Tuesday, October 6, 2009

South Korea loom large at World Cup

After their floundering start, South Korea has become a team to fear at the Under-20 Word Cup.
Coach Hong Myung-bo's players flexed their goalscoring muscles again Monday, hammering Paraguay 3-0 for a place in the last eight.
The win followed another 3-0 win, over the United States, when Korea keptthe Americans pinned back with long-range shots, fluid passing, and waveafter wave of attacks.
Both the U.S. and Paraguay were overrun by the speed of players like Kim Min-woo who scored twice against a Paraguayan team that could not cope with his team's swift counterattacks.
Striker Kim Bo-Kyung, who also scored Monday, is another constant threat to opposing teams.
Korea's drive and commitment was equaled by 300 traveling fans who have turned up at every game to energetically cheer them on.
Keen to attack
Coach Hong, who captained South Korea when it reached the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup when it co-hosted the event with Japan, says an open game suits his players' attacking style.
"Our aim is to play more combination football and create as many passes as possible,'' said the soft spoken 40-year-old coach, who ended his playing career at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
South Korea has made it to 11 of the 17 tournaments at this level and finished fourth in 1983. But they have been knocked out at the group stage every time they played for the past 16 years.
"Asian countries have not done so well at this level. So it's very important for us to be representing the continent here,'' Hong said.
"We still have room to improve ... No one knows how far we'll go. I'm planning to play three more matches. But to do that, you always have to concentrate on your next opponent.''
Big turnaround
South Korea looked toothless in attack in its opening match and lost to Cameroon 2-0.
A much-improved side then went on to hold Germany 1-1, and then followed the last two impressive victories.
"We're getting better with every game,'' Hong said.
His opponents agree.
"They are a quality team and play very well down the flank. They have good positions on the field. They're very strong,'' Paraguay coach Adrian Coria said after his team's defeat.
U.S. coach Thomas Rongen came to a similar conclusion after the Americans lost their final game here.
"They deserved to win,'' he said. "They played us off the park, both tactically and technically. They were also much better organised than we were.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Butcher lauds Burley achievements

Terry Butcher has paid tribute to George Burley for taking Scotland to within 90 minutes of a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ play-off, despite a campaign marred by criticism and bad luck. The relationship between the pair stretches all the way back to their playing days together at Ipswich Town in the 1970s and 1980s, but the former England defender has admitted he has seen Burley in a new light since becoming Scotland coach.
Burley has endured a tumultuous 18-month rein so far, which has included Kris Boyd walking out on the national team, the infamous 'Boozegate' affair, Chris Iwelumo missing a sitter, a whole host of injury problems and less than inspiring results on the pitch. Despite the hurdles, Scotland head into their final qualifier against the Netherlands on Wednesday night still with a chance of securing second place in Group 9 and a play-off place which could prove to be their ticket to South Africa next summer.
"I played in the same team as George and he broke my cheekbone many years ago, so I know how determined he is," said assistant coach Butcher. "He is a strong character. I didn't realise how tough the job was but, having seen George in it, he has handled it very well.
"He is the most positive man I've ever met. I think everybody has responded to the positivity and belief and spirit that he has. No-one would have withstood the hullabaloo and everything else that has gone with the job but he has focused on one thing.
"To get into this position considering all that is quite remarkable. But there is no point being in this position and not doing it on Wednesday. We want to make sure we make that final step and the players are determined to do that.
"George has been the same person all the time. He gets animated but never gets down. I've never seen him down. He has always been upbeat and he has certainly inspired me because I plumb the depths when we lose because I'm that sort of person. He is terrific and the whole squad has been terrific as well."

Clingan: It would be unreal

Coventry midfielder Sammy Clingan admits that playing in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ would be "unreal". The 25-year-old hopes to take another step towards that exciting possibility on Wednesday at Windsor Park.
Victory for Northern Ireland in the qualifier against Slovakia would see them overtake the Group 3 leaders, with only one match, against Czech Republic, remaining.
Clingan said: "This is probably the biggest game I have been involved in, given what is at stake. To get to the World Cup would be unreal. It is what dreams are made of. But we all know it is going to be a hard shift against Slovakia."
RevengeNorthern Ireland are now unbeaten in five competitive matches and secured a point against Poland in Chorzow at the weekend. Nigel Worthington's side have made up ground after a poor start, which saw them lose 2-1 to Slovakia in the opening game.
"It would be great to beat them and get our own back," said Clingan. "There is good camaraderie in the camp and the confidence is growing. "There is a lot of belief in the squad and to take four points off Poland is something we would have accepted at the beginning of the campaign.
"Teams can also be a bit intimated when they come to Windsor Park. The fans get right behind us and the players really appreciate that. It should be another special night. Hopefully we can put a good performance in and get the right result."
Kee dreamMeanwhile, forward Billy Kee has been backed to take promotion to the senior squad in his stride. That's the verdict of U-21 coach Steve Beaglehole, who is also coach at Kee's parent club Leicester City.
The 18-year-old has been loaned out to League Two side Accrington Stanley to gain experience, after suffering a knee injury last season that curtailed his progress. Kee was due to play for the U-21s against Iceland tomorrow, but instead has a date in Belfast as Kyle Lafferty may be sidelined with a knee injury.
Beaglehole said: "It is quiet unbelievable what is happening to Billy. It is the stuff you read about in comics - real Roy of the Rovers. A lot of the time you wonder if the fear factor will kick in when you promote a player.
"But Billy will be able to cope, no problem. If he was required in the game, it would not faze him."

Torres: It should all be over

Fernando Torres admits he can hardly believe Spain have still not booked their place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ despite winning all seven of their qualifiers to date.
The European Champions defeated Belgium 5-0 in La Coruna on Saturday to maintain their six-point advantage over Bosnia-Herzegovina at the top of Group Five.
With three qualifiers still to play, Vincente Del Bosque's men are still not guaranteed top spot. "It seems incredible that we are not yet qualified," Liverpool striker Torres told a press conference.
Spain could secure qualification with victory over Estonia in Merida on Wednesday, though, provided Bosnia-Herzegovina do not beat Turkey the same day. Even a draw could be enough if Bosnia-Herzegovina lose.

Henry denies Domenech criticism

France's increasingly fraught qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ deepened on Monday when captain Thierry Henry denied he had criticised coach Raymond Domenech in front of the rest of the squad.
Squad-mate and fellow 2006 FIFA World Cup finalist Florent Malouda also revealed that he had only learnt he was not even among the substitutes for last Saturday's qualifier with Romania at the Stade de France when he entered the dressingroom and he saw there was no shirt for him.
Henry's denial - Le Parisien claimed on Monday that in Friday's team meeting the Barcelona star had publicly slammed Domenech - and Malouda's clear displeasure at the manner in which he learnt of his non-selection will do nothing for morale as they head for a crucial qualifier with Group Seven leaders Serbia on Wednesday.
Henry was forced to clarify what had gone on on Friday on the eve of the 1-1 draw which left the French four points adrift of the Serbs with just three matches remaining and in danger of having to go through a play-off to progress to South Africa.

