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June 30 2010

World Cup 2010: Who's to blame for Nigeria's performance?

By Eremipagamo Amabebe

Nigerian football fans were disappointed Tuesday when the team's final chance of advancing in the 2010 World Cup evaporated in a 2-2 tie with South Korea. At the start of the Cup, the  future looked promising: Nigeria is one of the highest-ranked African teams (21st in FIFA's world rankings — second only to Egypt and Cameroon on the African continent); but the team has been burdened with setbacks, including the installation of a new coach only three weeks before the Cup and the red-carding of a star player.

For Nigeria fans, the Super Eagles' recent performance has been vexing: The team made an impressive World Cup debut in 1994, but soon after began to slip, and have not won a Cup match since 1998. Many hoped that 2010 might be a turning point, but Tuesday's result made clear that those watching for a Nigerian football renaissance will have to wait until 2014 — if not longer.

In the blogosphere, disappointment was the prevailing emotion, though many fans were not surprised by the outcome. “They were never going to win that game,” wrote Bc Osunneye:

Failed hotel bookings, broken down aircraft, failed friendlies, shifted friendly venues, failed meetings between coach and players, shortlisting of players on paper, NFF still owing Chukwu, Eguavoen and Amodu [Former Super Eagles coaches] for work done close to 5 years [ago] now are all just a few in the catalog of ineptitude.

Adeola Aderounmu pointed to corruption as one of the grounds for the team's poor performance:

What are the criteria used for getting players into the national team? I have spoken to at least 2 ex-internationals and their responses are very heartbreaking. In some circumstances Nigerian politicians, dictators and family members have influenced the selection of players into the national team. There are stories (from the past) of bribing of coaches to get players selected into the team.

Others blamed Sani Kaita for the team's failure. Kaita horrified fans by becoming the first Nigerian player to be sent off the field during a World Cup match, after he received a red card for attempting to kick a rival player. The red card was particularly rankling as Nigeria had started the match promisingly: The score stood at 1-0 before the incident. Team spokesman Peterside Idah said that Kaita received more than 1000 death threats from fans in the wake of the Greece match.

Nigerian Curiosity found humor in the incident and coined a new verb:

KAITA (Kai-ta)

v. Kai*ta, Kai*tas, kai*ta'ed, kai*ta'ing

1. To single-handedly dash the hopes and aspirations of one's nation in the full glare of other nations

2. To karate-kick your way out of the greatest stage/spotlight ever known to man

3. To destroy/zap/siphon the energies of teammates plus 140 million people through unexplainable stupidity

4. To act foolishly, unintelligently or irrationally and IMMEDIATELY regret the action by falling on your knees

Usage:

1. “Please, please, do not KAITA what we have been building for 50 years o! Oloshi!”

2. “I don't care what people say, I will KAITA the multi-billion dollar plan!”

Fans also complained about the replacement of Shaibu Amodu with Swedish coach Lars Lagerbäck just three weeks before the Cup. Echoing a New York Times article, Chxta wondered why Amodu wasn't replaced with a qualified Nigerian coach:

“Why do we have this terrible inferiority complex? … I say build from the bottom up… Let's gather the most intelligent of our ex-players - I suggest Siasia/Oliseh - and get them to mould a team that fits into the character of the nation.

Max Siollun, present at the match with South Korea, lamented the annoyingness of Nigerian fans:

Right behind me was a Nigerian with a smaller flag, who kept waving it and resting it on my head. I told him several times that my head was not a flag pole and to get it off me. Yet he persisted in wrapping the flag around my head continually. At one point, he had the temerity to get annoyed with ME for complaining about having a flag draped over my head from behind. He then proceeded to mutter insults about me to his friend in his native tongue.

Finding no silver lining in Nigeria's performance, Bc Osunneye took comfort in posting photos from the team's glory days: “Would we see moments like this?” he wrote.

Below the question he posted a video of his favorite moment in Nigerian Football: Sunday Oliseh's winning goal against Spain in 1998.


For more highlights of the team's World Cup history see here.

June 17 2010

South Korea: Tensions Went Under World Cup Anesthestia

By Lee Yoo Eun


The sharp tension between two Koreas which had been escalating ever since the sinking of a South Korean warship by a supposed North Korean torpedo attack have momentarily numbed by high emotion that only World Cup can bring. South Korean blogs are now inundating with heartful comments on North Korea's soccer match against Brazil and lauds to a North Korean star player, Jong Tae Se, shoving politics aside for a moment.

Yesterday's match between North Korea and Brazil was an unpredictable twist, where North Korean soccer team, who numbered as 105 in FIFA rank scored a goal against the World's number one Brazil team, losing the match only by 2-1.

