If the other three Quarter Finals can live up to the excitement and quality of the first then we are in for a treat. Five goals, some great football, excitement around the stadium, such a shame that in the end someone had to lose.

The hosts and underdogs had a great start and forced a good save from Eiji Kawashima, forward Sebastian Soria had his shot blocked however it fell to Mesaad Ali and his powerful effort forced the Japanese keeper to make a fine save. A great start from Bruno Metsu’s side and the home fans had the atmosphere jumping.

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After a rush of work hit the gibfootballshow shores mixed in with the incompentency of Eurosport in ever scheduling something for when it’s actually on, it has been nigh on impossible to keep up with the Asian Cup to the extent that the website wanted to.

The competition has reached the Quarter Final stage and it’s time to make the return to the crazy world of Asian football. Group A maybe had a slight upset as China were eliminated but however Uzbekistan have been superb and Qatar bucked up their ideas to see both teams advance.

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I apologise for the lack of a report, with the podcast recording today it has been impossible to keep up.

But incase you missed the game here are some length highlights…enjoy.


After yesterday’s preview it’s time to look at the player that hopefully will be dazzling us with their ability over the next four weeks. So here are ten players to watch out for, some of them I highly recommend, some of them I will be watching out for myself. Usually a bad sign when you get recommended on this site.

Ki Sung-Yueng – Korea Republic

When you mention the Korea Republic people automatically mention Park Ji-Sung of Manchester United and Park Chu-Young of Monaco however one of the most impressive players in Korea’s team is Celtic’s Ki Sung-Yueng. Only 21 years old and he has 21 caps for his country and four World Cup appearances.

After a tough first year at Celtic Park Ki returned from South Africa and was full of confidence, after a slow start he has made his way into the team and before leaving for Qatar he has become a first team regular. He has impressed the Parkhead faithful with his quality of passing, and calmness on the ball. He was named Young Player of the Month for October and it says a lot when Celtic fans now think they will miss him of the month of January.

Very impressive at the World Cup he was the lynchpin of most of Korea’s excellent passing football, also deadly from set-pieces he set up the first goal as Korea went on to brush aside Greece in their opening game. Growing in stature with every passing moment big things are expected from Ki.

Thomas Oar – Australia

A replacement in the Australia squad for Richard Garcia due to injury Thomas is a relevant unknown but has done enough in his young career to make a few people sit up and take notice.

Signing for FC Utrecht in March he has only made a handful of appearances, most memorably he came on with 20 minutes to go at Anfield in the Europa League tie against Liverpool, making a sudden impact he had commentators purring over his cameo.

It was the same when he started his career in Australia, after signing for the Brisbane Roar back in 2008 it only took him two games to open his account, playing against the Wellington Phoenix his 91st minute free-kick was the match winner.

Playing on the left wing, the references to “the next Harry Kewell” are made often. Thomas does possess a fantastic left foot but he can also use his right to devastating effect. It is no wonder Utrecht were quick to snap him up. One for the future for sure.

Ahmad Ayad – Iraq

Anyone known as the Iraqi Messi has to be worth a watch. A 19 year old winger from Baghdad currently playing his football for Persija Jakarta in Indonesia, with a very impressive record from his days in Iraq he is certainly one to watch. 35 goals in 84 games for Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.

Not much else is known about Ahmad this tournament could be the ideal place for him to add to his 15 caps and make a statement to the watching world. He certainly is one to watch; at 17 he was named the Iraq Super League MVP by a fan vote.

Yuto Nagatomo – Japan

Nagamoto stood out during Japan’s run in the World Cup his constant runs down the left from his full back position were very impressive, naturally right footed he has the ability to cut inside and unleash some very dangerous shots.

Got his big move to Serie A after the tournament and has been playing for minnows A.C Cesena on loan from FC Tokyo. It has been a quick progression for the 24 year old. A member of the 2008 Olympic team he was then named in the J-League’s rookies of the year. Arsene Wenger then named him in his best XI of the World Cup.

His defensive abilities are not as good as his attacking side. Much more comfortable when going forward, this tournament will surely give him the chance to express that side even more.

Talal Al-Bloushi – Qatar

This one is a little bit of a long shot. After the World Cup was awarded to Qatar the world wanted to know more about this unknown quantity. One of the most common things people found was this video.

Ladies and Gentleman we present Talal Al-Bloushi of Qatari club Al-Sadd, with tens of thousands of people watching the video and laughing at this unknown player, surely he could now go on to have a fantastic tournament.

At only 24 he already has 64 caps for his country and four goals from midfield. He must have some ability to play so many times for someone so young, now is the time for Talal to come up with some new reasons for people to watch his videos on YouTube.

Hao Junmin – China

Probably best known so far in Europe for handing over the #7 jersey when Schalke signed Raul from Real Madrid. It could have been an awkward situation but Hao grew up a huge Raul fan so there was no issue.

His chances at Schalke have been limited so far this season, only three appearances to date. He will relish the chance to get on the field and show the World what he has to offer. Chinese Young player of the year in 2005 and 2007 Hao has obvious ability. Able to finish with both feet, good on the ball, obvious pace, he can also be a danger from set-pieces.

At the young age of 23 there is plenty of time to add to his 28 caps, and he will be eager to add to his national teams goal tally, only one of his six goals have come in a competitive match.

Sunil Chhetri – India

Sunil is a strange but very interesting player, after playing in numerous teams around India he had an unsuccessful trial at Coventry City this was sparked by a hat-trick for India in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

With 40 caps and 19 goals for his country he is an experienced international player although he has still to do anything of note outside of India. He signed for the Kansas City Wizards in March of 2010, yet to play in the MLS his first appearance came against the Colorado Rapids in a cup match, he was removed at half-time and picked up a yellow card.

His next appearance came against Manchester United in a friendly, he came on with 20 minutes to go as Kansas went on to win although down to 10 men. Manager Peter Vermes was quoted as saying he was impressed with Sunil’s craft, technique and his attacking tendencies.

Now aged 26 this could be his big chance to impress his club and whoever else might be watching, with no pressure on India to perform it could be the ideal situation for Sunil to turn some heads.