There was a discussion between the squad and the coach as is usual. It was a constructive discussion... which must stay between the players and the coach.
Thierry Henry
"Nothing happened on Friday evening," protested Henry to French TV station TF1. "There was a discussion between the squad and the coach as is usual. It was a constructive discussion... which must stay between the players and the coach. I did not question the coach's qualities. There was never a clash between us," added Henry, who was quoted by Le Parisien as telling Domenech that the players had no idea where they were to play and lacked any direction.
Henry, who scored France's goal in the Romania match, insisted the camp was a happy one, something clearly not in Malouda's vocabulary. "I saw when I entered the dressingroom that there no shirt had been prepared for me," the Chelsea star - who has enjoyed distant relations with Domenech having criticised him - told RTL radio station in an interview recorded on Sunday but only broadcast on Monday.
"I deduced from that that I was in either the starting line-up or the substitutes bench, that is how I came to learn of it," he went on. "I was surprised, I thought at the very least I would feature at some stage. However, it is important to support ones friends, even from the stands, one has to get over one's disappointment.
"One is powerless to do anything sitting in the stands, one has fleas in ones pants, but that is how it is, it is the choice of the coach," Malouda added. "It is a delicate matter to discuss, and is not an agreeable experience to live through, but it is important not to think about it too much, even if it is disappointing."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Swedes surge as France flounder

Sweden gave some much-needed impetus to their qualification hopes with a 2-1 victory over Hungary on Saturday, while 2006 FIFA World Cup™ runners-up France were held 1-1 at home by Romania and look to be heading towards the play-offs.
In total, 21 qualifiers were held across Europe, but despite a raft of goals no team was able to join the Netherlands in sealing themselves a place in South Africa next summer. Game of the dayDenmark 1-1 PortugalGoals: Nicklas Bendtner 42; Liedson 86
Semi-finalists in Germany three years ago, Portugal can still hope to complete a miraculous comeback and book themselves a ticket to the global showcase. If they do pull it off they can thank newcomer Liedson, their Brazilian-born striker, who equalised four minutes from time in Denmark. The hosts seemed to have the match under control after taking the lead through Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner on 42 minutes, but they were unable to hold on and now Portugal must win their last three matches - including two meetings with Hungary - to give themselves a chance of reaching South Africa. Surprise of the dayFrance 1-1 RomaniaGoals: Thierry Henry 48; Julien Escude 55 og
Held at home by Romania, France no longer control their own destiny in the race for top spot in Group 7 and automatic qualification. Les Bleus managed to open the scoring through Thierry Henry but had to settle for a point following a Julien Escude own goal, with their big-name forwards failing to conjure up a winner. Raymond Domenech's side now need all three points in Serbia on Wednesday to secure at least a play-off berth. The other gamesSweden owe the unique talent that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic a debt of gratitude after the Barcelona forward earned them a 2-1 victory over Hungary in the dying moments. That result brought Sweden to within a point of the play-off spot in Group 1 and five points shy of leaders Denmark in a pool where anything can still happen. Earlier, they had broken the deadlock through Olympiakos defender Olof Mellberg, only for their opponents to draw level via Szabolcs Huszti's 79th-minute penalty.Switzerland also had cause to celebrate an excellent win after they beat Greece 2-0 in Group 2, with Stephane Grichting and Marco Padalino grabbing late goals. The Swiss now hold a three-point advantage over the former European champions and enjoy the same gap to surprise contenders Latvia, who triumphed 1-0 in Israel.
In Group 3, meanwhile, Czech Republic still refuse to let their chances die once and for all. Twice behind in Slovakia, they managed to pull themselves level on both occasions. Daniel Pudil's 68th minute strike responded to Stanislav Sestak's 59th-minute opener before Milan Baros' 83rd minute effort restored parity following a Marek Hamsik strike on 73 minutes. Elsewhere in the section, Northern Ireland picked up a precious 1-1 draw in Poland, all of which leaves five teams still hopeful of going through.
Russia moved to within a point of frontrunners Germany in Group 4 thanks to a 3-0 win over Liechtenstein, Roman Pavlyuchenko firing two of their goals from the penalty spot. First place in the pool will no doubt come down to the 10 October meeting between the leading duo in Moscow, with Finland five points out of second despite their 2-1 success in Azerbaijan.
In Group 5, the battle for second spot continues between Bosnia-Herzegovina, who won 2-0 in Armenia, and Turkey, 4-2 victors over Estonia. Turkey visit their main rivals on Wednesday in what will surely be a decisive game in the race for a play-off ticket. European champions Spain are out of sight after clinching their seventh consecutive victory in the group, 5-0 against Belgium.
Ukraine saw off visitors Andorra 5-0 to boost their goal difference in Group 6 and stay close to Croatia, who needed Ivan Rakitic's 24th-minute effort to overcome Belarus. The two play-off place hopefuls both face away games in midweek, Ukraine travelling to Belarus and Croatia visiting comfortable leaders England.
In Group 8, the top three all won, with Bulgaria managing to prevail in style, downing Montenegro 4-1 after being level 1-1 at the break. Pacesetters Italy won 2-0 in Georgia, thanks in part to a Kakha Kaladze own goal, while Republic of Ireland grabbed a 2-1 victory in Cyprus courtesy of an 83rd-minute Robbie Keane strike. Bulgaria will put their qualification dreams on the line in Italy on Wednesday.
Lastly, Scotland gave their prospects of finishing second in Group 9 a serious shot in the arm by seeing off Macedonia 2-0, a result which lifted them to within a mere 11 points of the already-qualified Netherlands. That is unlikely to be enough to guarantee the Scots a play-off place just yet, however, with just five teams in the section.The statEngland have scored 26 goals through 11 different players since the start of the qualifiers - the same number of goalscorers as Slovakia, who have registered seven fewer strikes. Germany, on the other hand, have hit 20 goals with nine players finding the net.Goal of the dayDenmark 1-1 Portugal: Nicklas Bendtner 42
Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner scored a stunning goal in the shadows of half-time to help his side to a 1-1 draw against Portugal and within touching distance of South Africa 2010. Bendtner leapt high to control a cross from the right on his chest and in one deft movement the Arsenal man thrashed the ball home with his left foot before any defenders could react.
What they said"What can we do to put these chances away? We can't do anything more in our approach play. It'll have to happen eventually," Raymond Domenech, France coach Have your sayWill Portugal and Sweden be able to turn their situation around in Group 1? Can France still go through after their latest disappointment?

Dark clouds gather for Argentina

Sixteen years ago to the day, Argentinian football experienced one of its darkest hours when the national side lost 5-0 to Colombia at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires. That defeat, their first at home in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, consigned La Albiceleste to a play-off against Australia.
The man who proved their saviour on that occasion was Diego Maradona, and now, over a decade and a half later, El Diez finds himself in a similar situation, albeit on the other side of the touchline. With just three crucial games left in the group, can coach Maradona steer his side to safety and a place in South Africa?
The immediate outlook is somewhat bleak. Fresh from defeat to their fiercest rivals in Rosario, Maradona now takes his beleaguered squad to Paraguay for a meeting with Gerardo Martino's ever-combative side. With only two points separating them from Colombia and Ecuador in fifth and sixth respectively, Argentina's margin for error is decreasing with every game.

We had to beat Brazil and we lost. There's no time for feeling sorry for yourself, though. You have to keep looking forward.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona
"I'm feeling composed. There's no cause for alarm," said a calm but clearly downcast Maradona in the wake of the 3-1 defeat. "It won't be easy to go to Paraguay, but we'll see what solutions we can find for our problems and try and take the three points. Anything can happen in football as today's game showed. We had to beat Brazil and we lost. There's no time for feeling sorry for yourself, though. You have to keep looking forward."
Causes for concernThough the Paraguayans' form may have dipped a little of late, Argentina have been unimpressive on the road throughout the qualifying competition. Their last away win in the group came on Matchday 2, in October 2007, when Alfio Basile oversaw a 2-0 win in Venezuela. Of the six away matches since, La Albiceleste have lost four and drawn two, letting in 12 goals in scoring only three in the process.
"I'm angry we lost today and that we're in this situation now," said a frustrated Carlos Tevez after the final whistle in Rosario. "I thought we were the better side today but they had three chances and took the lot. We need to keep on working and stay strong. It won't be easy in Paraguay but we'll be going there to fight. We need to win."
The vastly experienced Javier Zanetti was in similarly defiant mood. "There's no time to lose," he said. "We need to change our mindset and start thinking about Paraguay. We didn't play well today and we paid very dearly for our lack of concentration at set-pieces. At this level mistakes like those can cost you games, but we hope to improve in those areas for Wednesday."

