England. Oh, England. Underachievers Anonymous discarded them for always leaving before the end of the meeting ! This time, they have world class Rooooooney. They have Fraaaank! They have Stevie G and Coley- well, two of them actually.
Defensively, they are troubled due to Rio’s knee, Steve Warnock’s inexperience and Terry’s- well, let’s just say, insistance on scoring away from home! Their downfall has, in my opinion, not been a physical or tactical one. Lacking the mental toughness required to go the distance has always been their Achilles heel.
Fabio Capello has made the difference.Tough, demanding and at times, brutally frank with his players, he will draw out the attitudes required to go one better. Loved his quote- “When a player comes into a meeting with me wearing no socks and displaying ugly ankles, it is offensive to my eyes.” Wonder what he would have made of Gazza??
They will still be semi-finalists at best due to the competition. We hope and pray their fans don’t turn South Africa into “Land of Dope and Gory.”
You may have wondered if by ommitting France from this elite group, I am holding a grudge, due to them blatently cheating The Republic of Ireland out of a merited spot in this grand tournament. Ok, if it makes you happy, I’ll mention them. They won’t win it. Too old, too slow and should Thierry Henry befall a nasty accident whilst doing his duty for his fellow nationals, I for one won’t weep. Ok, that’s them done.
Ghana are the side I’m undecided about. They can be deadly but can they transmit this raw energy and skillful play onto the World stage? I hope so, I really do. African nations seemed to have reached a plateau but Ghana have bucked that particular trend.
They are entertaining and fearless. I like that and so do football lovers globally. If they can keep it together, who knows what heights they may reach. Michael Essien will be a massive loss.
The rest I suspect are also rans. Well done to all of them however, in reaching this pinnacle of world football. They will give of their best and we will see a few shocks- perhaps from hosts South Africa. They deserve a leg up after the trauma of apartheid and political exclusion.
Nelson Mandela will be a great figurehead at the games and if only for his sake, I hope they get something to cheer although, as we call them Bafana Bafana, the locals call them Banana Banana! Slippery customers but they’ll cheer them on anyway.
I am not fully supported in my predictions:
Brian Callaghan (Brisbane Celt) “Spain will win it. With Torres, Villa, Silva and a host of incredible players who have been successful in the Champions league, they have the minerals to go all the way. Argentina are great and will push them all the way, especially with Messi and Milito running riot. England and Holland will be semi-finalists and I think that Serbia will be the dark horses. Look at their defensive record and Vidic is a beast of a player. If they get it right up front, who knows?”
Argentinian Concita Morales “There is only one Argentina and we will destroy everyone we meet- especially Brasil. Spain will be tough but we can take care of them. Go Diego!”
Brazilian Aussie Richard Muniz “Brazil will win the World Cup for the sixth time this year. We go in with this attitude every world cup. We have the best players in the world. Dunga is an inspirational coach who captained the team to victory in 1994. The team has their heart back and are hungry to win. They really lacked this in the past few world cups. I don’t think any team playing in this year’s world cup will have what it takes to beat Brazil.”
Louisa Maria Sciacca (Italian Aussie) My pick for the top four teams- Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain. Germany are again looking strong. They have lost one of their best players in Michael Ballack but the core team is very strong.
Their ability to score from long range is a very dangerous weapon. The Italians are always a threat. Their defensive game is hard to break and they have players up front who can score goals. They also have one of the easiest groups which will help their cause.
Spain seems to be everyone’s favourite at the moment. They have been RED HOT in their games leading up to the world cup. I still cant go against the Brazilians for champions. They have done considerable work on their defensive game and if it holds then they will be the team to beat.
What about the World Cup Celts?
Well if Greece are depending on Georgios Samaras to deliver them a second major trophy, they may be disappointed. Sammy is a trier and runs a lot but when you miss 3-4 great chances per game, it says a lot. Not a great goalscorer and hopefull will do well enough for someone to offer Celtic a substancial fee to take him to a warmer climate.
Ki Sung Yeung will light up the Korean Republic with some classy displays and maybe a goal or two. I expect him to go out and enjoy himself outwith the tough tackling, ref cheating, cold hard pitches of Scotland. He will also have Park Ji-Sung as company and they could cause an upset or two. Let’s hope.
Song, Song, Bong and Bassong- no that’s not the 1st line in the Cameroonian national anthem. Those are the players Landry N’Guemo will line up alongside when the Indomitable Lions gather for the feast. Samuel Eto’o will feature in that side and I’m sure people will stand up and take notice if they play to their potential. N’Guemo should be a fully fledged Celt by kick-off time and we will cheer him rapturously.
Edison Braafheid has been listed as a Celtic player in the official squad line up.I believe however, his time is at an end with us and has returned to Germany where he may have pulled an Italian job and bribed his way into the Dutch national squad. They should have gone to Specsavers!
Chris Killen has gone to England. Let’s not hold that against him and wish him well in his World Cup sojourn. Better players have missed out on this tournament but I am genuinely pleased for the big Kiwi. He has earned his right to be there and I’ll be with him all the way-well, on the telly anyway. If he wins the Cup, I’ll personally buy him a bag of fush and chups.