Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Japan confident ahead of second round showdown

World Cup 2010
Japan confident ahead of second round showdown.

Takeshi Okada says he'll become a farmer after the World Cup, but just hours before Japan's second round showdown with Paraguay, the quietly-spoken coach shows no sign of pulling up roots.

Okada is confident that his side can make history and reach the final eight of a World Cup for the first time, taking one step closer to fulfilling his pre-tournament prediction that Japan are good enough to reach the semi-finals in South Africa.

Few were left doubting that premise after Japan's 3-1 drubbing of Denmark in their final group game, in a match in which both Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo mastered the erratic Jabulani ball to crash home spectacular free-kicks.

Japanese players have long been renowned for their exceptional technique, but it's the hard-running and incisive vision of CSKA Moscow midfielder Honda that has caught the eye, with a host of European clubs now putting the creative talent at the top of their shopping list.

Honda had hardly featured for the Samurai Blue in the build-up to the World Cup finals, but he has quickly transformed into a team leader in the absence of an out-of-sorts Shunsuke Nakamura.

Such is Honda's exceptional form up front that Shimizu S-Pulse striker Shinji Okazaki now looks likely to spend the rest of the tournament starting from the bench, despite the fact that the powerful front man was the most prolific international striker in 2009.

Okazaki is not the only player to have fallen foul of Okada's axe, with Schalke-bound defender Atsuto Uchida another left out in the cold during the chilly South African winter, as veteran Yuichi Komano is preferred on the right-hand side of defence.

Komano is a part of a back four rippling with experience, and many critics believe that towering stoppers Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Yuji Nakazawa have been arguably the stand-out central defensive partnership in this year's tournament.

The pair will need to display all their renowned fighting spirit to keep an impressive looking Paraguay attack at bay, and if Manchester City star Roque Santa Cruz isn't a formidable enough opponent, the South Americans also have Borussia Dortmund strikers Nelson Valdez and Lucas Barrios to call upon.

Like their opponents, Paraguay have never reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup, so history will be made come the full-time whistle at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

Takeshi Okada won't want to be reaching for the plough just yet, and he is confident that his side can conjure another unexpected victory, as Japan's enigmatic coach looks to continue his surprising renaissance at the helm of the national team.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

World Cup Posters

Monday, June 28, 2010

Amid the embers

Germany 4:1 England

Forget the Lampard goal. That debate is for another day. What matters is the worst finals result from the inventors of the game.

England's collapse to a competent, spirited but hardly exceptional German team was embarrassing, with some of the most amateur defending yet seen at a World Cup. That lone Anglo hoisting of the trophy sails farther away in the mind the longer the latest crop keeps falling short, and as the sixties celluloid grows grainier, then expectations will revise, rather like those of Uruguay, who have come to accept 1950 took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. 1966 has been a millstone and a false totem in the English football psyche for too long.

The loss of Rio Ferdinand on the eve of the finals could well have been the straw which broke the camel's back, the undermining of a defence which had previously been a reassurance. After three gentle tests, England's back line cracked against a quality vanguard. Ferdinand's replacement Matthew Upson was at fault for Germany's first two goals, and his jaw-dropping lack of telepathy with John Terry carved vast spaces open in which Mesut Ozil and pals ran amok.

Germany's Polish-born strikers Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski were lethal on the rebound, but that was also down to horrendous positional play by retreating Englishmen. The first goal was a banal route one strike seen in schoolboy soccer, with two centre-backs committing the cardinal sin of letting a striker slip between them to toe-poke a punt past their goalie. Then there were about nine red shirts on the wrong side of the ball when Thomas Mueller broke away to score their third and close a chapter in the match in which England were dominant.

It was not all gloom as Fabio Capello's men had begun smoothly while the Germans stood off and waited. For a spell at the end of the first half they were clearly on top, scoring twice but having the second goal wrongly disallowed. Yet over the 90, so much of England's offering remained below par - Upson bafflingly picked ahead of Matthew Dawson or Ledley King, Glen Johnson out of position for two goals, an unfit and labouring Gareth Barry a pale shadow of the electric Owen Hargreaves in 2006, a midfield gifting acres of space away and an attack of Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney almost invisible.

Capello's substitutions - Emile Heskey and Shaun Wright-Phillips, were as ineffective as his changes have been all tournament. Picking Scott Parker and Adam Johnson instead of Barry and Wright-Phillips could have made a difference, but it is too late to speculate now. All England can do is rebuild with youth and usher the so-called golden generation gently out the door after a decade of misadventure.

England are all played out again, Champions League winners unable to perform in other shirts. At times against Germany, England looked interested and ready to take the game by the scruff of the neck, and at others a sluggish and aging band of brothers knackered by another gruelling domestic season. Franz Beckenbauer was right – the extra games of England's domestic calendar cannot have helped the national team, and they were stupid not to have won one of the easiest groups.

England's near-perfect qualification campaign now looks devalued, with the double-demolition of the waning Croats and defeats of Andorra, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine far less impressive in the light of today’s tragedy.

The Three Lions never roared in South Africa, but this time is was not a common case of first-round nerves. The team was stuck in first gear from Rustenburg all the way to Bloemfontein.

What went wrong? The truth will out over the next few days and weeks, perhaps with the publication of a diary or two or a whispered snippet to a journalist. But the management team of Capello and Stuart Pearce clearly failed to organise their defence or motivate their charges. I have been trying to avoid WWII references, but was the boss' struggling English and insistence on Italian-style discipline just a bridge too far?

The final scoreline is stark, though the stats show England came top on possession and shots and had an identical passing accuracy to Germany: It is goals that win games. While the Germans never had England on the rack and their goalkeeper Manuel Neuer often looked calamitous, the Mannschaft had a creative ace in Ozil that England lacked and had clearly done their counter-attacking homework to coolly exploit the glaring errors of their sub-standard foes.

Just as their opening mauling of Australia was followed by a defeat by Serbia, a quarter-final meeting with Argentina will provide a sterner test of German mettle than the English wooden spoon they tossed aside today.

England has been here before - a depressing elimination triggering frenzied soul-searching with no denouement. But it has come before in qualifying - Poland in 1973, Holland 1993, Croatia 2007. To lose this badly in the World Cup finals, and in a tournament England had a sniff of winning not too long ago, is devastating all round.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

World Cup Posters

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dr. Joel Rookwood: World Cup 2010 - Coastal Football

World Cup 2010 South Africa

We had seen World Cup matches on consecutive days in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Rustenburg and Nelspruit, followed by four days of sightseeing in Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

It had been an incredible first week in Southern Africa, crammed with unforgettable experiences. Sitting on Spion Kop hill at the half way point of the trip, surveying yet another picturesque slice of African history, the three amigos discussed the proposed itinerary for week two.