Brazil have got some great players. They beat us comfortably. But let's make one thing clear: the responsibility is all mine.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona
Those dead-ball lapses led to Brazil's first two goals, when Luisao and then Luis Fabiano had all the space and time they needed to beat Mariano Andujar. "I'm angry and sad about the result," said the Argentina goalkeeper before attempting to sound a more optimistic note ahead of their midweek engagement in Asuncion."A good result in Paraguay will change everything and if we play like we did against Ecuador and at times tonight, we'll be ok. The most important thing is to go out and win, although we passed up a really good chance tonight."
Shouldering the blameDespite the defeat, Maradona refused to criticise his players, choosing instead to give them his complete backing. "I've got no complaints about my players," he said. "I wasn't happy when Bolivia thrashed us, but I've got nothing to say today. We started better than Brazil and then they go and score with their first two chances. It was all uphill for us after that but let's make one thing clear: the responsibility is all mine."
Jesus Datolo's wonder strike breathed new life into the home side only for Luis Fabiano to pop up four minutes later and halt the hoped-for comeback in its tracks. "We didn't have a chance," continued the Mexico 1986 winner. "We had to take risks and when we fell behind we had to go and look for an equaliser. Brazil have got some great players and they hit us at just the right times. They beat us comfortably."
On the bright side for Maradona, he has no injury or suspension worries and will be able to select from a full squad for the decisive meeting with Paraguay, now a make-or-break game for the Argentinians.
"This isn't over," vowed Andujar. "We need to pick ourselves up quickly because we have another final coming up. It's not over and it's still in our hands."Argentina have three games to keep it that way.

Ghana qualify for South Africa

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien scored as Ghana defeated Sudan 2-0 in Accra to become the first African nation other than the hosts to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari gave the Black Stars an early lead and Essien added a second soon after half-time, unleashing a drive that flew into the net at the near post.
The result, coupled with closest challengers Benin and Mali drawing 1-1 in Cotonou a few hours before, left the Ghanaian side boasting a 100 per cent record with an unassailable seven-point Group D advantage. It will be the second successive FIFA World Cup appearance for Ghana, who did best of the five African teams in Germany three years ago by reaching the knockout second round before losing 3-0 to defending champions Brazil.
"It was so important to win, regardless of how we achieved the result. It is still special for us professionals to return home and bring joy to the people of Ghana," Essien said.
"Teamwork brought us success, as in previous qualifiers. The side did not feel under pressure because we are used to playing in front of packed crowds like the one in Accra tonight.
"The people of Ghana wanted us to win and we did not let them down," he said. "What a fantastic feeling to be the first African country to qualify for the first World Cup to be staged in Africa."
Serbia-born coach Milovan Rajevac said: "It is a priceless honour for my players to represent their country and qualify for the World Cup.
"This team is very hungry to go to the finals again. My players are aware of what they can achieve and have the quality to go far. I always believed we would qualify and am very confident about the future."
A quarter of the 32 qualifying nations for the first FIFA World Cup to be staged in Africa are now known, with Ghana joining Australia, Brazil, Japan, the Netherlands, Korea DPR, Korea Republic and hosts South Africa.

What a fantastic feeling to be the first African country to qualify for the first World Cup to be staged in Africa.
Michael Essien of Ghana
Elsewhere, Mali had threatened to put Ghanaian celebrations on hold by taking the lead through former France youth international Mamadou Samassa on 71 minutes only for Mohamed Aoudou to equalise three minutes from full-time.
Tunisia snatched a 2-2 draw in Nigeria thanks to an 90th-minute Oussama Darragi goal in a top-of-the-table Group B match to maintain a two-point lead with two rounds left. A capacity 60,000 crowd saw Osaze Odemwingie fire the Super Eagles into the lead with a close-range shot midway through the first half, only for Nabil Taider to level soon after from a superb curling drive. Michael Eneramo converted a low cross ten minutes from full-time to put the home team ahead again, only for Darragi to hammer a Haitham Mrabet pass into the net from an acute angle.
Mozambique edged Kenya 1-0 in the same group courtesy of a goal midway through the second half from veteran South Africa-based striker Manuel 'Tico Tico' Bucuane. Tunisia have eight points, Nigeria six, Mozambique four and Kenya three, with the leaders chasing a fourth consecutive appearance at the quadrennial showcase of international football.
Morocco fightbackAdel Taarabt scored two minutes into stoppage time as Morocco were rewarded for some enterprising second-half play with a 1-1 draw away to Togo in a Group A match. Togo led from the fourth minute through Moustapaha Salifou as they returned to Lome after a three-match ban.
Gabon have six points, Togo five, Cameroon four and Morocco three, although the Indomitable Lions have a chance to go top Wednesday when they host the surprise pacesetters in Yaounde. The five group winners qualify for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa between 11 June and 11 July and the top three finishers in each mini-league secure places at the Africa Cup of Nations five months earlier with hosts Angola.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

World cup 2010 tickiting service

World Cup race starts now - Terry

International friendly: Netherlands v EnglandVenue: Amsterdam Arena Date: Wednesday, 12 August Kick-off: 1945 BST Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live and ITV1; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Terry will be winning his 54th cap for England
England captain John Terry believes the friendly against the Netherlands is the first chance for players to push for a starting place at the 2010 World Cup.
England have virtually assured their place in South Africa, but Terry insists the players will not take Wednesday's match lightly.
"The ultimate prize is there. People could earn a place in the starting XI," Terry told BBC Radio 5 live.
"It's a friendly but we want to kick start from where we left off."
England are 10 points clear at the top of Group Seven and have won all seven of their qualifying games.
And Terry added: "It's not just about this game - we'll see how the season goes - but we're looking to stay fit and get things right on the pitch.
"It'll be an important year for everyone. Not only for the players in the squad but the young players and the players looking to cement themselves in the manager's head."
The Chelsea defender also insisted that there is still time for players from outside the squad to force their way into manager Fabio Capello's plans.
Striker Michael Owen failed to win a recall to the squad despite a summer move to champions Manchester United, while youngsters Michael Mancienne - Terry's team mate at Stamford Bridge - and Jack Wilshere have been tipped as potential squad members.
"If you're doing well for your club and playing well the manager's going to have to pick you," added Terry.
"If the young players like Mancienne and Jack play well enough - why not give them a chance.
"Michael Owen showed glimpses of what he can do during pre-season. I'm sure playing with those players week in week out he can only score goals, which is a bit of a nightmare as a Chelsea player."
Terry's message was backed up by Capello, though the Italian insisted that players would have to be regulars for their club to be considered for England selection.
"Firstly, Owen has to play with Manchester United. Always the door for all the players is open - for Michael Owen and all the players," he told BBC Radio 5 live.
"From Owen to Wilshere the door is open for everyone.
"Last year Theo Walcott played against Croatia when he was really young and played very well.
"I think Wilshere has to play with Arsenal. Not only with the second team. He needs experience and to play really important games."
Meanwhile, Gareth Barry has claimed that his summer move from Aston Villa was motivated by a desire to cement his own place in England's midfield.
"When you spend 12 years at a club it's always a big decision to leave, but hopefully my decision can be backed up by the way we play this year," he said.
"The World Cup was in the back of my mind and I'm confident I can play a big part for Man City and go into the World Cup having hopefully qualified with a lot of confidence."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

