At the beginning of the summer, the plan seemed incredibly ambitious. Mexico’s national teams at various age levels playing in practically every available tournament. The full senior national squad? Playing in the Gold Cup. An under-23 squad? Going to the Copa America. The U-20s? In the World Cup in Colombia. The U-17s? Hosting their World Cup. Other junior players played at the Toulon Tournament in France. Even the women’s national team got in on the action, as they played in their second ever Women’s World Cup.

With so many tournaments going on for the men, this summer represents an opportunity for the Mexican National Team set-up overall. Dozens of players are getting experience in international tournaments. The objective in each tournament is different, and not all of the tournaments have been played yet. But there has been considerable success so far for Mexico, and leads to a great deal of optimism moving into the next World Cup cycle and beyond.

At the Gold Cup, Mexico entered as favorites, pegged slightly ahead of the United States. Mexico has flattered to deceive in the past, so although it seemed their talents like Chicharito and Andres Guardado would take El Tri to easy victories, it was not a certainty. But this squad got the job done, winning their group games easily, then going down to Guatemala in the quarterfinals, going to extra time against Honduras in the semifinals, and going down by two to the United States in the final. In all three knockout games, Mexico kept their composure and battled back to comfortable victories. Chicharito finished the tournament as the top scorer, and player of the tournament, and capped off a remarkable 12 months for club and country. This team was not even derailed by losing five players to a failed drug test early in the tournament, who have since been cleared and evidently will not face any suspensions. While Mexico, along with the United States, may be the class of a weak region, they were still able to focus and get the title.

The Copa America, still underway, has been very different. The under-23 squad featured no players from the Gold Cup except for the mercurial Giovani dos Santos, who was allowed to play in both tournaments presumably because Tottenham Hotspur was hoping he would raise his transfer value. The squad featured another setback when eight players, including several projected starters, were kicked off the team after cavorting with prostitutes. As a result, the squad is very different, and they have had tough sledding so far in Argentina, losing their first two matches to Chile and Peru. The press and fans of Mexico, who are truly football-crazy, have been wringing their hands over the poor showing at the Copa America. Given that Mexico was restricted from fielding a full senior team, they deserve some slack, and the tournament is providing, if nothing else, experience for many players who haven’t played very much at the international level.

The bad taste left in the mouth from the Copa America has been alleviated almost immediately by the U-17 World Cup as Mexico emerged champion, at home no less. Mexico also won the U-17 World Cup in 2005, and several players from that squad are playing in the tournaments this summer, including Gio dos Santos and Efrain Juarez in the Gold Cup. The excitement of this year’s U-17 World Cup came from a combination of three factors: Mexico’s general obsession with the sport, Mexico being the hosts of the tournament, and Mexico fielding a talented team. The fact that they were at home obviously provided a boost to the players, but in defeating the likes of Uruguay and Germany, no slouches themselves, the team demonstrated they could also thrive under the pressure. There were several notable games in the tournament, but the semifinal between Mexico and Germany was one for the ages. Germany scored shortly into extra time to go ahead 2-1, and then Mexico scored on an Olimpico, or a direct corner kick. On that play, Julio Gomez collided with a German player and needed medical attention after being knocked woozy and bleeding. But after getting his head wrapped up, Gomez jumped right into the action, and ended up scoring the winning goal on an overhead kick with time winding down. As a result, the 16-year old became a national hero, and Mexico moved on to win the title.

Mexico still has the U-20 World Cup coming up, and believe it or not some players have been held out of other tournaments in order to play in it. While nobody is necessarily projecting a title for them, a good showing will continue the optimism surrounding the national team for the next decade. Obviously, in the youth ranks, players will rise and fall over time, but if even a few players from each of the youth squads end up in the senior team, Mexico may have the talent to go with their ambitions on the international stage. It is too soon to tell if this was simply a good summer for Mexico or if this is the start of a new era, but it will undoubtedly make for irresistible viewing.

Written by Alicia Ratterree, gibfootballshow’s Mexican  corresspondent. Follow her on twitter


Here at GFS HQ we are always willing to help out fellow bloggers/writers when they have a good idea. So when Gareth Llewellyn-Stevens came to us with the idea of a Women’s Football podcast, we were happy to help out.

We are happy to introduce “Episode 1 of Women’s Football Weekly – World Cup Preview”

Gareth Llewellyn-Stevens is the host of the program on the show this week is John Burn-Murdoch, former editor of the Durham University student newspaper, as we preview the sixth Women’s World Cup starting on Sunday in Germany, running through the four groups, key players to watch out for, and our predictions for the knockout stages of the most-eagerly anticipated competitions in women’s football.