South Korean blog space were filled with lavish praises on North Korean team whom fought unexpectedly well against any one's odd. Koreans, who fully understands how overwhelming for Asian players to compete against relatively taller and experienced European or African players who came from traditionally soccer-strong countries, have expressed their sympathy and support toward North Korean team. According to the Asiatoday newspaper, even South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reportedly said that he wished North Korean team to win.

A bloger named Duizilland commented on his blog that he was moved by North Korean players, whom despite their unfavorable physical structure and lack of World cup experience, summoned every strength they have to fight against a truly formidable opponent. 

 북한은 전 세계의 축구팬들에게 약팀이 보여줄 수 있는 모든 것을 보여주었다…소위 축구 강대국들 입장에서야 따분하기 짝이 없는 결과이겠지만 우리 입장에선 아무리 축구 외적인 문제에서 정치, 역사적 불협화음을 빚어도 결국 같은 Korea 라는 대승적 차원에서 상당히 고무적인 현실이다…난 오늘 남북간 정치적 관계를 떠나 축구팬으로서 피파랭킹 105위의 북한 선수들이 피파랭킹 1위의 브라질을 상대로 펼치는 투혼에 너무나도 감명받았기 때문에.

North Korea exhibited all the characteristics a weak soccer team has in front of all the World soccer fans…This (match) would be an extremely boring/insignificant result for countries with strong soccer teams, but this shed lights on the fact that we indeed belong to same Korea, although there is ongoing cacophony in politics and histories and other non-soccer issues…I, today, as a pure soccer fan with no political interests, was reallly moved by the spirit the North Korean players whom ranked as No. 105 in FIFA has shown against the FIFA rank No.1 Brazil team. 

A photo of Jong Tae-Se (taken from Duizilland blog) , North Korean team's ace uncontrolably sobbing just before the start of the match had been breifly posted on a front page of the FIFA official homepage and is now circulating over numerous South Korean blogs.  Jong told later local media that he was so overwhelemed by the fact he is finally standing at the World Cup stadium with World's best soccer team.
 
Jong Tae-se, spelled as Jeong Dae-se in South Korea and Chong Tese in Japan, is an outstanding football player from North Korean national soccer team. Jong is often called as 'People's Rooney', his nickname made from the combination of Rooney as in the famous English football player Wayne Rooney and ‘People' from North Korea's official name, the Democratic 'People' Republic of Korea.

A Naver blogger Zzub 33 commented on his blog that he was deeply moved by Jong's tears.

궁극적으로 한민족이라는 까닭에 북한의 선전을 기원했지만, 객관적인 실력과 주변의 평가에 너무 긴장되기도 했습니다.그러다가 브라질과 북한의 국가가 흘러나오고 양국 선수들이 경기를 시작하려고 할 쯔음에 뭔가 찡-해지는 느낌을 어떻게 할 수가 없더군요. 보는 이마저 찡하게 만든 정대세 선수의 눈물은…인상이 깊더군요.

I prayed North Korea to fight well, as we(South and North Korea) are one nation eventually, but at the same time I got extremely nervous because I know the North Korean team's actual ability and people's (professional) evaluation on it…As national anthems of Brazil and North Korea were heard and two teams are getting ready for the match, I felt something, a strong emotion which I cant just get rid off. Jong Tae Se's tears have touched the audience… that was really impressive. 

Even though, Jong Tae-se was born in Japan and played in Japanese soccer league, he had the South Korean citizenship which he inherited from his parents. Jong later discarded his South Korean citizenship to join North Korean soccer team.

A blogger ‘Tweewg' wrote on his blog that soccer transcends the nationality.

이 경기의 포인트는 여러가지가 있다.그중에서도 단연 한 가지만 꼽으라면 인민 루니, 정대세 선수이다…외국인이 아닌 우리의 눈에는 그가 광장히 독특한 이력을 가진 선수다. 간단히 말해 정대세는 한국 국적이다. 그러나 일본에 살고 있으며, 북한 국가대표로 월드컵에 나서고 있다. 전세계에 전무후무한 국적을 떠나 사는 곳을 떠나 그는 소속팀을 정한 것이다. 그의 정치적 입장도 사상도 나는 잘 알지 못한다…축구는 스포츠다.

There are highlights from this match…To name one, it is the People's Rooney, Jong Tae-se…To us Koreans, his resume is quite perculiar. His nationality is South Korea, but he lives in Japan and playing as a North Korean national soccer player. This is unprecedent case on global level for a guy to choose his team regardless of his nationality and residency. I dont know well on his political stance or ideology…The soccer is just sports.