S Africa strike hits stadium work

Some 70,000 construction workers in South Africa have gone on strike, halting work on stadiums being built for the 2010 World Cup.
Unions are threatening to wreck the tournament if their demands for a 13% wage increase are not met.
Organisers say they are confident the grounds will still be ready, unless the strike continues for months.
On Monday judges rejected a request from the employers to outlaw the strike, which unions say is indefinite.
The BBC's Mpho Lakaje in Soweto says scores of workers are outside Soccer City stadium wearing blue overalls and brandishing sticks.
"We are struggling for our country," they chanted after downing their tools at midday.
The government must help us, otherwise we are going to delay 2010
Union spokesman Lesiba Seshoka
South Africa passes World Cup test
Soccer City union organiser Patrick Geqeza blamed management inflexibility for precipitating the strike.
"We feel bad about going on strike. [But] they don't want to meet us half way," he told AP news agency.
At present most of the workers are being paid 2,500 rand ($310; £192) a month.
Map of stadiums The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), whose members include construction workers, has rejected the 10% wage increase offer from employers.

World Cup: One year to go
"The government must help us, otherwise we are going to delay 2010. We will strike until 2011," AFP news agency quoted NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka as saying.
Protesters outside Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium were forced to disperse because their application to protest was turned down, the South African Press Association reported.
Before they left, the NUM's Bhekani Ngcobo told workers the union would make sure that no temporary labourers were employed.
Five entirely new stadiums are being built for the World Cup, while five are being modernised.
Danny Jordaan, head of the World Cup organising committee, said he respected the right of the workers to strike but felt the dispute would be resolved without affecting the construction schedule.
"The construction workers have been the lifeblood of the 2010 Fifa World Cup project," he said in a statement.
"Their hard work has ensured that we are on track to meet our deadlines and that our stadiums will be among the best in the world next year."
Correspondents say if the strike continues projects such as the high-speed rail link between the airport and Johannesburg will be of greater concern than the stadiums.
The rail-link is scheduled to be operational just two weeks before the tournament starts.
The next World Cup will be the first to be hosted by an African country.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

FIFA.com - Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

FIFA.com - Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

O show de Ronaldo e os ricos salários dos "pernas-de-pau" da Inglaterra

Nunca, em nenhum estádio do mundo, tantos torcedores compareceram à apresentação de um novo jogador como na segunda-feira em Madri.
Mais de oitenta mil torcedores do Real Madrid foram ao estádio Santiago Bernabéu para ver e ouvir Cristiano Ronaldo pela primeira vez com o uniforme branco que deu o apelido de merengue ao clube madrilenho.
Ronaldo conseguiu arrastar ao estádio um público duas vezes maior do que Kaká. Bem à vontade e mostrando estar adorando toda a adulação, o craque português desfilou, deu autógrafos, fez firulas com a bola, beijou uma jornalista e comandou um coro de "Viva Madrid!"
Existe uma grande expectativa de que o time montado pelo novo presidente Florentino Pérez seja capaz de levar o Real Madrid de volta às campanhas vitoriosas do passado, principalmente com a conquista do décimo título da Champions League na história do clube.
Até porque a partida final do torneio, marcada para 22 de maio de 2010, será disputada no mesmo Santiago Bernabéu que acolheu Ronaldo tão carinhosamente.
A exigente torcida do Real não quer ficar de fora desta festa

Os salários dos jogadores de futebol devem ser limitados?

Ricardo Acampora
8/07/2009, 03:41 PM
Pelé resolveu entrar na discussão sobre a necessidade de se impor um limite aos salários dos jogadores de futebol. O ex-jogador disse que o teto salarial evitaria os abusos e distorções que existem atualmente e que podem acabar prejudicando o esporte.
Pelé se junta assim a Sepp Blatter, o presidente da Fifa, a Michel Platini, presidente da Uefa e a vários presidentes e técnicos de clubes de diversas ligas europeias.
A divulgação dos novos salários de Kaká (9 milhões de euros, aproximadamente R$ 24 milhões) e de Cristiano Ronaldo (13 milhões de euros) voltou a aquecer o debate. O presidente do Real Madrid, Florentino Pérez disse que dinheiro pago a craque "não é despesa, é investimento, pois eles se pagam com sobras".
E esse é exatamente o ponto central da controvérsia. Ninguém se importa se os super craques ganham bem, são as estrelas maiores de um negócio cada vez mais milionário.
Mas ninguém é inocente. O valor do passe, acrescido de salários, bônus e lucro saem da receita dos clubes, o que no final das contas vale dizer que são pagos pelos torcedores, que vão aos jogos, que compram camisas e brindes, que veem as partidas pela TV, que consomem os produtos das marcas estampadas nas camisas, nas placas de publicidade dos estádios e nos comerciais de TV durante as transmissões dos jogos.
Essa é a regra do jogo.
Aqui na Inglaterra, o tema tem provocado sempre muita polêmica. Segundo pesquisas recentes, a Premier League tem a média salarial mais elevada de todos os campeonatos europeus, e quase certamente de todo o mundo, 21 mil libras por semana, ou um salário equivalente a R$ 265 mil por mês.
A folha de pagamentos do Chelsea no ano passado passou dos R$ 540 milhões.
E o fenômeno não se limita aos times de ponta. O West Ham, time aqui de Londres que terminou em nono lugar no último campeonato, gastou com salários dos jogadores e técnicos 75% de tudo o que arrecadou na temporada.
Talvez o melhor exemplo da distorção que os altos salários têm provocado se encontre no Newcastle United, que foi rebaixado para a segunda divisão.
O clube tem encontrado muita dificuldade em vender pelo menos 10 de seus jogadores que estão sendo cobicados por outros clubes daqui e de outros países, simplesmente porque ganham salários inflacionados, que segundo o mercado, não condizem com a capacidade técnica que demonstram em campo.
Essa inflação do mercado que tanto eleva o salário do craque como o do jogador medíocre, tem aumentado constantemente o custo para o torcedor que acompanha seu time.
Segundo o jornal inglês The Guardian, nesta última temporada o custo médio para se assistir a um jogo da Premier League, fora de casa, ou seja, ali incluído custo de transporte, ficou em 90 libras (quase R$ 300).
Por enquanto os números da bilheteria não têm sido afetados pelos altos custos e os clubes ingleses ainda aparecem no alto das listas dos mais ricos do mundo.
Resta saber até quando o torcedor médio vai se conformar em financiar salários desproporcionais.
Mais de 40% já disseram que apoiam a introdução dos tetos salariais. Parece que o Pelé não vai ficar sozinho.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

France 1998

Teams: 32
When: 10 June 1998 to 12 July 1998
Final: 12 July 1998
Matches: 64
Goals: 171 (average 2.7 per match)
Attendance: 2785100 (average 43517)
Winner: France
Runners-Up: Brazil
Third: Croatia
Fourth: Netherlands
adidas Golden Ball: RONALDO (BRA)
adidas Golden Shoe: Davor SUKER (CRO)
Yashin Award for the Best Goalkeeper: Fabien BARTHEZ (FRA)
FIFA Fair Play award: England, France
FIFA Award for the Most Entertaining Team: France

The home of tournament founder Jules Rimet, France enjoyed an unforgettable summer as its footballers finally tasted FIFA World Cup glory, Zinedine Zidane leading Les Bleus to victory over Brazil in the Final. France 98 was the first finals with an enlarged cast of 32 teams and among the newcomers were a Croatia side who, fired by the goals of top scorer Davor Suker, confounded expectations by finishing third.

