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COPA COPA COPA // 2-0, 1-0, 2-2, 0-0, ♥

Posted in Uncategorized by 00000000 on June 19, 2010

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1-0

2-2

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WC ’10 inaugural match!!! SOUTH AFRICA–MEXICO

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on June 11, 2010

The day is finally upon us! After 4 years of waiting, let all work grind to a halt! Should I set up a WC-themed autoreply to my work email???

SOCCER CITY BABY!!!

On paper, Mexico come into this as the rank favorites, but obviously there is no discounting the home field advantage the Bafana Bafana will enjoy here. Handy dandy Opta stats twitter informs me that “The host country has never lost its opening game of the World Cup : 14 wins, 5 draws”—good to know! Have to say, despite the thrill of the occasion, I can’t see the South Africans getting a result against an Mexican team that’s recently added some incisive attacking options to what has been a traditionally well-marshaled side. Starting lineups are in!!!

South Africa: Khune, Gaxa, Mokoena, Khumalo, Thwala, Tshabalala, Dikgacoi, Letsholonyane, Modise, Pienaar, Mphela.
Subs: Josephs, Masilela, Ngcongca, Sibaya, Davids, Booth, Parker, Nomvethe, Moriri, Sangweni, Walters, Khuboni.

Mexico: Perez, Aguilar, Rodriguez, Osorio, Salcido, Torrado, Marquez, Juarez, Giovani, Franco, Vela.
Subs: Ochoa, Barrera, Castro, Blanco, Hernandez, Moreno, Guardado, Magallon, Torres, Bautista, Medina, Michel.

Officiating this match will be Tashkent-based ref Ravshan Irmatov! Uzbek pride. No real surprises in the starting XI (for me!)—Mexico start with former Villareal & Rayas de Monterrey man Guillermo Franco up front, with a pairing of baby-Gunner Carlos Vela and rapidly-developing, globe-trotting Giovanni Dos Santos on the flanks. Looks like South Africa are playing a 4-4-1-1 with Mphela spearheading the attack, while wily winger Steven Pienaar starts behind him.

I’m slamming an editorial bagel real quick, so am missing out on what are sure to be some culturally-sensitive and incisive opening statements from fattened FIFA goose Sepp Blatter. If you want ACTUAL coverage, turn over to Paul Doyle. I hope to provide more laffs though…

WE’RE OFF! Mexico are in black jerseys here and the Bafana Bafana in yellow…¡vamos ya!

PIENAAR HAIR WATCH: Cornrow fusion looking good…dreadlocks flowing all over him.

2 min: Candidate for first African goalkeeping error of the tourney as Khune unwisely comes off his line to bat away a skimming cross…Dos Santos alllllmost bundles it in.

6 min: Bafana Bafana looking might nervous, and having trouble controlling the ball. Can’t blame ’em for letting the emotion get to them.

EL TRI HAIRWATCH: Kinda hard for me to recognize Mexico capitán Gerardo Torrado without his trademark hair poof/headband.

19 min: After some choppy moments and several S. African set pieces, Dos Santos leads Mexico on the counterattack. He has either Vela (or Franco??? sorry!) in support but elected to take a pop himself…floated high and wide. Gio’s the most dangerous man on the pitch right now…

25 min: Parreira’s South Africa are looking less conservative than I’d figured…but their passing in the final third has been sloppy and a bit too ambitious…

31 min: Mexico have had 61% of the possession so far, but are looking far less dominant than they had in the opening 15-or-so mins.

32 min: Carlos Vela, about 25 yards out and moved over to the right side, chips a ball in over the top for Guillermo Franco. He chests it down but he’s too close to keeper Khune by the time he can get his shot off and it’s swatted down.

34 min: Vela again popping up on the right side, looks like he’s switched with Dos Santos, and he put in another dangerous cross on the ground…no one on the end of it though.

37 min: GOAL DISALLOWED! Corner to Mexico, and Vela backs off his marker and is free at the far post. He chests it down and dispatches it into the net…but the linesman raises his flag. Couldn’t have been offside as S. Africa had a man covering the line. Posssssibly thought it was handball, but Vela chested it down cleanly. First FIFA conspiracy-style talking points!

42 min: Corner to South Africa…keeper Perez backpedaling and comes out to punch clear (unconvincingly), but it sails over his head. When did Ochoa stop being first-choice keep for El Tri?

44 min: Great move down the left side for South Africa, a TASTY cross comes across but Mphela can’t quite get his noggin on it. GET IN man!

45 min: Another corner for Mexico, and Kagisho Dikgacoi nods one juuust over the bar. Mexico looking pretty vulnerable from these corners—keeper Oscar Perez is only 5’7″.