There are extreme hardliners from the other side expressing their repulsions on people's friendly attitude toward North Korea, South Korea's official state enemy. But as the World Cup came to momentarily embraces the politics, purely soccer-wise encouraging comments on North Korean players will likely to continue throughout June.

June 14 2010

Greece: World Cup-Mania Provides Respite from Financial Crisis

By Asteris Masouras

Despite the dire financial crisis unfolding in Greece, many Greeks have taken to the ‘social media World Cup‘ with gusto - perhaps hoping for a repeat of the amazing and uplifting victory in the Euro 2004 championship rather than a rehash of the national team's abysmal performance at the 1994 World Cup at the feet of Argentina and Nigeria.

Wishing good luck to the Greek national team, blogger Roides guiltlessly and poetically proclaimed:

Το Μουντιάλ παραμένει γιορτή των αισθήσεων, του πάθους. Αγαπώ τη μπάλα, έπαιξα σε αλάνες και σε γήπεδα, μάτωσα παθιάστηκα ίδρωσα έκλαψα και γέλασα. Οι πρώτες αγάπες, οι μεγάλες, δεν ξεχνιούνται.

Παρόλη την ακραία εμπορευματοποίηση, το ποδόσφαιρο συνεχίζει να κουβαλά εκείνο το άλλο, το μυστήριο της μαγείας, μια ευφάνταστη ντρίμπλα σε ανύποπτο χρόνο είναι αρκετή να αποφόρτιση θετικά όλο σου το είναι, όλα μεμιάς ξεχνιούνται, χρέη, υποχρεώσεις, άγχη –όλα στον καιάδα.

Ποιος να ξέρει, ίσως τα ανήσυχα πνεύματα των μεγάλων Πορτογάλων θαλασσοπόρων του Ντα Γκάμα, του Ντιάζ, εκεί στο ιστορικό Algoa Bay, με τα βουβά  θαλάσσια ρεύματα, στην πόλη των ανέμων, μας επιφυλάσσουν συγκινήσεις.

The World Cup remains the celebration of senses, of passion. I love football, I've played in alleys and fields, I bled, got passionate, sweated, cried and laughed. First loves, the big ones, cannot be forgotten. Despite rampant commercialism, football continues to convey that other, the mystery of magic. An imaginative dribble that catches you unawares is enough to positively discharge your whole being, everything is at once forgotten: debts, obligations, anxieties -everything down the drain.

Who knows, maybe the restless spirits of the great Portuguese seafarers, Da Gama and Diaz, there at historic Algoa Bay, with it's mute sea currents, city of the winds, portend thrills for us.

Twitter is naturally dominated by talk of the World Cup these days, especially during the games, when dozens of users take to commenting the games with instant fervor. AntidraSports, quipped on the mostly ballistic USA - England game:

Τυχεροί οι θεατές των άνω διαζωμάτων. Το μεγαλύτερο μέρος του ματς, παίζεται στο ύψος τους. (όσο πιο ψηλά, τόσο πιο καλά).

Upper quadrant fans are lucky; most of the game is played on their level (the higher, the better)

World Cup and politics go together like football and beer, of course. Constantinos Alexacos wryly commented:

Αργεντινή Ελλάδα, διαιτητής θα παίξει ο Στρος Κααν

The Argentina Greece game will be refereed by [IMF managing director] Stauss-Kahn

On Twitter, team name “hashflags” that make national flag icons appear in tweets, and the #worldcup hashtag that shows a little football, became an instant hit, even with non-fans. Nikos Fotakis admitted:

δεν μ' ενδιαφέρει το μουντιάλ, αλλά μου αρέσει αυτή η σαχλαμαρίτσα με την μπαλίτσα #outofyourculticloset #sucker #worldcup

I don't care about the World Cup, but I like the silly little ball thingy #outofyourculticloset #sucker #worldcup

Vivian Efthimiopoulou tried the obvious: “Come on little ball! Out with you! #worldcup”

The vuvuzela, a South African favorite noisemaker whose sound dominates games in the World Cup, also dominated conversations in the Greek Twittersphere. Most just hated it, despite there being similar Greek instruments, sometimes employed in stadiums. Stavros Papadakis described their sound with a literary simile from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings,

λες και παίζουν στους βάλτους με τα κουνούπια στη Gorgoroth!

it's as if they're playing in the mosquito swamps of Gorgoroth!

