. That was
Wayne Rooney is gifted except with his mouth. This is a lad who told
the England bench to 'fuck off' after being withdrawn (for his own sake)
from a friendly in Madrid.
He is only 20; yet has signed a five-book deal, to reveal his innermost
thoughts. Perhaps he will tell us why he tore off a black armband on that
shameful night, worn in honour of Emlyn Hughes, a former England captain,
and flung it to the ground.
Otherwise it will be five very short books with a lot of pictures.
David Beckham has been sent off twice in an England shirt for acts of
petulance, yet is retained as captain by the manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson.
The Beckhams' lifestyle is beyond parody. He has all the fame that he
wanted; but at a cost.
There are other alleged tales. The player who casually handed a cabbie
£1,000 for a journey back to Manchester after a night's carousing in
London; the one who told a police officer who was warning him about
his drunken behaviour: 'The youth of today look up to people like me.'
It is this lack of class, of goodwill, of humility, that is so
depressing. Patrick Barclay wrote in a recent essay: 'It's time football
declared itself bankrupt, morally bankrupt.'
It wont happen; you cannot be bankrupt when there is too much money
The English fans will presumably terrify some of the good people of
Germany. As they have most of the rest of Europe. Why is it that
rugby supporters (of both codes) can enjoy a day out without brawling.
There has never been and never will be segregation at rugby matches.
The English football fan, when surrounded by hundreds of his kin,
remains a national embarrassment. The German police have announced that
they will not tolerate Nazi salutes or offensive songs during the World
Cup? Good luck to them.
The trouble is that football brings out the worst in the English.
Meanwhile cricket and rugby, sports that reveal more about human
character, tend to bring out the best. It is a massive pleasure to
watch Flintoff and Vaughan and Strauss and Cook and Hoggard battle away.
They interview with dignity. They recognise the talents of their
competitors. You only have to recall the scenes form last year with Warne
and Pieterson to see that great rivalries can produce great friendships.
So, yes I will be supporting England; but honestly I dont want to see
them do well. A little humility is needed. The game is greater than they
26 May 2006
The start of a new blog of things that vaguely amuse me that may or may
not be related to the world cup.
The fitness of England's Wayne Rooney is clearly a concern.