The home of Jules Rimet, the father of the FIFA World Cup™, France finally claimed the crown for itself in the summer of 1998. If an unforgettable summer for the new champions – who had tasted semi-final defeat twice a decade before – it was also a memorable one for the old tournament which was now bigger than ever before.
The 16th FIFA World Cup comprised 32 teams for the first time. The greater number of qualifying places meant more opportunities for teams from Africa, Asia and CONCACAF – in this case, first-time qualifiers South Africa, Japan and Jamaica. The eight groups of four were spread out across France but the venue for the Opening Match and Final was the showpiece Stade de France just north of Paris. It was there that holders Brazil kicked off the tournament with a 2-1 victory over Scotland, achieved thanks to Tom Boyd's own goal.
The great surprise of the first round was the failure of Spain, who paid for a poor start in Group D. After losing 3-2 to Nigeria and drawing with Paraguay, Javier Clemente's side put six past Bulgaria but the grandstand finish proved in vain. Paraguay beat group winners Nigeria on the same night and qualified at Spain's expense.
Elsewhere, Romania finished top of Group G ahead of England and Colombia and celebrated with peroxide crops – a touch premature given their exit in the next round. In Group A, Kjetil Rekdal's last-minute penalty secured Norway victory over Brazil and progress ahead of Morocco. Iran bowed out early with the consolation prize of a win against the United States. The supporters of Scotland and Jamaica left happy memories of their stay as they headed for home.
Drama in Saint-EtienneThe tie of the Round of 16 came in Saint-Etienne, where England and Argentina played out an epic contest. The first half was a mini-classic in itself: after a penalty for each side inside the first ten minutes, the teenage Michael Owen's goal of the tournament put England ahead before Javier Zanetti finished off a clever free-kick to equalise on the stroke of half-time.
After the break, goals gave way to sheer drama: David Beckham sent off for kicking out at Diego Simeone, Sol Campbell's 'winner' disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper, extra time and penalties. Carlos Roa saved England's final spot-kick from David Batty and Argentina were through. France, meanwhile, had home nerves jangling as they moved slowly towards their date with destiny. It took a 113th-minute golden goal from Laurent Blanc – the first in the competition's history – to break the resistance of a Paraguay side led by charismatic goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert. Italy were their quarter-final opponents, and this time it was the thickness of the woodwork which came to their rescue. Roberto Baggio flashed a free header past the post late in extra time, then Luigi Di Biagio rattled the bar with the decisive kick in the shoot-out, ensuring the Azzurri a third successive dose of penalty heartache.
Shoe fits for Suker In the semi-final, the hosts faced the tournament's surprise package, Croatia. Entering their first FIFA World Cup since independence from the former Yugoslavia, Miroslav Blazevic's check-shirted charges upset European champions Germany 3-0 in the quarter-final before silencing the Stade de France when adidas Golden Shoe winner Davor Suker struck shortly after the break against France. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, however – right-back Lilian Thuram choosing the perfect moment to score his first ever international goals and send France into their first Final.
Marseille staged the other semi-final between Brazil and a Netherlands side full of confidence after eliminating Argentina through an exquisite Dennis Bergkamp strike. After Ronaldo and Patrick Kluivert traded goals, Brazil prevailed on penalties leaving the Dutch to ponder another near thing.So to 12 July when, to borrow a line from La Marseillaise, "the day of glory arrived". It was a game that began with the mystery of Ronaldo's late reinstatement on the team sheet in place of Edmundo. Amid reports of a pre-match fit, Ronaldo was a strange shadow of his usual self and France, despite the absence of the suspended Blanc, were soon in command. Two Zidane headers from corners gave them a 2-0 interval lead. Despite Marcel Desailly's second-half dismissal, Aime Jacquet's side even managed a third as Emmanuel Petit concluded a counterattack in the last minute.
The final whistle from Moroccan referee Said Belqola, the first African to officiate at a FIFA World Cup Final, was the signal for the entire population to celebrate. A team representing the multi-racial mix of the modern France had united the nation. The Champs Elysees alone attracted over a million revellers, who danced through the long night.

USA 1994

Teams: 24
When: 17 June 1994 to 17 July 1994
Final: 17 July 1994
Matches: 52
Goals: 141 (average 2.7 per match)
Attendance: 3587538 (average 68991)
Winner: Brazil
Runners-Up: Italy
Third: Sweden
Fourth: Bulgaria
adidas Golden Ball: ROMARIO (BRA)
adidas Golden Shoe: Oleg SALENKO (RUS),
Yashin Award for the Best Goalkeeper: Michel PREUDHOMME (BEL)
FIFA Fair Play award: Brazil
FIFA Award for the Most Entertaining Team: Brazil

The United States staged a hugely successful 15th FIFA World Cup that became the best attended in history and ended with Brazil celebrating their first world title since 1970. Forwards Romario and Bebeto were the Brazilians' star performers while Roberto Baggio shone equally brightly for Italy despite his penalty miss that concluded the first ever Final shoot-out. While Sweden finished third, the undoubted surprise package were their fellow semi-finalists Bulgaria.

The United States was the setting for a hugely successful 15th FIFA World Cup™ which drew record crowds and ended with Brazil celebrating their first world title since 1970. If the Final itself was a disappointment, Brazil beating Italy on penalties after a goalless draw, there were no complaints about the entertainment that had gone before.
There were plenty of goals – 141 was the highest total since 1982 – and no shortage of drama. Bulgaria, who had never won a FIFA World Cup match in 16 previous attempts, provided the biggest upset by beating Germany en route to the semi-finals. Argentina's 1986 hero Diego Maradona, meanwhile, tested positive for drugs and was expelled from the tournament, his team following suit soon after by losing a five-goal thriller to Gheorghe Hagi's Romania.
It was a tournament that was also touched by tragedy. Colombia defender Andres Escobar was murdered on his return home having scored an own goal against the United States in a group match that confirmed the South Americans' surprise early elimination. That result took the hosts into the second round where they were hardly disgraced in going down 1-0 to a Brazil side who proved the world's best.
Huge crowds 'Soccer' in the US has never held the widespread appeal of basketball, baseball and American football and it came as a surprise to many when the country was granted the honour of hosting the FIFA World Cup. In choosing the USA, however, FIFA President Joao Havelange was bidding to conquer football's final frontier and it proved the right decision with the event attracting a record total attendance of 3,587,538 spectators.
Another record of 147 countries entered qualifying but some of the expected European contenders did not make it, notably reigning continental champions Denmark, England and a France side eliminated by a Bulgarian goal in the last second of their last qualifier. The surprises did not end there. The first round, where a win was now worth three points, threw up several of them. Italy went down 1-0 to Ireland in their opening game and scraped into the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams.
If Colombia's aforementioned demise was unexpected, so few people had predicted that Saudi Arabia would survive the group stage yet they won twice. Indeed Saudi striker Saeed Owairan struck arguably the tournament's finest goal, a slaloming run and shot that beat Belgium. Russia's Oleg Salenko managed his own scoring feat, establishing a new record after netting five times in a 6-1 victory over Cameroon. Roger Milla's goal in the same fixture, meanwhile, meant he broke his own record as the FIFA World Cup's oldest scorer – at 42 years, one month and eight days.
'The Divine Ponytail'Another African team, Nigeria, were 90 seconds away from overcoming Italy in the Round of 16 only for Roberto Baggio to rescue the Azzurri's ten men. The African champions had topped their group and threatened a major shock before Baggio's equaliser and extra-time winner. The 'Divine Ponytail' was in the form of his life. His late goal downed Spain in the last eight before he then struck twice more to deflate Bulgaria in the semi-finals. This after the Bulgarians, with their own inspirational figure in Hristo Stoichkov, had astonished everybody by putting out the holders, Germany.
Stoichkov would eventually share the adidas Golden Shoe with Salenko but for another of the tournament's star forwards, Romario, an even greater prize beckoned. He and strike partner Bebeto both found the net in an exciting 3-2 quarter-final defeat of the Netherlands – a game that featured the latter's famous baby-cradling goal celebration in honour of his new-born son. Romario then registered the only goal of the semi-final against a Sweden side who produced their best performance since 1958 by finishing third.
So to the Final in Pasadena, a repeat of the 1970 climax and a contest between two countries who had already collected three world titles each. In theory, it was a dream finale but the reality was a stalemate. For the first time, the destiny of the trophy would be decided by penalties and, cruelly, it was Baggio, who had done so much to get Italy there, who missed the crucial last kick. His right leg heavily bandaged to protect his injured hamstring, the little No10 lifted the ball high into the blue California sky and Brazil were champions again, 24 years after their last success.
Captained by the tough-tackling Dunga, this Brazil may have lacked some of the flair of previous incarnations but Carlos Alberto Parreira's squad were perfectly prepared and boasted a formidable front pair in Romario and Bebeto. With those two in tandem, Parreira could even afford to leave a 17-year-old called Ronaldo on the bench. But more of him later...