Even animals were apparently affected. Anastasia Kamvissi protested that:

Οι γάτες μου, έξαλλες με τις βουβουζέλες, θέλουν να φάνε την τηλεόραση

My cats are incensed at the vuvuzelas,  they want to eat the TV set

Nikos Anagnostou mused on the linguistic roots of the word:

Αυτό το -ζέλα στο βουβουζέλα πρέπει να έχει μουσική σημασία. Μου θυμίζει τον ΜουφλουΖΕΛΗ (ρεμπέτης) και τον ΚουκουΖΕΛΗ (βυζαντ. υμνογράφος)

That -zela in vouvouzela must have a musical significance. It reminds me of Mouflouzelis (rembetiko musician) and Koukouzelis (byzantine hymn writer)

On the day of the Greek national team's first match with South Korea, June 12,  fans were jubilant. As political tensions between the two Koreas were flaring, xtsanos teasingly cheered the team on,

Πάμε ρε Ελλαδάρα! Κάνε χαρούμενο τον Κιμ-Γιονγκ Ιλ :-P #gre #wc10gr

Go Greece! Make Kim Jong-Il happy :-p #gre #wc10gr

But the Greek team probably didn't make the North Korean leader happy. It was generally agreed they played a wretched game. Eric Parks summed up the first half of the game:

We're behind, ref denied Koreans a clear penalty & they had the best chance so far. Ah, I can smell the summer of 94′ already #worldcup  #gre

XML guru Tim Bray wondered,

So is #kor really as great as they're looking, or is #gre just having a really bad day? #worldcup

… to which software developer Vassilis Rizopoulos replied:

@timbray #kor are good enough, but #gre is not really having a bad day…it's their normal state. ‘04 was a fluke #worldcup

The World Cup even brought legendary blogs out of hiatus. Yorgos Panzaris reassessed his predictions made 4 years ago on Reality Tape,

Φυσικά έπεσα έξω σχεδόν σε όλα τα τολμηρά — τέσσερα χρόνια μοιάζουν πάρα πολλά την επομένη του τελικού, ελάχιστα σήμερα

Of course, my guess was off on all the daring bets - 4 years seem quite a lot on the next day of the final, but only a few today

Dribble & Drink, a collective blog for humorous football punditry created during the last World Cup was also resurrected. A contributor nicknamed The Grass waxes lyrically on the supposedly mythological significance of low play:

Είναι ίσως γραφτό σε μια εποχή που η ανθρωπότητα παρακμάζει αναζητώντας αξίες και πρότυπα, το πρώτο mundial στην Αφρικανική ήπειρο - εκεί που άρχισαν όλα - να σημαδευτεί από την θριαμβευτική επιστροφή στις ρίζες [..] Το ποδόσφαιρο κατοχής της σφαίρας και διατήρησης της ιερής σχέσης που έχει αυτή με το γκαζόν

In an era when a declining humanity seeks values and role-models, maybe it's fated for the first World Cup in the African continent -where everything began- to perform a triumphant return to football's roots [..] To ball possession and the preservation of it's sacred relation to the grass

Not everyone was happy with the attention garnered by the World Cup, however. Eleftheria Katsianou openly warned about the football “war of the sexes”,

Όσο οι αντρες θα βλέπουν μπαλα για ένα μηνα, οι γυναίκες θα “παίζουν” μπάλα ελεύθερα. Thank u #mundial

As long as men will be watching football for a month, women will be free to “play ball”. Thank u #mundial

Arkoudos poignantly commented on the political aspect of the whole globe turning it's gaze to spectator sports for a month with a new “issue” of his faux-magazine, Point of View. The caption on the cover reads: “Come on kid, don't pretend you don't understand. It's the World Cup.”

May 21 2010

South Africa: Build up to the World Cup

By Muhammad Karim

With 20 days left to the the greatest spectacle showcasing the “beautiful game” in South Africa, there has been a lot of preparation going on behind the scenes and a lot of talk in the South African blogosphere on various issues surrounding the World Cup. There is Official Government site covering the World Cup where all the “official” information and updates on what is being done to prepare for the World Cup can be found.

Still not sure what exactly the World Cup is and especially clueless on any information about the World Cup 2010? The World Cup Blog has a great Beginners' Guide to the World Cup which covers the basics very succinctly.

First up in the blogosphere, though, let's start with traffic situation. The Portfolio Travel Blog points out various road closures which will be taking place in Cape Town around the time of the World Cup:

The City of Cape Town has released the following road closure information for all in the Mother City during the World Cup.

“Traffic will be affected on match days in Cape Town during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ due to a number of necessary road closures. The City asks the public to be aware of these and to plan their routes and travel times accordingly.We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” said the City’s Director: Communication and 2010 Spokesperson, Pieter Cronje.

Public transport services have been extended as part of the City’s transport plan for the event.

“We encourage commuters to utilise these extended public transport services offered by the City,” said Peter Sole, Manager: 2010 Transport Operations.