Here is the link to subscribe to the gibfootballshow feed on iTunes.

To subscribe via other means click here. And if you want to download directly “right-click” here

You can also follow Gareth and John on twitter.


So the the news out of Brazil last night was all about Ronaldo’s pending retirement. I thought out writing a fitting tribute to one of my favourite players of all time, but then I looked at my good friend Scott’s site and he had already captured everything I wanted to say.

So go to his site and read a wonderful tribute.


When Samir Nasri moved from Marseille to Arsenal people knowing that I had a penchant for Ligue 1 and all things French came to me asking how good he was, obviously following his time at Marseille I had only good things to say about Samir.

His partnership with Ribery was fantastic, he wasn’t a goal scorer and he didn’t really get many direct assists but anyone that had watched Marseille for the three years he was in the team could see that Nasri was a quality player.

His first season at the Emirates went relatively well six goals a couple of assists the people that I had given my guarantee of quality were pretty pleased with the Frenchman, the difficult second season followed, five assists but only two goals and it seemed questions were being asked.

read more »


Been so lazy since the end of the World Cup should have had this on sooner but where would a football blog be without picking my World Cup XI, nowhere, so to fall into line, and probably the umpteenth list you’ve read here’s my team, just a note I have picked this team as an actual team that I would hope has a balance that would work well together, so not England then.


For the English media this is been a revelation for anyone who watches football outside of the British Isles it’s a formation you will be well aware of, very successful throughout the tournament and dominating any team that tried to go 4-4-2 against it, I’m sure you’ll see more and more teams adapt to this system throughout the season.


“Too inexperience” “They’ll miss Ballack” “Not as good as past German teams” all these things were said about Low’s side before they had even kicked a ball, that all stopped once they played Australia, Low had picked a side with pace, athleticism, a really good team and work ethic, and on top of that he got his tactics spot on for the knockout stages until they came up against Spain, and even having the bravado to come out after the games and explain how he had beaten England and Argentina, I think this shows the confidence in the man, that’s the attitude I want in a leader of men.

Mentions: Oscar Tabarez (Uru) Bob Bradley (USA) Diego Maradona (Arg)

I found this a hard choice, quite a few keepers impressed in the Group Stage, and a few shown in the knockout stages, You have to pick someone that really turns up when it counts, Iker saved Paraguays penalty and Santa Cruz’s chance in the Quarters, then in the Final with Robben through on goal on his left foot, Casillas had the presence of mind to left his leg and provide the vital touch, keeping the game at 0-0 and of course Spain went on to win the trophy surely a pivotal moment and that’s what you want in a Goalkeeper, Stekenlenberg probably had a better final than Casillas, however when he was most needed he produced the good, Saint Iker indeed.

Mentions: Vincent Enyeama (Nig) Maarten Stekelenber (Ned) Eduardo (Por)

I will confess that Jorge is a player that wasn’t on my radar before the World Cup, with every game that I watched he just grew and grew, great performances against France and South Africa, Solid against Korea, he was unlucky to miss out against Holland in the Semi-Final and they really missed him, having to re think the whole system to nullify Robben, If Fucile had been there It would have been a different game I think, came back into the side against Germany and he didn’t miss a beat, Muller didn’t have an easy game, making him come inside more often, Fucile never looked out of position very often, the Porto full back has a good future ahead of him.

Mentions: Fabio Coentrao (Por) Gio Van Bronckhorst (Ned) Carlos Salcido (Mex)

Many sites and pundits I’ve read or listened to have mentioned Gerald Pique quite a few times, for me the rock in Spain’s defence has been Captain Fantastic himself, showing that he can play with the same passion and intensity as he can for Barcelona, he may not have the pace he once had, however his positioning and awareness is top notch, a few seasons ago questions had been asked of Puyol but under Guardiola he has blossomed again and looks like a defender on top of his game.

Mentions: Joris Mathijsen (Ned) Jonathan Mensah (Gha)

At 31 this was probably his last World Cup, with a disappointing season behind him (relegated with Hertha) he came to the tournament with question marks over his ability, I thought he answered all those critics, up against some young forwards Gyan, Defoe, Messi he never looked worried, dealt with all the youthful exuberance with a calmness and typical German efficiency, a nice way to finish his International career with his first goal for his country, and a derserved place in my team.