Italy 1990

Teams: 24
When: 08 June 1990 to 08 July 1990
Final: 08 July 1990
Matches: 52
Goals Scored: 115 (average 2.2 per match)
Attendance: 2516348 (average 48391)
Winner: Germany FR
Runners-Up: Argentina
Third: Italy
Fourth: England
adidas Golden Ball: Salvatore SCHILLACI (ITA)
adidas Golden Shoe: Salvatore SCHILLACI (ITA)
FIFA Fair Play award: England

When Lothar Matthaus lifted the FIFA World Cup for Germany, it was an undoubted triumph for Franz Beckenbauer, who became only the second winner of the trophy as both player and coach. If low on goals, Italy 1990 was certainly high on drama – from the feats of Italy's top scorer Toto Schillaci via the tears of England's Paul Gascoigne to the historic run of Roger Milla's Cameroon to the quarter-finals.

West Germany lifted the FIFA World Cup™ for the third time in 1990 as they avenged their Final defeat by Argentina four years earlier, overcoming the holders 1-0 in Rome. Their victory was a real triumph for Franz Beckenbauer, who became only the second man to win the world crown as first a player and then a coach.
The 1990 finals set an unwanted record as the lowest-scoring tournament, with just 2.21 goals per game, but there was certainly no lack of colour or drama. The Opening Match alone provided one of the FIFA World Cup's most memorable upsets, with Cameroon beating Argentina at a magnificently revamped San Siro. With Roger Milla enjoying his finest hour, Cameroon would go on and make history.
This was Italy's second time to host the FIFA World Cup. Fifty-six years on from their 1934 triumph on home soil, they spared no expense in ensuring the competition was a success. Ten stadiums around the peninsula received a complete facelift while two vast new arenas were built in Turin and Bari. There was a stickman mascot named Ciao yet the real symbol of the tournament for Italian fans soon became Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci, a striker without an international goal to his name before June 1990.
Neutrals' favourites The tournament's first round went largely as expected, with the notable exception of newcomers Costa Rica beating both Scotland and Sweden to reach last 16. The Republic of Ireland, managed by former England defender Jack Charlton, added another touch of romance by advancing to the last eight on their debut appearance. Those achievements had nothing on Cameroon's run to the quarter-finals, however. The Indomitable Lions were the neutrals' favourites and in the 38-year-old Milla had a genuine star.
The veteran striker had to be persuaded to come out of semi-retirement on Reunion Island to play in Italy but after stepping off the bench against Romania, he scored the two goals that took Cameroon into the second round. When he then repeated the feat against Colombia – cue that famous corner-flag shuffle – Africa had its first quarter-finalists. They might have gone further too save for two Gary Lineker penalties that rescued England in a quarter-final where Cameroon led 2-1 with ten minutes to go. Still, the Lions' roar rang around the world – and Africa would have a third team at the next finals in 1994.
For England, driven by the skills and exuberance of Paul Gascoigne, victory over Cameroon earned them a first semi-final since 1966 but their luck ran out against old rivals West Germany in a captivating contest settled by penalties – and still remembered for Gascoigne's tears. That proved the Germans' toughest test en route to the trophy. Spearheaded by the Inter Milan trio of captain Lothar Matthaus, Jurgen Klinsmann and Andreas Brehme, West Germany had enjoyed 'home advantage' at the San Siro in their first five fixtures, including an impressive 4-1 success against Yugoslavia and a second-round defeat of a disappointing Dutch side.
Toto the unlikely hero As Italy found to their cost, however, home advantage only takes you so far. Their ride to the semi-finals included a Roberto Baggio wonder goal against Czechoslovakia and a FIFA World Cup record for goalkeeper Walter Zenga, who in keeping five clean sheets went 517 minutes unbeaten. However, their unlikely hero was the wild-eyed Schillaci, capped only once before the finals but scorer of six goals to earn himself the adidas Golden Shoe. Unfortunately for Azeglio Vicini's side, their dreams of a home triumph died at Argentina's hands in Naples.
This was not the Argentina of 1986 but Diego Maradona was still there, his presence dividing the Naples public who worshipped him for his heroics for local favourites Napoli, that season's Serie A champions. Further inspiration came from fellow attacker Claudio Caniggia, scorer of a fine second-round winner against Brazil, and also goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea. A replacement for Nery Pumpido, who broke his leg in the second match, he had made vital saves against Brazil and again in the penalty shoot-out against a strong Yugoslavia side in the quarter-finals. Against Italy he did it once more, his two penalty saves sending Argentina to the Final after a 1-1 draw.
Goycochea could not repeat those heroics in Rome, though, and was beaten by Brehme's 85th-minute penalty that decided a poor Final. Argentina, missing the suspended Canigga, became the first finalists not to score and also the first to have a player sent off when Gustavo Dezotti was dismissed. By the end another Argentinian had seen red, Pedro Monzon, but the better team had won. Sixteen years after captaining West Germany to the FIFA World Cup, coach Beckenbauer had done it again. And in winning their third title, Germany now joined Italy and Brazil as the football world's most successful nations.

Mexico 1986

Teams: 24
When: 31 May 1986 to 29 June 1986
Final: 29 June 1986
Matches: 52
Goals: 132 (average 2.5 per match)
Attendance: 2393331 (average 46025)
Winner: Argentina
Runners-Up: Germany FR
Third: France
Fourth: Belgium
adidas Golden Ball: Diego MARADONA (ARG)
adidas Golden Shoe: Gary LINEKER (ENG)
FIFA Fair Play award: Brazil

The FIFA World Cup™ returned to Mexico for a tournament marked by the mastery of Diego Maradona. Argentina overcame West Germany in an exciting Final but the defining match was a quarter-final against England featuring two of history's most famous goals: the 'Hand of God' followed by the dribble of a genius. Michel Platini's France again lost out in the semi-finals before beating surprise package Belgium to third place.

