If you were to judge the chances of UAE in this game from their singing of the national anthem, you wouldn’t have given them much chance. A lackluster performance, devoid of any spirit…luckily they were much better on the pitch. If only someone had told them you don’t have to score from 25 yards.

Korea DPR started as slight favourites basically due to the fact they were in the World Cup in South Africa. And they wouldn’t have prayed for a better start, a floated ball over the top was flicked back by Captain Hong Yong-Jo into the path of VfL Bochum striker Jong Tae-Se. A blatant push in Jong’s back by Hamdan Al Kamali and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot.

The Captain was given the penalty responsibilities over star-striker Jong. He looked calm enough waiting for the signal to take the kick, he went for placement over power and could only watch as his penalty collided with the crossbar and flew out for a goal-kick.

Korea then tried to find Jong with a number of deep crosses from the left; the striker did very well to win the ball on a few occasions but with the UAE defence aware of his threat they combined well to snuff out the danger.

UAE then went on the attack and Korean goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk had to be at his best. Subait Khater played in a free-kick from deep, Ri’s punch clear wasn’t convincing the ball fell at the feet of Ismail Al Hammadi but Ri recovered very well to make an instinct save with his feet.

Ri was under pressure again minutes later when Cha Jong-Hyok tried to clear the ball but ended up slicing the clearance towards Ismail Mater again Ri had to react quickly to block the midfielders shot.

Subait Khater was showing the danger he possessed from set-pieces, he drilled in a free-kick from 40 yards out Hamdan Al Kamali managed to get underneath the ball and flick the header goal wards, the Koreans could only watch on as it flashed over the bar.

The UAE were in the ascendancy Al Hammadi played a great pass round the central defender and released Ahmad Khalil he then cut back onto his right foot and tried his luck with a curled effort looking for the far corner, a good effort but it curled just past the post.

Creating some great chances by playing some excellent passes from deep Amer Abdulrahman created the next opening with a ball chipped over the top of the Korea defence, not realising he had time and space Ismail Matar tried a difficult first time volley and skied his effort over the bar.

After being on the front foot for the best part of half an hour it’s no surprise they had the last chance of the half. Khater’s free-kick was played to the back post, knocked down by Walid Abbas, Yousef Jaber should have done a lot better to keep his shot on target.

Although they had a great start Korea DPR very lucky to go into the interval with the scores level. The UAE will worry if the missed chances will come back to haunt them.

Korea DPR made a change early in the second half, bringing off Captain Hong Yong-Jo for Chol Hyok-An, it didn’t make any difference the UAE remained the dominant team throughout the second half.

The first chance fell to their Captain Subait Khater with his ferocious left foot he unleashed a bomb towards the Korea goal, luckily for Ri it flew safely over the bar, an early reminder of the power Khater possesses.

Ismail Mater was the next in line for a pop at the Korea goal, capitalising on a defensive mistake he tried his luck from 25 yards the ball wickedly swerving just past the post. Quite obvious that he fancies himself from long range his next effort however showed he has a lot of practice in front of him. The shot was full of power but lacked any direction.

Overall the UAE had too many shots from long range. When they did get the ball in the box with only two minutes left Ri had to be at his best. Khater swung in the right footed cross, substitute Saeed Al Kathiri rose in between two defenders got his header on target but Ri was at his best again to turn the header past the post.

Not the worst 0-0 in the history of football but a very disappointing performance from Korea DPR, no shots on target and only five to speak of in the whole match. UAE will rue the amount of chances they had. Maybe if they tried to work the ball closer to the goal they might have more luck.

Afterwards UAE striker Ismail Matar thought his team had the chance to win the match.

“We played a good match tonight although in the first 10 minutes, we got lucky when DPR Korea missed their penalty,”

“But we came back strongly into the game and I thought that we did well. But we missed too many chances and they also have a good goalkeeper who played very well.

“But we tried our best and although the draw may not have been a fair result for us, I think that getting a point is a good start for us. We still have a good opportunity to qualify for the next round but we
have to assert ourselves and try to be more confident in ourselves when we play our next game against Iraq because this is football and anything can happen.

“We have to fight, we have to give our best on the field and I think we can win our games.”