Mentions: Diego Godin (Uru) Antolin Alcaraz (Par)

High hopes were had for this Ajax youngster, picked him out in my 32 players to watch piece, and he didn’t let me down, look wise past his years, showing good positioning a willingness to get forward, maybe didn’t reach the byline as often as I would have likes but played well front to back, had a very solid final for such a young player, made some great challenges on Pedro and Iniesta and didn’t seem overawed by the occasion, a target now for some big teams, not surprising to be honest.

Mentions: Phillip Lahm (Ger) Sergio Ramos (Esp) Maicon (Bra)

I must confess I had not seen much of Bayern Munich this year, only the 2nd half of the later stages of the Champions League so I was unaware of how good Bastian had performed in his newly found position for his club, so seeing him play there for his country was new to me, and boy did he impress, always making sure he had time on the ball, the ability to beat a man to find more space, his passing was deliberate, some of the runs were superb exemplified by the run for Friedrich’s goal against Argentina, a joy to watch in the middle of the park, so commanding for what is still a young player.

Mentions: Mark Van Bommel (Ned) Michael Bradley (USA)

The heart of the Spanish engine room, I would call him the Leonardo Da Vinci of the Tiki-Taka masterpiece, so eloquent on the ball, made more passes than any other player in the tournament, I don’t remember a bad one, doesn’t break forward as often as he used to, he does find space better than most players in the world, just a joy to watch.

Mentions: Gilberto Silva (Bra) Raul Meireles (Por)

Big decision to make with this pick, could have easily been Wesley Sneijder but I think everyone got a little carried away with his performances, Mesut however took the World by storm, not a name everyone knew before the tournament his name is on the lips of the world now, great movement, vision, pace to beat a man, a youthful exuberance and naievity which makes him so dangerous.
Mesut has the world at his feet, I hope he can go on to delight us in future World Cups and seeing him develop more this season in the Bundesliga for Bremen (hopefully!)

Mentions: Wesley Sneijder (Hol)

This was a very hard decision, not whether Andres deserved to be in the team, but where to play him, I could have chosen him to play in Xavi’s role, Oezil’s role, which would have given space to Thomas Mueller, I think however, this decision for me brings balance to the side if it was an actual team, like he did for Spain Iniesta starts on the left but he has a license to roam into the midfield and provide support but is very active at breaking forward into the box and down the channels, lovely passer of the ball, finds space with ease, the awareness to know where and when to make runs is incredible, and compliments this with his goalscoring abilty, they say playing with great players makes the game easier, Andres must make it very easy.

Mentions: Robinho (Bra), Carlos Tevez (Arg), Jean Beausejour (Cho)

If the interest in the Spanish forward wasn’t already sky-high his move to Barcelona brought even more attention, after the first game when Spain failed to score and no one on the Spainish team impressed, it was Villa who announced the team to the tournament with his goal against Honduras, collecting the ball from the left, beat 2 men and his shot found the top corner, a quality goal that just summed up Villa’s excellence, he went on to score 5 goals in the tournament and was so important to the Spain team, without him they would not have reached the final.

Mentions: Luis Suarez (Uru), Asamoah Gyan (Gha), Luis Fabiano (Bra)

Voted player of the whole tournament and a very worthy winner, not only an excellent footballer but comes across as a really nice guy also, dangerous on both feet so I have no trouble playing him on the right, has the ability to come in off either flank, find space and if you give him space outside the box he will score goals, specialist from Free Kicks as he showed, the one person in the tournament that tamed the Jabulani ball, Captain and Cheerleader for his Country, a tremendous players, finally getting the Worldwide recognition for all his hard work, 2 Golden boots for his goals in La Liga and now a Golden Ball for his performances in South Africa.

Mentions: Thomas Mueller (Ger) - was so hard to leave him out, Arjen Robben (Ned), Lionel Messi (Arg)


So I have to admit when Germany beat England 4-1 I think happy would be the tamed down version of how I was feeling, and as a Scotsman I’m sure you can forgive me of that, we don’t like to hear the media blab on about how good the Premier League is which means England will win the World Cup so when they get knocked out, I think the other Home Nations and Ireland have a mini celebration of their own, now I get a little grief for the “England Bashing” but it’s how I was brought up so it’s not going to change, I live in England, I work in England, the girl I’m marrying is English, it’s just the media really, good to see them knocked down a peg or two.