All trains and certain train stations will have additional security for the duration of the World Cup. In addition, the use of non-motorised transport and car pooling is greatly encouraged.

You can get all the additional details on these road closures by visiting the full blog post. I hope the same is not the same for the other host cities. I'm sure this is a special case.

Keeping with the theme of transport, The Mpumalanga Explorer highlights how the FIFA World Cup Official page is misrepresenting information about one particular town which will host a few World Cup Games, Nelspruit.

The Mpumalanga Province is regarded as one of the most tourist-friendly provinces in South Africa. Despite its close proximity to some neighbouring countries, such as Mozambique, the province is also less than three hours drive from Johannesburg and some four hours from Polokwane” Fair enough all this is factual. I am guessing that at some point along the border of Mpumalanga you could get to Polokwane in four hours, but the facts are that it would take another 2 hours from there to Nelspruit. The FIFA World Cup™ tournament games are being held in Mpumalanga, but more specifically Nelspruit which is approximately 360 km's from Johannesburg, which distance can be covered in 3 hours with no stops and no other traffic if the rules of the road are adhered to. Polokwane is another couple of hours from Johannesburg going north.

Aside from the world-acclaimed Kruger National Park which is the main tourist destination in Mpumalanga Province, very little is known about this province and its surroundings.” What utter claptrap. Mpumalanga is known for more than just the Kruger Park. Making it sound like Mpumalanga is largely unexplored and wild is foolish. The roads in Mpumalanga, specifically in the Lowveld are largely tarred. We have many tourists visiting the smaller towns like Graskop, Hazyview Sabie and Barberton because of the attractions they offer. These towns are not unknown as much as FIFA wish to claim that.

The blog does go into other inaccurate information on the FIFA World Cup page. It seems FIFA's not done it's homework on this one.

Some great news now for World Cup Ticket Holders from Capeinfo blogs…there is free Metrorail for World Cup ticket holders:

Metrorail will transport match ticket holders of the 2010 FIFA World Cup free of charge on its special dedicated trains to host stadiums.

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will run special commuter services through its Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl intercity services during the tournament.

This is an additional special train service over and above the normal services provided, and will be synchronised according to match schedules.

Additional rail services will be scheduled to cope with the demand as government has promised that by 2010 there will be a train available every five minutes during peak times. Train services will be running between 14 and 16 hours every day.

Metrorail Gauteng Region will service a total of 12 routes namely Soccer City with 14 train sets, Coca-Cola Park with 13 train sets and Loftus Versfeld with 14 more trains.

The short routes include Pretoria to Rissik station, Johannesburg to Nasrec station, Westgate to Nasrec station as well as Westgate to Doornfontein station.

All stations will start operating from 5am to 10pm on match days while for late games, stations will operate until midnight.

Each soccer train will be staffed with a team of ten ticket officers, both to and from venue stations. One inspector or supervisor will be deployed on each soccer train.

Shosholoza Meyl, with an active coach fleet of 1 223, already runs on 19 scheduled routes stopping at 95 stations, while Metrorail services 468 stations in Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and the Eastern Cape.

Regional and cross-border train services have been revised to coincide with matches in the various host cities, this includes the scheduling of dedicated trains to matches and from outside the Gauteng region.

Passengers will be able to choose between the various products such as the Tourist Class Train Service, Economy Train Service and Premier Class.

The train services will run from Musina in Limpopo, Komatipoort, Rustenburg, Durban, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. Passengers will then connect to Metrorail trains to take them to their respective games.

Great news for World Cup enthusiasts wondering how they will be able to attend matches in different cities.

VOANews blog has a post giving a high five to the South Africa World Cup 2010 official Mascot, Zakumi.

World Cup mascots usually show a characteristic feature of the host country. One of my objectives during my first trip to South Africa in June is to give a high-five to Zakumi, the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup.
Zakumi is a leopard, a common animal found in South Africa, and his green and gold colors represent the national colors of South Africa’s national sports teams. A high-five for you, Zakumi!

Green Point Stadium and Capetown Daily Photo's gives us a great picture of the New Green Point Stadium taken from the old one:

Covering some humorous content around the World Cup, Dizzy Dee blogs about a US broadcast which actually confused which continent the World cup will be held on:

Note the photo in the article above shows South America, while the heading over the image reads “South Africa“. Seems like there is some confusion in the US as to which continent exactly hosts the Soccer World Cup during 2010.

Kameraad Mhambi blogs about a Netherlands based group called De Zoltans, which sings a song “Zuid-Afrika” based on the tune of YMCA and is all about the World Cup, absolutely hilarious:

A friend Lizelle living in the Netherlands sent me this. A song called Zuid-Afrika about the Football World Cup.