Korea DPR coach Jo tong-Sop didn’t think much to his team’s performance.

“We had a chance with the penalty in the first-half but after the failure of the penalty, the players did not play well.

“In the second-half, we tried not to concede a goal and score on the counter-attack but still the players did not play well. So generally, I could say our play was not so good. It was not as we had expected.

“Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose but generally, we try not to concede a goal so we emphasise defence and in this way we organised the game.

“We try to win the match but we have experience from this game and we can take this into the next two.

“Those two teams (Iran and Iraq) will be very difficult to play against but we know their weaknesses and we will try to use that to get the points that we will qualify.”

Both sides will need to try and win their next match if they want to progress in the tournament, Korea DPR take in Iran and the UAE will face Iraq. It’s all the play for in Group D.

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10 goals, 3 games, 1 red card, 1 missed penalty, 1 record broken, and a first goal since February 11th 2009, a great day of football.

PORTUGAL

7

 

KOREA DPR

0

RAUL MEIRELES (29′)        
SIMAO (53′)        
HUGO ALMEIDA (56′)        
TIAGO (60′, 89′)        
LIEDSON (81′)        
Cristiano RONALDO (87′)        
         
1.EDUARDO     1.RI Myong Guk  
2.Bruno ALVES     2.CHA Jong Hyok OUT- 75
6.Ricardo CARVALHO     3.RI Jun Il  
7.Cristiano RONALDO     4.PAK Nam Chol OUT – 58
8.Pedro MENDES – Y     5.RI Kwang Chon  
11.SIMAO OUT – 74   8.JI Yun Nam  
13.MIGUEL     9.JONG Tae Se  
16.Raul MEIRELES OUT – 70   10.HONG Yong Jo – Y  
18.HUGO ALMEIDA – Y OUT – 77   11.MUN In Guk OUT – 58
19.TIAGO     13.PAK Chol Jin – Y  
23.Fabio COENTRAO     17.AN Yong Hak  
         
Subs     Subs  
5.DUDA IN – 74   16.KIM Kum Il IN – 58
9.LIEDSON IN – 77   15.KIM Yong Jun IN – 58
14.Miguel VELOSO IN – 70   16.NAM Song Chol IN – 75

MY THOUGHTS:

I feel quite sorry for the Koreans, they started brightly showing more attacking purpose than against Brazil but come away with nothing to show for it, and their defence collapsed and Portugal kicked off their World Cup with 7 goals, for 20 minutes I thought we could have a shock on the books, but it wasn’t to be, again Jong Tae-Se ran the line on his own, and Korea lined up with what was either a back 4 with a very deep defensive mid, or a flat back 5, but when they got the ball they looked to break with purpose, Portugal seemed to be struggling to penetrate the Korean defences, until Raul Meireles made a great run inbehind and he was found by Tiago and the finish was very neat. Meireles was insprirational all match running from deep, passing the ball really well, along with Tiago they bossed the midfield and was the bass for Portugal’s attacking play, another of the very impressive players was Fabio Coentrao, I picked him out in the last match but he improved again, not being caught out defensively and charging forward and playing in many great crosses one of them setting up Hugo Almeida’s goal as he headed in Fabio’s great cross.

Simao and Tiago’s double added to the scoreline, but it was Ronaldo’s goal that will please the management and fans, his first goal since February 09 and there was a slice of luck to it, after trying to go round the keeper the ball bounced up and landed on his back, he composed himself to place the ball into the empty net, the 7-0 victory pretty much qualifys Portugal, Ivory Coast will have to turn around a 9 goal deficite to qualify, the game against Brazil will decide if it’s in 1st or 2nd.

