Tag:South Africa
Posted on: June 22, 2010 6:55 am
Edited on: June 22, 2010 7:01 am

World Cup 2010 - Group A Kncokout Scenarios

Group A

Sorry guys, been a little hectic the past few weeks and I haven’t been able to post much of anything. Since I was behind I decided to change up my original idea and do a massive recap/preview for each team before the group stages. Except I’m writing these very early in the morning about three hours before the games start, which I won’t be able to watch anyway. Good times. Anyway, here’s Group A, Group  B to follow, and it includes brief recaps and knockout stage scenarios for each team (more or less).

Uruguay (1-1-0, 4 pts, +3 GD)
Matches – URU 0-0 FRA; RSA 0-3 URU; MEX vs. URU
Knockout Scenario – Wins Group with Win/Draw vs. Mexico

I did get to see Uruguay’s game vs. France and was very impressed with their defensive organization in that game and really for the whole tournament. They have put themselves in a great position to advance out of the group phase and they’ve done it relatively quietly. Only a diehard could appreciate their epic defense against France and then solid finishing against South Africa in their last game. But, they only need a tie to win the group and Mexico will be playing for the win and the second place team gets Argentina, who’s red hot in the next round.

Mexico (1-1-0, 4 pts, +2 GD)
Matches – RSA 1-1 MEX; FRA 0-2 MEX; MEX vs. URU
Knockout Scenario – Win Group with Win vs. URU / Adv. With Draw

El Tri must be kicking themselves with the opening match draw against hosts South Africa. This puts them in a must win situation to avoid the aforementioned Argentina in the next round. Mexico put it all together against France after struggling for most of the South Africa game, but can they continue that trend? Even with a loss, Mexico and Uruguay have a solid cushion in the goal differential tiebreakers and it would take two lop-sided games to knock one of them out of the knockout stages.

France (0-1-1, 1 pts, -2 GD)
Matches – URU 0-0 FRA; FRA 0-2 MEX; FRA vs. RSA
Knockout Scenario – Win AND make up tiebreaker (GD) against MEX/URU

Les Bleus should change their nicknames to Les Miserables. Shame on you if none of you get that joke. Anyway, France is a mess. Their entire team mutinied on Sunday, their front office has no idea what’s going on and they need a win and help to move on. And they have to do it in front of a home crowd armed with vuvuzelas and looking at the exact same scenario. But could France win and make up 4 goal on Mexico, hard to say no.

South Africa (0-1-1, 1 pts, -3 GD)
Matches – RSA 1-1 MEX; RSA 0-3 URU; FRA vs. RSA
Knockout Scenario – See France

The host find themselves in an even tougher position than France, as they are even lower in the goal differential. This means they need a win and 5 goals to make up against Mexico and 6 against Uruguay. Highly unlikely that this will happen but South Africa doesn’t want the dubious honor of the first host country to not make it out of the group phase.

I'd like to point out that my wingman, mattries, correctly predicted this on his comment to my Group A preview. Going off my original predictions, I have both games ending in draws, but that was with Mexico and Uruguay having wrapped up the Group by winning the first two games. Either way, I did predict Uruguay would have the edge on goal differential and I still like both Uruguay and Mexico to advance, in that order.

Posted on: June 12, 2010 12:26 pm

World Cup 2010 - Group A Recap

The World Cup has begun and sadly I missed both games live on Friday but found out I didn’t miss all that much. The only soccer I watched yesterday was as an asst. referee for a U-15 friendly in my hometown for a primer travel league. But, as I found out later, I really didn’t miss all that much, even hearing from a parent that the France-Uruguay game “set back soccer 20 years.” Seems a bit harsh, but I’m not going to watch the whole replay on ESPN3.com to find out. And fear not, my Group G and H previews are still in the works and knockout bracket is filled out as well.

Anyway, let’s get to the recaps for Group A.

South Africa [RSA] 1 – 1 [MEX] Mexico

A dream start for the hosts in the second half saw Siphiwe Tshabalala put the Bafana Bafana ahead in the 55th minute, only to see Rafael Marquez equalize just over ten minutes from time. The draw easily favors the host side, as now El Tri must face their two toughest opponents in their next two games. South Africa still need a victory, but now the rest of the group knows they aren’t going down without a fight.

KEY PLAY: Asst. Referee correctly called offsides on a Mexican goal with S. African keeper off his line. The confusion of the rule, compounded by the ESPN commentators, is understandable. However, as a certified USSF referee, the rule states “second to last defender” and clearly there was only one defender.

France [FRA] 0 – 0 [URU] Uruguay

Clearly not much to go on here other than France is clearly struggling. Uruguay probably is satisfied with a share of the points and are in much better shape to advance than Mexico as of right now. France’s fixture with Mexico now become that much more important in terms of who advances in the group.