Mexico became the first country to stage the FIFA World Cup™ finals for a second time when football's greatest show returned to the site of Brazil's 1970 triumph, but this time it was Argentina who shrugged off the heat and high altitude to emerge victorious, inspired by their captain Diego Maradona who dominated the tournament in a way that arguably only Pele had done before.
The statistics tell that Argentina's celebrated No10 scored five and created another five of his team's 14 goals en route to a 3-2 Final victory over West Germany, runners-up for the second successive tournament. Yet that was only half the story. The majesty of one of Maradona's strikes and the notoriety of another seemed to capture the essence of a man described by France's L'Equipe newspaper as "half-angel, half-devil".
Both those goals came in a 2-1 quarter-final victory over England at the Azteca Stadium that became an instant classic. The first, in Maradona's words, came from the 'Hand of God', the little playmaker raising an arm and flipping the ball past Peter Shilton as the big goalkeeper came out to punch clear. The second, just three minutes later, was from the feet of a genius: picking the ball up inside his own half, 'Dieguito' set off on a dribble which left five England players, Shilton included, trailing in his wake before he found the net.
Mexico had earned the right to host the 1986 FIFA World Cup after Colombia withdrew citing financial reasons. A terrible earthquake in September 1985 provided a tragic prelude – some 20,000 people died – but the stadiums were not affected and the country revived to stage a memorable tournament.
Lineker's goal rushIf Maradona was the star attraction, there were other heroes, among them England striker Gary Lineker, winner of the Golden Shoe. Lineker struck six goals – three of them in a decisive group game against Poland – to help his side recover from a poor start and the loss of injured captain Bryan Robson. With England trailing 2-0 to Argentina, he narrowed the deficit and came within a whisker of a late equaliser.
Denmark, one of three newcomers alongside Canada and Iraq, lit up the early stages with an attacking approach that earned them three straight wins, one over West Germany, and the nickname 'Danish dynamite'. Their forward line included Michael Laudrup and Preben Elkjaer, who scored a hat-trick in the 6-1 demolition of Uruguay.
USSR recorded the biggest victory of the first round, 6-0 over Hungary, and impressed with a team packed with players from UEFA Cup Winners' Cup winners Dynamo Kiev – notably Igor Belanov, soon to be voted the 1986 European Player of the Year – and put together at short notice by that club's coach, Valeriy Lobanovskyi.
Like the Danes, the Soviets won their first-round group but came unstuck in the second round, losing 4-3 to Belgium. Belanov's treble in Leon that day made him the third man to have struck a FIFA World Cup hat-trick yet finished on the losing side. Denmark's demise was even more dramatic: beaten 6-1 by a Spain side for whom Emilio Butragueno struck four times.
Morocco make historyThis FIFA World Cup had a change of format, with the second group stage dropped in favour of a last-16 knockout round. This meant the four best third-placed teams all progressed but there was no need of a 'second chance' for Morocco, who became the first African team to survive the first round by winning their group thanks to a 3-1 success over Portugal, before succumbing to West Germany.
The Germans then needed a penalty shoot-out to get past hosts Mexico for whom Manuel Negrete had earlier scored one of the finals' best goals, a spectacular scissors-kick against Bulgaria. Three of the four quarter-finals were settled this way. While Belgium – with eccentric goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff prominent – overcame Spain, France ended the hopes of Brazil in a contest described by Pele as "historic".
France, the European champions, had already eliminated holders Italy but they faced a more formidable rival in the South Americans who, with the score at 1-1, missed a chance of victory when goalkeeper Joel Bats saved Zico's penalty. Although Michel Platini missed his effort in the ensuing shoot-out, fellow midfielder Luis Fernandez struck to send France through. Unfortunately for Les Bleus, they had to settle for third place after falling once again to West Germany in the semi-final.
Maradona scored another goal to remember in Argentina's victory over Belgium in the other semi-final but Argentina's captain found it less easy in the final, shadowed as he was by Lothar Matthaus. One of the unsung heroes of Carlos Bilardo's team opened the scoring, Jose Luis Brown, a central defender in search of a club side. Jorge Valdano doubled the lead but the Germans fought back, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller both striking in a six-minute spell.
Not even Matthaus could keep Maradona quiet for 90 minutes, though, and parity lasted just three minutes. Maradona sent Jorge Burruchaga running clear in the 83rd minute and Argentina had their third goal and, with it, a second world crown.


Spain 1982

Teams: 24
When: 13 June 1982 to 11 July 1982
Final: 11 July 1982
Matches: 52
Goals: 146 (average 2.8 per match)
Attendance: 2109723 (average 40571)
Winner: Italy
Runners-Up: Germany FR
Third: Poland
Fourth: France
adidas Golden Ball: Paolo ROSSI (ITA)
adidas Golden Shoe: Paolo ROSSI (ITA)
FIFA Fair Play award: Brazil

Paolo Rossi was the hero in Spain, his six goals propelling Italy to a third world crown. The Azzurri ran out 3-1 Final winners against a German team who had survived the competition's first penalty shoot-out in a dramatic semi-final against France. If Italy won gold, Brazil took a share of the glory for some scintillating football before succumbing to Rossi's hat-trick in the best game of this first 24-team finals.

Italy became world champions for the third time in 1982, their triumph on Spanish soil made memorable by the scoring feats of six-goal striker Paolo Rossi and an iconic celebration by Marco Tardelli. The romantic-minded may have shed a tear for Brazil and France – unlucky losers in two of the finest matches of any FIFA World Cup™ – but few begrudged Enzo Bearzot's men a 3-1 victory over a rugged West Germany team in a Final in which Rossi's opening goal secured him the Golden Shoe to complete a personal redemption story even more dramatic than the Italians' revival after a faltering start.Rossi had barely returned from a two-year ban from football – the result of his involvement in a match-fixing scandal – when the finals began and he failed to find the net in any of Italy's three group games, all of them drawn. Indeed the Italians only advanced ahead of Cameroon because they had scored one goal more. They came good when it counted, though, eliminating favourites Brazil in the second round thanks to a hat-trick from Rossi, who then struck twice more in the semi-final against Poland. Italy's other heroes included 40-year-old goalkeeping captain Dino Zoff and 18-year-old full-back Giuseppe Bergomi. Yet while Bergomi became the youngest Italian to appear on the world stage, Northern Ireland's Norman Whiteside surpassed Pele's record as the youngest player in the tournament's entire history – aged 17 years and 41 days. And his team provided one of the main shocks by beating Spain 1-0 to reach the second round.The 12th FIFA World Cup was the last to feature a fully leather ball but it broke new ground as the first involving 24 teams rather than 16. It also had a new format, incorporating three distinct phases: a first round comprising six groups of four teams, with the top two from each progressing; a second round with four groups of three from which the top team advanced; and then the semi-finals and Final. Algeria upset GermanyThe Netherlands, runners-up in 1974 and ’78, were the most prominent casualties of a qualifying campaign which yielded six first-time finalists: Algeria, Cameroon, El Salvador, Honduras, Kuwait and New Zealand. Two of that number made a significant impact in a first round which began with a surprise loss for holders Argentina, 1-0 against Belgium in Barcelona. Algeria then provided an even bigger upset by defeating European champions Germany 2-1 in their opening game, Rabah Madjer and Lakdar Belloumi, African Footballer of the Year, the scorers. Despite also defeating Chile, the Algerians were eliminated on away goals after Germany enjoyed an all-too-comfortable victory over Austria which allowed both European teams to advance. One consequence of the controversy was that in future tournaments, concluding first-round games would kick off at the same time.Cameroon could curse their luck too, heading home unbeaten after holding both Italy and a Poland side destined for third place. Honduras drew with the disappointing hosts Spain but for another of the new faces, El Salvador, there was embarrassment: they became the first side to ship ten goals in a FIFA World Cup game, losing 10-1 to Hungary for whom substitute Lazlo Kiss struck a hat-trick in record time (between the 69th and 76th minutes). Brazil dazzleThe real stars of the first round were Tele Santana’s Brazil. Widely considered the South Americans' best side since 1970, their strengths lay in a multi-talented midfield that featured Zico, Falcao, Socrates and Eder – the last two contributing a superb goal apiece in an opening 2-1 comeback victory over Russia. Brazil eliminated arch-rivals Argentina with a 3-1 triumph in their first second-phase game – Diego Maradona's frustration boiling over late on when he kicked Batista and was sent off – and went into their second fixture against Italy needing only a draw to secure a semi-final berth. But despite goals from Socrates and Falcao, Rossi's hat-trick sent them home. Missing the suspended Zbigniew Boniek, Poland offered the Italians little resistance in the semi-final but the same could not be said of France in their epic duel with Germany in Seville. A match rendered infamous by Harald Schumacher's unpunished assault on France substitute Patrick Battiston – knocked unconscious by the Germany goalkeeper as he chased a through-ball – it was also the first in the FIFA World Cup to be decided by penalties after the Germans retrieved a 3-1 deficit in extra time. After Schumacher had saved from Maxime Bossis, Horst Hrubech scored to ensure heartbreak for a French team who, driven by midfield maestros Michel Platini, Jean Tigana and Alain Giresse, had reached their first semi-final since 1958.Jaded by that gruelling contest, Jupp Derwall's team were second-best to Italy in the Final at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Azzurri shrugged aside a first-half Antonio Cabrini penalty miss as Rossi, Marco Tardelli and Alessandro Altobelli put Germany to the sword after the break. Breitner registered a late consolation but by then Tardelli had already provided the abiding image – racing away, arms pumping and screaming his joy to the world.
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Argetint 1978

