Round up from last week
The South American qualifiers got off to a rather predictable start with all four home sides winning in the opening round but on Tuesday night we saw Colombia win in La Paz for the first time, Venezuela beat Argentina for the first time and Uruguay seconds away from their first win in Asunción in the Qualifiers (although there was a record in that game, see below)
NEYMARWATCH: Silly Billy award goes to the Santos man this week, booked and then booked again for ironically applauding the referee as the Peixe crashed to a 2-1 defeat.
ITURBEWATCH: Juan Manuel took advantage of the international break to take his girlfriend around Rome and gave us plenty of photos via his Twitter Feed while using the same medium to emphatically deny rumours Luis Suarez spent the night with his ex-girlfriend. “That old bird was never my girlfriend” he tweeted.
This Weeks Stories
Forlan finds record while Roque continues to wait
The Paraguay vs Uruguay game saw both Diego Forlan and substitute Roque Santa Cruz one-goal away from being the all-time top goal scorer for their respective countries. While Forlan found his 32nd strike at international level, Roque was denied by a fantastic save from Fernando Muslera and remains on 25 goals.
Niger are new boys thanks to Bafana blunder
There were bizarre goings on in Africa as the South African side played for a draw not realising that it would put them out on Head to Head which was the tiebreaker rather than goal difference as they thought. It meant the bafana bafana’s 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone wasn’t enough and Niger go into their first ever African Nations Cup which is missing some big names – Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo are all absent. Ivory Coast and Ghana will be the favourites to lift the trophy in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea.
New method sees Maradona voted best player in the world again
The fabulous Football Pantheon has come up with their 100 greatest players of all time, they looked at Ability, Club Career, International Career to give each player a score. As expected the 1-2 was Maradona and Pele with the Argentine pipping the Brazilian 100 to 99 in ability, interestingly Maradona’s 1 World Cup to Pele’s three still saw him outscore his rival 90 to 84 and only in club career did Diego lose out 79 to 81. To have a browse through the full list take a peek here.
Holders out in South America
The Copa Sudamericana holders Independiente crashed out of this year’s tournament despite winning their second leg 1-0 in Avellanada. LDU Quito had won by two goals in Ecuador and progress to the Quarter Finals where they await the winner of Libertad (Paraguay) against Rivaldo’s São Paulo. It also means Boca Juniors still hold the record of being the only team to have retained the trophy (2004/2005).
Van Dijk continues to rule in Australia
The A-League is now in the second week with today’s game that saw Adelaide Utd bounce back from an opening day defeat to overcome Melbourne Victory 1-0. The goal was from Dutch-born Indonesian Sergio Van Dijk who finished top scorer for the South Australia unit in last year’s tournament with 17 goals in 30 games. It comes after two successful seasons at Brisbane Roar where he managed 12 and 13 goals respectively.
Greece growing at right time
The Greeks qualified for the European Championships on the back of a 16-game unbeaten streak, a new national record, having beaten Georgia 2-1 away. In fact the last defeat was their final group match of the 2010 World Cup against Argentina, since then the full record reads Pld 16 W 10 D 6 L 0 GF 19 GA 8
Ecuador turn a corner
Ecuador’s Copa America finished in the group stages with a 4-2 defeat to Brazil, it was their 10th game of 2011 and they still hadn’t won a game. On Tuesday night they beat Jurgen Klinsmann’s United States 1-0 in a friendly in New Jersey to record their fifth straight victory since the Copa America. Admittedly three of the games were in the altitude of Quito but along with the US victory they had also overcome Costa Rica in San Jose. A stern test awaits in their next game, Paraguay in Asunción where Ecuador have visited 10 times and lost every single game, the last meeting in 2007 was a 5-1 reverse.
Egypt Cup Final ends in nasty scenes
ENPPI a football club born from the Egyptian Gas & Oil company in Cairo won their second Egyptian Cup on Tuesday night beating Zamalek in the final. Despite being a goal down the underdogs turned the match around to win 2-1. After the game it was too much for Zamalek’s attacking midfielder Shikabala who went for a photographer quietly snapping away and fans were seen setting fire to the stadium. El-Ahly have won the trophy the most times, 35.
Stat of the Week
425 – minutes had passed since Paraguay’s competitive goal when Richard Ortiz finally netted for the Albirroja.
Goal of the Week
Ronaldinho spanks home this free kick for Brazil against Mexico – classic.
Top Ten of the Week
For the first time ever I have a guest Top Ten, I read Steven’s (not Mirko’s) excellent Sprit of Mirko blog regularly and this week he put up the top average attendances at Euro 2012 qualifying which I’m repeating here. Go to his site for a more in-depth look at the qualifying attendance figures or if you are just interested in the myriad of stats he has there.
10. Russia – 36,443 average attendance
9. Georgia – 36,600
8. Austria – 37,660
7. Turkey – 41,800
6. Netherlands – 41,855
5. Ireland – 42, 551
4. Scotland – 43, 475
3. Germany – 53, 528
2. France – 65, 152
1. England – 77, 071
So despite the eternal doom and gloom surrounding Capello’s England they are by far the best supported team, not too much surprise that France and Germany follow. A good showing in general from the home nations with Scotland in fourth and Wales are in 16th. Incredible that Georgia (population 4.4 million) outdid their neighbours Russia (141 million) that is some patriotism! Also where were the big boys, Spain (just 18,524 on average), Italy (18,573) at least Portugal came 13th with 29,940 turnout on average.
By Ralph Hannah