I survived the coldest night of the year in Luque watching Paraguay and Bolivia playing out a 0-0 to bring you this week’s top tens. Not one iota of transfer rumours here. Instead we have Carlos Tevez singing, Bryan Robson’s ‘international’ title, the footballer training with his national team with a bullet in his head and why the Gold Cup is the most exciting international tournament. Plus more Stats of the Week, Goal of the Week from Brazil and farewells by Ronaldo and Toro Acuña. We continue the Top Tens Copa America theme seeing who is the best team on their own patch.
Last week’s stories
We follow up on the Gold Cup and Toulon tournament below, the Copa Libertadores Final takes place next week so all in all not much report. ITURBEWATCH: He didn’t play for a Cerro youth side on Sunday as they were beaten by eventual champions Nacional. Will probably start PIRISWATCH from now on, following the talented right back.
This week’s stories
Salvador Cabañas coming back?
He has been featured on here before, simply because he was a great player who I loved watching before he was shot in the head at point blank range. This week Salvador Cabañas’ physio said he was back to 100% fitness, even though the bullet is still lodged in his skull. Incredibly later that day, he was photographed training with the national side. He certainly won’t be considered for the Copa América but there is talk he will take to the field against old club América in a testimonial game against a select Paraguay XI. That would be something special. If you want to see a 30 second clip of him training then check this.
Gold Cup is Goal Cup
We mentioned the Gold Cup last week and it has kicked off in goaltastic fashion with Costa Rica and Mexico recording 5-0 wins. There were five more goals as Panama overcame Guadeloupe 3-2 making this one of the most goal-filled tournaments in recent times. So far the Gold Cup is averaging 3.5 goals per game after six matches. A few comparisons for you, World Cup 2010 was 1.33 after six games, 2011 Asian Cup was closer with 2.67 and the 2010 African Nations was closest with 3.33 with the first half a dozen games played.
Uganda and Burkina Faso surprising Africa
The latest round of the African Nations qualifiers took place at the weekend and both Uganda and Burkina Faso recorded wins to continue at the top of their group. Burkina Faso beat Namibia away 4-1 having won both their home games so far. With just one game left (Gambia away) they have all but qualified. The cranes of Uganda are looking to qualify for the first time since 1978, a 2-0 win puts them top with two games to play and Scotsman Bobby Williamson at the helm. For a more in-depth look at their campaign check this excellent blog post.
St.Catherines rising from the ashes
The CSL (Canadian Soccer League) is several weeks old and one team that have made a surprising good start are St.Catherines Roma Wolves. The team finished bottom of the league in 2010 and recorded just four wins in 24 games. This campaign they’ve started with three wins from three until losing to the defending league champions York Region Shooters on Wednesday night. A great turnaround for the team that mimics Roma of Italy and play in Club Roma…albeit in St. Catherines, Ontario not Italy.
Thailand job up for grabs
Bryan Robson has resigned from the Thailand coaching job. He was the second successive English coach after Peter Reid who left in 2009. Robson can now add to his CV a 38.8% win ratio (Reid had 53.3%) and of course a new honour to add to his array of FA Cup, Premier League and European winner’s medals. You don’t know? He won the 2009 Phuket Kata Group Cup – the final was a 7-6 penalty shootout thriller against Vietnamese club side Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
Colombia and France top of the class
We talked about the Toulon Tournament last week and defending champions Ivory Coast’s bad start. Well it got worse as they finished without a point after three games. France and Colombia however have been at the top of their game reaching today’s final. The French star so far is tournament top scorer Steven Joseph-Monrose who is currently on the books at Lens and scored the winner in the semi-final. Edwin Cardona, Colombia’s main striker, was a hero at U17 level scoring 7 goals to help them qualify for the U17 World Cup. Now his three goals has put them with a chance of winning the Toulon Tournament for the first time since 2000.
Tevez gets on the mic…again
Carlos Tevez is back in his homeland and is embracing the local culture and local music – cumbia. He teamed up with his cousin-brother’s band Piola Vago at a concert to give us a few words until some guy grabs the mic off him to start a duet with his brother in the pink Yankees hat. It isn’t the first time he’s got up on stage, this was back in 2007.
Romania the testimonial team
Ronaldo, the original and best, ended his international career with a 15 minute cameo against Romania on Tuesday night. The legendary striker missed a couple of sitters before waving goodbye to the home fans. Tomorrow in Paraguay the Romanians are in Asunción and Toro Acuña will come on as a sub to win his 100th cap for the albirroja (if you count a B friendly against Macedonia, which incidentally all the Paraguayans are). It seems Romania are the testimonial team of 2011!
Stat of the week
57.14 – the average (in minutes) that Cristiano Ronaldo scored or assisted a goal. Lionel Messi’s average was…exactly the same. Full table here – not sure of origins but it was brought to my attention by the excellent The Elastico website.
Goal of the week
Coritiba in Brazil took on Vasco and a thrilling 3-2 game in the home side’s favour was capped by this excellent goal from Willian.
Top Ten of the week
More Copa America Top Tens (I’ll do this throughout June) – this time we look at who has been the most successful host of the tournament. Here are the points per game (assuming 3 points for a win) for the ten CONMEBOL sides achieved at home.
10. Venezuela – 0.8
9. Ecuador – 1.04
8. Peru – 1.76
7. Chile – 1.84
6. Paraguay – 2.00
5. Brazil – 2.21
4. Bolivia – 2.28
3. Argentina – 2.35
2. Uruguay – 2.63
1. Colombia – 2.73
So for the second week running Colombia top the table. As expected the only two unbeaten sides at home make up the top two, Uruguay are yet to lose in 38 games (Colombia have only played 15). Argentina have played the most home games, 40, while Venezuela have played the least, only 10. Brazil sit in 5th owing to their record of the most draws (10), they were first beaten by Paraguay in 1949 but got their revenge when they met again that year in the playoff game, the Brazilians won 7-0. Paraguay themselves have only lost once at home, to Colombia.
By Ralph Hannah