World Cup 2010

It was then that we realised a more daunting journey lay ahead. The completed route, ink-stained on our increasingly tattered map, seemed a journey of insignificant distance relative to the mammoth stretch of road that lay before us. But Scousers are not prone to intimidation. We are no strangers to overconfidence however, particularly when the context is of a footballing nature. With that I went to buy another biro – and prepared myself for another week of farcical conversation, nonsensical radio commentary, breathtaking views and ludicrous driving, oh, and some World Cup football.

We completed our 2000+km southbound journey – which had begun in Kruger Park two days earlier – arriving in Cape Town the evening before Portugal were due to play the curiously named 'Democratic People's Republic of Korea'.

Fan at the World Cup 2010

Cape Town just has to be seen to be believed. It feels removed from the rest of the country, and indeed the continent. It is more easily comparable with Sydney and San Francisco than Luanda and Lusaka. Table Mountain, arguably Africa’s most recognisable landmark, comes into view long before you reach the city limits; drawing you in to the incredible metropolis and all that lies within. We arrived just as the sun was setting, without a hotel or a match ticket, but unfazed by the prospect of securing either.

The following day match tickets initially seemed hard to come by, as inexperienced supporters caved in to desperation, paying grossly inflated prices, which inflamed the street value. Unperturbed by the black market and the grey skies, we sauntered around the architectural statement that is Green Point Stadium before casually purchasing tickets for the equivalent of £14. Those of you who recall the score line and possess a brain will realise that worked out at £2 per goal.

My former flat mate is the current match analyst of the Portuguese side, and he was understandably excited at the 7-0 drubbing. I'm sure the Portugal camp will be dreaming of lifting the Jules Rimet trophy at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium on July 11th - although European pretenders to the World Cup crown will have to be at their best to overcome the very evident South American threat.


The following morning we woke to the rare prospect of a day entirely free of both football and travelling. Adverse conditions at sea prevented a visit to Robben Island, and instead we had to settle for the view of the infamous prison that held Nelson Mandela from the top of Table Mountain.

I was disinterested in the two-hour wait for the death-defying cable car, the route of which stretched almost vertically up the famous rock before disappearing into the cloud known as the 'table cloth'. Alerted to the possibility of a human-powered ascent, we opted for the walk instead, despite the lingering effects of the Cape Town nightlife. The sign at the bottom of the mountain suggested a challenging investment of 2.5 hours was required to reach the summit. Eight minutes later Mick had begun his dissent, about four steps in. With the Atlantic Ocean stretching out behind him, his claims about altitude sickness were about as water tight as the North Korean defence.

Joe Cole replaces Rooney

Within an hour however Danny and I were looking down on Cape Town from the top, the cloud having the decency to shift west, offering us superb views in every direction in the process. As football tourists from around the globe posed for photographs, I looked out along the south coast in the direction of our next port of call, in complete awe of South Africa. With a heart full of admiration, a mind full of expectation and a mouth full of conversation, we reluctantly bid farewell to Cape Town and headed to Nelson Mandela Bay.

Having seen representatives from all six confederations play in our first five games, we were largely indifferent about the prospect of watching any more World Cup football. No more so than concerning England's must-win encounter against European minnows Slovenia. I was aiming to avoid a rant about the English in my SA 2010 columns but we’ve encountered too many of Ingerlund's finest, carving my resolve. I promise to keep the following to a single sentence:

Being English is about driving a German car to an Irish bar for a Belgian beer, then on the way home grabbing an Indian curry or Turkish kebab, then sitting on a Swedish sofa and watching American sitcoms on Japanese TV and still being suspicious of anything foreign – only in England can you get a pizza to your home faster than an ambulance, only in England do the banks leave the doors open but chain the pens to the counter, only in England do the supermarkets make sick people walk to the back of the store for prescriptions while healthy people get their cigarettes at the front; only in England do unimaginative, unoriginal football supporters travel abroad en mass to intimidate anyone who has the audacity to be born any other 'race' but English, singing 'God Save the Queen' without believing in God or the monarchy, but just as an excuse to utter the words 'no surrender'; only the English travel to a nation that taught the world how to overcome racism, but see nothing wrong with singing 'Britons never shall be slaves'; only the English moan about vuvuzelas and then rely on a trumpet to start every song; only the English can make Wayne Rooney seem like a level-headed social commentator, and only the English complain about their tabloids destroying team morale and then boo their side, buy copies of The Sun and break into the changing room to 'give it' to the manager.

Jamie Carragher

That being said, England are impossible to ignore; they travel in numbers, comprehensively representing the most extensive professional club network in the world, and always display an impressive if unimaginative set of banners. The laboured defeat of the Slovenians did not make the footballing world sit up and take notice, but the team remain unbeaten (at the time of writing) and deserve their unspectacular qualification to the knock out stages.

In truth we had only included an England game in the itinerary to observe the fans and to watch Jamie Carragher play. The fact he was suspended did not stop us from hunting him down and having a quick chat about Liverpool. Thankfully he made more sense than his inebriated dad who we had sat with for most of the match. We also bumped into Roy Hodgson, who is rumoured to be on the brink of a high profile role, possibly at Anfield. For the record, he refused to comment, but agreed at least to pose for a picture.

Roy Hodgson

Next up was a trip to hectic Durban, where Brazil and Portugal were to contest their final group game. As is often the case where the South American giants are concerned, tickets proved elusive. We settled for our first experience of a South African fan park, the goalless encounter unfolding in the Durban stadium behind us. Despite an extensive search, £300 was the cheapest ticket we found, which was £100 more than the combined cost of the previous six matches we had been to.

Masking our slight disappointment, we then headed for the beach in search of whales and surfers. Then with the tank full of petrol, the trainers full of sand, and the memory card full of photos, we set off towards our final destinations of Soweto and then Johannesburg, concluding the journey in the city where it had began two weeks earlier.

World Cup 2010

As night fell on our last evening in South Africa, we soaked up the view of roadside fields ablaze with fire, beneath an orange moon and a red sun separated by a huge African sky. If you want to contemplate and experience the wonder of God's creation, then come to Africa, where evidence abounds. If you want to encounter a celebration of humanity then travel to the group stages of a World Cup, where fans from all over the globe congregate, unified by the international language of the ultimate social tool.

The opening fortnight of the tournament has shown South Africa to exceed every expectation. Fears about security have proven to be unfounded, and every question about the capacity of an African nation to host an event of such magnitude had been answered. Of course no World Cup tournament passes without negative incident. Added to that, this is not a country devoid of social problems - you don't have to scratch far beneath the surface to encounter the hangover of apartheid.

World Cup 2010

We have met local idiots who claim real South Africans don’t follow 'Bafana Banana', but should instead only support the white-dominated Springbok rugby team. But the handful of encounters with the mindless minority should not be allowed to detract from the reality of a people and a place brimming with warmth, with compassion, with hope.