The one great thing that has come out of the English defeat was the self defecation of the English football system, youngsters not getting a chance, too many foreigners, and the way kids get taught etc. Everything that is needed to create a successful football legacy was deemed to be sub par in the English game, surely though the other Home Nations can be put into the same bracket, we all have the same set-up and if England are being criticised for not bringing through youth, then what can be said for the rest of the teams on the two Islands, Once upon a time top English teams were littered with Scottish, Welsh and Irish players, nowadays they are found at the bottom edge of the Premier League and in the Championship which is no shame as they are good leagues, not quite the same as when Dalglish, Souness, Strachan, McAllister even Charlie Nicholas graced the best teams in the league, right now in the teams that finished in the Champions League places you can find, Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Gareth Bale and Robbie Keane who of course graced us with his presence in the SPL for half of this season, so out of the top 4 teams, only two of them had players from the other home nations and Ireland, and the list isn’t very long, what has gone wrong with British football.

The complaints also start “It’s those foreigners coming here for big money ruining our game…” Now there is part of this that’s true, the amount of foreigners that have come in has increased year after year and this has taken places away from British players, I have no problem with players the likes of Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabergas, Cristiano Ronaldo and the like, these players are at the top of their game and enhance the league in so many ways, the same as Brian Laudrup and Henrik Larsson did for the Scottish League, however I have a problem with teams bringing in mediocre European or South American players and they sit on the bench get a few minutes here or there and earn good money for the minutes they get, there are a few reasons why this happens.

# 1.Foreign players cost less.

 Look at West Ham this January brought in Benny McCarthy, Mido and Ilan all signed up to score goals.

Benny McCarthy – 5 games – 0 goals

Mido – 9 games – 0 goals

Ilan – 11 games – 4 goals

So 25 games between the 3 and only 4 goals scored, and luckily for West Ham they stayed up, Mido was on loan, Ilan was on a free, and McCarthy cost around £2.25 million, so they got 3 players for just over £2m and they got them 4 goals, around £500,000 not actually that bad a business deal without taking wages into account.

# 2. British Players cost too much

Steven Fletcher – 8 goals in 35 games for Burnley, personally think he had a great season, really stepped up from his days at Hibs and performed at a great level, but he only got 8 goals, and he has just moved to Wolves for £7 million, that’s a lot of money for someone had has a worse goals per game record than Ilan.

Ched Evans – 4 goals in 33 games for Sheffield United, there was great promise for this guy when he was at Manchester City, The Blades paid 3 million pound for Ched a big sum for an unproven player and not exactly the return you would hope.

What I’m trying to prove here is that even though everyone wants teams to play more English/British players it’s not always easy or cost effective, it’s easier to sign a foreigner pay less upfront and get a decent return, why shell out more money for a similar return just to help out the game.

It reminds me of the transfer of Roberto Rios from Real Betis to Athletic Bilbao, Rios was a decent defender but not brilliant, a few teams had shown an interest and were quoted about £4million, then Athletic Bilbao came in for Rios, Rios born in Bilbao interested the Bilbao side with their Basque only policy, Betis uses this to their advantage and charged Bilbao £9 million, a big jump from £4mil, however Betis took advantage of knowing Bilbao had a weakness with their policy.

I can see the same thing happening in England with this new 25 man squad quota with 8 home-grown players, either teams will buy foreign but earlier like Fabergas and bring them through, or the big clubs will get taken to the cleaners and charged extra for any English players they show an interest in, because the smaller teams know they need to buy English, It’s a vicious circle, and I’m not sure how you break it.

Poor Coaching

I think what the Premier League are trying to do with this rule is encourage teams to bring through their own players, develop them and therefore not need to buy expensive foreigners unless of course they are at the top of their game. All in all this is a good idea, however there needs to be a lot of changes to the way British football is run before we will see any effects, there have been many stats thrown about with the number of UEFA trained coaches in this country compared to the other top nations, it’s a disgrace that there are not more properly trained coaches, there is a great chapter in the book “The Italian Job” by Gabriel Marcotti and Gianluca Vialli about the famous Italian training centre, the name escapes me just now, but all coaches are made to go their for a 2 year course to learn the intricacies of the game and make sure they are fully prepared for life as a football manager, there needs to be something put in place like that in this country, don’t just give people like Gareth Southgate a job because he was a player, he should have been made to go away learn his trade and build his way up, and now he’s a pundit for ITV, not a successful career in management.