Ehsan Hajsafi – Iran

The most promising player in Asian football, well that’s what the reports say, Ioan Andone the Romanian manager of his club side Sepahan has said that Ehsan could make it in any European league. This 20 year old left back has the world at his feet.

Able to play at left back or further up in the midfield, with a wonderful left foot he had 13 assists last season but can also pop up with a few goals, five in all competitions last year. But unlike Gareth Bale he can move the ball to his right foot and finish just as well.

He has recently been playing in the U-23 Asian Games, Iran knocked out by Japan in he Semi-Finals. Ehsan played in all seven of Iran’s games. Now is his time to impress with the full team, very few doubt his ability.

Louay Chanko – Syria

One of Syria’s most successful footballers Louay was born in Södertälje, Sweden and has spent his career moving round various Swedish teams. His most successful moments came when he lifted the Swedish title and cup double with Djurgarden in 2002, and he lifted the title again in 2004 with Malmo.

In 2009 he moved away from Sweden and signed for AaB Aalborg in Denmark, the move seems to be a success as he has scored three goals in 47 games, not bad for a midfielder.

Born in Sweden he played for the team of his birth in 2008 in a friendly against Costa Rica, then in the same year he decided to change allegiances and made his debut for Syria in a World Cup qualifier against Kuwait and has now appeared six more times.

Deadly from set-pieces with his right foot, although he is 31 he is only one of two Syrian players to play their football in Europe and with over 250 games under his belt his experience will be vital to the Syrian team.

One other thing to note is that Aalborg fans have a song for Chanko, singing “Ya Ya Ya LOLO CHANKO Ya Ya Yeah” to the sound of Mr President’s Coco Jambo.

Naif Hazazi – Saudi Arabia

Al-Ittihad’s number 9 is one of the hottest young strikers in Asian football right now, only 21 and in three years for his club he has scored over 40 goals, now a bad return for someone so young.

His great form has continued over to the international game his goals against Iran and the UAE impressed in their World Cup qualification run. 10 goals in 13 games for his club this season, eight of them in the last ten games would have impressed Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro and should be enough to give him a starting spot for the Saudi team.

The tournament kicks off this Friday as Qatar play Uzbekistan in Doha. Eurosport are covering the game, However it seems the games will be shown recorded.


Even though the wonderful guys over at twofootedtackle whipped up a fantastic Asian Cup preview this morning, plans were already afoot for gibfootballshow to provide our own, so here it is.

This Friday night the eyes of the World will turn to Qatar as they host the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. With people tuning in not just to see the best of Asian talent but to see how Qatar cope hosting an event half the size of FIFA’s grand showpiece.

Sixteen teams will compete for the fifteenth Asian Cup. With the inclusion of six past champions (Israel being the only one not there of course.) there is a mixture of the better known teams Japan, Korea Republic, Australia and the lesser known Jordan, Syria and Bahrain.

Pressure you feel on the home nation to prove they are worthy of a World Cup spot albeit for a tournament in 11 years time. Korea DPR will look to improve on there impressive showing in South Africa with this their 3rd appearance in the tournament. Iraq and Saudi Arabia will hope to have an impressive tournament after both reached the final last time but failed to appear in South Africa last year.

With all the claims the Qatari bid made with their World Cup stadia plans people will be disappointed to hear that only two stadiums planned for the event in 2022 will be used in the competition. The 50,000 seater Khalifa International Stadium in Doha will host the opening game between Qatar and Uzbekistan and the final on January the 29th.

The Al-Gharafa Stadium also in Doha is the other World Cup stadium being used of course the plans are to increase it to 44,000 from it’s current 22,000 seats. Out of the other three stadiums only one can be found outside Doha.

Al-Rayyan’s Ahmed bin Ali Stadium will host all of Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s fixtures and organisers will hope to fill the 25,000 seats for each game and really ramp up the atmosphere of the tournament.

Back in 2007 the tournament was held in July with co-hosts Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. This year’s cup was moved to January to cope with the increased heat in the Middle East it is still expected to be around 25 degrees when the games start on Friday.

Younis Mahmoud’s 72nd minute goal was enough to see Iraq overcome Saudi Arabia 1-0 to lift the 2007 Asian Cup and complete a fairytale story for the war-torn nation. Reaching the final they beat Australia, Vietnam and the Korea Republic, although they only scored seven goals they played some great football and deserved the victory.

Saudi Arabia would have been disappointed with their finish to the tournament, top scorers with twelve goals and wins over the Korea Republic and Japan they would have felt like favourites for the cup but Mahmoud’s seventh goal was enough to cause the upset.

Looking at the four groups there are some mouth-watering encounters. Qatar have a great chance of reaching the Quarter-Finals and so will their opponents, Kuwait, China and Uzbekistan will all fancy their chances of getting out of Group A.

Group B sees favourites Japan and Saudi Arabia lock horns and surely Syria and Jordan will need a miracle to advance, however in a three game group there are no certainties for qualification.

In Group C Australia will fancy their chances of reaching the last eight, a tough test against the Korea Republic sandwiched by games against India and Bahrain. The last group is surely the “Group of Death” Iraq, Iran, Korea DPR and the United Arab Emirates will be a scene out of a George Bush tea party. All four teams from Group D will be eager to advance.

According to a popular betting site it’s no surprise to see Japan, Australia and South Korea as outright favourites to lift the trophy. Holders Iraq are deemed as a long shot to regain their title at 21/1. Most people will look to the big three for the winner come the end of January however it’s worth watching Korea DPR and the Saudis.

For people with access to TV channel Eurosport will be happy to know they will be broadcasting the tournament from this Friday.

Stay tuned tomorrow for ten players to watch for in the tournament.


The final two Last 16 games were played today and it was inevitable that at least one of them would go to penalties, after todays games we would know the lineup for the 4 Quarter Final matches, and potentially 4 South American teams in the Last 8.