South Africa continues to teach the world about the dangers of ignorance and the possibilities of co-existence, and the World Cup serves as its latest offering. The continent and the country has earned our respect, our admiration and our gratitude.

World Cup Posters

© Soccerphile.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

South Korea Squeeze Into The Second Stage

South Korea Squeeze Into The Second Stage.
World Cup 2010: South Korea

It is 56 years since South Korea first travelled to the World Cup. It wasn't a good experience. Five subsequent overseas appearances all ended with the same result - an early exit. Only 2002, on home soil, saw a surge past the first round and into the semi-finals.

That all changed on Tuesday as the Koreans booked their place in the second round of the 2010 World Cup with a 2-2 draw with Nigeria in Durban on Tuesday evening to go past the first round for the first time ever away from Asia.

Korea finished second in Group B behind Argentina and take on Uruguay on Saturday in Port Elizabeth with a place in the quarterfinal at stake.

The outcome was in doubt until the final seconds in an entertaining and tense encounter with Nigeria missing a number of great opportunities that could have seen the Africans in the knockout stage.

With Argentina defeating Greece 2-0, Korea started the evening in second on three points but soon found itself behind thanks to Kalu Uche. Lee Jung-soo equalized just before the break and not long after Park Chu-young put Korea ahead. A penalty from Yakubu Aiyegbeni leveled the scoreline once again to ensure a very nervous finish.

Just what Korea didn’t want to happen happened after 12 minutes as a simple but very avoidable goal was conceded.

Chidi Odiah was allowed to run down the right side but his low cross perhaps should have been cleared by Cha Du-ri. Instead the German-based defender allowed Kalu Uche to get in front of him to stab the ball home from close range.

It was a big blow for the Koreans who had started well. After Nigeria had lost their first two matches in the group, confidence was suddenly coursing through the veins of the green-shirted Super Eagles and the more powerful African team started to get a grip on the game.

The goalscorer went very close from outside the area ten minutes before the break as he drove a low shot firmly that went past goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryung but not the base of his left hand post

Just two minutes later, Korea drew level with a goal from nowhere. Lee Young-pyo was fouled just outside the right edge of the African penalty area to give Huh Jung-moo’s men another free-kick. Ki Sung-yung’s free-kick evaded everyone except for the unmarked Lee Jung-soo at the far post who bundled the ball over the line in a somewhat ungainly but, for those watching in East Asia, delicious fashion.

South Korea Squeeze Into The Second Stage.
Half-time came with the contest finely balanced but it swung heavily in Korea’s favor just three minutes into the second half. Another free-kick was given away by the men in green and from the left corner of the penalty box, Park Chu-young curled a shot into the far corner of the Nigerian goal.

Nigeria started to push forward, the team had to. Yakubu Aiyegbeni was about to shoot from close range only to be robbed by Lee Jung-soo while Park Chu-young forced a good save from Vincent Enyeama.

And then with 24 minutes remaining, Yakubu somehow missed the easiest opportunity of the 2010 World Cup. Once again Cha Du-ri allowed his man to get past him and a low cross was rolled across the face of the Korean goal and Yakubu shot wide from two metres out.

It didn’t signal the end of Nigerian hopes as shortly after, recently introduced sub substitute Kim Nam-il clumsily fouled Chinedu Obasi and Yakubu, who plays his club football for Everton in the English Premier League, scored the resultant penalty to level the scoreline at 2-2.

To their credit, the Korean players hit back and went close through Lee Chung-yong and Park Ji-sung but with ten minutes remaining, Nigerian substitute Obafemi Martins went closer, breaking free in to the penalty area to lift the ball over the advancing Jung. The ball bounced just wide of the post.

That was as close as the Nigerians got and soon after the final whistle sounded to spark Korean celebrations in Durban and back in the Land of the not-so-Morning Calm.

World Cup Posters

© Soccerphile.com

Monday, June 21, 2010


United Against Malaria

United Against Malaria (UAM) is a community of organizations and individuals that has joined together ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa to unite in the fight against malaria.

With the tournament now well under way, UAM wants you to Sign the ball to show your support for the cause. Add your name and join the winning team that will beat malaria.

Supporters of the cause include Cameroon legend Roger Milla, USA striker Landon Donovan, Manchester City and Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure, Malian striker Frederic Kanoute and French World Cup winner Patrick Vieira.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is Africa’s World Cup and is being used as the perfect occasion to help UAM to raise international awareness of the disease. By acting now, an unprecedented increase in mosquito net coverage across Africa can be achieved by the end of 2010, saving millions of lives by the next World Cup in 2014.

Join the team at UAM by signing the ball on facebook and becoming a supporter of the campaign. Also, you can follow UAM on Twitter, like them on Facebook and check out the latest news and updates at the United Against Malaria website

Pledge your support to end malaria and sign the ball.

© Soccerphile.com

Liverpool to Cape Town 44 years on

Portugal v North Korea

Today's Portugal v North Korea clash inevitably ignites memories of that crazy quarter-final in 1966 when lightning almost struck twice.

North Korea
North Korea
The North Koreans, leaving their closed country for the first time, had found a home away from home in Middlesbrough, especially after their unexpected 1-0 win over the fancied Italians.

Asian soccer had been unleashed on a world unprepared for it, and the wow factor only increased after they ran into a 3-0 first-half lead against probably the most talented team in the tournament, Portugal. Fans like my father who were at Wembley to watch England play Argentina, could not believe their eyes as the updates from the other quarter-final at Goodison Park showed the minnows were tearing apart one of the tournament favourites.

Alas for the hysterical neutrals, the Koreans' cavalier attacking style was outsmarted in the second half by a more wily team with an almost unplayable ace in Eusebio, who bagged four goals in a stunning comeback to send Portugal through 5-3.

The clash of soccer cultures and playing styles that day in Liverpool was the epitome of what the World Cup is about on the field. Would that today's reunion of the nations in Cape Town were as thrilling as that unforgettable match 44 years ago.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Dr. Joel Rookwood: World Cup 2010 - Culture and that

World Cup 2010 - Culture and That

South Africa is an epic land at the tip of the world's most epic continent. It is a country that almost defies description, a constellation of attributes, a constant source of awe, intrigue and inspiration.

It may be the 121st nation I have had the privilege to explore, but comparisons seem futile - this place is simply unique. A complex political history has forged a complicated series of intersecting cultures. The diverse, warm and at times problematic people have inherited or migrated to a sublime slice of earth, teething with an embarrassment of riches.

For Mick, Danny and myself interacting with this smorgasbord of scenery seemed more a necessity than an option. The World Cup may have brought us here, but there is so much to discover that a few football-free days were inevitable. After all, it is the place and the people more than the football that we find ourselves discussing during the daily late night pints before succumbing to fatigue.