A few years ago I looked into doing a UEFA badge as a means of maybe getting a job a some level of football club, the price I found was £2000 compared the level 2 Basketball Coaches licesne I am soon to go for which costs £160 and will give me the ability to coach any Basketball team in Europe, just a little bit of a difference, so I don’t blame people for not jumping onto these course, so what are the other countries doing right that people are jumping on them, it’s not like the credit crunch only effected the United Kingdom, something is wrong somewhere.

When I was a kid playing football, training consisted of running, conditioning work more running and maybe at the end if you were good you got to play with the ball, I was picked at a Centre Half because I was fat, surely putting me against usually the best and fastest players upfront is not a good idea, I was actually better on the right as I had a decent right foot, once came on as a sub, set up two goals, next game I was back in the centre of defence.

The one thing I was told when playing at centre half was “if the ball comes to you, just hit it as hard as you can up the field!” what a genius my manager was.

Of course that was over 10 years ago and I really hope the standard and method of coaching has improved, from what I hear from Kids, Dads and some research etc for all the good coahces there are out there that are trying to play the game the right way, there are still a large majority that play the old fashioned way, pump the ball forward and chase after it

Basketball Priciples

Now I’m 28 so it’s been a while since my football days, however I have the honour right now of learning to be a Basketball Coach for Leeds Carnegie, been going for a year now, and It’s such a different mindset, we pride ourselves on player development, not on the results we get, we had an Boys U13, U14 and U15’s team and a U14 girls team, and out of the 4 teams we probably lost more games than we won, however we had 25 players go on to play for Yorkshire, which is a vindication of how we go about setting up our teams, they may not be the best teams but as individuals they are fundamentally sound and when they grow up to be 18/19 or older and hopefully go on to bigger and better things, they will be able to learn all the team principles they needs because they will have the fundamentals locked down.

From what I can see this is not what is taught in football, players will skill and individual talent are known as “greedy” “selfish” players and they need to be more team oriented, and the skill and expression is drilled out of them from the ages of 12/13 onwards then when they get to a higher level they all play the same way have the same British mentality, and yeah they might go on to be good footballers, however we will never see a player of the likes of Iniesta/Messi come through that system.

I am not saying the Basketball system is perfect as lots of teams don’t have the same principles that we do at Leeds, and most have a very “British” mentality, small players are bad, big and strong players are could, and they very quickly type cast players before they even develop, looking at the Dutch performance last night in the World Cup final looking at Van Bronckhorst got me thinking of his adaptability, started off if I’m right at Feyenoord and could play Right-Midfield, moved to Rangers, played more centrally, then onto Arsenal, became more of a fullback, then last night he started the World Cup Final at Left Back as the captain of his country, how many British players could have adapted like that, I like to think it’s the Dutch mentality of “Total Football” and interchanging positions that gave him the ability to adapt and continue his career, it seems players like James Milner that can play more than one position baffle the football hierarchy the ability to perform and multiple positions seems to hinder his chances at playing, a ridiculous notion a very British notion.

Size isn’t everything

While looking at the England Basketball website a few months ago I saw an advertisement for players interested in playing for England, the advert said something like, “If you are over 6’ 4’’ and would like to try out for the English team please register your interest here” Now I find that all wrong, you can have all the height in the world but no matter how tall you are, if you’ve not got it, you’ve not got it, what about the 6 foot 2 kid sat at home that reads that, wants to have a try, but because of his height no one will even look at him, what an awful thing to do, yes height is important, it is not the be all and end all, we have a kid who is 5 foot 8 and can touch the rim, and we have a 6 foot 3 kid that can reach the same height, the smaller kid is much the better basketball player and I have high hopes for him, he will need to grow though, however at 14 he’s got plenty of time.

We have got very lucky in the past 2 weeks a kid who is 15 his started coming to our team, he played in Sheffield last year, and stands at a huge 6 feet 8 inches tall, a coaches dream, has some knee problems but he can play, now the problem is at Sheffield he’s only been taught how to be a big man, moves under basket etc, Yes he is the biggest players in our team, however he won’t always be, at 18 he could be playing with two 7 foot giants and no longer able to play the big man, he’ll need to show what else he has, that’s why we teach all the kids the fundamentals of every position, we have a kid called Roshan, he’s that small when he wears the shorts it looks like he’s wearing trousers, however if you give him the ball under the basket he has the moves to outwit the biggest of defenders, now if this kid stretches to near 7 foot, he has the skill set to play any position he wants.