1.Justo VILLAR     1.Eiji KAWASHIMA  
3.Claudio MOREL     2.Yuki ABE OUT – 81
6.Carlos BONET     3.Yuichi KOMANO  
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ OUT – 94   4.Marcus Tulio TANAKA  
10.Edgar BENITEZ OUT – 60   5.Yuto NAGATOMO – Y  
13.Enrique VERA     7.Yasuhito ENDO – Y  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     8.Daisuke MATSUI – Y OUT – 65
16.Cristian RIVEROS – Y     16.Yoshito OKUBO OUT – 106
19.Lucas BARRIOS     17.Makoto HASEBE ©  
20.Nestor ORTIGOZA OUT – 75   18.Keisuke HONDA – Y  
21.Antolin ALCARAZ     22.Yuji NAKAZAWA  
Subs     Subs  
7.Oscar CARDOZO IN – 94   9.Shinji OKAZAKI IN – 65
8.Edgar BARRETO IN – 75   11.Keiji TAMADA IN – 106
18.Nelson VALDEZ IN – 60   14.Kengo NAKAMURA IN – 81


One of the worst games of the tournament, and I’m not surprised both teams with so much to play for, either team with a win would move to the Quarter Finals for the first time in their history.

Not lots to talk about in the 120 minutes, in the first half Barrios made an excellent turn in Japan’s box but took it with his right foot instead of his left and it was a weak shot, then the other moment to mention was the impressive Matsui had a long curling effort crash off the crossbar.

Sunderland bound Cristian Riveros looks a good player, neat and tidy on the ball, not outstanding skill but a good footballer.

From the start of the second half it did look a forgone conclusion that this match was going to penalties, and after 120 minutes penalties it was.

Paraguay dispatched their penalties with accuracy and Kawashima maybe should have done better with Barrios’s attempt, but there always has to be a fall guy and this time it was Komano of Japan that will have nightmares tonight, crashing his attempt off the crossbar.

Okada’s men bowed their heads and will leave the tournament, I think if they had shown the same attacking spirit they showed against Denmark they could have been in the Quarters, they didn’t and it is Gerardo Martino’s men that will face Spain in the Quarter Finals, they will need to play 200 times better to have any chance.






David VILLA (63′)        
3.Gerard PIQUE     2.Bruno ALVES  
5.Carles PUYOL     6.Ricardo CARVALHO  
6.Andres INIESTA     7.Cristiano RONALDO  
7.David VILLA OUT – 88   11.SIMAO OUT – 72
8.XAVI     15.PEPE OUT – 72
9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 58   16.Raul MEIRELES  
14.Xavi ALONSO – Y OUT – 93   19.TIAGO – Y  
15.Sergio RAMOS     21.Ricardo COSTA – R  
16.Sergio BUSQUETS     23.Fabio COENTRAO  
Subs     Subs  
4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 93   8.Pedro MENDES IN – 72
18.PEDRO IN – 88   9.LIEDSON IN – 72
19.Fernando LLORENTE IN – 58   10.DANNY IN – 58


A decent game not the end to end battle everyone was hoping for, but both teams at times showed signs of great football it was Spain in the end that had the most quality and advance to the Last 8, the first half I thought Portugal had some of the better of the play and looked most likely to score, the second half however was all Spain, controlled the play, Portugal were chasing shadows going after the ball and never troubled Spanish defence.

Fabio Coentrao again was very impressive I would be very surprised if he is still playing for Benfica at the start of the season, I hope for their sake he will be as his stock is only going to rise, showed that he can defend, then always looking to burst forward, still has a lot to learn but is is still young.

Ronaldo did very little to note of, can’t remember any points to bring up, he seemed to disapeer the more the game went on, he looked a very frustrated figure, and this has been confirmed with his post match interviews.

Spain played relatively well, I’m going to put my neck out now and say I am starting to dislike Spain’s tiki-taka football, I just reminds me of Arsenal on those days when they frustrate the hell out of you.

It’s all too pedestraian for me, no penetration, unlike Brazil, Germany and Argentina, all Spain’s play is outside the box, condensed in the middle, for me they need to get wide and spread the defence, very frustrating to watch, I prefer to see teams with a purpose and Spain for me just don’t do that.

Torres still isn’t looking himself, I am not sure why Del Bosque continues to pick him, Llorente came on and did more in 30 minutes than Torres has done in 4 matches.

Spain are a really good team, I don’t see them as favourites though, I would actually love Paraguay to cause a shock.


Spain will be heavy favourites and Paraguay haven’t scared anyone with their brand of football, I would expect Spain to win this, however Paraguay have the defenders to frustrate the Spanish and have some quality upfront to maybe cause 1 or 2 problems.

I’m hoping for a great game, and a little part of me wants a shock.


Another 4 games today and a bit of a shock, the reigning World Champions Italy are out, and 2 teams that failed to impress in their first game have advance, anything can happen at this World Cup.






Robert VITTEK (25′, 73′)     Antonio DI NATALE (81′)  
Kamil KOPUNEK (89′)     Fabio QUAGLIARELLA (90+2′)  
1.Jan MUCHA – Y     12.Federico MARCHETTI  
2.Peter PEKARIK – Y     3.Domenico CRISCITO OUT – 46
3.Martin SKRTEL     4.Giorgio CHIELLINI – Y  
5.Radoslav ZABAVNIK     5.Fabio CANNAVARO – C – Y  
6.Zdenko STRBA – Y OUT – 87   6.Daniele DE ROSSI  
11.Robert VITTEK – Y OUT – 92   7.Simone PEPE – Y  
15.Miroslav STOCH     8.Gennaro GATTUSO OUT – 46
16.Jan DURICA     9.Vincenzo IAQUINTA  
17.Marek HAMSIK – C     10.Antonio DI NATALE  
18.Erik JENDRISEK OUT – 94   19.Gianluca ZAMBROTTA  
19.Juraj KUCKA     22.Riccardo MONTOLIVO OUT – 56
Subs     Subs  
9.Stanislav SESTAK IN – 92   2.Christian MAGGIO IN – 46
20.Kamil KOPUNEK IN – 87   18.Fabio QUAGLIARELLA – Y IN – 46
22.Martin PETRAS IN – 94   21.Andrea PIRLO IN – 56


What a game this was Slovakia started well showing more pace to their passing than the first two games, and a bit of purpose to their play, Italy started poor, bad touches, wayward passes, looked a poor Italian side compared to sides of the past, and Slovakia took the lead a nice slide rule pass from Strba into Vittek and big Bob placed it in the only place Marchetti couldn’t save it, a dream start for Vladimir Weiss’s men.