Teams: 16
When: 01 June 1978 to 25 June 1978
Final: 25 June 1978
Matches: 38
Goals Scored: 102 (average 2.7 per match)
Attendance: 1546151 (average 40688)
Winner: Argentina
Runners-Up: Netherlands
Third: Brazil
Fourth: Italy
Golden Shoe: Mario KEMPES (ARG)
FIFA Fair Play award: Argentina

Hosts Argentina captured their first world title as the Netherlands suffered Final heartache for the second tournament running. Mario Kempes sealed Cesar Luis Menotti's side's triumph, scoring twice against the Dutch in the confetti-strewn cauldron of the Estadio Monumental to earn himself additional acclaim as top scorer. Brazil, denied a Final place by Argentina's 6-0 win over Peru, took third place from an enterprising Italy side.

Losing finalists at the very first FIFA World Cup™, Argentina's footballers reached the pinnacle on home soil 48 years later, propelled by the goals of Golden Shoe winner Mario Kempes and the fervour of their impassioned followers, whose snowstorms of shredded blue and white paper, swirling inside the stadiums in Buenos Aires and Rosario, offered a defining image. Amid Argentina's celebrations, there was sympathy for the Netherlands, runners-up for the second tournament running, following a 3-1 Final defeat at the Estadio Monumental. After Dirk Nanninga's header had equalised Kempes's first-half opener, the Dutch came within a whisker of winning when Rob Rensenbrink struck a post in the dying seconds of normal time. Destiny beckoned a reprieved Argentina, however, and Kempes and Daniel Bertoni seized the glory with extra-time strikes.
Kempes, the only foreign-based player in Argentina's squad, entered the tournament as the leading scorer in Spain with Valencia, and ended it with six goals – this despite his failure to find the net in the first round. He was not alone in a stuttering start: Cesar Luis Menotti's hosts defeated Hungary but were then fortunate to overcome France 2-1 before surrendering top spot in the section by losing 1-0 to Italy. Yet Menotti, who had omitted the 17-year-old Diego Maradona from his squad, would eventually earn the optimum reward for a philosophy of skilful, attacking football embodied by graceful little midfielder Osvaldo Ardiles.
African first, Scottish slalomThe opening phase witnessed a first African victory in the FIFA World Cup – debutants Tunisia beating Mexico 3-1 – while fellow newcomers Iran gained a point against Scotland. The only British representatives, Scotland recovered to defeat the Netherlands 3-2 in their final group fixture in Cordoba. Archie Gemmill conjured up a magical goal after a slaloming run around three defenders yet the Scots still departed early, the Dutch squeezing through on goal difference.
If Scotland's campaign was marred by Willie Johnston's failed doping test, this was a tournament touched by a bigger controversy, taking place as it did against the backcloth of Argentinian leader General Jorge Videla's oppressive military regime. There were other upsets: Brazil's players were unhappy when Welsh referee Clive Thomas blew for full time an instant before Zico's header crossed the line in a 1-1 first-round draw with Sweden; off the pitch, Argentina attacker Leopoldo Luque opted to play on despite the death of his brother in a car crash.
Arguably the best team to head home early were France, who caught the eye for more than the unfamiliar green-and-white striped shirts – loaned to them by local club Kimberley – which they wore against Hungary after a mix-up over kits. The 21-year-old Michel Platini, in particular, served notice of his impressive ability, striking his first goal on the world stage against Argentina.
As in 1974, the last eight teams split up into two sections and from Group A, it was the Netherlands who advanced to the final. Coached by the Austrian Ernst Happel, a former European champion with Feyenoord, they were missing Johan Cruyff – their long-time inspiration had chosen to miss the finals – and Wim van Hanagem, a last-minute withdrawal, yet only Kempes delivered more goals than Dutch forward Rensenbrink and after they had beaten Austria and held holders West Germany, the Oranje came from behind to overcome Italy in their final, decisive group match. Ernie Brandt scored at both ends before Arie Haan's long-range drive sent the Dutch through. On the same day, Hans Krankl fired Austria to a first victory for 47 years over the eliminated West Germans.
Brazil outgunnedEnzo Bearzot's Italy earned experience here that would serve them well four years later in Spain – and striker Paolo Rossi's three goals offered a hint of things to come from him – but they were denied bronze by the tournament's one unbeaten team, Brazil. The South Americans boasted a striker named Roberto Dinamite – not to mention a full-back, Nelinho, capable of outrageous, swerving strikes – but they had to settle for third place after being outgunned by arch-rivals Argentina in Group B.
After playing out a bad-tempered stalemate, the South American pair went into their deciding fixtures with three points each, and Brazil's subsequent 3-1 victory over Poland left Menotti's men needing to beat Peru by a four-goal margin later that day to reach the Final. With Teofilo Cubillas prominent, the Peruvians had beaten Scotland and held the Dutch in the first round but now they were already eliminated and Argentina ran riot, recording a 6-0 win. Among the scorers were Kempes – whose scoring touch had returned with the team's second-round relocation to his home city of Rosario – and Luque with two apiece.
Events that night ensured that in future, final group matches would kick off at the same time. The immediate consequence, however, was an Argentina-Netherlands Final on 25 June 1978. "Tulips in the Pampas?" asked French newspaper L'Equipe on the eve of the game. Instead it was tears once again for the team in orange as Albiceleste captain Daniel Passarella became the first Argentinian to hold aloft football's most famous prize.