Having seen four games in our first four days in South Africa, we spent our next four days on the road, in exploration mode.

Of course football is always on the African horizon. Unlike previous World Cups in Japan and even Germany, where it was easy to escape the hysteria, the South African mindset is completely consumed by this global sporting event. Impromptu games of football with locals and tourists, frequent stops at road work sites together with general conversations with hotel and restaurant staff are all dominated by talk of the plight of Bafana Bafana and who will lift the trophy on July 11th.

Thrice daily match coverage on national radio has been another travelling companion, keeping us informed of the latest football developments. The commentary was annoying at first, to the extent that I almost began to long for Britain's Martin Tyler and Garth Crookes.

But we soon warmed to the senseless musings of South African commentators, who would scream with excitement at a two-yard pass or a throw-in and then casually hide the details of an imminent red card or penalty save in the midst of a random story about where Samuel Eto'o's mum does her weekly shopping.

The half time analysis soon became our favourite feature of the matches however, where the level of punditry reminded me of a Zambian sitcom I once had the misfortune of sitting through in Lusaka airport. Imagine your mate's dad, you know, the socially inept one who doesn't know anything about football and likes something stupid like Formula One instead, discussing the events of the first half with your Nan, who says things like middlefielder, 'they need to kick the ball harder', and 'they are losing so they need to score some goals'. Maybe this is where Channel Five in the UK recruit their panel of 'experts'. Maybe not though, as I'm not sure Colin Murray and Stan Collymore are quite of the standard of Radio SA2000.

Our cultural explorations began with a form of safari, tailored of course to our unique interests. We stumbled upon the turn off for Kruger National Park just before inadvertently entering Mozambique. We arrived just after sunset, to find the gates locked.

The manager of the adjacent lodge told us to return at 6am and pitying our lack of organisation even booked us rooms at a nearby guesthouse. The conversation then somehow got onto Braais, the South African food-centred social event that we were warned not to refer to as a 'barbee'.

She was shocked to the point of being offended that we were yet to experience this national institution, and insisted on hosting us the following evening at her house. She would bring friends and food, we would bring ale and charm. At least that was the plan. So a day on safari in South Africa's smallest car, followed by the complete culinary experience was on the cards.

As we drove through the world's most spectacular animal park the following day, the three least knowledgeable wildlife commentators exchanged theories about matters of real zoological importance. Meaningful debates transpired centred around significant questions such as: who would win a fight between a hippo and a lion? Is Kruger better than Knowsley Safari Park? What's Gary Neville doing in that cage? And will they mind if we feed cereal to these monkeys? The braai that followed was worth the trip alone and completed a memorable day, although I'll avoid expanding as to why.

Consecutive day trips to the landlocked countries of Swaziland and Lesotho followed. Not that we progressed far in either nation, as there was the little matter of not having the correct hire car insurance. So we only spent a day in each nation, just to be cautious.

Swaziland presented more related problems, whose streets had more potholes than Luke Chadwick's face. Both places proved well worth the investment in time and risk however. As the last remaining absolute monarchy in Africa, Swaziland is a nation embedded between Mozambique and South Africa and felt culturally distinct from both.

We exchanged waves and smiles with everyone we saw, the colour of our skin, and selection of attire promoting amused response from locals. Lesotho, known as 'Africa's Kingdom in the Sky' was breathtaking in both the metaphorical and the literal sense.

The people of this mountainous nation were similarly friendly, although we were lucky to escape with our football after a group of kids who had joined us for a kick around seemed determined to keep hold of it. They settled for 50 Rand instead.

The following morning we set off in the direction of our own slice of history, an event hidden in the excess of events South Africa has experienced. After bribing our way out of an early morning speeding fine, we headed for Ladysmith. The town is littered with memorials to battlefields from several conflicts, notably the Boer Wars. With British involvement a notable feature, one particular site has close connections with our hometown of Liverpool. Prepare yourself for a brief history lesson - stay with me.

During an early period of success with league title wins in 1901 and 1906, Liverpool FC constructed a new single-tier stand at the traditionally working class end of Anfield stadium, which would eventually house up to 27,000 supporters.

Liverpool Echo sports editor Ernest Jones suggested it should be named the Spion Kop, after the hill site of a famous Boer battle in January 1900, which claimed the lives of 322 men mainly from Liverpool.

The Kop in Liverpool was the first of its kind, as a platform for large numbers of supporters to collectively and innovatively express loyalties and opinions relating to football and various socio-political and cultural elements.

The Kop became a scarf-waving celebration of civic solidarity, providing fans of other clubs with a football education. Numerous clubs in England and abroad have since adopted the term Kop as the name of one of their own stands. But it all started at Liverpool, and that in turn has its roots in South African history. A visit to the impressively kept site and a picture with the 'THOSE SCOUSERS GET EVERYWHERE' banner seemed inevitable.

That visit left us about 1200 km from our next point of interest, the capital city and world renowned metropolis of Cape Town. Next up is a welcome re-acquaintance with World Cup football, starting with Portugal against North Korea at Green Point Stadium - if we survive the drive.

© Dr Joel Rookwood & Soccerphile.com

World Cup Posters

Sunday, June 20, 2010

South Korea Set For Nigeria Showdown

World Cup 2010: South Korea v Nigeria

South Korea may have been brought back down to earth by Argentina on Thursday but a place in the second round is very much a possibility. If Argentina defeat Greece, the team Korea defeated 2-0 in the Group B opener, in Polokwane on Tuesday, then a draw against Nigeria a long way to the south in Durban would be enough.

It is going to be a tense evening but hopefully it will end better than a chilly Thursday afternoon in Soweto when Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain scored three to help Argentina to a 4-1 victory.

World Cup 2010.

Two goals early in the first half and two late in the second gave the South Americans the win. The star of the show was Lionel Messi, the world’s number one player who had a hand in almost everything good that Argentina did. The good news is that Nigeria don't have such a player.

The bad news is that if, though it seems unlikely, Greece were to defeat Argentina, then even a win may not be enough for the Taeguk Warriors. The late goals conceded negated and then reversed Korea's goal difference and even Nigeria, after two defeats in two, could finished second with a win over Korea.

Coach Huh Jung-moo will be doing bis best to make sure that doesn't happen. He has the chance to write his name in the Korean history books by leading the team into last sixteen.

After switching from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 for the Argentina defeat, Huh will likely switch back for Nigeria and Lee Dong-gook is set to make his first start in the tournament after recovering from a hamstring injury. Lee will partner Park Chu-young in attack, replacing the ineffective Yeom Ki-hun.

