The world cup is soooo close now I have been looking forward to this moment for a such a long time everytime I see world cup ads or world cup flashbacks I get pretty emotional



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The world cup is soooo close now I have been looking forward to this moment for a such a long time everytime I see world cup ads or world cup flashbacks I get pretty emotional. Of course I didnt experience any world cup viva until France 98 time has just flown by since then I have experienced 3 beautiful world cup tournaments in my life but such is my knowledge and expertise I can go through EVERY world cup and discuss everything from the first world cup in 1930-2006. The days of 200,000 people filling the stands may be well and truely over but each and every world cup is so unique so special even the incidents off the pitch are so memorable from Ronaldo before the 98 WC final from apperent corruption in 1950 or Bobby Moore in 1970 and im sure this world cup will be no exception. People have had their doubts over South Africa's supposely inability to host such a prestigious tournament there have been doubts over dozens of things from crime to stadium completion but so far everything has been rosy and long may that continue. To have the World cup in Africa for the first time is fanatasic it gives the tournament some added freshness it will help the economy in South Africa massively but most of all it gives the whole continent of African something to be really proud of. I cant wait these people have been waiting 6 years for this now we are talking about a matter of days of course I am an Englishman so thats where my allegiance lies but lets make no mistake about it this world up isnt just about England for me its about all 32 nations. Aside from England I will be rooting for several other nations with a great energy and passion(although not like England) such as South Africa Australia etc etc etc im not normally someone who roots for the big nations but of course I will enjoy and admire Spain and co.Im not supporting the Bafana Bafana's simply because they are underdogs or because I have relatives in S.A nope there are various answers but the bottom line is I have grown an attractment an affliation and love for the people and the team. The people/fans are just so incredible I swear they are the craziest simplest loudest most amazing fans ever and I mean that in a good way I mean Moe is simple but I love that kid. Im not taking the piss but the alot of South African fans do the most amazing incredible things ever dont even get me started about on the vampire or the cabbage hahahah truely amazing they might be childest and simple but my word they are the best thing ever. To show my commitment I went on ebay last week and have bought the South Africa home shirt and a Vuvuzela although I am still awaiting my shirt but its not about what I do on the outside its what I do on the inside that counts. I will be cheering them on like crazy I will feel the happiness and unfortunately the sadness but whats important is its something that stays in our hearts. The World cup comes around once every blue moon which is why I will enjoy and embrace every moment because before you know it you will be like wow thats gone quickly. Thankfully from my point of view my daily commitments are reaching an end so I can watch and enjoy every match if possible and if for some reason I cant then I will record it and I believe you should do the same infact no thats an order.....only messing or am I? So anyway enough of the chit chat the time has now come to preview EACH AND EVERY nation who will be participating so get yourself a can of dr pepper why not get a mars bar and a packet of ready ready salted crisp while your at it if you are on a diet like in woodbines case then perhaps he should stick with water and a freshly made orange from the olives of Seville. Put down the Daily Mail already Sam and stop reading Piers Morgan all the fucking time get a grip mate you need to be listening to experts like myself if you want to learn about football and everything else in life also while your at it get yourself a haircut and stop trying to finger girls bumholes while they are asleep. Enjoy!
Now I was going through every nation in alphabetical order but stuff that I will just go through each group
GROUP A:
SOUTH AFRICA:
No host nation has ever failed to make it past the group stage but I am extremely worried that history will be written for the wrong reasons :-( I pray that this doesn't happen of course. I know for sure that after England this is my team I always want host nations to do well but none more so than South Africa they are the least favourites to get out of the group but that just motivates me even more. Carlos Alberto Pariera is now in his 2nd spell having resigned with South Africa not long after the Confederations cup he is a good manager and I expect all of you to know who he is if you dont then I pity you. I will be honest here and wont deny that South Africa are a mediocre side at best lets put things into prespective ok even Iraq and Wales are ahead for these boys in the current fifa world rankings. Despite the fact that South Africa is a multi cultural society there is only one white player in the team and his name is Matthew Booth he is big bald and pretty tough he is a bit of a cult hero with the fans. Everytime he recieves the ball the fans go Boootthhhhh I hope you have the audacity to do the same but of course the most popular player and without doubt the best player in the side is of course Steven Pienaar. With Benni Mccarthy left out the squad due to weight and mental problems it is fair to say that Pineaar carries the hopes of the team as well as the nation. Aaron Mokena is the captain whether he will be Pompey capt next season remains to be seen but he is one of the most experienced pros in the squad he will need to show the same fight and commitment as he did with Portsmouth. The rest of the players are either journeymen or players that are still rooted in South Africa but check out Bernard Parker he looks a pretty nifty player he has good pace and could be one to look out for. I wish South Africa all the luck in the world because unfortunately they are going to need it.
Hopes and dreams:
To get a win and maybe get to the 2nd round
Key player:
Steven Pienaar
My prediction:
I will be slightly biased here
South Africa 2 Mexico 1
South Africa 0 Urugauy 0
South Africa 1 France 1
Knocked out in last 16
MEXICO:
When you think of Mexico you think of technique speed ability and abundance of attacking prowess they have a good blend of young and experienced players in the side.When Sven was in charge Mexico were struggling and things were looking pretty bleak but Javier Aguierre came in brought back Blanco and restored belief and hope in the side again he went back to basics and went on and won the next 6 matches to qualify with ease. In terms of individual talent these group of players are probably the most talented Mexicans I have ever come across I saw their last 2 matches against England and the Dutch and well I believe both matches summed them up to perfection. In the first half against England they were opening England up dominanting possession and really taking the game to the opponents but wasteful finishing and moments of lack of concentration cost them. Against the Netherlands they were not at the races for the first 60mins but then they were world beaters even better than the first half against England the Dutch. By the end the Dutch were hanging on but its not just the last 2 matches even in qualifying they would switch off which isnt a problem to a certain extent because you can get away with it when you are up against Costa Rica or Honduras but not against top level oppositon. If they can become a 90 minute side then im being serious when I say they can give anyone a game who remembers the 2006 WC v Argentina? one of the best matches during that tournament incredible match that had almost everything Mexico took arguably the best side in the tournament all the way. From Ochoa to Vela the team is littered with top talent the names just roll of the tongue but like I said earlier the experience is there too Marquez Blanco(remember France 98?) Salcido and of course one of my personal favourite Omar Bravo. .There has been alot of talk and controversy in Mexico after Javier Aguierre left out Giovani Dos Santos younger brother Jonathan mmm I dont understand all the fuss to be honest. I must admit he looks a good player but he barely plays for Barcelona and when he does its only for 10/15 minutes at the end when they are 4-0 up he has done little to merit his place. His agent game out and said he will retire from the NT and even his brother Giovani said he might too its pathetic and disrespectful he played little part in qualification as it was anyway. Man Utd fans will know about Javier Hernandez he has a good scoring ratio for international level and scored a nice header in his last match against the Netherlands. Will the Mexicans be covered in glory or will they be covered in eggs?

