Football Champions

Semi Finals

While FIFA’s busy blocking punches from all angles like a jelly-legged prizefighter with the 2018 & 2022 World Cup decisions on Thursday, they’ve done with the business of getting the 2011 Women’s World Cup draw done without so much as a peep that it was dirty – filthily dirty.

So there’s that going for them.

UEFA’s done a favor for those of us completely unfamiliar with the Women’s World Cup (aye, guilty) and whipped up a primer in a jiffy for next year’s big tournament in Germany.

The numbers in brackets are their current FIFA rankings, which we know are… Continue reading

That handball by Luis Suarez, rather unmistakable, and subsequent penalty miss by Asamoah Gyan rocked the world far beyond the shores of Ghana. They were something of the darling team, being the only remaining African team in an African World Cup. Since then Suarez has fluctuated between villain and hero so much, typically depending on location, he doesn’t know which way is up anymore (also aided by his constant diving).

Gyan, though missing the big penalty, has gone onto bigger things in his future with a big move this week while offering up some even bigger forgiveness. He’s a big… Continue reading

For some he’s a villain, for others, especially those calling Uruguay home, he is a hero. The ball which he double-palmed off the goal line has given rise to more ethics debate than a freshman seminar with no end in sight.

But there is no debating one thing: his World Cup will continue. Either in the final or the third-placed game, he will play.

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was given a one-match ban by FIFA on Saturday for the controversial last minute handball which denied Ghana a semi-final place.

The decision not to give him a stiffer sanction means he… Continue reading

THE BIG PICTURE Hands up if you thought this Ghana team would struggle without injured captain/superstar midfielder Michael Essien. Now use that hand to slap yourself in the face. Gently, but still do it. That slap is from the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah , Anthony Annan and Dede Ayew, all of whom have impressed in midfield for the Black Stars this tournament. The even bigger shock for me has been striker Asamoah Gyan, who was so impotent in front of goal at Africa Cup of Nations 2008 that maniacs started threatening his family, but has looked very… Continue reading

THE BIG PICTURE Japan coach Takeshi Okada was close to laughing stock status coming into World Cup 2010. Not least because he made the seemingly insane claim that Japan would reach the semi-finals at a time when Japan was unable to make ball meet net. But then Okada made one inspired decision: Playing attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda as the lone striker in 4-1-4-1 formation. Sounds all kinds of wrong, but Honda has scored twice in Japan’s first three games and done a sterling job of leading the attack. Honda and teammate Yasuhito Endo have also done their geometry homework, both… Continue reading

When Raymond Domenech leads the French team onto the field on Sunday, in their World Cup friendly versus Tunisia, he will equal Michel Hildago’s record of 75 matches in charge of Les Bleus.  But unlike Domenech, Hildago is a revered figure in France’s footballing history.  He led the France team of the midfield “magic square” of Michel Plantini, Jean Tigana, Alan Giresse and Luis Fernandez to the 1984  European Championship and the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup, where France lost to West Germany.  After retiring on June 27, 1984, Hildago had a record of… Continue reading

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