CHILE

1

 

SWITZERLAND

0

Mark GONZALEZ (75′)        
         
1.Claudio BRAVO     1.Diego BENAGLIO  
3.Waldo PONCE – Y     2.Stephane LICHSTEINER  
4.Mauricio ISLA     5.Steve VON BERGEN  
6.Carlos CARMONA – Y     6.Benjamin HUGGEL  
7.Alexis SANCHEZ     8.Gokhan INLER – Y  
8.Arturo VIDAL OUT – 46   9.Alexander FREI OUT – 42
9.Humberto SUAZO – Y OUT – 46   10.Blaise N’KUFO – Y OUT – 68
14.Matias FERNANDEZ – Y OUT – 65   11.Valon BEHRAMI – R  
15.Jean BEAUSEJOUR     13.Stephane GRICHTING  
17.Gary MEDEL – Y     16.Gelson FERNANDES OUT- 77
18.Gonzalo JARA     17.Reto ZIEGLER  
         
Subs     Subs  
10.Jorge VALDIVIA – Y IN – 46   7.Tranquillo BARNETTA – Y IN – 42
11.Mark GONZALEZ IN – 46   18.Albert BUNJAKU IN – 77
22.Esteban PAREDES IN – 65   19.Eren DERDIYOK IN – 68

MY THOUGHTS:

Before the start of the world cup would anyone have thought the second group game between Chile and Switzerland would have seen both teams top of the group, the Swiss again stuck to their defensive style tactics, not great for the spectator but great for frustrating attacking teams like Spain and Chile and the possibilties of the Swiss attacking was all but ruled out when Valron Behrami was sent off for throwing an elbow at 2 Chile players, the first was a bit tame, but it looks like he really connected with the second and my instincts were it was a red, maybe a little soft from the replays, but you can’t lift your hands, this put the Swiss in a 4-4-1 formation, parking the bus so to speak and hoping to frustrate the Chile attack.

The first half remained goalless and this saw Switzerland 22 minutes from breaking a World Cup record the most time ever without conceding a goal, 4 clean sheets in 2006 and 1 against Spain in 2010, unsurprisingly the reached that mark and now hold the record not exactly as impressive when you learn they only scored 1 goal in these 6 matches, not the most fan friendly football, luckly they only lasted another 8 minutes, substitute Esteban Paredes got to the byline, crossed to the back post and Mark Gonzalez was there to head into the net, a well deserved goal and it was the start of the Chile bombardment, Alexis Sanchez was very impressive again and had a couple of half chance and also a goal disallowed  unfairly for offside, his goal is coming you can bank on that, and should find more space against the Spanish, Valdivia was also a stand out player once he came on, showing neat little touches and skill and helped to open that stubborn Swiss defence.

For all Chile’s attacking play and the Swiss being a man down, they’re chance came in injury time, Erin Dedriyok found himself unmarked 12 yards out, it seemed harder to miss, but miss he did, the goal would have been against the run of play and it shows why you have to finish off teams when you are so dominant.

It will be interesting to see how Switzerland play against Honduras knowing they will be the better team and need to attack instead of defending, Dedriyok will have a chance to redeem himself and maybe Alexander Frei’s bad luck will end, Lichtsteiner and Ziegler were very impressive in the full back position and will have a great chance to get forward, Switzerland have the players to trouble teams when they go for it, I can’t see them slipping up, will all go down to goal difference.

SPAIN

2

 

HONDURAS

0

David VILLA (17′, 51′)        
         
1.Iker CASILLAS     18.Noel VALLADARES  
3.Gerard PIQUE     2.Osman CHAVAZ  
5.Carles PUYOL     3.Maynor FIGUEROA  
7.David VILLA     8.Wilson PALACIOS   
8.XAVI OUT- 66   11.David SUAZO OUT – 84
9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 70   13.Roger ESPINOZA OUT – 46
11.Joan CAPDEVILA     15.Walter MARTINEZ  
14.Xavi ALONSO     19.Danilo TURCIOS – Y OUT – 63
15.Sergio RAMOS OUT – 77   20.Amado GUEVARA  
16.Sergio BUSQUETS     21.Emilio IZAQUIRRE – Y  
22.Jesus NAVAS     23.Sergio MENDOZA  
         
Subs     Subs  
10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 66   7.Ramon NUNEZ IN – 63
12.Victor VALDES IN – 70   10.Jerry PALACIOS IN – 84
13.Juan MATA IN – 77   12.Georgie WELCOME IN – 46

MY THOUGHTS:

It was a time for redemption, Spain failed to live up to their own high expectations in the first match, and have been criticised heavily for it, they came out all guns blazing looking at Sergio Ramos heat map on FIFA.com shows he was very rarely near his own box, constantly attacking down the right, combining with Jesus Navas, these two cause no end of problems, and with David Villa cutting in from the left it spelt bad news for the Hondurans, realistically it could have been 4 or 5, Villa’s goal was a superb solo run and needs to be seen, the second came just after half time and had a slight deflection, however Torres, Xavi and Villa again himself had many chances to score, not forgetting Villa’s missed penalty, a great Spanish performance but they need to finish better.