Di Natale had a great chance to level it before half time but his shot was skewed wide, Lippi made changes Zambrotta and Quagiarella coming on and they made a impact, italy came out all guns blazing but couldn’t penetrate the Slovakia back line, Skrtel had a great game, entipified by his clearance of the line denying Italy a route back into the game, and then it was 2-0 a low cross from the right was turned in by Vittek for his 2rd of the tournament, Italian defenders slow to react to the danger and the big man put his country one step closer to the Last 16, Vittek was superb leading the line on his own helped out by Hamsik behind him and Stoch out wide.

With 35 minutes left Lippi played his last card, the mecurial Andrea Pirlo entered the game trying to find that killer pass and he improved the team with his range of passing, however it was Quagiarella that opened up the Slovaks his run from deep then the flick from Iaquinta put him in on goal, Mucha saved his shot but the rebound fell to Di Natale and he made no mistake. The Italians back in the game, and it should have got better, Pepe’s cross from the left was met by Quagiarella and he turned it past Mucha, the linesman had his flag up, Offside, I don’t agree, the rule states if you have any part of your body that can play the ball ahead of the defender your offside, to me Skrtel’s leg is behind Quagiarella’s header, the goal should have stood.

Slovakia then killed the game off, substitute Kopunek just on, ran from deep and caught the defence sleeping he met the throw in and placed it over Marchetti’s head a great finish for your first touch in a World Cup, the Slovak fans went mental, it wasn’t over though.

With 3 mintues another lifeline for the Italians the really impressive Quagiarella picked the ball up on the edge of the box and placed a delightful chip into the top corner over Mucha’s head a great goal, and begs the question why didn’t the Napoli striker appear earlier in this group he had a drive and a purpose and that touch of Italian class missing from the side, 3-2 and into injury time, would the reigning Champions get another chance.

Yes they would and it fell to Pepe, the ball came over from the right and Pepe who started on the right found space at the back post, he attacked the ball with his right foot and the great chance was lost as the ball went wide, surely if he had taken it with his left the Italians would have qualified, he didn’t and they have finished bottom of the group, a nightmare World Cup and proves the point….You never go back!!!

Slovakia will take on the Netherlands in the last 16, after watching the first 2 games you wouldn’t give them a chance, after watching this game, you never know what can happen.




1.Justo VILLAR     1.Mark PASTON  
3.Claudio MOREL     3.Tony LOCHHEAD  
4.Denis CANIZA     4.Winston REID  
5.Julio Cesar CACERES     5.Ivan VICELICH  
7.Oscar CARDOZO OUT – 66   6.Ryan NELSEN  
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ – Y     7.Simon ELLIOT  
13.Enrique VERA     9.Shane SMELTZ  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     10.Chris KILLEN OUT – 79
15.Victor CACERES – Y     11.Leo BERTOS  
16.Cristian RIVEROS     14.Rory FALLON OUT – 69
18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 67   19.Tommy SMITH  
Subs     Subs  
19.Lucas BARRIOS IN – 66   20.Chris WOOD IN – 69
10.Edgar BENITEZ IN – 67   22.Jeremy BROCKIE IN – 79


Just watched the extended highlights of this game, didn’t seem the best game ever Paraguay doing enough to qualify, they were definitely the better team over the 90minutes, 35 year odl fullback Dennis Caniza seemed on a personal mission to score for his country firing 3 or 4 shots close to the top corner, New Zealand did a good defensively, limiting Paraguay to shots from long range, and with the struggles teams have had with the Jabulani ball that’s not a bad plan.

Riveros managed to flick a header towards goal in the second half that Mark Paston had to be lively to palm away, I have been impressed with Paston, not the first choice keeper, but he has shown to be very capable and a good shot stopper the Wellington Phoenix player although he’s 33 he might be watched by a few British teams.

I was disappointed with Oscar Cardozo, getting the start ahead of Lucas Barrios and from what they showed it looked like he didn’t get very involved, looks like he is still short of match fitness and that will be why Martino gave him the minutes, I will hope he shows more in the knockout phase.

New Zealand can go home with their heads held high after 3 games 3 points, much better than anyone had predicted, and only 1 goal away from going to the last 16, Paraguay move on to face Japan, which would see either team make it to the Quarter-Finals for the first time, lots to play for there.






Jon Dahl TOMASSON (81′)     Keisuke HONDA (17′)  
      Yashuito ENDO (30′)  
      Shinji OKAZAKI (87′)  
1.Thomas SORENSEN     1.Eiji KAWASHIMA  
2.Christian POULSEN – Y     2.Yuki ABE  
4.Daniel AGGER     3.Yuichi KOMANO  
6.Lars JACOBSEN     4.Marcus Tulio TANAKA  
9.Jon Dahl TOMASSON – C     5.Yuto NAGATOMO – Y  
10.Martin JORGENSEN OUT – 34   7.Yasuhito ENDO – Y OUT – 91
11.Nicklas BENDTNER – Y     8.Daisuke MATSUI OUT – 74
12.Thomas KAHLENBERG OUT – 63   16.Yoshito OKUBO OUT – 88
13.Per KROLDRUP – Y OUT – 56   17.Makoto HASEBE ©  
15.Simon POULSEN     18.Keisuke HONDA  
19.Dennis ROMMEDAHL     22.Yuji NAKAZAWA  
Subs     Subs  
14.Jakob POULSEN IN – 34   9.Shinji OKAZAKI IN – 74
18.Soren LARSEN IN – 56   15.Yasuyuki KONNO IN – 88
21.Christian ERIKSEN IN – 63   20.Junichi INAMOTO IN – 91


I choose this game to watch over Netherlands v Cameroon as I love a situation when both teams in the same game can seal their own fate, and that’s what we had, Japan v Denmark, winner takes it all.