In 2002, Korea needed just a draw in their final group game against Portugal to move into the second round and did more than that and won 1-0. Four years ago, the team needed to defeat Switzerland but instead lost 2-0. Captain Park Ji-sung is hoping that it doesn’t all come down to goal difference.

"It could be a problem but we won't think about drawing or losing [against Nigeria]," the South Korea captain said. "We will just focus on winning the game.
"They've got a strong team, African teams are individually strong and fast, but we know how to deal with African teams and we will just prepare perfectly for the next game."

Park played centrally against Argentina and had a quiet game, failing to get much change out of Javier Mascherano going forward while trying to keep an eye on Messi.
"Our players aren't disappointed or discouraged from the loss to Argentina," said Huh. "We will prepare thoroughly as our third match against Nigeria will be the final showdown in the group stage."

"We won't go out on the field aiming for a draw," added Huh. "It will be a difficult match but we will play a winning game."

Nigeria will be without the suspended Sani Kaita after a sending off in their 2-1 loss to Greece that followed an opening match loss to Argentina. Coach Huh thinks he has spotted some weaknesses. "As seen in the case of Sani Kaita who was sent off the field, we need to put pressure on the Nigerians so that they become agitated and lose their temper," added Huh. "We cannot allow them to play freely on the field."

It is time for the Korean team to stand up. The Greece win and performance impressed the world. The loss to Argentina was a setback but if South Korea can defeat the hitherto pointless Nigerians and reach the second round with six points then it is history made, mission accomplished and then time to have fun in the knockout stage.

World Cup Posters

© Soccerphile.com

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Japan braced for tough Dutch test in Durban

World Cup 2010: Japan v The Netherlands

The Netherlands brushed aside Japan when the two sides met in a friendly in Enschede just over nine months ago, but there's far more at stake when the pair meet at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban today, with a place in the World Cup knock-out stages on the line.

Fresh from their opening day victories, both sides will be eager to book a spot in the Round of 16 with another win here, although neither side looked particularly convincing in their first-up performances.

The Dutch may have laboured to a scratchy 2-0 win over Denmark last time out, but for Japan coach Takeshi Okada it was all about the result, as the Samurai Blue conjured their first ever World Cup victory on foreign soil with a narrow 1-0 win over Cameroon.

It was hardly champagne football on display from the Asian powerhouses, but after relieving some of the immense pressure heaped upon them by an expectant press and public, Japan can relax as they go into the Durban clash as underdogs.

CSKA Moscow attacker Keisuke Honda knows all about Dutch football, having spent two-and-a-half successful seasons at VVV Venlo before moving to the Russian league.

The 24-year-old scored the only goal in the game against Cameroon, and he will hope to extend his streak against a Dutch defence which at times looked vulnerable in their opening win over Denmark.

"The atmosphere within the team is very good after collecting a win," fellow attacker Yoshito Okubo told the Japan Football Association website.

"As we will play at a lower altitude, I should be able to run more," he added.

Should Japan lose the match in Durban, they will face Denmark in a do-or-die showdown in Rustenburg on June 24.

Japan braced for tough Dutch test in Durban.

Samurai Blue fans no doubt hope that it won't come to that, as Takeshi Okada and his side look to pull off another improbable win over one of the genuine aristocrats of world football.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

World Cup Posters

Bafana splits?

World Cup 2010

With Bafana Bafana's World Cup life hanging by a thread, many South Africans face a tricky choice - throw away their yellow jerseys and watch the World Cup as they would the Olympics - with interest but without fervour, or adopt another team to try to get excited about.

Yesterday was 'Football Friday', when the country was encouraged to dress up for the Cup, and even my middle-aged hosts were sporting yellow Bafana gear accordingly. But unlike on Cape Town's tourist-friendly Waterfront, where I enjoyed the opening game amidst multiracial hordes of happiness, the crowd, if you can call it that, watching South Africa's defeat against Mexico in a local bar here in the Guateng province, were less than thrilled by their nation's first eleven.

World Cup 2010

The Johannesburg hinterland where I am staying has businesses dominated by Afrikaans-speaking whites, whose preferred sport is rugby, and barely a third of the bar that night was wearing yellow. As Uruguay began to rack up the score and it became evident that the hosts would finish up on the losing side, the interest levels waned, eyes drifted from the TV screens and conversations turned to other matters.

The next day the airwaves were full of voices urging the nation not to give up on the World Cup, but probably many will. Unless South Africa win by a cricket score against France and Uruguay beat Mexico, the host nation will be out for the first time in the first round.

While blacks are by far the majority here and love football, they are not visible to many tourists who steer clear of the inner-city areas or townships/shanty towns they live in for fear of crime.
So what visitors are left with are semi-interested Afrikaaners who, if the radio phone-ins are anything to go by, have little experience of the Beautiful Game.

The nation as a whole has come together with car flags, shirts and football fridays, but as their team makes its early but not unexpected exit from the tournament, the separate communities of the Rainbow Nation will shuffle back to their townships and gated communities, the dream of a soccer-Invictus a fond memory of 2010.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

The ‘Pringoooals’ event for football fans to perform their original goal celebrations


The England players are not performing any goal celebrations, but you can see some here.

On 26th May at the Soho Theatre in London, Pringles hosted an event where football fans, inspired by Peter Crouch’s robot dance, performed their own weird and wonderful celebrations to a live studio audience.


A stream of hopefuls turned up on the day to try and impress a celebrity judging panel consisting of …

Comedian Paddy Mcguinness of Phoenix Nights fame, Peter”The voice of X Factor” Dixon and Andrew ‘Starman’ Stone the wannabe pop star from Sky 1’s documentary - Pineapple Dance Studios

The event was hosted by Capital Radio DJ Kat Shoob and during the course of the day she introduced all sorts of goal celebrations to the crowd, from the sublime to the frankly ridiculous.

The top ten as voted for by the judges have made it onto the Pringles Face book page where visitors can now vote for their favourites with the most ‘liked’ winning a state of the art 3d home entertainment system to help them enjoy the rest of the Summer’s World cup action You can see the celebrations and highlights of the day including an Andrew Stone Dance master class at www.facebook.com/pringles

World Cup Posters

© Soccerphile.com

Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup South Africa Photos

World Cup South Africa Photos

If you have photographs of the World Cup in South Africa and wish to display them here please contact us.

For more images of South Africa the country see our South African images section.

© Soccerphile.com

Dr. Joel Rookwood: World Cup 2010 - Four Games in Four Days

World Cup 2010

The three amigos landed in Johannesburg, amidst the familiar fusion of exhaustion and anticipation. Mick had traveled to South Africa with what can only be described as a fringe, Danny had come with a desire to talk to every fan, man, woman, child and animal he encountered, and I had entered with a vague itinerary, sketched out and shaped by the in-flight perusal of the guide book purchased en route to the airport.