Now lets relate this back to football, look at the World Champions, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Navas not the biggest players in the World, and I can guarantee if they had been British not a chance in hell they would have been allowed to play in the centre of midfield, they would have been classed as wingers, too small for midfield too small to be a striker, and they’re skill and artistry would have been lost to the game, and what a travesty that would have been, the same has happened with Joe Cole, great on the ball, lovely passer, where do England play him, Left midfield, personally I’d give him a role similar to Pedro for Spain let him come inside create things and you’d get the best of him, don’t confide him to the wings, the same principles apply to Cristiano Ronaldo an out and out winger, I remember when he scored a header at Euro 2004 the shock in the commentators voice, a winger won a header, surely not, overlooking the fact he’s 6 foot 1 and good in the air, the mindset of he’s a winger what’s he doing heading the ball.

Bright Future?

Lots of things have to change in this country, the coaching, the academies, the influx of foreign players, however before all that changes the one thing we need to change is the backward thinking that does and always will exist in this country, if nations like Uruguay and Slovenia both with tiny populations can achieve success on the greatest football stage, there is absolutely no reason that with the right structure England, Scotland even Wales and the Irish teams can’t achieve similar results.


Now that there is some free time inbetween games, gonna get some videos made of the World Cup, but since FIFA block anyone making a harmless video and putting it on YouTube I guess I shall use my website as my outlet.

Here is the first video I made, the best goals from the first stage of games, enjoy!

World Cup 2010 – Goals of the Group Stage – Part One


So I haven’t actually gave any predictions for tonight and tomorrow, so here we go.


I’m going for 2-1 Netherlands probably after extra time.


I think the Germans the will roll on and win this match going for 3-1, they will score first Spain will attack and get caught out again, then pile on the pressure score to make it 2-1 but again the Germans will nick a third.

That would make it NETHERLANDS v GERMANY final


There is only one team that can dominate my thoughts today and that is the German team, very impressive and have made everyone sit up and take notice, Algeria and Slovenia sent most people into a afternoon snooze, and Ghana gave Africa the lift it needed. A decent days football overall, 3 games 3 red cards, 7 goals, the tournament is starting to pick up.


ALGERIA: 16 Chaouchi – 2 Bougherra, 4 Yahia, 5 Halliche, 3 Belhadj – 8 Lacen – 21 Kadir, 19 Yebda, 15 Ziani – 11 Djebbour, 13 Matmour
Subs – 9 Ghezzal on for Djebbour (58mns), 10 Saifi on for Matmour (81mins), 17 Guedioura on for Kadir (82mins)

SLOVENIA: 1 Handanovic – 2 Brecko, 4 Suler, 5 Cesar, 13 Jokic – 17 Kirm, 18 Radosavljevic, 8 Koren, 10 Birsa – 14 Dedic, 11 Novakovic
Subs – 9 Ljubijankic on for Dedic (53mins), 7 Pecnik on for Birsa (84mins), 20 Komac on for Radosavljevic (87mins)

Goals - Koren 79′ (1-0 SLO)

Sent Off – Ghezzal (ALG – two yellow cards


Not the best game by a long way, it started brightly but fizzled out, I actually thought Algeria looked the more likely to score and then Chaouchi made a goalkeeping mistake and Robert Koren’s shot sneaked in the far post.

Chaouchi looked a competent keeper before that moment dealing with all Slovenia’s attempts well, all that will be remembered is his mistake, Nadir Belhadj was impressive on the left getting forward enough to look like a midfielder, not a good final ball though, the midfield was quiet, Ziani should have done more didn’t take control enough, leading to a lack of chances for the front two, Djebbour then came off but his replacement Ghezzal got the third fastest booking of world cup history and was then soon after sent off for deliberate handball.

Not many impressive performances from Slovenia either, I expected more from Novakovic, Dedic tried at times to link up with him but to no avail, Birsa didn’t get enough of the ball to show his pace, Koren wasn’t the controlling factor he can be, they were very lucky to sneak the 1-0 win, England and USA won’t be too worried with these performances.