Hopes and dreams:

To reach the last 8 is a realistic and achievable goal

Star player:

Andres Guardado. I mentioned the best to last one of the best LWs in La Liga and surely just a matter of time before a top side finally snaps him up.

My prediction:

Mexico 1 South Africa 2

Mexico 1 France 0

Mexico 2 Urugauy 2

Knocked out in group stage

FRANCE:

When France lost 3-1 in Vienna it looked as if the French would struggle but after that match they rallied round and didnt lose a single match in the qualifying afterwards. However it was not enough to displace Serbia at the top so they went into a play off against the Republic of Ireland and well even though I am writing this column as a neutral its not too harsh to state that the French handled their way to South Africa. I have forgiven Henry a long time ago but I cannot forgive the Swedish officials nor can I forget what happened its far to say that I wont be their biggest fan this summer or for the 3 matches that they will play......Anyway despite having an eccentric and odd coach and despite not having players like Nasri or Benzema in the squad it is still a very good side on a personal basis. The injury to Lass will be a major blow and although they still have alot of influencial players I just feel nobody in their midfield has the qualities he has not even Toulalan. Hugo Lloris is a top GK they have the best LB's in the world and the defence as a whole isnt too bad but im not always convinced by the CBs particulary Escude. The attacking part of the team is of top quality Yohan Gourcuff is a terrific player AC Milan are stupid to let him go he is the closest thing I have seen to Zidane he is so technically gifted. Anelka Ribery Malouda etc etc the names are never ending but personally I dont let this influence my decision I look past the names I know my stuff. France have no team spirit they have no cohension most of the players dislike the coach and Domenech wont even be coach after the WC I hate him he looks like a mad scientist. He is a complete oddball he once asked his girlfriend to marry him after France got eliminated in euro 2008.......she said no he picks some players by star signs phew he hasn't got any idea how to gel this side together. Despite having a kind group I can still see France crashing and burning they have too many problems to be successful they should be greatful they are competing at the WC.

Hopes and dreams:

Maybe they can fluke a place in the last 8 but no more

Star player:

Franck Ribery: When he isnt shagging underage girls he is a class act

My prediction:

France 1 Uruguay 2

France 0 Mexico 1

France 1 South Africa 1

Knocked out group stage

URUGAUY:

Urugauy qualified for this years tournament through the play off system just like France narrowly overcoming Costa Rica 2-1 in a hard fought match. Urugauy have won more WC than England Spain and Holland put together they had a great team during the earlier years of the world cup but that should not lessen the significance of todays side. Diego Forlan and Luis Saurez both know how to put the ball in the back of the net although Saurez has not proved so consistent at international level but he will be playing for his future to put himself in the shop window in order to move to a bigger side. I watch alot of Urugauy since I watch the South American qualifers and to be honest I expected more from them they were very erratic at times maybe the lack of experience in the side cost them at certain moments. I considered Godin and Lugano two of europest finest CB's not so long ago but Godin has had a pretty miserable season and Lugano is not at the level he was 2-3 years ago. Urugauy have a very solid team they are mentally and physically tough they are a side that likes to attack and get at the opposition at home but away from home is a different story. Away from home they let the other team come at them and then they try and hit a sucker punch on the counter they aren't a likely contender to win the WC but bouy they are a dangerous side to face. Dont under-estimate their quality in depth we might have Emile Heskey to bring off the bench but they have the likes of Cavani and the experienced Abreu such is the competiton even the likes of Cristian Rodriquez has failed the make the 23man squad. People forget that its only a small nation with about 5m people its incredible to think a Country with the same population as Scotland as such a team and such a history its something I respect alot. Having failed to qualify for the last WC this team has changed so much since 2002 when the likes of Dario Silva and Alvaro Recoba were the star men not many survivors remain from that era. That year they got to the last 16 this year they may feel they can go 1 better.

Hopes and dreams:

Going as far as possible but reaching the last 8 will be the requirement.

Star player:

Diego Forlan goes without saying

My predictions:

Urugauy 2 France 1

Urugauy 2 Mexico 2

Urugauy 0 South Africa 0

2nd round or QF

GROUP B

ARGENTINA:

Wow the past 18 months has been a complete nuthouse its utterly mindblowing my word anyone who hasn't lived under a rock since Maradona has taken charge will understand. I dont know the exact figure but I believe Maradona has used over 90 players yes thats right over 90 players since he has been in charge he has used about 30 different formations I cant help but laugh to be honest. In one game he was playing a 3-3-4 then by the next he was playing a 5-2-3 sheer madness nowadays he plays a solid backline with no natural fullbacks haha his theory is that why do you need fullbacks to go past the halfway line when you half wingers "sighs". He has left Javier Zanetti and most shockingly of them all Esteban Cambiasso.....now how can you possibly leave out one of the best readers and destroyers of the game in world football a guy who has played a pivotal role in a season where his club side won absolutely everything. If you're going to leave out Cambiasso at least call up Banega but maybe championship football is more worthwhile than playing CL finals who knows what goes through that guys mind its almost as big as mystery as what goes through woodbines mind. Despite these obscenities Argentina remain a very strong side packed with world class midfielders and attackers infact I would go as far as stating that Argentina's strikeforce is the best in the world no other side including Spain can compete with that amount of quanity. Players such as Tevez Aguero and Milito are all likely to be on the bench which underlines the riches of talent Maradona has at his disposal im almost certain Di Maria Messi and Higuain will be the regular starters. Sounds good doesn't it? however my word of advice is do not expect the book to be so good once you open it because sometimes the cover looks better from the outside. What im trying to say is that Argentina will have 7 players whos job is souly to focus on the defensive side relying on just 2 or 3 players to go up the other end and do the business it wont be very pretty. Maradona's idea of keeping clean sheets is to make the whole team defensive so dont expect the mastershow of 2006 where Argentina scored a goal after making 30 plus passes expect a hoof up the pitch from Heinze and an under par Messi. For some reason Lionel Messi has never quite done it with the Argies its hard to say what he is doing wrong I know he has said that Barca play a settled formation and line up and you have more continuity but you cant just accept that reasoning alone. In my mind Messi is by far the worlds best and will soon end up as the greatest of them all but if he is to convince those last few doubters then he will need to produce at the biggest stage of them all sooner or later so why not in 2010? People are writing Argentina off but we shall see.

Hopes and dreams:

Maradona to run round Buenos Aries naked

Star player:

Lionel Messi by a country mile

My prediction:

Argentina 3 Nigeria 1

Argentina 1 South Korea 1

Argentina 1 Greece 0

It all depends on what happens in the draw but QF or SF is my feeling

NIGERIA:

IT IS NOW CONFIRMED THAT JOHN OBI MIKEL IS OUT OF THE WORLD CUP SO FORGET WHAT I SAID ABOUT HIM.

The Super Eagles are historically Africa's finest team particulary during the late 90s but the power has shifted a little maybe lying about your age finally catches up with you if you know what I mean. I remember with 2 games to go I was thinking wow bloody hell Nigeria aren't going to make it and with second remaning Nigeria were drawing 2-2 but with virtually the last kick off the game Martins kept their dreams alive. Even despite this Nigeria needed Tunisia to lose on the final day and hope they win and well.....im sitting here right now talking about the Super Eagles its just incredible how things work out maybe its destiny. In the past whenever the ACON was on you woluld put your mortgage on the winners being Nigeria but now I wouldn't even bet a penny whistle and moonpie on them reaching the semi finals and to add to insult they are not always great to watch anymore. They have alot of pace in the wide area's but they always try to play through the middle relying on Martins and the big Yak to get the goals I want to see both the them making the most of the tools they have. Nigeria have a non exsistent GK a SHITTU defence which has been leaking goals a solid midfield with pacey trickery wingers and two targetmen upfront but despite the array of attacking armor they have available its usually the same two players getting the goals. Taiwo is their best defender but even he has attacking instincts always bombing up and down I fear they will get exposed by all 3 sides in the group they have been a shambles at the back and unless something dramatic happens then I cant see that changing. John Obi Mikel is the influencial driving force from midfield but the media and the fans expect too much from him they want him to be the star player every game but hes just a young boy doing a job for the team thats what they fail to grasp. I always want the African nations to do well but none more so with the finals being held in this continent but im not resting my hopes on Nigeria of course im not dismissing them completely I just dont think they have enough ingredients to make any sort of impression. This will be Kanu's last WC he has been a magnificent player and servant for his Country he is a God like figure not just in Nigeria but all across Africa I hope he and his countryman can roll back the clock and produce some good times again.