Both teams started well, cagey but at the same time quite open, Japan took the game to the Danes Matsui and Hasebe creating half chances Hasebe’s shot narrowly going wide, Japan’s midfield has been superb this tournament Hasebe, Endo and Matsui working very hard but also have that creative edge you need to back up the talents of Honda, Okubo and Okazaki, and it was Honda that opened the scoring and in some style, a free kick 30 yards out, looked to far out to have a try, Keisuke Honda had different ideas, he smashed the ball into the far corner some movement on the ball but Sorensen should have done better, but no doubt a quality free-kick from the CSKA Moscow man.

13 minutes later Japan won another free-kick and Honda stood over it with Endo, everyones money on Honda having another go, with all eyes on Honday, Sorensen could only watch as Endo curled the ball round the wall and past the Stoke keeper into a dream 2-0 lead. Been really impressed with Endo midfield qualties nice to see him showing a danger from set-pieces too.

Japan were in control and heading the second round, Denmark needing something to spark them into action, help cam in the form of 19-year old midfielder Christian Eriksen, showing sme industry in the midfield he had a shot sail narrowly over the bar, the lifeline came with 9 minutes to go Hasebe bundled into the back of Agger and the referee pointed to the spot, Jon Dahl Tomasson stepped up trying to equal a record 52 goals for his country, poor penalty saved by Kawashima the ball rolled back to Tomasson and his second attempt although unconvincing just made it into the net.

The come back was short lived though, the superb Honda danced into the box, a superb turn past the defender, he then slipped the ball to Okazaki and he tapped it into the empty net, sealed Japan’s qualification and sent the Samirai Blue fans into delirium.

Japan will face Paraguay in the 2nd round and you would have to say they have a chance to make the quarters if they perform like todays match, Honda the man to stop.






Samuel ETO’O (65′ PEN)     Robin VAN PERSIE (36′)  
      Klass Jan HUNTELAAR (83′)  
16.Hamidou SOULEYMANOU     1.Maarten STEKELENBERG  
2.Benoit ASSOU-EKOTTO     3.John HEITINGA  
3.Nicolas N’KOULOU – Y OUT – 73   4.Joris MATHIJSEN  
7.Landry N’GUEMO     5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST – C – Y  
8.GEREMI     6.Mark VAN BOMMEL  
9.Samuel ETO’O     7.Dirk KUYT – Y OUT – 66
11.Jean MAKOUN     8.Nigel DE JONG  
12.Gaetan BONG OUT- 56   9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 59
13.Eric CHOUPO-MOTING OUT – 72   10.Wesley SNEIJDER  
14.Aurelien CHEDJOU     12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ  
19.Stephane M’BIA – Y     23.Rafael VAN DER VAART – Y OUT – 73
Subs     Subs  
4.Rigobert SONG IN – 73   11.Arjen ROBBEN IN – 73
17.Mohamadou IDRISSOU IN – 72   17.Eljero ELIA IN – 66
23.Vicent ABOUBAKAR IN – 56   21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR IN – 59


I have not had chance to watch the Holland v Cameroon highlights yet, and my system at work can’t play videos from BBC website which is highly annoying, good victory for Netherlands and they progress with a 100% record and win the group, I will add some more thoughts later when I see the game.

They will play Slovakia in the 2nd round, and they are heavy favourites to progress from that, is this Hollands year to finally win the biggest prize?


Really enjoyed the games today well except the Holland game, but we had a mixture of European technique, Asian organisation and African spirit, coming together in an enjoyable day of football, it was also a very momentous day, as I managed to predict the correct score in a game for the first time in the tournament, much to Cameroon’s disgust, oh and I’ve seen 3 examples today that show that there is bugger all wrong with the Jabulani ball, Sneijder’s shot, Bresciano’s free kick and Kjaer’s 60 yard pass. 






Wesley SNEIJDER (53′)        
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL – Y     2.Yuki ABE  
3.John HEITINGA     3.Yuichi KOMANO  
4.Joris MATHIJSEN     4.Marcus Tulio TANAKA  
5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST     5.Yuto NAGATOMO  
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL     7.Yasuhito ENDO  
7.Dirk KUYT     8.Daisuke MATSUI OUT – 64
8.Nigel DE JONG     16.Yoshito OKUBO OUT – 77
9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 88   17.Makoto HASEBE © OUT – 77
10.Wesley SNEIJDER OUT – 83   18.Keisuke HONDA  
23.Rafael VAN DER VAART OUT – 72   22.Yuji NAKAZAWA  
Subs     Subs  
17.Eljero ELIA IN – 72   9.Shinji OKAZAKI IN – 77
20.Ibrahim AFELLAY IN – 83   10.Shunsuke NAKAMURA IN – 64
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR IN – 88   11.Keiji TAMADA IN – 77


Not the best of matches to watch from a neutral point of view, Japan played to stifle the Dutch attack, when defending they had 10 men behind the ball, and the Dutch looked nervous to attack in numbers so not to be caught on the break and that stopped the game really going anywhere in the first half.  

The best thing that happened in the second half was Sneijder’s goal, a superb strike a rocket from the edge of the box, it may have moved in the air, the keeper Kawashima got a hand to it, but he couldn’t stop it bulging in the back of the net, this opened the game up, Japan came out and tried to attack.  

Matsui was the most inventive looking of the Japanese side, good on the ball, looks to pick a good pass and him, Honda and Okubo again worked tirelessly but never really threatened the goal, Endo played great in the middle of the park charging down the ball, and controlling the play, another player that impressed was the young fullback Nagatomo had a good game charging down the left wing all game, never really got caught out defensively and had a good chance to score when he cut inside and had a shot in goal. The other dangerous player was the centre back Tulio Tanaka every set-piece Japan had he more often or not won the ball and just couldn’t get an attempt on target, the Dutch defence seemed to struggle against his height.  

From the first half performance you would say they would struggle to beat Denmark, but from the 2nd half showing, you would give them a chance, they could have snatched a point if Okazaki cold have kept his shot on the turn down and troubled Stekelenburg.  