HALFTIME!!! Vela and Dos Santos both looking capable of tipping the game Mexico’s way, but those set pieces might the the undoing of El Tri. Sadly I don’t have a cushy, buffering PPV stream for the World Cup like we did for CAN ’10, so there will be less jubilant screengrabbing than back in January—apologies for not having the funding to have a dedicated BOLAS & BANDEIRAS cameralady pitchside? Any volunteers willing to donate their duties to our journalistic cause? Hell, I’ll settle for a bootleg password for a photo agency password so I can steal someone else’s fotos!!!  B)

46 min: We’re back! I’ve visited the aseo, I’m on my 2nd coffee, and ready for the 2nd half! I’m sticking with my predictions (made on twitter, but not formally here) from this morning: 2-0 to El Tri.

51 min: I’m drinking coffee here.

54 min: GOLLLLL 1-0 SOUTH AFRICA!!! The first of ’10 as Siphiwe Tshabalala, who has broken down the left several times, makes another run and blasts one from about 15 yards out. The net is a’bulgin and it rifles into the upper right hand corner. About that prediction…

55 min: Attacking midfield Andres Guardado, who had a quality season at Deportivo La Coruña comes on in place of Aguilar.

59 min: Dos Santos shimmies in from the right side, shuffles past two defenders and thumps a rising shot…which Khune does well to tip away from danger.

61 min: Shit is set to get livelier and livelier here, as Mexico are really starting to throw men forward. That’s what created the situation for Tshabalala’s excellent counter attack and riotously thump’d goal…

63 min: I wanna see El Chicharito!!! Will Javier Aguirre call on new Mexican striking sensation Javi Hernandez today?

66 min: Bafana Bafana are brimming with confidence here, they just had another chance which my semi-lagging stream prevents me from articulating in detail. Carlos Alberto Parreira is looking on with grandfatherly approval from the South Africa bench.

68 min: Experience-for-youth substitution here as Cuahtemoc Blanco comes on for Carlos Vela. His first World Cup appearance since 2002. Let me just say how culturally crucial I think it is to have a player named Cuahtemoc in the Mexican side…

72 min: ¡El Chicharito aparece!  Javier Hernandez comes in to replace Guillermo Franco. Aguirre’s 3rd sub has pulled out basically all of his offensive stops now…

78 min: GOLLLL de MEXICO!!! 1-1! Guardado has time to pick out a cross, and with 3 Mexicans waiting in the box he finds an unmarked Rafa Marquez at the far post. He takes one touch and buries it…and we’re level.

81 min: Was that Joe Mothereffin’ Biden on camera just now? He looks nervous at hell…does he have a dog in this fight?

83 min: Striker Bernard Parker comes on for Steven Pienaar…is Parreira pushing for a winner here, or just trying to keep one of his best players fresh?

89 min: Ohhhhh my…a looong ball over the top bounces several times as Mphela chases, he controls despite being marked/chased by two Mexicans…and puts it against the post from 5 yards. Hearts in throats for South African fans here in Soccer City…

90 +2 min: One final attack for El Tri after several South African throw ins. Almost everyone back to defend for the Bafana Bafana…

PEEEEEEEP!!! Uzbek ref calls full time right on the dot. Not a bad result for the South Africans. They could have been down a coupla goals in the first half had the finishing of El Tri been a bit more deadly (Franco in particular had several headers he should have converted). Despite all the expectation, you have to think Parreira’s squad will be happy to have started off the Cup with a valuable point. I was especially impressed with Tshabalala, who scored a CRACKING (we’ll be using that one a lot, sorry) goal and also was playing provider with excellent creative passing vision in the 2nd half.

Siphiwe Tshabalala does a watermarked celebration after scoring the first gol o' the cup!

Mexico, however, will really feel they should have won this. Aguirre did some productive tinkering however…I’d like to hope Guardado starts against France next week, as he really added something else in attack. Promising performances from Santos, and to a lesser extent Carlos Vela.

IT’S OFFICIALLY ON!!! Gonna slam some wistful tacos here, and I’ll be back for Albiceleste v. Les Bleus @ 2pm or so!

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World Cup 2010 — Group A

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on June 7, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA

What is there to say about hosts the Bafana Bafana, except that they will get well and truly tonked by their Group A brethren. They DO have a World Cup winner in the squad though! That’ld be coach of the 1994 Brazil squad Carlos Alberto Parreira (the last man to lead mighty Fluminense to a Brasilerão title [1984!]…but a distinctly unimpressive journeyman/mercenary at the international level these last 15 or so years). Parreira is know for conservative tactics and organizational prowess, useful qualities when raw talent is lacking. But let’s not get too patronizing with the host nation. Cornrowed playmaker Steven Pienaar will surely be the most likely source of aesthetically pleasing hijinks in attack, and striker Katlego Mphela has a not-scoff-at-able international strike rate (15 goals in 31 appearances, including a brace against Spain in last summer’s Confederations Cup) and scored the winner against the Danes in their last friendly. Player most likely to deliver the unexpected? Well that would have to be second-striker Surprise Moriri, •GONG•!!! Perhaps their fans’ enthusiasm and the atmospheric hum of vuvuzelas can lift the Bafana Bafana…but I’d say there is absolutely no chance they’ll qualify ahead of Uruguay, Mexico, or even the French.

