Pierre Boisrond has followed soccer and the World Cup
closely for many years and also writes for other websites. We at PWC are proud to have him as
a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
the World Cup.
Read earlier columns
England vs Argentina: Not Hand of God, but Head of Jesus
This showdown between England and Argentina took place in Geneva, Switzerland on November 12, 2005. However, This time the final result had nothing to do with the hand of God but the head of Jesus. This time the head of Michael Owen crucified Abbondanzieri, the goalie of Argentina. Why do I say Abbondanzieri instead of Argentina? For all fans who studied the game of football, most of you would agree with me that Argentina does not have a World Cup goalie. If Pekerman does not see that, then the Argentines fans better be ready to preside over another funeral. In less than 4 minutes before the end of the game, Owen, the nightmare for Argentina, punished the backline of Argentina.
This is unacceptable for a team like Argentina to lose in the last four minutes of a game. It happened to Argentina in France 1998 when Bergkamp of Holland sent them packing for Buenos Aires. This again happened in this friendly game against England. Is there such thing as “Friendly” between England and Argentina? There’s no such thing. Any game between Argentina and England is a clash of the titans. But so far, we have to give England the upper hand. They have proved that without the hand of God fabricated by the great Diego “Dieguito” Armando Maradona, Argentina can’t beat them. The fans of Argentina can say what ever they want, without the hand of God of Maradona or some provocation from Diego Pablo Simeone, Argentina can’t beat England. Well, in France 1998, Argentina beat England in penalty shoot out. This is a win, but for me it’s not. Since then, the Hooligans have the upper hands over “los hinchas”.
In a game where Michael Owen hardly touched the ball, he managed to use the “Cabeza of Jesus” to shock the fans of the Albiceleste. It was a fantastic game where both teams played for the win. It appears that the name of the Argentina’s coach Pekerman should be changed to “Pokerman” because since beating Brazil in the qualifiers, Pekerman has been playing a game of poker with Argentina. First humiliated by the Brazilian samba in the Confederations Cup, lost to Paraguay, barely beat Peru, lost to Uruguay, and finally cruficied by Michael Owen, the national team under Pekerman needs to do lot of soul searching if they ever dream of bringing the World Cup trophy back to Buenos Aires.
Playing against England is not playing against some South American opponents. Thus, the game must be played for 90 minutes, not for 85 minutes. Give England credit for taking it to Argentina after Ericsson saw Pekerman gambled by taking Riquelme out and replacing him with Luis (Lucho) Gonzales. Lucho cannot play like Riquelme; players like Riquelme are unique, and there’s only one Riquelme, like one Maradona, Pele, Ronaldinho, or Zidane.
My problem with Pekerman is that he did not call a player in the squad that can replace Riquelme. Why he did not call, D’ Alessandro, Aimar, or Veron to be the replacement for Riquelme. Why not? Tell me Pekerman, why not? How are you going to play England and you only have one playmaker (Riquelme) and no replacement for him. Once Riquelme left the team, then Argentina crumbled. Even the English coach knows that it is very difficult to get the ball away from Riquelme, the Villarreal superstar. Argentina had many playmakers, and it is pathetic that the coach did not bring anyone that can replace Riquelme. Even though I am not a coach, I could see the decision of bringing Lucho Gonzales for Riquelme was a disaster. Indeed, it was a disaster, and Owen, the Verdugo of Argentina, made them pay dearly by beating Abbondanzieri, whom to me, is a pathetic goalie, the dream of any striker. Yes, the critics or the Boca fans would say, he deserves to have a spot in the team, but not as the first goalie, please! I won’t even put him as the third goalie. He made a few critical saves, but that’s what a goalie is supposed to do. However, when watching his overall perfection, I can only give him a 5/10 and this is very generous from me… Nothing else. He is a very shaky goalie, and if Pekerman decides to bring him as the number one goalie, then Argentina fans need to go buy a coffin, find a priest, and then be ready to attend another funeral. Remember, I said this, Abbondanzieri will be the cause of Argentina’s failure in the next World Cup. Please remember this in June–July 2006.