Moenie my glo as ek sê die Hollanders is sokkerbefok nie. Check maar gewoon hier.

Not quite Die Antwoord. The Dutchies are one of the teams with a chance of lifting the cup.

Just for your information, Die Antwoord are a white South African Based Hip-Hop group which has gained tremendous popularity with their music being spread solely over the internet. They are available on Youtube.

Bringing it all back on a more sombre note, Medialternatives blogs about Fifa, Racism and the World Cup.

FIFA continues to fund apartheid-era companies in South Africa. DSTV SUPERSPORT for example has rights to broadcast live coverage of the World Cup event in High Definition, but its holding company Sanlam/Naspers remains engaged in a lengthy labour dispute involving racism and discrimination in which gross failures in the coverage of issues affecting previously disadvantaged communities have come to light.

SuperSport channels “will provide spectators with full coverage of the World Cup event”. A DSTV official has stated: “there will be a 24-hour coverage and we will be bringing the games on High Definition (HD).” Yet millions without the luxury of HD languish in poverty caused as a result of FIFA partners.

Racism, whether in low or high definition is still racism, and apartheid however misconstrued via Satellite or Cable TV is still apartheid. FIFA should not allow its brand to be associated with a company which failed to make a submission to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

In the final report Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu questioned the sincerity of Afrikaner-dominated media houses such as Media24: “Is silence from that quarter to be construed as consent, conceding that it was a sycophantic handmaiden of the apartheid government?”

In the commissions findings Naspers/Media24/MNET were condemned for their complicity in the apartheid system: ‘[Naspers] chose to provide direct support for apartheid and the activities of the security forces — many of which led directly to gross human rights violations.”

It's an interesting viewpoint and one that isn't much covered in the blogosphere, let alone mainstream media.

An element of hope is stirred by kameraad mhambi again in a blog post on two rugby teams (one being known as the most ‘afrikaner' team) who, because of the World Cup, will be playing their match in Soweto of all places…

This weekend, due to the Football World Cup, history will be made when the Blue Bulls play the Crusaders in the Super 14 Rugby tournament in Soweto.

The Bulls, from Pretoria, traditionally are seen as the most Afrikaner off all South Africa Rugby Unions. The game will be an opportunity to smash or reinforce some stereo types.

Ending off on a very inspirational note, especially when it comes to motivating the teams themselves, Hyundai have had a competition coming up with Team slogans for each country which has qualified for the World Cup. Below are their results…

Algerie - Star and crescent with one goal: Victory!

Argentina - Última parada, la gloria - Last stop: Glory

Australia - Dare to Dream, Advance Australia

Brazil - Lotado! O Brasil inteiro está aqui dentro! - The whole of Brazil is in here!

Cameroon - Les lions indomptables sont de retour - The Indomitable Lions are back

Chile - Roja la sangre de mi corazón, Chile campeón - Red is the blood of my heart, Chile will be Champion

Cote D Ivoire - Eléphants, battons nous pour la victoire! - Elephants, let's fight for victory!

Denmark - Det eneste der kræves, er et dansk hold og en drøm - All you need is a Danish team and a dream

England - Playing with Pride and Glory

France - Tous ensemble vers un nouveau rêve bleu - All together for a new dream in blue

Germany - Auf dem Weg zum Cup! - On the road to get the Cup!

Ghana - The hope of Africa

Greece - Η Ελλάδα είναι παντού! - Greece is everywhere!

Honduras -Un país, una pasión, ¡5 estrellas en el corazón! - One Country, One passion, 5 Stars in the heart

Italy - Il nostro Azzurro nel cielo d'Africa - Italian Azzurro on African sky

Japan - 侍魂はくじけない!日本勝利! - The Samurai spirit never dies! Victory for Japan!

Korea DRP - 또다시 1966년처럼, 조선아 이겨라 ! - 1966 again! Victory for DPR of Korea!

Mexico - ¡Es tiempo de un nuevo campeón! - It is time for a new champion!

Netherlands - Let niet op de grote 5, maar pas op voor de oranje 11 - Don't fear the big five, fear the Orange eleven

New Zealand - Kickin' it Kiwi style

Nigeria - Super Eagles super fan united we stand

Paraguay - El león Guaraní ruge en Sudáfrica - The Guarani lion roars in South Africa!

Portugal - Um sonho, uma ambição…Portugal campeão! - One dream, one purpose… Portugal victorious!

Republic of Korea - 승리의 함성, 하나된 한국 - The Shouts of Reds, United Republic of Korea

Serbia - Igramo srcem, vodimo osmehom! - Play with the heart, lead with a smile!

