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
Netherlands in Round of 16; Denmark Ousted Cameroon; Australia Frustrated Ghana
The first game of day 9 was between Netherlands vs. Japan. This time, the Dutch Internationals were not trying to come and play some beautiful football. Their main focus was to secure the 3 points against Japan so they could sit comfortably in first place with 6 points. To me, that was fine. Netherlands have always played beautiful football and only to be eliminated in the later rounds. The focus of Netherlands is about winning games and if in the process of winning games, beautiful football comes, the Dutch Internationals will welcome it. The focus is to pass to the round of 16 and then the Dutch orange machine will be driven on all cylinders. There are times, teams have to win ugly games; and the Netherlands have done that today in the 53rd minute when the talented Wesley Sneijder gave them a 1-0 advantage based on a gift given by the Japanese goalie, Eiji Kawashima; and that was also the final score.
Spain and Germany would have preferred to be in the position of Netherlands at this time. The name of the game is to find a way to get through the round 16 and then duke it out with the contenders. The Netherlands may not give us a beautiful football today. However, they have 6 points and they will be in the second round and the opponents must be ready or the Dutch Orange machine will pass over them.
The second game in Group E was between Cameroon and Denmark. Both teams needed a win if not, they will have to pack their bags after their third game. It was a fantastic game, both teams played to win, but the defense for both teams was extremely shaky. After the Danish defense gave a gift to the Cameroon, it was the talented Samuel Eto’o who buried the ball into the net to put his national team up 1-0 in the 10th minute. It was a game that both teams played with lot of passion. It was mostly a non-stop game and Denmark had to go for the equalizer. And that was what happened when Nicklas Bendtner tied the game for Denmark in the 33rd minute. The first half could have finished 3-3 since both teams had missed plenty opportunities to score. In other words, Both teams did not play any defense at all. Any team that does not play a solid defense in the World Cup will end up suffer the consequences which mean, these teams will have to book their tickets for their home destination.
The teams started were they left in the first half. They continued to play bad defense. However, it was a spectacular game for those who appreciate attacking football. Both teams continued to miss clear scoring opportunities. As Maradona said, in football, the team that keeps missing scoring opportunities will end up suffer the consequences. And today, it was the Cameroonians who suffer the consequences after Dennis Rommedahl scored a fantastic goal in the 61st minute to put Denmark up 2-1. The Cameroonians tried endlessly to find the equalizer, but they could not obtain that equalizer that could have given them a chance to play for a ticket in the round 16. Instead, the Cameroon Internationals will have to buy a ticket for Yaounde. Cameroon has been eliminated in this World Cup. This game should have ended up in a tie, but the Danish Internationals did capitalize on their scoring chances while the Cameroonians wasted theirs. However, if Denmark hope to progress to the second round, they need to step up their defense to a respectable level against Japan. If not, they will have to book their ticket for Copenhagen. In this group, E, Netherlands book their ticket for the round of 16 with 6 points now and with a goal differential (GD) +3. Japan is now in 2nd place with 3 points and a GD of 0. Denmark is in 3rd place with 3 points and with a GD of -1. In 4th place is Cameroon with 0 point and a GD of -2. The third game for each team in this group will be: Netherlands vs. Cameroon; Denmark vs. Japan. Denmark and Japan will be playing for a trip to the round of 16.
In Group D, Ghana vs. Australia played a very entertaining game. Ghana needed to secure their ticket to the round of 16 and Australia’s main objective was not to lose the game, otherwise the Socceroos would have to purchase their ticket to go home. After losing 4-1 to Germany, the Australians knew they would have to give their best to get a positive result for their people as they did in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The only issue of getting a positive result is that the Ghanaians Internationals were not about to make it easy for the Australians. It was an exciting match. The day started very well for the Australians when Brett Holman put the Aussies up 1-0 after a terrible mistake by the Ghanaian goalie, Richard Kingson. The Black Stars now had to go for the equalizer by keep pushing forward. In the 25th minute, Ghana earned a penalty kick based on the interpretation of the referee that Harry Kewell has intentionally stopped the ball with his arm and ejected him from the game. Asamoah Gyan tied the game for Ghana. Both teams continued to play with great passion because they wanted to win the game. However, the first half ended 1-1 but Ghana had a man advantage over Australia.
In the second half there were several scoring opportunities for both sides. They could not capitalize on those chances. However, had Ghana scored, Australia would have suffer the consequences of a first round exit. Both teams have given their 110% to win the game, but they settled for a tie, 1-1. It was great that the game ended up in a tie because both teams did not deserve to lose that game. Now, Ghana is 1st and has 4 points with a GD of +1; Germany is 2nd and has 3 points with a GD of -3; Serbia is 3rd with 3 points and a GD of 0; and Australia is in 4th place with 1 point and a GD of -4. It is now a very complicated group and all teams have a chance to qualify in their last game in Group D. Their next games will be: Ghana vs Germany; Denmark vs Australia.
Concerning Ghana, it shows that the Black Stars strikers can’t seem to finish their opportunities. As a result, the Ghanaians will have to have some concerns when they’ll face a very angry German team after losing against Serbia. The Hope of Africa now remains in the hands of Ghana and Ivory Coast. Will those two African National teams bring some hope to the Dark Continent? We will have to find out for Ghana in their respected 3rd game and we will have find out for Ivory Coast in their 2nd game against Brazil. Now with Cameroon eliminated and Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria in the brink of elimination, the only hope that Africa has now is for Ghana and Ivory Coast to play at their highest level to avoid a nightmare for the African continent. However facing Germany and Brazil respectively, the games will be quite difficult for Ghana and Ivory Coast. However, these two African national teams are the hope for Africa… indeed they are the hope for Africa in this 2010 World Cup, but the road ahead for them will be very challenging.
This World Cup will have lot of surprises. The contenders will have to be on their best behavior or they might find themselves going back home very quickly.
Let’s continue enjoying the games. The games later on today will be: Paraguay vs Slovakia and Italy vs New Zealand. In Group F, Brazil vs Ivory Coast.
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