Wasn’t impressed by the Dutch today, noone really to pick out, good goal from Sneijder, no real chances to speak of until the subs Elia and Affelay came on, it was the Hamburg man that found the PSV man and Affellay chased through on goal and was 1 on 1 with Kawashima and the Japanese keeper made a good save.  






Asamoah GYAN (25′ PEN)     Brett HOLMAN (11′)  
22.Richard KINGSON     1.Mark SCHWARZER  
2.Hans SARPEI     2.Lucas NEILL  
3.Asamoah GYAN     3.Craig MOORE - Y  
4.John PANTSIL     5.Jason CULINA  
6.Anthony ANNAN - Y     7.Brett EMERTON  
8.Jonathan MENSAH - Y     8.Luke WILKSHERE  OUT – 84
12.Prince TAGOE OUT – 56   10.Harry KEWELL - R  
13.Andre AYEW     14.Brett HOLMAN  OUT -  68
19.Lee ADDY - Y     16.Carl VALERI  
21.Kwadwo ASAMOAH OUT – 77   21.David CARNEY  
23.Kevin Prince BOATENG OUT – 87   23.Mark BRESCIANO  OUT – 66
Subs     Subs  
20.Quincy OWUSU-ABYIE IN – 56   11.Scott CHIPPERFIELD IN – 66
11.Sulley MUNTARI IN – 77   9.Joshua KENNEDY IN – 68
14.Matthew AMOAH IN – 87   17.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA IN – 84


3 points for Ghana and they are all but through, and 3 points for Australia and the group is wide open, I had thought it would be a tight game and I wasn’t wrong, the Aussie’s started so well, an early free kick, Bresciano dipped it over the wall, Kingson fumbled the ball and Brett Holman was the quickest to react and he put it past the Ghanian keeper.  

The great start was followed up by a nightmare moment, the ball dropped to Asamoah Gyan in the Australian’s box he thumped a shot towards goal and standing on the goalline was Harry Kewell andhis arm stopped the ball, the referee had no choice but to send him off, disaster for the Socceroos, the dream start was over and they didn’t really recover till the 2nd half.  

Moore and Neill had a good game at the back, coping well with the pace and power of Gyan and Ayew, Carney looked bright in the first half trying to get to the byline I like his industry.  

Australia improved in the second half when Kennedy and Chipperfield came on with 20 minutes to go, creating more problems for the young Ghana defence but they couldn’t capatilise on the inexperience defensive duo.  

Australia have 1 point and need to beat Serbia and hope Germany beat Ghana by a bigger scoreline than their lose, it doesn’t look likely.  

Ghana played a decent match, has to be said Addy and Jonathan 18 caps between them although at times showed their youth but they handled most things that were thrown their way, Tagoe, Boateng and Asamoah had quite quiet games and apart from Boateng’s shot in the first half there was not much else to note from the trio, Gyan had a great game, using all his strengths and attributes, his power and pace cause numerous problems and maybe with more experience he would have cause more problems.  

Ghana should have capatilised on the fact Australia had 10 men for best part of an hour, they should have won this game and will be disappointed with the point, but qualification is in their hands.  






Samuel ETO’O (10′)     Nicholas BENDTNER (33′)  
      Dennis ROMMEDAHL (61′)  
16.Hamidou SOULEYMANOU     1.Thomas SORENSEN – Y  
2.Benoit ASSOU-EKOTTO     2.Christian POULSEN  
3.Nicolas N’KOULOU     3.Simon KJAER - Y  
5.Sebastien BASSONG - Y OUT – 72   4.Daniel AGGER  
6.Alexander SONG     6.Lars JACOBSEN  
8.GEREMI     8.Jesper GRONKJAER OUT – 67
9.Samuel ETO’O     9.Jon Dahl TOMASSON OUT – 86
10.Achille EMANA     10.Martin JORGENSEN OUT – 46
15.Pierre WEBO OUT – 78   11.Nicolas BENDTNER  
18.Eyong ENOH OUT – 46   15.Simon POULSEN  
19.Stephane M’BIA - Y     19.Dennis ROMMEDAHL  
Subs     Subs  
11.Jean MAKOUN IN – 46   7.Daniel JENSEN IN – 46
17.Mohamadou IDRISSOU IN – 72   12.Thomas KAHLENBERG IN – 67
23.Vicent ABOUBAKAR IN – 78   14.Jakob POULSEN IN – 86


The weight of a continent lay on the shoulders of the Cameroon players today, lose and they become they first team to be elimanated from the competition, and what a start they had, a lose pass from the Danes, Emana found Eto’o in the box and he made no mistake putting Cameroon 1-0 up, this was as good as it go though 80 mins later and it’s an early exit for Le Guen’s men. 

Some of the team played well, Eto’o was busy and dangerous, justifying his move to the centre of the attack, always dangerous and more like the Samuel Eto’o we know and love, his foil was Achille Emana he too played really well, floating round the pitch linking up with Eto’o and Webo, he had a chance to level the game when he went through on goal, but couldn’t finish it off, if only both had played in these positions against Japan. 

For the players that played well a could played pretty bad, Assou-Ekotto had an awful game getting pulled out of position on many an occasion and with the dangerous Rommedahl exploiting the space he left caused Cameroon the 2nd goal, Song and Enoh were too quiet, the latter was pulled off at half-time. 

Such a shame for the competition that Cameroon are going home but if they had showed this level of commiment and adventure in the first game they would probably still be in the competition. 

The Danes faced the do or die game tonight and took it by the horns after going a ball behind they played really well, Rommedahl was a constant threat down the right, still showing he has the pace to play at the highest level, collecting a lovely 60 yard pass from Kjaer he then found Bendtner in the box for the equaliser, he then took advantage of Assou-Ekotto’s attacking desire by breaking down the right, cutting inside Makoun and placing a lovely left-footed shot past Souleymanou, Kjaer, Agger, Jacobsen and Poulsen were good in defence, as much as Cameroon’s strikers cause problems the defence never looked stretched, I wouldn’t say it was one of Bendtner’s best games, good finish for the goal, but quiet apart from that. 

The Danes played well, much better than the first game, they now face a winner takes it all game with Japan and they showed enough about them to think they could beat the Japanese, will be an interesting game.