It is mind-boggling that a country like Argentina cannot provide a solid goalkeeper after Fillol. Neri Alberto Pumpido, although winning the 1986 World Cup, was shaky. Goycoechea was ok, but at least he can stop some penalty kicks. Luis Islas, another shaky one that Georghe Hagi of Romania crucified in USA 1994. If Fillol is responsible to train the keepers for Argentina, may he go to Villarreal and let Barbosa because he seems that he can catch a ball without giving rebounds. If it were not for the defense, England could have scored two or more goals because Abbondanzieri gave too many rebounds. I am not being hard on “el Pato” Abbondanzieri, but a world keeper must defend with class and prestige. When you see Kahn, Toldo, Dida, Robinson, you can see that they define the word Goalie. The only reason England had beaten Argentina is due to the fact that England’s goalie kept the Hooligans in the game. Otherwise, Argentina could have been up 4-1 or 4-2 in the first half. If Fillol and Pekerman are listening, may they find another alternative. We all know what happen to Brasil in 1982 with Valdir Peres; We all know that Peres caused the magnificent Brazilian team with Eder, Junior, Zico, Falcao, el Doctor Socrates, to lose the game against the Italian team of Paolo Rossi.
It appears that Argentina has lost more games before a World Cup under Pekerman, than under any coach. I thought I like this Pekerman… but it appears that he is playing a game of Poker with the national team, and I am not a pokerman. It is unacceptable for any caliber team to lose a game in the last 4 minutes. It’s time to have a team, not playing some experimental games. Playing against Qatar does not tell me much, I expect Argentina to do the same Brazil did to the Arab Emirates (8-0). But Argentina is not Brazil, and as far as I am concerned, Brazil is the papa of Argentina. The Brazilians said that they are afraid of meeting with Argentina in the World Cup; well, let me tell the Brazilian fans that I am afraid of facing Brazil. But don’t think I am going to convert to a Brazilian fan; that will never happen. Before that happens, I will convert myself to a Haitian fan. By the way, since when Haiti has participated in a World Cup? 1974, how pathetic are these Haitian politicians who managed to mess up the football program in Haiti? This is another article that I will have to write about. Let’s go back to our subject.
When a coach makes a crucial mistake by not even have a key replacement for his playmaker, is this a good decision? Riquelme is out, then Argentina crumbled. Even before Riquelme left, he gave Saviola the 3-1 goal to get rid of any hope that the hooligans might have; but this is not the same Saviola I knew back in River Plate or in Barcelona. But Again, Congratulations to the English goalie, if not, England would have been done since the first half. England won the game, and won it well. Let me say this, it was not “a hand of God”, but it was a “header of Jesus” actually two headers of Jesus, and could have been three if Abbondanzieri hand't made a lucky save when the talented David Beckham was about to catapult the ball in Argentina’s goal
From 1966 to 2006… I might as well say that 2006 could well be the year of the Hooligans, Bravo Owen! Job well done! Congratulations to England! For Pekerman and his coaching staff, please stop the experiment, and bring Veron to put some character in the team… because it might take Riquelme a while to show his toughness. Argentina needs another Simeone to bring the toughness back, and Veron could play that role very well. Pekerman and Grondona, be ready to resign if this World Cup trophy does not make its way to the Rio Platense. As we all fans know, Brasil is the contender, and Argentina is far away from that reality. I read that Veron said it would have been great to see Maradona coaching Argentina. Well, we all know it would have been a disaster. I like Diego, perhaps even admire Diego for what he has done for Football. Coaching Argentina, oh No… Diego will always bring some saga…when one is dealing with Diego, you have to expect some surprises. Again Bravo to Owen and to the English team! Job well done! To win a World Cup, teams must learn not to give up even in the most difficult circumstances. And England had just done that.
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