Ghana Announce Their World Cup Squad

Ghana have annoubced their final 23 man squad for the 2010 World Cup Final in South Africa. Despite Essien being injured it still looks a strong squad and it has a few African based players in it. The only real concern for me is up front with none of the strikers chosed with the possible exception of Matthew Amoah being particularly prolific.

Goalkepers : Richard Kingson (Wigan, England), Daniel Agyei (Liberty Professionals, Ghana), Stephen Ahorlu (Hearts of Lions, Ghana).

Defenders : Samuel Inkoom (FC Basel, Switzerland), Jonathan Mensah (Free State Stars, Spain), Lee Addy (Bechem Chelsea, Ghana), Rahim Ayew (Zamalek, Egypt), Hans Sarpei (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), John Mensah (Sunderland, England), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim, Germany), John Paintsil (Fulham, England).

Midfielders : Sulley Ali Muntari ( Inter Milan Italy), Derek Boateng (Getafe,Spain), Anthony Annan (Rosenborg, Norway), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese, Italy), André Ayew (Arles-Avignon, France), Stephen Appiah (Bologne, Italy), Quincy Owusu Abeyie (Al-Sadd, Qatar), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Portsmouth, England).

Forwards : Matthew Amoah (NAC Breda, Netherlands), Asamoah Gyan (Stade Rennais, France), Prince Tagoe (Hoffenheim, Germany), Dominic Adiyiah (AC Milan, Italy).

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Latest World Cup Warm Up Matches

The FIFA World Cup (awarded 1974–Present)
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Friday, 28 May 2010

Rep of Ireland 3-0 Algeria
Not a good result for Algeria who look likely to struggle in the group stages on this showing. Ireland who were unlucky not to be in the finals themselves have now beaten two World Cup teams in their last two games and will start their European Championship qualifying campaign in good heart.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Hungary 0-3 Germany
A comfortable win for Germany who on this form should take Group D without too much trouble – not much else to say here.

New Zealand 1-0 Serbia
A great win for New Zealand who shocked the world no 15 ranked Serbs thanks to a nicely worked goal by Shane Smeltz in the 22nd minute. This didn’t go down well with the Serbian element of the 14,000 crowd who proceeded to cause a bit of trouble throwing flares andother objects onto the pitch. Although you cant read too much into a warm up friendly match on this showing Serbia will struggle to justify their second favourites ranking and Ghana despite the fact they will be missing Essien look a good bet to take the second qualifying place in Group D.

Slovakia 1-1 Cameroon
Slovakia will be quietly confident of making a respectable World Cup Debut after holding the Indomitable Lions to a draw in Klagenfurt, Austria. In a group where all the attention will be on Italy and Paraguay they remain probably 3rd choice, but they should go home without being embarrassed. Cameroon will be very worried about their lack of firepower andthis could be telling as goal difference or even goals scored could decide who joins Holland in the last 16 from Group E

Spain 3-2 Saudi Arabia
Spain started this game witha near full strength squad including players of the caliber of Casillas, Puyol, Pique, Xavi, Alonso, Iniesta & Villa probably expecting a comfortable victory. However that’s not how things turned out and they looked very ordinary in scraping this narrow win. They have a couple more warm up matches left but will have to show a whole lot more than this if they are to lift the trophy for the first time in South Africa.

USA 2-1 Turkey
The USA had to come from behind to win this game but in doing so showed a lot of character and tactical awareness which will stand them in good stead in the finals. Group C should be very interesting with only Algeria looking like whipping boys.
Sunday, 30 May 2010

Belarus 1-0 South Korea
A very disappointing result for South Korea in light of their excellent wins over Equador and Japan in their previous games. However Belarus are not a pushover for any tam and this could just be a blip in form. They face Spain on June 3rd and this will give us a lot more idea about their chances.

Chile 1-0 Northern Ireland
A near second string Chile won a pretty insignificant match against Northern Ireland thanks to some good goalkeeping and a well taken goal by Colo Colo Midfielder Esteben Paredes. They have a match against Israel coming up and they will probably field a team closer to their starting eleven in that.

Japan 1-2 England
Inept is probably the kindest way to describe Englands performance against a plucky Japan side who will feel a trifle unlucky. Trailing 1-0 at half time England had to rely on two Japan own goals for the narrow win and the usually dependable Frank Lampard missed his second consecutive penalty which ironically is probably a good thing as he will never miss three in a row. The good news for England is that they have now managed to beat two fellow World Cup contenders while playing poorly. If they get it right and play to their full potential then they will go a long way in the finals. However if they reproduce this sort of form in the Finals they could go out in the group stages and wont get past the last 16.

Mexico 5-1 Gambia
An easy win for Mexico who look a good team in going forward but their shakydefense was still evident. If they can learn to defend set pieces they could surprise a few teams this year.

Nigeria 1-1 Colombia
Not an overly impressive performance by Nigeria who may not have been ideally suited by the playing conditions at the MK Stadium. An early exit looks on the cards for the Super Eagles in 2010.