KEY PLAY: The final whistle.

Again, as I correctly predicted in my group A preview, the final set of matches are going to be very key for the group. And since all the teams are even on points, it is that much more important. France needs three points against South Africa to separate themselves from the pack and the Mexico-Uruguay game could be defacto elimination game, especially if Mexico is on the wrong end of the score.

Group B recap is on the way as I kill time before USA-England.

Posted on: June 6, 2010 10:10 am
Edited on: June 6, 2010 10:51 am

World Cup 2010 - Group A Preview

We're around five days away from the start of the World Cup. In honor of this, I've changed my profile picture to Old Glory and the next greatest flag. For those that can't tell what it is, it looks a lot better on my cell phone, it's a Hartford Whalers flag, taken in the parking lot of the USA vs. Czech Rep. game I went to a little over a week ago. What's the point of having camera phones if they look terrible on your computer. Whatever, let's get back on track here.

As promised, I have begun my World Cup Preview entries. Since it makes too much sense to use alphabetical order, let's get started with the Group that will lead off the World Cup, Group A, containing our vuvuzela blowing hosts and everyone's least favorite World Cup Qualifier.

France [FRA] – Rankings (9 – FIFA; 13 SPI)
Qualification – UEFA – Won controversial playoff vs. Ireland
Recent Matches – W 2-1 vs. Costa Rica, T 1-1 vs. Tunisia, L 0-1 vs. China

Rankings say the French are the favorites to win this group but their recent form and qualification say otherwise. F Thierry Henry hasn’t played much at the club level and hasn’t been effective when he has. If you’re looking for a favorite to go down, this is where you should be looking. Plus, they play their two hardest matches (Uruguay and Mexico) first, meaning they could be eliminated from the knockout stages by the third match vs. hosts South Africa. If they do get through to the knockout stages, M Frank Ribbery will have to carry the burden and he’s been in world class form recently.

Mexico [MEX] – Rankings (17 – FIFA/SPI)
Qualification – CONCACAF – Finished 2nd
Recent Matches – L 1-2 vs. Netherlands, W 5-1 vs. Gambia, W 2-1 vs. Italy

Mexico has played a grueling schedule of friendly matches to prepare for this World Cup and it seems to have paid off. El Tri are a very dangerous side and should not be overlooked in this group. Mexico has had no problems making it out of the group phase in every World Cup since 1994. However, the first knockout round has not been kind, as El Tri have been eliminated in the Round of 16 since 1994.

South Africa [RSA] – Rankings (83 FIFA / 51 SPI)
Qualification – Hosts
Recent Matches – W 2-1 vs. Columbia, W 5-0 vs. Guatemala, 1-0 W vs. Denmark

Normally I would say that the hosts would have nothing more than a narrow chance to advance out of this group. But their recent form says otherwise. The Bafana are certainly now a darkhorse in this group and likewise should be taken seriously. Any group opponent that losses to them, probably won’t make it out of the group phase, so pencil them in as a spoiler too.

Uruguay [URU] – Rankings (16 FIFA / 9 SPI)
Qualification – Won playoff with CONCACAF 4th Place – Costa Rica, 2-1 agg.
Recent Matches – W 4-1 vs. Israel

Uruguay has gone on the light side for their warm-ups, playing just one team leading up to the World Cup. They are respected as a two-time World Cup Champion (1930, 1950) but have not made an impact at the World Cup since a 1970 semi-finals appearance.


The third and final matches should be the most telling in this group. Will France be resting against the weakest team in the group having already qualified for the knockout stages or will the Mexico-Uruguay game be for top spot in the group. If I had to pick a scenario, I'd go with the latter one.

PREDICTIONS                             STANDINGS
RSA 0-1 MEX                        URU 2-0-1, 7 pts, +3 GD
URU 2-1 FRA                        MEX 2-0-1, 7 pts, +2 GD  
RSA 1-3 URU                        FRA 0-2-1, 1 pts, -2 GD
FRA 1-2 MEX                         RSA 0-2-1, 1 pts, -2 GD

Uruguay [A1] and Mexico [A2] advance to play [B2] and [B1] respectively.

I’m not a huge fan of the way France is playing right now but there is a pretty good chance they get more than one point in this group. I don’t think the hosts will fill either of their roles as darkhorse/spoiler (unless it’s to France). Uruguay and Mexico are the two teams in form in Group A and I’m picking Uruguay over Mexico for top spot in the Group, though I would not be surprised if they won it on a goal differential tie-breaker like I have it above or outright by beating Mexico.

Posted on: June 22, 2009 12:27 pm

Confed Cup - SA 09 - Group Phase Power Rankings

Well, the semi-finals are set. The US will take on Spain this Wednesday and Brazil and the hosts South Africa will meet on Thursday to set up the finals and third place game. But, there are four teams that have been eliminated here, where is their place in all of this? Well, how about a quick power ranking of all the teams so far.