Day Four will not go down as a classic in World Cup history however 6 teams got their tournament under way and I’m not sure many people would have predicted the outcomes, the much anticipated Dutch started off with a 2-0 win, but didn’t play anywhere near their famed “Total Football”, Japan then shocked Africa by beating Cameroon 1-0, some strange tactics from Paul Le Guen that I will get back to later, then Italy struggled againt Paraguay, the South Americans are my dark horses and I was happy they held onto the draw.  






Daniel AGER (46′ OG)        
Dirk KUYT (85′)        
1.Maarten STEKELENBERG     1.Thomas SORENSEN  
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL     2.Christian POULSEN  
3.John HEITINGA     3.Simon KJAER  
4.Joris MATHIJSEN     4.Daniel AGGER  
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL     10.Martin JORGENSEN  
7.Dirk KUYT     11.Nicolas BENDTNER OUT – 62
8.Nigel DE JONG OUT – 88   12.Thomas KAHLENBERG OUT – 73
9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 77   15.Simon POULSEN  
10.Wesley SNEIJDER     19.Dennis ROMMEDAHL  
23.Rafael VAN DER VAART OUT – 67   20.Thomas ENEVOLDSEN OUT – 56
Subs     Subs  
16.Michel VORM     16.Stephan ANDERSEN  
22.Sander BOSCHKER     12.Jesper CHRISTIANSEN  
11.Arjen ROBBEN     5.William KVIST  
12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ     7.Daniel JENSEN  
13.Andre OOIJER     8.Jesper GRONKJAER IN – 56
14.Demy DE ZEEUW IN – 88   9.Jon Dahl TOMASSON  
15.Edson BRAAFHEID     13.Per KROLDRUP  
17.Eljero ELIA IN – 67   14.Jakob POULSEN  
18.Stijn SCHAARS     17.Mikkel BECKMANN IN – 62
19.Ryan BABEL     18.Soren LARSEN  
20.Ibrahim AFELLAY IN – 77   21.Christian ERIKSEN IN – 73
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR     23.Patrick MTILIGA  


A decent performance from the Dutch,a few good performances, tactical wise it just didn’t work havng van der Vaart and Sneijder in the same team,not width or pace down the left, both trying to play down the middle and without Kuyt giving natural width the Dutch played really narrow, a few times van der Wiel got down the right and cause some problems, de Jong was very lucky not to get sent off, quite a few bad tackles, van Persie suffered with the lack of service, they came to life when Elia came on giving natural width and his skill and electrifying pace terrorised the Danes, latching onto a pass from Sneijder he was unlucky to score himself but Kuyt was there to finish it off.

I would not be surprised if in the next game if Robben is still not fit Eljero Elia would start, I would if I was van Marwijk, the duo of Sneijder and van der Vaart just doesn’t work, kinda like Gerrard and Lampard for England.

The Danes started very well, defending well and hitting on the counter attack, Bendtner had a great chance to score with a header at the back post, Jorgensen and Rommedahl played well, maybe just a little old to really trouble the Dutch back line, they were dealt a major blow losing the goal so early, if they had kept a clean sheet for 10/15 minutes who knows what could have happened, they played well enough to show they can still com 2nd in the group, but they will need to execute a lot better.  







Keisuke HONDA (39′)        
1.Eiji KAWASHIMA     16.Hamidou SOULEYMANOU  
2.Yuki ABE     2.Benoit ASSOU-EKOTTO  
3.Yuichi KOMANO     3.Nicolas N’KOULOU  
4.Marcus Tulio TANAKA     5.Sebastien BASSONG  
5.Yuto NAGATOMO     9.Samuel ETO’O  
7.Yasuhito ENDO     11.Jean MAKOUN OUT – 75
8.Daisuke MATSUI OUT – 69   13.Eric CHOUPO-MOTING OUT – 75
16.Yoshito OKUBO OUT – 82   15.Pierre WEBO  
17.Makoto HASEBE – C OUT – 88   18.Eyong ENOH  
18.Keisuke HONDA     19.Stephane M’BIA  
22.Yuji NAKAZAWA     21.Joel MATIP OUT – 63
Subs     Subs  
1.Seigo NARAZAKI     1.Idriss KAMENI  
23.Yoshikatsu KAWAGUCHI     22.Guy N’DY  
6.Atsuto UCHIDA     4.Rigobert SONG  
9.Shinji OKAZAKI IN – 69   6.Alexander SONG  
10.Shunsuke NAKAMURA     7.Landry N’GUEMO  
11.Keiji TAMADA     8.GEREMI IN – 75
12.Kisho YANO IN – 82   10.Achille EMANA IN – 63
13.Daiki IWAMASA     12.Gaetan BONG  
14.Kengo NAKAMURA     14.Aurelien CHEDJOU  
15.Yasuyuki KONNO     17.Mohamadou IDRISSOU IN – 75
19.Takayuki MORIMOTO     20.Georges MANDJECK  
20.Junichi INAMOTO IN – 88   23.Vicent ABOUBAKAR  


A truly uninspiring game, I expected so much more from Cameroon, how you can play Samuel Eto’o on the right wing and not in the middle where he is one of the most dangerous players in the game, plus the inexperience of Matip and Choupo-Moting and not selecting Emana or Alexander Song surprised me.

Cameroon lacked any creativity and never really got going till late in the second half, they moved Jean Makoun to the middle and he controlled the play and was beind the chances they created, for me Le Guen got his team all wrong, of course I don’t know the ins and outs of the squad’s chemistry, but I’m sure I could have picked a better XI for this game.

Japan on the other hand will be estatic, against the run of the play, Matsui crossed in a great ball and everyone missed it except Honda who controlled it well and finished calmly, Endo has a good game playing very well in the middle of midfield, Honda was dangerous the whole game, he is the star player in the Japanese team, he has a good footballing brain, moves well, and also got an eye for goal, Okobu worked very had the whole game and ran himself ragged until he was replaced by Yano and although he didn’t sure he helped his team with all his hard work.