Paraguay 2-2 Ivory Coast
A hugely entertaining encounter between two teams who have their sights firmly set on a place in the last 16 at least. Overall The Ivory Coast looked the better team and Paraguay had Aureliano Torres to thank for their draw when he struck from a free kick in the 90th minute.

Tunisia 1-1 France
A crowd of around55,000 watched Tunisia pile the pressure on France coach Raymond Domenech following another disappointing performance. Tunisia took the lead in a first half more notable for the pitch invasion by a cat than the standard of the football. It took France until the 62nd minute for France to equalise and when it came it was defender Wiliam Gallas who snatched the goal. Group A is starting to look very interesting and the French will be hoping that they don’t repeat their ignominious exit of 2002.

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World Cup Host Nation South Africa Have Morale Boosting Win

Construction work in progress at Soccer City i...
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Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Afr...
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In a game of three penalties South Africa came out 2-1 winners over the higher ranked Columbia in the opening international  game at the newly built Soccer City stadium. South Africa opened the scoring with a twice taken penalty, which was well saved by the Colombian Keeper but for some inexplicable reason the Referee ordered it to be retaken and that was 1-0 to South Africa. Colombia equalised from the penalty spot themselves before Mphela scored South Africa’s second penalty early in the second half to send the partisan crowd home happy.

On this performance South Africa will be hard to beat but wont make the second stages.

In other games Denmark had an easy 2-0 win against Senegal which did little to help gauge their potential, while  Honduras showed their defensive frailties when drawing 2-2 with Belarus.

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Chile & Uruaguay Both Have Comfortable Wins In World Cup Warm Ups

Diego Forlán
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Two of the South American representatives in the 2010 World Cup had comfortable wins in their warm up games, with both winning by 3 goal margins.

Chile brushed aside a good Zambia side 3-0 thanks largely to Two goals from Udinese striker Alexis Sanchez  and looked comfortable defensively, never really looking troubled against Zambia, who had some good possession in the opening half. However the  losing quarter-finalists at the African Cup of Nations lacked  quality up front and Claudio Bravo only had to deal with a handful of long range efforts.

Chile have a final game against Northern Ireland to come on Sunday and although this might pose a bit more of a test they should win that game too and enter the finals with their confidence high.

Uruguay arguably had a better result beating Israel 4-1 in a game they dominated from start to finish. Given that Israel are ranked 26 by FIFA such a comfortable win was impressive and their main striker Diego Forlan scored again showing he has carried his impressive club form on into the World Cup. They have a tricky group to negotiate and although this result will not send too many shock waves through their opponents France will do well to remember their ignominious early exit in 2002 when Uruguay helped put one of the nails into the coffin.

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USA Announce Their Final 23 Man World Cup Squad

Landon Donovan sending in a corner kick.
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The United States have announced their final 23 man squad, which includes 8 players who ply their trade in the UK. The full list :

• Brad Guzan, Aston Villa
• Marcus Hahnemann, Wolves
• Tim Howard, Everton

• Carlos Bocanegra, Rennes
• Jonathan Bornstein, Chivas
• Steve Cherundolo, Hannover
• Jay DeMerit, Watford
• Clarence Goodson, IK Start
• Oguchi Onyewu, AC Milan
• Jonathan Spector, West Ham

• DaMarcus Beasley, Glasgow Rangers
• Michael Bradley, Moenchengladbach
• Ricardo Clark, Frankfurt
• Clint Dempsey, Fulham
• Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy (right)
• Maurice Edu, Glasgow Rangers
• Benny Feilhaber, Aarhus
• Stuart Holden, Bolton
• Jose Torres, Pachuca

• Jozy Altidore, Villareal
• Edson Buddle, Los Angeles Galaxy
• Robbie Findley, Real Salt Lake
• Herculez Gomez, Pachuca

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2010 World Cup Warm Up Matches

Coat of arms of Cape Verde, according to here.
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Several of the teams heading for the World Cup in South Africa have played warm up matches this week and the results are below. Although it is dangerous to read too much into these results Fans of Portugal and The USA will be a touch apprehensive after their results, while Argentina look to be coming into a bit of form just in time for the finals winning with ease despite leaving Messi on the bench.

Obviously the result of the week was by Cape Verde who in drawing with Portugal must have given their fellow Africans The Ivory Coast a massive boost.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

USA 2-4 Czech Republic

Not a good result for the USA who were admittedly missing a couple of probable starters. The Czech Republic are a good team but on this form the USA wont beat England.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Georgia 0-0 Cameroon
Greece 2-2 North Korea
Nigeria 0-0 Saudi Arabia
Rep of Ireland 2-1 Paraguay

A good result for North Korea who could do with something to cheer about at home given their current political problems. In their last four matches they have had good draws with South Africa and now Greece and one goal losses  to Mexico & Paraguay, they are destined to go out at the group stages but wont get hammered on this form.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Argentina 5-0 Canada
Australia 2-1 New Zealand
England 3-1 Mexico
Japan 0-2 South Korea
Portugal 0-0 Cape Verde Islands
South Africa 1-1 Bulgaria

A shocker by Portugal, a flattering win for England and a confidence boosting win for a below strength Argentina were the main points of note in these matches. Mexico will not be too disheartened by their defeat as they dominated possession and if they can magic up a goal scorer and a central defender who can clear set pieces they could be a threat in the finals. Paraguay will not be too despondent either as the Republic of Ireland are hard to beat vat home and would have been in the finals had it not been for the hand of Henry.