From the moment we stepped off the plane the sun shone with relentless consistency, and the enthusiasm on the streets was palpable. Early evidence suggested that the gracious hosts were even more excited than their visitors, the (in)famous Vuvuzela serving as the definitive mode of expression.


13th June - our first day in South Africa - signalled a painful farewell to my twenties. I was keen to commiserate with football and beer, and the Ghana v Serbia match in nearby Pretoria provided the likeliest opportunity. The only congratulations were due to FIFA, both for sanctioning the sale of ale in World Cup stadia, and for inadvertently shaping the black market by offering the cheapest tickets to South Africans. Wedged into an embarrassingly undersized hire car, we headed north in search of tickets. After a futile trip to the nonsensical centrally located ticket office, we progressed towards the Loftus Versfeld stadium, where we effortlessly secured a trio of adjacent seats at near face value. It was a promising start to the tournament.

The Serbians had been tipped to go far in the competition, but on the evidence of their first game they are unlikely to qualify from Group D. The Ghanaians were not particularly impressive either, although they undoubtedly deserved their goal with which they secured victory. A certain banner proclaiming ‘THOSE SCOUSERS GET EVERYWHERE’ provided the backdrop to the decisive penalty kick. Slow motion repeats were beamed around the world to emphasise the point.

World Cup 2010.

In the stands the Serbs were few in number and unwavering in their collective refusal to smile. By contrast the Ghanaians were the polar opposite, plentiful, colourful, vocal and cheerful. Having spent a memorable fortnight following Ghana around the African Nations tournament they hosted in 2008, it was a pleasure to re-acquaint myself with both the impressive and the senseless elements of West African fandom.

Spanning both categories, the fan with a smoking pot the size of a football resting on his head unsurprisingly drew some confused gazes. After the game we stumbled upon a fan fest, where Mick proudly displayed his Tony and Gay haircut, asking everyone he saw for their opinion – in incomprehensible Scouse. Meanwhile Danny spoke to representatives of a dozen countries from Mexico to Australia. None of them understood Mick and none of them liked his haircut.

World Cup 2010.

The following day we headed back to Jo'burg, intent on seeing Holland play Denmark at the impressive World Cup final venue. We arrived at Soccer City a minute before kick off, but were still confident of picking up another triplet of face value tickets. Supply vastly outstrips demand at this World Cup. Minutes later, we sauntered into the ground that Mick described as 'the spaceship from District 9', in time to see Liverpool duo Daniel Agger and Dirk Kuyt head in the game’s only goals. Unfortunately for the Dane, his landed in his own net, and with that the Dutch took the points.

World Cup 2010.

With the characteristically balanced British media representation of South Africa’s alleged social problems seeping through our consciousness, we were keen to minimise the risk-taking during the rest of the day in Jo'burg. So we headed to a shopping mall to purchase something vaguely edible, and of course, a football.

Four yards later Danny was in deep conversation with two Argentineans, and a South African lady had put a smile on Mick's face with false claims of liking his hair. When he returned from cloud nine an impromptu game of piggy in the middle started.

Once Mick had realised the limitations of the game as a two-player event, he encouraged the involvement of various intrigued bystanders. Two hours later we finally lost the ball thanks to a misguided header from Mick’s quiff, signalling the end of a memorable experience.

Players from five continents representing various levels of inebriation, ability, hairstyles and political persuasions had completely taken over a corner of the shopping mall. When new players asked where we were from we simply replied ‘the United Nations’. The chances of the game being stopped were limited by the exuberant participation of the mall’s two security guards, whose brief probably included preventing such activities. This was South Africa at its best.

World Cup 2010.

We headed to Rustenburg on our third day to see the site of Robert Green’s finest hour; expecting a game poor both in quality and attendance. Armed with this attitude, the New Zealand v Slovakia contest did not fail to disappoint. The tournament organisers had been widely advertising the availability of tickets for this highly forgettable encounter.

Neither country is used to football at this level - indeed it was Slovakia’s first ever appearance in the tournament - and it showed. A painfully poor standard of football did little to lift the spirits of the paltry crowd. We suppressed our boredom by walking around the ground to see if the view improved from different sides of the pitch. It didn't.

Although the Slovaks took the lead and look set to lead Group F after the first round of matches, Liverpool's Martin Skrtel could not prevent a late Kiwi goal which earned New Zealand a share of the spoils. Continuing the theme of questionable decisions we decided to leave the ground a minute prior to the equaliser, before heading to neighbouring Botswana for tea. That sounded very Rhodesian, but in reality it was only Coke and Pringles. At 10pm we were unsure of which country we would be sleeping in that night, never mind which hotel. Just the way it should be.

The following morning we woke somewhere near an international border, in a suspect B&B which refused to serve us breakfast. The morbidly obese lady at the reception did not appreciate my suggestion that her establishment-cum-service should be renamed ‘bed’, although we cleared the air over a chat about Mick’s hair, which by this stage was spiralling out of control. Danny came over for a ‘quick’ chat but eventually we shut him up and were on the road again, heading east.

World Cup 2010.

The general aim was to head for Kruger Park, but the closer our position came to the Mozambique border, the greater the possibility of adding another World Cup fixture to the collection. We arrived at the distinctive and distinctly impressive Mbombala Stadium in Nelspruit just before kick off. At that point I paid a local the equivalent of ten English pounds for a ticket to the most entertaining game we had seen. The skilful Chileans comfortably overcame the Hondurans 1-0, although that margin did not accurately reflect the gulf in ability between the two teams. With Chile completing the quintet of impressive South American teams, expect the World Cup’s most successful continent to produce another winner in South Africa.

Day four, game four - not a bad start to the World Cup. Now Kruger calls, as we head towards the legendary wildlife national park that has a larger land mass than Holland. Allegedly there is a monkey there with a bigger mouth than Danny and more hair than Mick, but I’ll have to meet him to believe it. That aside, in a temporary break from football fever, day five is all about the big five.

© Joel Rookwood & Soccerphile.com

World Cup Posters

The top 10 most thrilling soccer moments brought to you by Mazda

2010 World Cup

To celebrate the launch of Mazda's thrillseekers campaign coinciding with the action in the Fifa 2010 World Cup, we are counting down the top 10 most thrilling moments in football.

10. We all know England have suffered more than their share of penalty shootout anguish over the years, but Stuart Pearce redressed his and the nation's spot-kick balance in the Euro 1996 victory over Spain. Six years after his 1990 World Cup semi-final penalty had been saved by the legs of West German keeper Bodo Illgner, the England defender displayed extraordinary courage to walk up and smash the ball home. Nobody much remembers where the ball ended up, but everyone can picture the outpouring of emotion by Pearce, who thumped the Wembley air in a display of unbridled joy.