MEXICO

After a shambolic qualifying campaign and the misguided appointment of Sven Goran Eriksson as coach, El Tri is finally getting its casa en orden. The man chosen to undo the damage of the culturally at-sea Svelte Swede is Javier Aguirre, the former Atlético Madrid skipper taking his second crack at managing the national team. After losing to El Salvador in his first game back in charge, he’s been undefeated at the helm of the Selección Mexicana.

¡NO MAMES! Entrenador Javier Aguirre, with a bit of post-shock Leland Palmer about him.

El Tri are propped up by some increasingly creaky workhorses—centerback and captain Rafa Marquez has begun to fall out of favor at Barcelona due to his lack of pace, Cuahtemoc Blanco is 37 but still offers creative flair, and longtime holding midfielder Pavel Pardo is 33. However, there is undoubtedly una infusión fresca of young attacking talent. Former Barça/Spurs whippersnapper Gio Dos Santos has begun to progress since playing regularly at Galatasaray, as has Arsenal bit-player Carlos Vela. Most intriguing, however, is 22 y/o striker Javier “El Chicharito” Hernandez. His goal-scoring prowess at hometown club Chivas de Guadalajara recently earned him a move to Manchester United, as well as a call-up to the national squad—he’s speedy and scores a LOT of headed goals, despite the the fact that he’s just 5’7″. Mexico has long lacked ruthlessness in front of goal, but if Vela or Hernandez click into gear they should have no problem getting out of their admittedly tricky group.

URUGUAY

El Sol de Mayo with Forlan face apparition, grippin' former glories...

The Albiceleste have won the World Cup twice, let us not forget!!! Sure, it’s been 62 years since they last hoisted the cup…only 16 years less than England, who people (The Sun & attendant delusional pasty Englishmen) still take somewhat seriously! What’s undeniable is that Uruguay have the most well-defined set of abdominals in the Cup (Ronaldo be damned!) in the form of frequently-shirtless sensation Diego Forlan. He’s scored 50 goals in the last 2 seasons at Atlético Madrid, and will be joined in attack by young Ajax starlet Luis Suárez. After scoring 35 goals in the ’09-10 season (2 gols in 4 appearances for Uruguay since breaking into the starting XI) he has a host of clubs swarming to sign him. Another Ajax youngster (formerly of Nacional), Nicolás Lodeiro, threads the needle as a speedy attacking midfielder with excellent close control. Coming off the bench is Sebastian “El Loco” Abreu, the leading scorer at club level in this World Cup with 305 career goals (just nudging out Thierry Henry)—though 33 he’s experienced a mild revival since moving to Botafogo last year. Defensive affairs are managed at the back by captain Diego Lugano, a poetic embodiment of the stereotypical Uruguayo hardman.

FRANCE

It’s an odd World Cup for Les Bleus, with the post-tournament exit of astrologer-coach Raymond Domenech already confirmed. Despite France’s fortuitous run to the 2006 final, RD has been a long-running joke for his semi-inept formational thinking, with total devotion to a 4-2-3-1 system despite the circumstances yielding sparkling results, such as their 0-0 draw with Romania at Euro 2008 (which earned them their sole point of that tournament). There’s also the total lack of respect he commands among the players, who rightly recognize and mock his eccentricities. His final squad of 23 surprised some with its exclusion of Karim Benzema (admittedly a sulky bastard coming off a crap season at Real Falangista), Jean-Alain Boumsong, and tiny midfield craftsman Samir Nasri. The current configuation of Les Bleus marks the end of a generational era, with midfield stalwart Patrick Vieira out of the squad and Thierry Henry relegated to the bench (a position he’s occupied with aplomb in the second half of Barcelona’s campaign!).

Domenech then. Domenech today: less Groucho-like, still a clown.

Domenech has started to mix things up a bit in the last several friendlies, introducing a 4-3-3 system just in time to confuse his talented squad and sow general disorder! France weren’t exactly delivering flowing football in their 2-1 victory over Costa Rica and have looked rickety in the last week, drawing 1-1 to Tunisia and losing 1-0 to China. France’s greatest hope perhaps lies in Player Power, as the talent at Domenech’s disposal is unquestionable—if only he knew what to do with it. Should the players channel their passions and break their tactical chains, the attacking talents of fullbacks Patrica Evra and Gael Clichy, silky midfielders Toulalan and Gourcuff, and incisive wingers Franck Ribery and Florent Malouda would be indeed difficult for opponents to negotiate. This humble editor doesn’t see it happening however—the only points they’re likely to see are against South Africa.

Sexxxy philanderer Franck Ribery might have to carry the team on his (mildly hunched) back

••• Official BOLAS & BANDEIRAS Qualifying Picks: Mexico, Uruguay

Meanwhile Back in the Americas…

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 10, 2010

from the BOLAS & BANDEIRAS ¡no mames! department…

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