Slovakia - Rozbehnime to: Slovensko do toho! - Shake the green field: Go Slovakia!

Slovenia - Z enajstimi pogumnimi srci do konca - With eleven brave hearts to the end

South Africa - One nation, proudly united under one rainbow

Spain - Ilusión es mi camino, Victoria mi destino - Hope is my road, victory my destiny

Switzerland - Hopp Schwiiz! - “Hop Suisse!” - “Forza Svizzera!” - “C'mon Switzerland!”

Uruguay - El sol brilla sobre nosotros. ¡Vamos Uruguay! - The sun shines upon us. Go Uruguay!

USA - Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Victory!

All in all the country and the world are excited about the upcoming World Cup. There will be a few hiccups I'm sure, but overall it all seems to point to a hopeful and colourful World Cup 2010.

March 18 2010

Bloggers' opinions about technology and football

Despite the dramatic advances in technology, The International Football Association Board (FIFA) has rejected the introduction of goal-line technology during World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

What has been the reaction from sports bloggers?

WorldCupBlog argues
that errors in football, which can be prevented by technology, do cost clubs a lot of money:

European Football has grown into a 12bn Euro business, so these errors aren’t just about football narratives and mythology, but about costing clubs millions of Euros.

Another blogger believes that technology can make football “really fair”:

Why is it fine to contest decisions with technological aid in other sports while football/soccer referee decisions are only based on the limited capabilities of man? Sure we want to keep enjoying the game as it is but let’s make it really fair for both teams that enter the field for 90+ minutes. What do you say Irish fans? Do you have anything in particular to say to FIFA?

FIFA World Cup South Africa captures the anxieties over the FIFA decision:

If we start with goal-line technology then any part of the game and pitch will be a potential space where you could put in place technology to see if the ball was in or out, whether it was a penalty and then you end up with video replays. The door is closed

January 13 2010

Africa: 2010 Africa Cup of Nations Starts: What Do We Expect?

2010 CAN in Angola

2010 CAN in Angola

This year Africa’s in the sports arena for all the right reasons. First to shine the spotlight is definitely the Confederation of Africa's (CAF) African Cup of Nations being held in Angola which is just a stone’s throw away from South Africa, which hosts the World Cup in June later on this year.

As expected in many respects, this is a dress rehearsal for most of the teams which qualified for the World Cup from Africa.

But not everyone is celebrating Africa’s premiere football showcase as Mark Murphy notes:

If this year’s African Cup of Nations in Angola has entered the psyche of English football fans at all, it is because of the cataclysmic effect on Chelsea’s Premier League title hopes of a month without Didier Drogba

David James also wonders aloud in an article for Sports Blog:

With Chelsea flying there is plenty of speculation as to how they will cope without Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Salomon Kalou and Mikel John Obi

Quite a number of English clubs will lose their players to the tournament with Chelsea and Portsmouth being the biggest casualties. Plagued by financial difficulties, Portsmouth has been living from hand to mouth and currently lie last in the English Premier League.

www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/dec/20/african-cup-nations-david-james”>David James again:

‘African Cup of Nations will hit us but who wouldn’t want to be there?’
…we have had so many other things to worry about – not getting paid, having another change of manager, being bottom of the league – that the thought of players going missing in a few weeks' time has not yet come to the fore. Of course it will be a big blow to us. We don't have the biggest of squads, and to lose some of our best players will have a huge impact. When our players do return there could be a host of other problems, such as mental and physical fatigue, adjusting to the difference in temperature, and injuries. So what do the Portsmouth players themselves think? To gauge opinion I had a chat with some of them over dinner, and the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was who would win the competition

The hosts, Angola will be hoping to save their blushes after failing to qualify for the World Cup after a promising period in 2008 as noted by Oliver:

After a successful stint in the 2008 African cup of nations, Angola were awarded the rights to host the tournament for the first time in its twenty six year history. Angola, who have only featured in the competition four times, preceded to the quarter finals in 2008”
But going by the first game against Mali they must wish the fortunes are better and pray (and play too) hoping to make it through the knock-out rounds of the quarter-finals and looking forward to replicating Egypt’s success of hosting the Cup and winning 1986/2006(along with other nations such as Sudan-1970,Ghana -1978, Algeria-1990, South Africa-1996);

Another country hoping to change their fortunes is last tournament’s hosts, Ghana. Should Ghana be taken seriously?:

Should Ghana be taken seriously?”– It goes on to ask if they shall find comfort with “John Mensah, John Pantsil, Stephen Appiah, Laryea Kingston are all nursing injuries while Muntari was famously overlooked”
It goes on further to say,
“Soon after the draw for the CAN several media pundits installed Ghana as joint favourites together with La Cote D’ivoire. Well that was before the injury crisis, but still that is the expectation this young team is up against-to at least make the final