SERBIA: 1 Stojkovic – 6 Ivanovic, 5 Vidic, 13 Lukovic, 3 Kolarov – 17 Krasic, 11 Milijas, 10 Stankovic, 14 Jovanovic – 15 Zigic, 9 Pantelic
Subs – 22 Kuzmanovic on for Milijas (62mins), 8 Lazovic on for Zigic (69mins), 20 Subotic on for Jovanovic (76min)

GHANA: 22 Kingson – 4 Pantsil, 5 Mensah, 15 Vorsah, 2 Sarpei – 12 Tagoe, 23 Boateng, 6 Annan, 13 Ayew - 21 Asamoah, 3 Gyan
Subs - 10 Appiah on for Asamoah (73mins), 19 Addy on or Boateng (91mins), 20 Owusu-Abeyie on for Gyan (93mins)

Goals - Gyan 83′pen (1-0 GHA)

Sent off – Lukovic, two yellow cards


A better game in the afternoon, I was backing Serbia as dark horses but it was Ghana that galloped out of the blocks showing great pace and skill, some nice movements down either wing, Serbia never got going, the partnership between Zigic and Pantelic just didn’t work for me, no pace up front to stretch the Ghana back line, Krasic and Jovanovic were kept quiet by Pantsil and Sarpei.

The Serbia back line played pretty well throughout Ivanovic was solid but not expensive, Lukovic was favoured over Subotic and did well until he was sent off, Krasic the big hope for Serbia didn’t turn up and live up to expectations, and the midfield duo of Milijas and Stankovic just didn’t perform and I expect big changes for the next game.

Ghana performed very well, Mensah and Vorsah were so solid at the back, the 6 foot 5 Vorsah challenging the 6 foot 8 Zigic to every ball, Prince Tagoe was very busy down the right started great and nearly burst through after  5 minutes his pace kept Kolarov from attacking most of the game, Annan labeled as the “new Essien”  had a good game, although he is a different player from Essien more a player that controls the play not a heavy ball winner, he was the controlling influence in the midfield Gyan was also impressive he gave Vidic and Lukovic a hard time, pace, power and and great work rate and will trouble other defences.


GERMANY:1 Neuer – 16 Lahm, 3 Friedrich, 17 Mertesacker, 14 Badstuber – 6 Khedira, 7 Schweinsteiger, 8 Ozil, 13 Muller, 10 Podolski
Subs – 19 Cacau on for Klose (68mins),23 Gomez on for Ozil (74mins), 21 Marin on for Podolski (81mins)

AUSTRALIA: 1 Schwarzer – 8 Wilkshere, 2 Neill, 3 Moore, 11 Chipperfield – 13 Grella, 16 Valeri, 7 Emerton, 19 Garcia, 5 Culina – 4 Cahill
Subs – 14 Holman on for Grella (46mins), 17 Rukavytsya on for Garcia (64mins), 15 Jedinak on for Emerton (74mins)

Goals -Podolski 8′ (1-0 GER), Klose 26′ (2-0 GER), Mueller 68′ (3-0 GER), Cacau 70′ (4-0 GER)

Sent off – Tim Cahill (AUS) straight Red


A statement performance from Germany some people had this as a possible upset but after seeing the Socceroos lineup I knew it wouldn’t happen, you can’t go to the World Cup with 2 strikers, and then not to start any of them, you are waiting for a beating, and Germany delivered.

Philip Lahm played great as captain charging forward on the right, playing a great ball for Klose’s goal and solid in defence, the duo of Khedira and Schweinsteiger were superb in the middle, Bastian deeper than usual adapted very well, Mueller had a effective game on the right, cutting in at the right times and scoring with a great finish, Podolski was great on the left showing he has the pace and the left foot to play out there, a superb finish for the 1st goal 83mph no goalkeeper was stopping it, he had no problem putting the Jabulani ball in the back of the net, Klose could have easily had a hat-trick and with the football they played you could see him scoring the goals needed to break Ronaldo’s goal scoring record.

The man of the match undoubtebly was little Mesut Ozil (pronounced Urshil apparently) he was fantastic, the dribbling the passing, ripping the Australians apart, the movement from the German front four was superb and Ozil was the architect, he could easily be one of the stars of this World Cup, the only blemish was the yellow card he picked up from diving, if he continues on form it would be hard to see Germany not reaching the Quarter-Finals.


2 games gone 62 to go, and I think we are all hoping they get a hell of a lot better than yesterday’s performances, the festivities in Johannesburg have been building up ever since the World Cup was awarded to South Africa, a yesterday was a celebration for the South African people, a colourful opening ceremonyand what is going to be a constant wave of noise from the Vuvuzuela’s all there to cheer one their country in the Opening game of the 2010 World Cup, there was something missing though.

After the opening World Cup concert on Friday tradgedy struck the Mandela family and Nelson’s great-Grandaughter was hit by a car and was killed, which meant the great man would not attend the opening game, my thoughts go out to the whole Mandela family, such a shame that this great moment in African history could not be greeted by a Inspirational leader.

