This week we celebrate the start of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, cover the ‘Champions Sunday’ in South America and comment on the best player’s farewell ever? Also news from Fiji, Paraguay, Vietnam and we look forward to Mexico and continue our Copa America-related Top Tens with a ranking of the managers.
Previous week’s stories
The 2011 Gold Cup is now averaging more goals, 3.69 per game, than last week but still short of the last Gold Cup which finished with a 3.8 average! Colombia won the Toulon Tournament on penalties, and Thailand are still looking for a manager. Also we have a question from Mark Gilbey: 1997, Moldova: Attila Ungheni conceded 141 goals in 30 games, only scored 10! Does that 4.7 p/g ave trump #1 in your list?
Answer: It doesn’t! Benfica CE were on an incredible 4.85 goals per game! The Top Ten is here.
This week’s stories
Guests galore in Paraguay squad
As Paraguay warm up for the Copa America at their high performance centre on the outskirts of Asunción their coach Gerardo Martino has shown his softer side inviting a host of guests to train with the senior side. Firstly it was Salvador Cabañas, but then in flew ‘Pajaro’ Benitez of Pachuca and finally he invited Oscar Cardozo to train despite having frozen him out of the Copa America preliminary squad.
One down, 831 to go!
And so it starts, the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers have started less than a year since the last World Cup’s group stage finished. Belize beat Montserrat 5-2 in Trinidad in front of 150 people. Apparently Montserrat don’t have a suitable stadium on their island which puts them at a bit of a disadvantage. If they were the big losers of fixture one, Deon McCauley of Belize was the big winner, he grabbed a hattrick! On Sunday Montserrat travel to Belize for the 2nd leg.
Chilean commotion on Champions Sunday
Last Sunday in South America’s Southern Cone a trio of championships were decided. In the penultimate weekend in Argentina, Vélez wrapped up the league following Lanus’ slip up. Across the Rio de la Plata Nacional picked up their 43rd Uruguayan title, still five behind rivals Peñarol. But the real drama was in Chile with the 2nd leg of the final between Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica. The latter were leading 2-0 from the first leg but by half time they were losing 2-1 and down to ten men. Things got worst in the second half when Gustavo Canales completed his hattrick (including 2 penalties) to make it 4-1 on the day, 4-3 on aggregate. Universidad de Chile’s hopes of pulling the game back were hampered by two more red cards, and then Canales himself was dismissed as the game finished 10 vs 8!
Palermo gets a goal like no other
He may have scored 227 of them for Boca Juniors of Argentina including superclasico goals, cheeky flicks and the longest of long range headers but he hasn’t got a goal like the one on Sunday. In an incredible farewell at the Bombonera, where Martin Palermo had just played his last game there, Boca Juniors lifted the goalposts at one end with fork-lift trucks and presented it to the striker as gift. He said “I don’t know where I’ll put it, it won’t fit in the house!”. I have never seen a farewell like the one they gave Palermo but I’d love to see Premier League clubs giving more than a midweek testimonial to some of their heroes!
Labasa finally fall in Fiji
In the Fiji National Division, the town of Labasa is celebrating the renaissance of their local side. Until this week Labasa FC had gone 10 games unbeaten, winning 9 of them before they suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to lowly Savusavu. It means Ba are only one point behind and back-to-back defending champions Lautoka are just three points behind but having played one game more.
Park dreaming of a holiday
Manchester United’s Park Ji Sung hasn’t been able to enjoy his summer holidays just yet, he took part in the 2011 Asian Dream Cup in Vietnam. Park Ji-Sung’s XI took on local side Navibank Saigon and ran out 4-3 winners. Now surely Park is dreaming of a holiday!
U17 World Cup set for kick-off
The world’s teenage sensations get underway in Mexico tomorrow with the U17 World Cup starting with Congo against the Netherlands. The hosts complete Group A straight afterwards as they take on North Korea. On the FIFA website there are some great numbers for the stats geeks like me – the youngest player at the tournament will be Congo’s Amour Loussoukou aged 5,308 days (or 14 years 6 months 13 days) but the youngest of all-time? That was Nigeria’s Peter Ogaba, only 12 years and 10 months!
Spain sit second best
The current Spanish side are the second best international side of all-time according to this very intersting website, footballpantheon.com. The site has devised a clever points system to try and determine the top 30 international sides ever. There is no doubt you don’t agree with everything in the list but certainly worth a read. Full list here.
Goal of the Week
We go to the Gold Cup which seems to be the home of goals and ex-Hull City striker Jozy Altidore who bagged this beauty for the United States against Guadeloupe!
Stat of the Week
32 – Mario Balotelli’s strike against Aston Villa had more passes in the build up than any other 2010-11 Premier League goal (via Opta Sports)
Top Ten of the Week
We keep going with the Copa America 2011 theme, two weeks ago we had team’s record in Argentina, last week we had best home records and Colombia topped both lists. Today we look at the current manager’s win ratios, surely Colombia can’t finish top again…can they?!
10. Gustavo Quintana (Bolivia) – 0% (4 games)
9. Reinaldo Rueda (Ecuador) – 16.7% (12 games)
8. Hernan Dario Rodriguez (Colombia) – 27.3% (11 games)
7. Cesar Farias (Venezuela) – 37.5% (48 games)
6. Gerardo Martino (Paraguay) – 38.1% (63 games)
5. Sergio Makarian (Peru) – 44.4% (9 games)
4. Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay) – 46.03% (63 games)
= 2. Claudio Borghi (Chile) – 50% (2 games)
= 2. Sergio Batista (Argentina) – 50% (12 games)
1. Mano Menezes (Brazil) – 62.5% (8 games)
We can relax, order is restored as Brazil and Argentina find themselves at the top of one of these lists! Colombia are way down so all those who were going to throw money after reading my last two blogs should probably reconsider! Obviously there are some big discrepancies over the number of games played, will be interesting to re-do this Top Ten after the Copa America. Although Bolivia will probably still be on 0%.
By Ralph Hannah