My hat goes off to Honduras, they didn’t just sit and defend they tried to attack, long searching balls for David Suazo he never really got a chance to go at Puyol and Pique, Chavez in defence looked good, a few goal saving tackles, and could do better in a good club side, also Nunez that came on was very bright, tried to get involved showed some nice touches, would like to see more of him, the Honduarans should hold their heads up high they have not been disgraced and for 45 mins when it was 1-0 one Spanish slip could have brought them back into it, they should be proud of themselves and go out against the Swiss and try and get something.

We could get the scenario that 3 teams have 6 points and it would go down to goal difference, if the Swiss can score some goals they could knock out Chile or Spain, not an advert for attacking football but an advert for organisation and discipline.

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3 games that I am actually looking forward to today, got New Zealand v Slovakia, I admit I know very little of the New Zealand team, Chris Killen, Rory Fallon, Ryan Nelsen and that’s it so will be interesting to see them play, Slovakia I think have a chance to shock a few times, Martin Hamsik is a quality player, Vittek upfront is great in the air, not seen the teams yet, so don’t know who’s playing.

Then we have Ivory Coast v Portugal, what a game this could be, 2 very strong teams and this match could guarentee 2nd place in the group, rumours are Drogba will play, an Ivory Coast team packed with stars against what is to me a Portugal team rebuilding after their Golden Era but they still have quality players.

Then it’s a match I am really looking forward to Brazil v North Korea, so many memories watching Brazil at World Cups, against a team that is the unknown entity, not one household name player, but they will have the eyes of a nation on them….only if they win, North Korea will only be shown the game back home if they win apparently, which is such a shame, can they pull off a shock like they did in ’66

**Players to Watch**

1.Vladimir Weiss (Slovakia) – Hot young prospect and the coachs son, was on loan at Bolton from Man City this season, plays on the wing, has alot of skill, great platform for him to shine.

2.Martin Hamsik (Slovakia) – The Napoli forward is a great player, likes to play off the front man, has an eye for goal, great technique, if he played for one of the top nations the media would be purring over him.

3.Robert Vittek (Slovakia) - the former Nuremberg and Lille front man is a great target man, holds the ball up well, great in the air, his best days may be behind him, but a player you still need to give respect to.

4.Chris Killen (New Zealand) – Didn’t have the best time at Celtic but his Hibs scoring record was very impressive, could lead the All Whites attack, but he hasn’t exactly set the league alight in Middlesbrough, could this be his stage.

5.Gervinho (Ivory Coast) - The Lille winger has had a great season, after a slow start he exploded, with his blistering pace and ability to score a great foil for Drogba, Looking forward to seeing him reproduce his club form for the world to see.

6.Michel Bastos (Brazil) - Following the great tradition of Brazilian Left Backs next comes Bastos, who is actually a Left Winger for his club Lyon but will suit Brazil’s style of pushing forward, he has an absoulte rocket of a left foot and will let fly if he gets the chance, and will take over the set-pieces, I predict a “next Roberto Carlos reference from the commentators

7.Ramires (Brazil) - I hope Ramires comes on at some stage today, Dunga has been playing Elano I prefer Ramires in the midfield he charges forward but defends well also, gives his all, powerful running and showed he can score in the game against Tanzania, the Benfica man could be the missing piece of this Brazilian jigsaw.

8.Jong Tae-Se (North Korea) - Never seen him play, but I read that he promised he would score in every game he played at this World Cup, so he’s made the claim, let’s see if he can deliver, I refuse to believe that they can be as bad as people think they will, time will tell.

**Predictions**

NEW ZEALAND 0 – 2 SLOVAKIA

IVORY COAST 2 – 1 PORTUGAL

BRAZIL 4 – 0 NORTH KOREA

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