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Portugal 0-0 Cape Verde Islands

You could be mistaken in thinking there is a typing mistake in the scoreline but there isn’t and despite fielding a near full strength team Portugal couldn’t manage a goal against a team ranked 117 in the world.

This awful result against one of Africa’s smallest teams will be a major worry for Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz who in putting out a team full of stars must have expected a confidence boosting score. Given the strength of World Cup group G Portugal will need to show a massive improvement in their finishing or they will miss out to the Ivory Coast in a group where goal difference could be crucial.

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England Win But Are Far From Impressive

Ledley King, Tottenham Hotspur captain
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The 3-1 scoreline looks emphatic, but it disguises a rather below par performance by England and is flattered by a dodgy goal from Peter Crouch and Mexico’s total lack of ideas in and around the England penalty area. Still there are some positives to be taken by both teams and they could meet in the Quarter Finals of the World Cup assuming they finish in the same qualifying position in their respective groups.

On the slightly bumpy Wembley pitch, which didn’t seem to play as badly as we were led to believe it would Mexico dominated possession but looked totally bereft of ideas in the final third of the pitch, while England can take heart from some find defensive blocking and from the goals, two of which were from defenders who should have sealed their places in the 23 man squad.

The opening goal was nicely worked and showed Mexico’s weakness in defence – lacking big men to deal with set pieces. The goal cam from a Steven Gerrard corner which should have been dealt with easily, however it alluded the Mexico defense and a crisp header back across goal from Peter Crouch was met by Ledley King who had an easy nod in for 1-0.

The second goal was more questionable and an offside Peter crouch managed to bundle the ball in with his arm following a nice save by the Mexican keeper. On another night this goal would have been chalked off but is stood and England looked in Cruise mode, however in first half injury time Mexico got a goal back when Guillermo Franco pounced on a rebound to knock the ball in.

Fortunately for England a Rocket shot from Glen Johnson just after the break restored the 2 goal lead and effectively allowed England to relax a bit and probably ensured that Mexico were content to play possession football for the remainder of the game.

So whats the positives for England:

Well we know that Leighton Banes is not good enough at this stage of his career – he was partially at fault for the goal and was cruelly exposed on several occasions by the speedy Mexican wingers. Finding this out now is a positive and I will be amazed if he makes the 23.  Ledley King and Glen Johnson both look composed and should be in the 23 and Arron Lennon has the pace to upset any back four in the world.  Overall the team is starting to take shape now and at full strength England will be hard to beat and have shown they can win games without dominating them.

As for Mexico they have shown that they can pass the ball and retain possession, which will stand them in good stead in the rarified atmosphere of South Africa, but look suspect in defense and need to convert their possession and chances into goals. They should at least make the last 16 on this performance.

So overall a win for England but the stats are not impressive 7 shots to Mexico’s 16, 3 corners to 7, out passed out tackled and only 34.3% possession. One gets the feeling that if Mexico had really came to play that the scoreline could have been different and if they were to meet in the World Cup Quarter Finals I wouldn’t bet too much on a repeat result.

On this showing England will struggle in the latter stages.

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England v Mexico dont expect too many answers

England’s penultimate warm up match for the 2010 World Cup Finals is a match against a talented Mexico team, who themselves are in preparation for the finals. This is an interesting choice of game but it is unlikely to give much indication of how either team will perform in the finals themselves. This will no doubt be punctuated by substitutions and any hopes of free flowing football will be hampered by the disgraceful Wembley pitch.

Lets hope no player picks up an injury this close to the finals in what is a bit of a meaningless match, which could easily end up a draw as neither team will want to show their full hand at this stage.

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Miracle at Bloomfield Road

Blackpool fc logo
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In a football world of big wages and equally big egos it came as a breath of fresh air to see one of the smallest clubs in the Championship, Blackpool make it to the big time thanks to a thrilling 3-2 win over Cardiff in the Championship Playoff final.

The last time Blackpool played in the top division football was very different and despite the reward of around £90m for going up the odds are that they will come straight back down. However if they are careful they should no be able to secure the future of the club by renovating the ground and investing in a youth scheme which will allow them to build a foundation for future success.

Lets hope they don’t get dazzled by the big time and end up making the mistakes of Portsmouth and Hull both of who gambled their new found wealth and lost.

Whatever happens it is great to see that a small club can still dare to dream and the premier league in 2010-11 will be a brighter place and not just because of Blackpool’s somewhat garish Tangerine shirts.

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