Hopes and dreams:

To make the knockout stages

Star player:

Obafemi Martins- might be off colour at club level but for Nigeria he is priceless

My predictions:

Nigeria 1 Argentina 3

Nigeria 2 Greece 2

Nigeria 0 South Korea 1

Finish bottom of the pile

SOUTH KOREA:

There are some nations you can say ummm I dislike them but with the Korean's you cant help but not like them they are everything you want to see from a national side. The fans live and breath football they are fanatically about the game just like the english but only difference is they celebrate without causing trouble getting drunk or fights with police or opposition fans. I was speaking about my admiration of this side the other day with Joe Mason I believe they are the best team in Asia I have no doubts at all about that. They are a well organised side they play with alot of energy drive and heart the players are quick athletic and are as fit as a duracell battery they are absolutely deadly on the counter attack. Park Ji Sung symblishes everything good about this team he is the captain and the leader of this team but only he is so much more than just that he is an ironic figure loved and adored by all Korean people. He is so famous he has a street named after him in Seoul where he grew up but one of his characteristics I love most is his personality he isn't a flash ego maniac he is just your average Korean people who doesn't actually like all this limelight he comes across as a shy humble hard working person. He might be the star player but there are other good players you should all know about Lee from Bolton he's made a good impact and growing in strength with each game. However the next superstar after Ji Sung is probably Park Chu Young who plays in France for Monaco I dont know if he will be coming to the premierleague soon but I hope so I want to see him every week against the best defenders. If you want to see Theo Walcott with a football brain then this guy wont be too far of the mark he would do well at a club like Aston Villa but thats for another time. South Korea will always be remember for what they did in 2002 it will go down in world cup folklore but im a bit worried that they have set the bar too high because before the fans never believed in anything but now they have expectations and somethings that can go against you. I know in Korea they like to eat dogs but thats what they are a very dogged outfit they aren't going to score 5 or 6 goals thats not their style they are set up to obtain results not spectacular football. They are one of a number of middle ranked nations who have the potential to get to the quarter finals I dont see any reason why not they are on hot form right now if they can keep that momentum going then theyh will surely join Argentina into the latter stages.

Hopes and dreams:

To get to the Quarters and maybe dream of a repeat in 2002

Star player:

Park Ji Sung

My prediction:

South Korea 2 Greece 1

South Korea 1 Argentina 1

South Korea 1 Nigeria 0

Depends on they meet in the latter stages but at least the 2nd round I believe

GREECE:

It's hard to believe that this will only be Greece second ever involvement in the Fifa World Cup but the Greeks have improved dramatically in the past 15 or so years so expect to see this being a more regular occurrence. Most of the credit has to go to Mr Rehhagel who has performed miracles before he arrived Greece were an also ran team who most people would dismiss. He gave Greece simular characteristics to the West Germany side in the 1970s well drilled playing a tactical game very efficent looking to try sneak a 1-0 win this has been the style since Euro 2004 and it will remain the same this summer. They wont be particulary great to watch which means most of you lot wont take any interest just because they dont play silky football winning 6-4 every match. They will be a tough nut to crack down no side in the group will have an easy game against the boys in light blue and if Greece got the first goal I would back them against anyside in the group. There are no superstars they are a TEAM what they did 6 years ago has to be one of the greatest sporting achievements ever but at the WC they have achieved and done nothing they will be eager to change this. The former European champs failed to qualify forn the last WC which is unheard of for a champion from any continent not to then qualify for the WC but they put things right this time. It is a very experienced side most of these players are now in the twilight of their careers I dont know if there is a lack of young talent coming through but apart from Ninis the future looks very bleak. Never mind the future though there is alot to worry about in the present tense key players from the past such as Stelios Nikolplidis Dellas etc have now retired and soon after the WC im convined at least 5-6 of them will follow. Karagounis the capt is almost certainly playing his last major tournament also but what will be will be at end of the day not many people fancy the Greeks to do anything so maybe that can be an advantage. If they can stay compact and play the perfect game then they could beat Argentina but they can also lose to Nigeria I honestly cant say what will happen but I do fear the worst unfortunately. The first target will be to try and finally win a WC match and then take it from there its up to the likes of Samaras and Ninis to carry the can for the older generation.

Hopes and dreams:

Finally win a match at the world cup

Star player:

Even at 33 Karagounis is a class above his team mates

My Predictions:

Greece 1 South Korea 2

Greece 0 Argentina 1

Greece 2 Nigeria 2

1st Round


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