9. The 2009 Spanish league title was supposed to be at stake after a remarkable winning sequence by Real Madrid. But Barcelona dismantled their greatest rivals 6-2 in the most thrilling fashion in one of the most memorable 'El Classico' derbies of recent memory at the Bernabéu thanks to a brace of goals each from Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi.

8. As Liverpool trudged off the Atatürk Stadium pitch in Istanbul, not even the hardiest of Reds fans would have dared imagine how the 2005 Champions League final would finish. Facing the might of Milan, the English side were 3-0 down by half-time. But three goals in six second-half minutes prompted a remarkable comeback, which was completed when Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek saved Andriy Shevchenko's penalty in the ensuing shootout to secure the club's fifth European success.

7. Although Sky might not have you believe it, the most thrilling finish to a top flight English league campaign came in the 1988/89 season. Facing leaders Liverpool at Anfield, second-placed Arsenal entered the final fixture of the season knowing they had to win by two clear goals. Alan Smith scored early but Anfield was silenced when unheralded midfielder Michael Thomas poked home a 90th minute second to dash Liverpool's hopes of winning the double.

6. With both clubs having already completed the domestic double, Manchester United and Bayern Munich fought out the 1999 Champions League final for their own unprecedented trebles. Bayern took a first-half lead through Mario Basler's low free-kick and appeared to be heading for the spoils. But a dramatic injury time twist saw goals from subs Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer steal it for the Red Devils.

5. This list wouldn’t be complete without including England's 1966 World Cup success. Still the nation's best ever football team, England made home advantage count with a thrilling and contentious 4-2 final win over rivals West Germany, which featured Geoff Hurst, the Russian linesman and Nobby Stiles's celebration jig.

4. The tears of Paul Gascoigne inevitably encapsulate English memories of Italia 1990; second only, perhaps, to Chris Waddle’s sky-bound penalty miss. But with just a minute remaining before England's second round knockout game against Belgium went to a penalty shootout, Gazza swung in a free-kick and Aston Villa midfielder David Platt famously swivelled in mid-air to volley home past stunned 'keeper Michel Preud'homme.

3. Ryan Giggs's wonder goal against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final is remembered as much for his wild bare-chested celebration as the mazy run through the Gunners' defence that handed Manchester United an extra-time victory and a place in the final. Collecting a misplaced pass from Patrick Vieira, the Welshman weaved into Arsenal's box before blasting a high shot over David Seaman.

2. Paul Scholes nearly stole it and after the tournament England’s then 18-year-old hero Michael Owen believed it was only the second best goal he’d ever scored. But Owen’s thrilling individual strike against Argentina was voted the best goal of the 1998 World Cup in France after he shrugged off Jose Chamot and raced past Roberto Ayala before burying an unstopping effort past the 'keeper. A superstar was born.

1. While his genius was illustrated in different guises against England, against Belgium Diego Maradona showed pure footballing magic. Mexico '86 was all about the Argentine No.10, and that was before his 'hand of God' goal in the quarter-final. Facing Belgium in the group phase, Maradona's majestic close control left four bemused defenders in his wake before he finally lifted the ball over goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff with that remarkable left foot.

© Marc Fox & Soccerphile.com

Thursday, June 17, 2010

South African blues

South African blues.
World Cup 2010, South Africa

Is this the most inconvenient World Cup for fans in recent memory? Without a doubt. After a week of travelling to games here in South Africa I would go as far as saying you are better off staying at home and watching on a big screen.

I feel like most of my time here has been spent in traffic crawling to and from games with tens of thousands of others who are afraid to use the skeletal public transport options or in the case of Rustenburg, have no choice but to hire a car.

Parking is a confusing toss-up between park and rides far away which can demand tickets without any being obviously on sale, or on-street hawkers ushering you to their 'secure' spot where they promise to watch your car for a fee. The gritty neighbourhood around Ellis Park in Johannesburg for instance is one you would not want to walk around alone, and is buzzing with unofficial car-parkers who try to direct you off the road and give you no confidence.

Having followed signs for a park and ride there we were stuck in traffic on a tight commercial street without a white face in sight, which made us feel so uncomfortable we did a u-turn and found a verge instead. The arrangements for Soccer City in Joburg, capacity 90,000, entail a huge trek or a marathon wait for shuttle buses for those arriving by car.

There just is not an underground or adequate train network here like there has been at the previous three World Cups, and add to that inadequate highway space e.g. one lane in and out of Rustenburg and voila - a transport nightmare.

Add to all that the deafening din of vuvuzelas, blasting out at all hours of the night and day from the lips of moronic arriviste fans, not by locals, plus the vast fluctuations of weather - burning sun by day and almost zero by night, and it really is a challenging experience to be here.

So enjoy the World Cup chez toi, and spare a thought for those of us who shelled out to brave the real thing.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

World Cup Posters

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The World Cup In An Hour

The World Cup In An Hour - History for busy people

A new iPhone / iPad app The World Cup In An Hour has been published. It summarises the history of the FIFA World Cup in just sixty minutes of reading.

As you watch the World Cup this year read the compelling stories of World Cups gone by, from the start in 1930 to today. It takes just one hour to read and costs just 59p / 99c. This is history for busy people.

Available from the Apple iTunes store, and published by Collca in association with History in An Hour, The World Cup In An Hour is targeted at commuters, students and the curious who want to learn the facts and context about the World Cup but don’t have the time.

Read about the greatest players, the forgotten heroes, the significant games, and much more including …

• USA’s famous win in 1950 against England and the goalscorer’s tragic end.
• The Nazi collaborator who captained France
• The World Cup tournament without a World Cup Final
• The “Battle of Berne”
• Why Brazil wear yellow shirts

The World Cup app with a difference
Rupert Colley, author of The World Cup In An Hour and founder of History In An Hour, said:

“Most other World Cup apps in the iTunes store are games or focus very much on fixtures, statistics and lists. What makes this World Cup app unique is that it is the only one that provides a straight narrative in ebook form in just an hour of your time. It captures the essence of the history of this amazing tournament alongside the essential facts and figures of the past 80 years.”

About History In An Hour
The World Cup In An Hour is the fourth in the History In An Hour ebook series to be made available as an iPhone / iPad app from specialist electronic publisher Collca. Other titles from the series include World War Two In An Hour, Nazi Germany In An Hour and The Cold War In An Hour.

Rupert Colley established the ebook series after he built an impressive but largely unread library of history books. He spotted a gap in the market for an introductory but straight narrative that could capture the essence of a subject with comparatively little effort.

"Many people want an introduction to different periods of history," he said, "but don’t always have time to read daunting books of 600 pages with 35 page introductions."

History In An Hour takes you straight in, to the point, sixty minutes; with no embedded links to divert the attention. Then, having absorbed the basics, the reader may feel inspired to explore further.