1 - Brazil (3-0-0, 9 pts, 1st Group B) - Brazil takes the top spot in our rankings, mainly because of strength of schedule. They annhiliated the Italians 3-0 yesterday, eliminating the Azzurri in stunning fashion. Brazil might not have played consistently throughout this tournament and yes, they were outplayed by Egypt, but they played three incredibly tough games in a tournament setting and after a scary start, played to their normal, dominant form, something that had been lacking in thier CONEMBOL qualifying efforts recently in my opinion.

2 - Spain (3-0-0, 9 pts, 1st Group A) - What else can I say here? Spain handled thier business, nothing more. They played comfortably in front most of their matches, say for the 1-0 win over Iraq. The were favored to win this group and rightfully so, they did what they needed to do and now play the US in the semis. And somewhere I bet the Spanish players are licking their chops, thanking Brazil for taking out the Italians. They can't overlook the US here. 35-match unbeaten and a 15-match winning streak, both records, are on the line.

3 - Egypt (1-0-2, 3 pts, 4th Group B) - Eagle, you can't honestly rank the "worst" team from Group B third overall. Um, yes I can. I can do what ever I want. Egypt came out and outplayed two teams ranked in the top 10 in the FIFA world rankings. Were it not for a late Brazil goal and the Pharohs coming out slightly flat against a pumped up US team, there would be two African teams in the semis. Egypt deserves to be here, there's not a doubt in my mind.

4 - United States (1-0-2, 3 pts, 2nd Group B) - Really, the US could and probably should be lower. But they played Italy tough for 60 minutes, 30 of which they were a man down. That 3-1 loss doesn't do the American's effort justice in my book. They played well when they had too and were able to advance by the skin of their teeth. I just hope this doesn't become a habit for the US team, their last advancement in a major tournament, the '02 World Cup, was lucky as well.

5 - South Africa (1-1-1, 4 pts, 2nd Group A) - I didn't give them much respect at the beginning of this tournament and I'm probably not giving them enough respect now. But South Africa's only victory was against New Zealand, and that's the only reason why they're advancing. I love what the home side has done, but there's not a doubt in my mind that the four teams above them played better opponents and were in better form, including the US, as strange as that sounds. I could put South Africa 4th, ahead of the US, but that would be an injustice. Blame the vuvuzelas.

6 - Iraq (0-1-2, 2 pts, 3rd Group A) - You know what, I like this. Iraq played a solid defensive strategy the whole tournament, played the best out of anyone in their group against Spain. I'm okay with this. Yes, the Iraqis didn't score a goal in the entire tournament. But they only allowed that one goal to Spain. I'm convinced this team can play with anyone and it's a shame that we won't be seeing them in the 2010 World Cup next year. They've already been eliminated in Asian qualifying. Still, this was a fantastic experience for a team that has to play all of it's games on the road.

7 - Italy (1-0-2, 3 pts, 3rd Group B) - This is the team that should be most disappointed right now. They were really out played the entire tournament with the exception of a 30 minute stretch against a 10-man US side. There's no reason to be down 3-0 at halftime in a game where a tie gets you to the next round. Sure, if the Italians won they had a chance to win the group, but they would have needed at least a 4-0 win, and maybe more, to do so. They could have played for a tie, taken a page out of Iraq's book and played 9 guys behind the ball the whole game. Instead, they're crashing and burning. I must note again that I picked them to win it all. Shame on me. This is what happens to teams that I pick to win and greatly underachieve. They go to the doghouse. But sadly, I can't put them last...

8 - New Zealand (0-2-1, 1 pt, 4th Group A) - I like the Kiwis, I really do. But I can't condone a celebration of a draw when you've already been eliminated from the tournament. That's disrespectful in my book, especially since they had just eliminated Iraq in the process. Aside from that, this team did play well in that final match and I can allow them to celebrate a little bit. They have yet to win a game in a major FIFA tournament, so a draw against a very good Iraq team is still a credible part of a nice resume this team is building up. They, like Iraq, didn't score in the tournament and aside from a miserable 5-0 dismantling by Spain, the Kiwis will take a great experience as they try to qualify in 2010.

If you'd like to debate this rankings feel free to comment below. Please be respectful and give insightful reasons to your opinions. I have already been called an idiot more times than I can count and I don't need reminding.

I'll be back with a semi-final preview tomorrow for both games, as well as predictions. Sadly, I'm going to be missing the US-Spain game live due to a doctor's appointment and I'm not DVR'ing the game. Why? Because the only game I didn't DVR was the one against Egypt. That game turned out really well. The other two, um, not so much. Probably will break out the running commentary again for the Brazil-South Africa game, but no guarantees. Until then, feel free to check out the rest of my Confederations Cup entries.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com