Daniele DE ROSSI (63′)     Antolin ALCARAZ (39′)  
1.Gianluigi BUFFON OUT – 46   1.Justo VILLAR  
3.Domenico CRISCITO     3.Claudio MOREL  
4.Giorgio CHIELLINI     6.Carlos BONET  
5.Fabio CANNAVARO     13.Enrique VERA  
6.Daniele DE ROSSI     14.Paulo DA SILVA  
7.Simone PEPE     15.Victor CACERES  
9.Vincenzo IAQUINTA     16.Cristian RIVEROS  
11.Alberto GILARDINO OUT – 72   17.Aureliano TORRES OUT – 60
15.Claudio MARCHISIO OUT – 59   18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 68
19.Gianluca ZAMBROTTA     19.Lucas BARRIOS OUT – 76
22.Riccardo MONTOLIVO     21.Antolin ALCARAZ  
Subs     Subs  
12.Federico MARCHETTI IN – 46   12.Diego BARRETO  
14.Morgan DE SANCTIS     22.Aldo BOBADILLA  
2.Christian MAGGIO     2.Dario VERON  
8.Gennaro GATTUSO     4.Denis CANIZA  
10.Antonio DI NATALE IN – 72   5.Julio Cesar CACERES  
13.Salvatore BOCCHETTI     7.Oscar CARDOZO IN – 76
16.Mauro CAMORANESI IN – 59   8.Edgar BARRETO  
17.Angelo PALOMBO     9.Roque SANTA CRUZ IN – 68
18.Fabio QUAGLIARELLA     10.Edgar BENITEZ  
20.Giampaolo PAZZINI     11.Jonathan SANTANA IN – 60
21.Andrea PIRLO     20.Nestor ORTIGOZA  
23.Leonardo BONUCCI     23.Rodolfo GAMARRA  


The top two teams in Group F meet in a rainy night in Cape Town, noone has been picking the Italians as potential winners and from tonights game you can see why, usually slow starters, but this was really slow, Paraguay played well with their 2 banks of 4 defending well and no often did the Italians get in-behind them, the 4-3-3 lacked creativity without Pirlo, when they switched to 4-4-2 with Camoranesi on the right and Pepe on the left they created more problems, and apart from some good defending by Paraguay Italy would probably scored a 2nd.

Pepe impressed me in the second half throwing in lots of good crosses, Montolivo played well in the 4-4-2 he seemed more comfortable, as did Iaquinta when he moved to the middle and not on the left wing, with the players they had in the team tonight 4-4-2 suited their styles more.

Paraguay did well, played to their gameplan, smoother the Italians play and hit on the counter attack, and it worked until De Rossi’s 63rd minute goal, Paolo da Silva had a fantastic match nothing got by him and he was a man-mountain along with Alcaraz they deserved a clean sheet, Barrios and Valdez up front ran the channels all game doing their best to provide an outlet ball, they didn’t get many goal scoring chances but they worked their socks off.

Paraguay will qualify to the last 16 I believe although Slovakia could be dangerous, it will take a good team that breaches Paraguays defence, and it will take a solid defence that’s not breached by Barrios and Valdez.


Morning all,I have been wanting to do previews since the start but not found the time, hopefully it can continue from today, not gonna be massive pieces, just players to watch, predictions, that kind of thing.


This has the potential to be one of the great games of the tournament, 2 strong teams and both need a win to kick off their campaign.

***Players to Watch***

1.Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands) - Impressive Ajax right back, will be unknown to most, loves to get forward, can play in a good cross, and can also defend pretty well.

2.Simon Kjaer (Denmark) - Palermo’s big centre back, tracked by all the big teams, a good tournament will see his value rise big test today against the Dutch forward line, interesting to see how he does.

3.Christian Eriksen (Denmark) - Rumours are this impressive teenager could start for Denmark today, the Danes have never fielded a teenager at a World Cup, the unknown midfielder has impressed at U-20 level, on the books at Ajax, reported he has already been shown round Real Madrid’s training complex, one to look out for.


Cameroon the 4th of the 6 African teams to play, pundits favourties of all the african teams to do well, with Eto’o, Song and Emana they have the ability to get out this group, I am wondering if Eto’o doesn’t score where the goals will come from, Korea showed on Sunday that you don’t need size and power to play well, Japan will take heart from this, the skills of Honda, Nakamura and Matsui will cause problems.

**Players to Watch**

1.Achille Emana (Cameroon) – Apart from Eto’o Achille is Cameroon’s highest scorer in the squad, can play off the front man or on the wings, very creative, loves bombing forward, powerful runner.

2.Shinji Okazaki (Japan) - A Player very much in form 16 goals in the last year make him a dangerous prospect, good movement off the ball works hard to find space, the Cameroon defence will have to stay alert.

3.Nicolas N’Koulou (Cameroon) - Strong central defender, had a starring role for Monaco this year, could be one of the stand out players in South Africa, has the experience of Rigobert Song potentially beside him.


The two big guns in Group F match up, both will fancy going through but they will not want to lose this, Paraguay have a talented squad, 4 quality strikers that will cause teams damage, a solid midfield and back line, the Italians will need to be at their best to dispatch Paraguay

**Players to Watch**

1.Lucas Barrios (Paraguay) – One of the great World Cup stories, 2 months ago he was Argetinian and had a great Bundesliga season, now he has his Paraguayan passport has scored 3 in 3 and could be the big goal threat in Group F

2.Antonio Di Natale (Italy) - Played as a subsitute most of his International career, now has the chance to shine, 29 league goals for Udinese is very impressive, pace, skill and an eye for goal, can’t ask for much else.

3.Oscar Cardozo (Paraguay) - Most likely to start on the bench, Santa Cruz getting the nod on experience, Oscar will come on at some point and he is deadly, can score from anywhere on the pitch, goals out of nothing he is a deadly predator 26 goals in 29 games for Benfica, not somone to leave unmarked.


Now so far is this tournament I am off to a great start, I have predicted the score in all 8 games, and got every one wrong, I predcited correctly Argentina, Slovenia and Germany would win, but got the scores wrong, so I have an on going joke that I will get every result wrong, so here goes Day 4.




If you agree or disagree let me know, give me your predictons