Mike Hyman, Managing Director of Collca said:
"We had been looking for highly relevant ebook partners to work with in producing apps and found our first one in History In An Hour. We are very pleased with how the partnership has worked to produce The World Cup In An Hour and the other three titles, and together we have more titles planned."

Quotes about History in an Hour ebooks
"This is genius. I hope PBS packages their excellent shows for the iPad in the same way. This type of professional quality educational content would be a great balance to the game apps on the iPhone OS. I say bring it on and I hope the "in an hour" series grows even more and beyond just history," MacWorld.com forum comment.

"I think the idea of ebooks you can read in an hour is a fantastic one," The Editor, History Times.

"I must congratulate you on a great idea," The Army Children Archive.

"I am using this to supplement my text book. It has been very helpful and the photos are wonderful. Seems to be complete overview and is nice to have when I am out and about!" Buyer review on the Apple App Store (US)

"By the time my train journey was over I genuinely felt more knowledgeable. Good stuff, I look to the other titles coming out." Buyer review on the Apple App Store (UK)

"This a fascinating application of tech enabled learning. Please check this out. I know I will!!"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dutch girls detained!

World Cup 2010

They were asked to leave the stadium, but FIFA claims that they didn't detain 36 women accused of taking part in an ambush marketing campaign on behalf of Dutch beer brewers 'Bavaria.'

Dutch girls detained

Ejected from the Netherlands - Denmark game at Soccer City early in the second half, the girls were allegedly quizzed by police after the match.

FIFA enforce strict marketing rights at the World Cup, but that's unlikely to stop more hordes of attractive Dutch fans from turning out at their next match against Japan.

Copyright © Soccerphile.com

One world, one game... but where are the fans?

World Cup 2010

When Slovakia ran out for their first ever World Cup match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenberg, they probably didn't imagine making their finals debut in front of thousands of empty seats.

One world, one game... but where are the fans?

But while small bands of Slovakian and New Zealand supporters made the long trip from their respective homelands to watch the Group F encounter in person, the match appears to have held little cachet for local supporters.

In a tournament dogged by headlines about crime and the noise of South Africa's ubiquitous vuvezelas, FIFA now have a new headache to contend with - the sight of empty seats at many of the early group-stage encounters.

The suits in the Swiss corridors of power may be part of a well oiled marketing machine, but no amount of spin doctoring can hide the fact that the unoccupied seats represent a public relations disaster.

Thousands of ticket-holders failed to turn out for games involving Asian sides South Korea and Japan, with FIFA blaming the no-shows on the high percentage of corporate clients who have failed to find their way into the grounds.

Yet local supporters remain locked out by high ticket prices, while transport chaos continues to plague a tournament hosted by a nation still struggling for basic infrastructure.

Millions of dollars have been poured into updating South African stadia, but the funds appear to have been wasted with so many of the games attracting crowds well short of capacity.

It's just another headache for FIFA organisers already struggling to deal with those caused by ear-splitting plastic horns, with the opening round of matches more memorable for the swathes of empty seats on display, rather than any of the football on the pitch.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

World Cup 2010 Competition

World Cup 2010 Competition

Sign up for the Soccerphile newsletter before Sunday June 20 to give yourself a chance to win a 2010 World Cup poster.

South Africa World Cup 2010 Poster

We are giving away 10 World Cup posters in our monthly quiz to the ten lucky contestants whose names are drawn out of a vuvuzela.

South Africa World Cup 2010 Poster

Soccerphile also offers original Germany World Cup 2006 posters and replica 1930 World Cup posters.

© Soccerphile.com

A rotten night in Rustenburg

A rotten night in Rustenburg.
England 1:1 USA, Rustenburg, South Africa

A dismal opener. England failed to beat a USA team inferior in all departments except that goalkeeper, which sadly counted on the night.

It was not Robert Green's almighty hash which denied England victory. It was heroic defending from the muscly but limited American centre-back duo of Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu, key interventions from the underrated Michael Bradley in the middle, but above all England's lack of penetration.

But enough of the game; you all saw that. Feel lucky you were watching it on television instead of having to endure a nightmare journey to and from the game in a middle-of-nowhere place called Rustenburg.

Based less than 90 minutes away, we took over twice that reaching there. The only route to the host venue consisted of a single lane highway and with no rail service or scheduled bus services, car hire was the only option for the majority of the 38,000 present.

Despairing drivers took to using the hard shoulder while a police car stopped one of the opposing lanes to create an extra lane for those trying to make kick-off. Ridiculously, the local organisers had kept toll booths functioning instead of making an exception last night, creating another needless bottleneck.

But the travails on the approach roads were nothing compared to the gridlock around the park and ride. Over two hours after final whistle we were still stuck in a traffic queue waiting to leave, and all this in a venue holding only 38,000.

Add to that the plunging temperatures, no stadium scoreboard, the running track around the field and England's poor showing and you can imagine how glum I was.

The policing here has been low-key which is fine. And the locals are wonderfully hospitable people. But with the stunning lack of public transportation and inadequate road network, I have to say South Africa was the wrong choice for fans. Rustenburg was too hard to reach easily, and even the picturesque tourist town where I am lodging has no buses or taxis!

I have never experienced such transport chaos at a game like last night's. Never again, FIFA.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

World Cup Posters

Be The Reds World Cup 2010

Be The Reds World Cup 2010

The South Korean national soccer team got off to a great start by beating Greece in their opening game.

Show your support for South Korea with a re-issue "BE THE REDS" t-shirt.

Support Korea with these Korean soccer specials. Be The Reds T-shirts and official Korean national team jerseys.

Be The Reds T-shirts

Classic new issue Be The Reds T-shirt

Original Be The Reds T-shirts from Korea.
Color: red/white
100% quality soft cotton


Medium (chest 51cm x length 66cm/ 20 x 26 inches)
Large (chest 54cm x length 72cm/ 21 x 28 inches)
XL (chest 55cm x length 75cm/ 22 x 30 inches)
South Korean National Team Soccer Shirt

Korean national team jersey

Korean national team jerseys

Red & White – Korean FA ‘Tiger’ logo on front - "home shirt".

White - Korean FA ‘Tiger’ logo on front - "away shirt".

Produced by Nike.


L 105cm chest (41 inches)
XL 110 cm chest (43 inches)
XXL 115 cm chest (45 inches)

Red Dragon Let's Go Korea
Red Dragon Let's Go Korea.

Red Dragon Let's Go Korea T-shirts are the latest, hip item for all South Korea soccer fans.
Color: red/black100% quality soft cotton.
M 100 cm chest (39 inches)L 105 cm chest (41 inches) XL 110 cm chest (43 inches) XXL 115 cm chest (45 inches)
Prices from: US$19.99 (postage not included)

Red Dragon T-shirt

© Soccerphile.com