The Indomitable Lions- as the Cameroonians have their old but vastly experienced players to put through their case as their iconic players look to hang the boots in pride. Cameroon is led by Rigobert Song who plays in his eighth African Cup of Nations tournament:

Cameroon promise to be strong. Their manager, Paul Le Guen, has found a way of ensuring star striker Samuel Eto'o does not feel the need to scamper all over the pitch in search of the ball, and the skilful Betis midfielder Achille Emana has become the prime conduit to the Inter star. In the centre of defence Cameroon boast one of the hottest prospects in African football, the 20-year-old Monaco centre-back Nicolas N'Koulou, who has been compared to a young Franco Baresi. What is more, in a tournament where few of the teams have top-class goalkeepers, Cameroon are an exception: Carlos Kameni is excellent

The other countries expected to make run-ins in the title chase include past winners Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria and the West African states of Mali and Burkina Faso. Togo team decided to go back home following the attack on the team bus in Cabinda:

The heartbreaking attack on the Togo team bus in rural Cabinda, an Angolan territory geographically separated from the rest of the nation, on the eve of the 2010 African Nations Cup upset me deeply. Foremost, I’m upset about the dead and wounded; I’m upset that the vile geo-political mix of oil, land, terrorism, and inequality claimed innocent lives and injured the travelling party of a soccer team that was interested in nothing more than a game. But I’m also upset about the potential for the ambush to detract from what should be a great year for African soccer—and to further distort perceptions of Africa

Cameroonian blogger George Fominyen discusses the incident in a post titled “Death in the Africa Cup's group of death”:

When four West African neighbours were drawn to play in group “B” of the African Cup of Nations in the enclave of Cabinda, pundits named it the “group of death”. But they were far from imagining that someone will die from gun-shot wounds two days before the kick-off of the tournament.

Ethan Zuckerman discusses the incident in a wider context arguing that “what happens in Cabinda doesn't stay in Cabinda”:

Actually, hosting Africa’s biggest football tournament – that is, up until the World Cup later this year – was probably a good branding move for Angola, which has made vast strides since the Angolan civil war ended in 2002. The mistake was in holding one of four sets of matches in Cabinda. It proved to be a tragic, deadly mistake: Separatist guerillas attacked a convoy of team buses, led by Angolan military, as they travelled from Congo-Brazaville into Cabinda, killing three members of the Togolese national team’s entourage and wounding nine others.

On a lighter note, Brucio offers American viewers options of viewing the African Cup of Nations:

No regular USA cable or dish packages have the games. You need the African or Middle East package. If you have no idea how to see the games then I would suggest calling all the African restaurants and bars in your town to find out who is showing them

Dary, however, has tips on how to watch the tournament from the US, UK and Australia:

Unless you have a ticket to an Angola 2010 game, there are basically three ways to watch the African Cup of Nations 2010. Option One is to watch it on TV. Option Two, you can watch a legal, high quality internet stream. Option Three, you take your chances with a barely legal pirated internet stream.

Cup of African Nations

Cup of African Nations

There are also some interesting facts about this year’s African Cup of Nations which now has 17 countries competing:

Did you know? The youngest player is Zambia’s defender Emmanuel Mbola, only 16 at the kick off of the African Cup of Nations. The oldest is Mozambique’s midfielder Nelinho, aged 38. Each squad has called up 23 players, save from Burkina Faso who arrived in Angola with only 22. Forward Aristide Bancé had a fallout with his coach Paulo Duarte and refused to play.  66 of the 367 players play in France, the African Cup’s number 1 provider. OGC Nice reluctantly sent 8 of its players to Angola: Poté (Benin), Bamogo (Burkina Faso), Faé (Ivory Coast), Mouloungui (Gabon), Traoré and Bagayoko (Mali), Apam (Nigeria), Ben Saada (Tunisia).

Dary has compiled a list of 11 players to watch:

Everyone knows about Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o. The superstars of African football. Most will know about Mali’s Fredi Kanoute and Seydou Keita too. You don’t need WorldCupBlog to tell you about them. So we thought we’d compile a list of 10 players to watch at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, featuring talented youngsters and other players with slightly lower profiles than those listed above.

Mamadou Gaye discusses the match between Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso and says, “The best is yet to come”:

Hello and welcome to my first blog on SuperSport.com. I look forward to exchanging views and ideas with you through this medium. You can also catch me on Soccer Africa and during SuperSports' coverage of the Afcon on SS3 and SS4.
I think the game between Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso was a good one. It was pacey and very tactical.

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