John Duerden has a useful write-up on how the Asian Football Confederation teams in the World Cup flamed out. The anecdote about FIFA allowing the head of Indonesia’s federation to keep his position while in prison is staggering, though.
Congrats to Japan, Iran, Australia, and South Korea for being the first four teams to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
So here are all the goals Spain put in against South Korea in their 4-1 friendly win in Switzerland today, starting with a nice Fernando Torres header. The Santi Cazorla free kick is cheeky as hell (at 1:32), and one of the South Korean players nailed a doozy of a volley past Reina.
2nd Round Celebration: Seoul, Korea style
Not pictured: flaming police cars, overturned Isaac Toast stands, and Lee Jung Soo’s family parading around in homemade top hats.
I believe Nigeria need to win and have Greece beat the Argentines plus some goal differential stuff to advance, South Korea wins and they’re good.
NGA: Enyeama, Yobo, Afolabi, Shittu, Odiah, Uche, Yussuf, Etuhu, Kanu (C), Yakubu, Obasi Ogbuke
KOR: Jung, Cho, Lee Y.P., Lee J.S., Cha, Park J.S. (C), Kim J.W., Ki, Lee C.Y., Park C.Y., Yeom.
WHO YA GOT?
Be afraid of this Argentine squad. Be very afraid.
The only blemishes you can find on the Albiceleste are an obvious lack of quality defenders, made baffling by Diego Maradona’s overlooking former captain Javier Zanetti and his Inter Milan teammate Esteban Cambiasso for the final squad. The bet that the Hand of God has made is that his offensive attackers will make the glaring hole on defense a non-issue. And it almost did, except that Martin de Michelis, playing out of position as a center back, had that first half boner that allowed South Korea back into the match after an own goal and Gonzalo Higuain’s header from a Maxi cross.
Argentina looked out of sorts to start that second half, as midfielder turned right back Jonas Gutierrez earned a yellow for a poor tackle (putting him out for the next match) and the Tigers controlled the tempo, but failed to slow the whole thing down. Korea could have tied it up, but Yeom Ki-Hum decided to use his left foot instead of his right on what was probably a sure goal.
From there, Argentina added two more goals, much of it developed off of runs by Messi, who was desperate to score goals, but his teammates were able to clean up what the keeper left behind. Higuain’s second goal came after a rush by Messi was saved by the keeper — all he had to do was tap in, and then, the hat trick: Messi runs down the left side, kicks over to Sergio Aguero (on for Carlos Tevez), who then finds the head of Higuain.
It’s a fearsome thought, because Diego Milito didn’t get off the bench once again, and he’s world-class up front too. However, Gutierrez and Gabriel Heinze can be exploited in getting back to defend, and de Michelis is the most obvious weak link. Argentina will go as far in the knockout stages so long as they can keep it in their opponent’s end. However, their next match is against the Greeks. This won’t be a problem. The easy read on the Albiceleste: dodgy defending leading to outrageous offense. If you can keep them on their heels, you have a very good chance.
As for the Republic of Korea: there will be many thoughts of missed opportunities to control the pace of the game and slow it down, something they will have to focus on against the Super Eagles of Nigeria if they are to advance for the first time on non-Asian soil. They are talented enough to make a solid run, but they have to turn that momentum into chances and solid scores now.
Argentina’s dominating the ball right now and it’s paid off with a South Korean own goal and a solid header into the back by Gonzalo Higuain off a Maxi Rodriguez cross.. Lionel Messi is displaying some amazing on the ball skills and pace. South Korea is racing just to keep up with him and Carlos Tevez, who are locked on to one another right now.
However, their weakness is the back four now, with Walter Samuel leaving the game in the first half because of a hamstring pull (Maradona and crew were playing it safe by taking him off) and his center-back mate, Martin de Michelis, completely boffed a stoppage time deep ball that led to a Korean goal. Bayern Munich fans grimly nodded their heads at that lapse by de Michelis. They’ve seen that one before.
It was an Albiceleste lockdown early, considering all the chances that didn’t go in, but it’s anyone’s match now.
Where’s Javier Zanetti when you need him, eh Diego? Didn’t even take a proper right back to South Africa, and this is when you could use an all-world defensive player.
It would help if I enabled answers this time.
So, WHO YA GOT?