The games must go on though, and the Mexican and South African players came out of the tunnel, the South African players singing and dancing showing the great spirit of their country, and after the 10 minute long speaches from Sepp Blatter and Jacob Zuma we were ready to go.

Looking back it was a decent game Mexico started the brighter, but South Africa came back into it which helped the game, then after Mexico equalised it looked like they could steal all the points, but a draw in the end suits both teams and good to start with a point on the board.

SOUTH AFRICA: 16 Khune – 2 Gaxa, 4 Mokoena, 15 Thwala, 20 Khumalo – 12 Letsholonyane, 13 Dikgacoi, 8 Tshabalala, 11 Modise, 10 Pienaar – 9 Mpehla
Subs – 3 Masilela on for Khumalo (45mins), 17 Parker on for Pienaar (83mins)

MEXICO: 1 Perez – 2 Rodriguez, 3 Salcido, 5 Osorio, 12 Aguilar – 4 Marquez, 6 Torrado, 16 Juarez – 11 Vela, 17 dos Santos, 9 Franco
Subs – 18 Guardado on for Aguilar (56mins), 10 Blanco on for Vela (69mins), 14 Hernandez on for Franco (73mins)

Goals: Tshabalala (SA) 55 mins, Marquez (MEX) 78 mins


I liked the right hand side of South Africa’s attack, Gaxa and Modise were very lively and cause some problems, Modise looks to have pace and good footwork, was also really impressed with Tshabalala showed great energy and desire, and of course a great finish for his goal, Dikgacoi and Letsholonyane were good in the centre of midfield working really hard to help Pienaar get open.

At times South Africa played some really nice football, linking up well with pace down the wings, they started slow but picked up in the second half and showed what they could do, definitely have a chance to progress.

Mexico played in a Barcelona-esque style, 2 centre backs with Marquez dropping deep when Salcido and Aguilar went forward which the did at the drop of a hat, playing with alot of width, dos Santos started very brightly and looked to do alot of damage, however I think they with Aguilar getting forward so much he was forced to move inside, which took away his space, Vela was very quiet and I can’t remember anything he did, disappointing for the Arsenal man.

Interesting to see how they get on against France on Thursday where they both need a result.

Next was the match between Uruguay and France, a lot expected from this one, the French needing to show they can live up to their players talents and fans expectations, and Uruguay predicted as some peoples dark horses with Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez surely they will score goals.

URUGUAY: 1 Muslera – 2 Lugano, 3 Godin, 6 Victorino – 16 M Pereira, 11 A Pereira, 15 Perez, 17 Rios, 18 Gonzalez – 9 Suarez, 10 Forlan
Subs – 14 Lodeiro on for Gonzalez (63mins), 13 Abreu on for Suarez (73mins), 8 Eguren on for Perez

FRANCE: 1 Lloris – 2 Sagna, 3 Abidal, 5 Gallas, 13 Evra – 14 Toulalan, 19 Diaby, 8 Gourcuff – 7 Ribery, 10 Govou, 21 Anelka
Subs – 12 Henry on for Anelka (71mins), 15 Malouda on for Gourcuff (75mins), 11 Gignac on for Govou (85mins)

Sent off – Nicolas Lodeiro for 2 yellow cards – 80 mins


A truely awful game, at times 2 passes couldn’t be strung together, France just had no game plan really, everything they did was individual play, Ribery, Anelka, Gourcuff were trying to create but trying too much which lead to a poor match to watch, Uruguay werecontent to try and hit on the break and long balls towards Forlan and Suarez.

The three centre backs for Uruguay although reported to be slow and suspect, they coped pretty well I thought, rarely did Anelka find space to trouble them, helped by Diego Perez in his defensive duties they stiffiled most French attacks, Adriano Pereira seemed busy on the left and put a couple of good crosses into the box, Forlan was his usual self, 2 good attempts on goal but couldn’t trouble Lloris.

France were very poor by their standards, Anelka and Gourcuff were they’re best players, Govou struggled on the right after his early miss, Abou Diaby impressed at times in his galloping awkard style which seems to bamboozle players, Evra and Sagna didn’t get forward as much as they’d like, Ribery was quiet by his own high standards, France need to play as a team if they are going to do anything at this World Cup, and they need to start very soon, a tough game with Mexico next, surely they couldn’t have the same fate the 2002 squad had?

I’m hoping that was the worst game of the tournament.