Big disappointment

Just back from the Waterfront, which was alive with sunshine and happy faces for the Bafana Bafana game last Friday, but was a very different scene this evening as things fell apart for South Africa. What started as a party full of hope went very quiet and ended in disbelief, anger and tears. Mainly because the parking machine got an errant R5 coin stuck in the coin slot.

The queues were quite horrendous.

In the footy, Bafana were quite simply outplayed for 90 of the 90 minutes. The midfield just didn’t turn up, the passing was wayward at best and there were only brief snatches (which are still better than no snatches at all) of the team that played with such passion and skill on Friday. Uruguay are apparently the same side that I saw in Cape Town last week and bored me to tears, although it didn’t look that way this evening. Also, the parking machine worked that night, so it really was completely different.

There has already been a lot said about the referee – not least his decision to award a penalty to a player who was apparently offside and give Itumeleng Khune a red card to boot (him off the field), but the fact is that Bafana never really looked like scoring.
Now SA need to rely on a France v Mexico draw (o-o would be nice) and then they have to go out and beat France. Nothing else will suffice if they are to make the last 16.

Photos (such as they are) will be up tomorrow.
Me? I’m off to bed with a sore throat, some dashed hopes and possibly – just possibly – a small tear in my eye.

P.S. Suarez to Man U next season, I reckon. They’ve been missing someone with diving skills like that since Prissy Crissy walked out on them.

Squads confirmed (ish)

Each team participating at the FIFA World Cup 2010 has until midnight tonight to name their final 23 man squads. Bafana Bafana named theirs at a press conference this morning and the bi g news (worldwide) was the omission of striker Benni McCarthy.

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs, Shu-aib Walters

Defenders: Aaron Mokoena (captain), Siboniso Gaxa, Bongani Khumalo, Anele Ngcongca, Tsepo Masilela, Lucas Twala, Mathew Booth, Lance Davids, Siyabonga Sangweni

Midfielders: Teko Modise, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Steven Pienaar, Thanduyise Khuboni, Kagiso Dikgacoi, Macbeth Sibaya, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Surprise Moriri

Strikers: Bernard Parker, Katlego Mphela, Siyabonga Nomvete

Following last night’s 5-0 win over Guatemala in Polokwane, South frica have now gone 11 matches unbeaten and face Denmark in their final warm-up game before next Friday’s opener against Mexico at Soccer City.

England’s squad announcement, due at lunchtime was delayed until this afternoon. But that didn’t stop journalists leaking the details of the 7 players left out of Fabio Capello’s original 30-man training squad.
As the BBC’s exasperated Jonathan Stevenson remarked:

This is a most unsatisfying resolution to quite an important announcement. We’re still waiting on the names of four of the England players who will not be travelling to South Africa.

and then:

Oh for crying out loud. I love Fabio, but this has gone on way too long – and according to Express sport, the official announcement won’t be until 1500 BST now. It’s frankly a shambolic and unacceptable way for England’s World Cup campaign to begin.
Transfer deadline day ain’t got nothing on this. It’s carnage.

And he’s right. After a blisteringly good qualifying campaign, England have looked shakier and shakier against Mexico and then Japan. Now, the FA have messed up the squad announcement which should have been a straightforward press conference: how difficult is it to read out 23 names?

Are the wheels coming off already? It’s really not a good start.

UPDATE: Finally – at 1600 BST, the rumours are confirmed:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, David James, Robert Green.

Defenders: Jamie Carragher, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Ledley King, John Terry, Matthew Upson, Stephen Warnock

Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Forwards: Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney

Meaning that Leighton Baines, Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott and Darren Bent don’t make the squad of 23.

Upson, Carragher, Carrick, and Lennon look like the weak links to me. Oh – and all the goalkeepers.

Hope for Bafana yet

Ask any (non-whining) South African about the World Cup next year and they’ll tell you two things:
Firstly, it’s going to be brilliant, exciting, amazing; and secondly, Bafana Bafana don’t stand a chance. We’re talking cat in hell, snowball in hell, fishcake in… hell (?) stuff here. No chance. At all. Not even a little bit. Nil. Zero. Zilch.
You get my point. And that’s still one more than Bafana are going to manage*.

But we’re all singing the praises of the South Africa Homeless World Cup team this week, who are fresh back from Milan, trophy in hand! Fantastic stuff. That is, until you read the small print and discover that they won the trophy for finishing 16th.

It’s all enough to make you wonder if they didn’t just steal the trophy. In the traditional South African way.  I’m not suggesting that they did nick it or anything, but getting a trophy for finishing 16th? It does sound a bit fishy.

You must forgive me, because I recognise that even being there representing their country was a special experience and an honour for those guys. And I can only salute the great positive work that NGO’s and charities do in organising these sorts of events. But, being a traditionalist at heart, I have to say first, second, third… fair enough. But a trophy for finishing 16th? Well, that devalues thing a little for me.
16th deserves more of a certificate and a pat on the back. A well done and thanks for turning up but there were another 15 teams who were better than you kind of thing. Not a trophy.

So South Africa didn’t win. They didn’t even come close. But there are those who can overlooked this minor detail if it brings in some nice publicity. ID leader Patricia de Lille for one:

I am so proud of our National Homeless Soccer Team, who persevered right until the end of the World Cup, beating Malawi in the final.

Poor deluded Patricia de Lille is still under the impression that her political party won the recent election and can’t understand why Jacob Zuma is claiming to be President.
Fortunately, for the purposes of accuracy in this article, reporter Harriet McLea helped de Lille out by adding the word “(match)” into the published quote at an appropriate point.

All a bit of a joke as far as the competition goes, then. But this surely offers some hope for Bafana Bafana in the real World Cup next year. After all, if you get a trophy just for finishing 16th, maybe they won’t be empty-handed at the end of the 2010 tournament.

* That’s enough now. Ed.

Bafana v Brazil

The Local Boys take on the Samba Boys in the second Confederations Cup semi-final this evening, buoyed by growing local support and the somewhat surprising result from the first semi last night when the USA beat Spain 2-0. That said, there are only 12 places between those two on the FIFA rankings. Brazil are 67 places ahead of South Africa and are playing like men possessed. Men possessed by really good footballers.
If they were playing like men possessed by kingklip or desk lamps or bits of polystyrene, then it wouldn’t be so bad, but I have this horrible feeling deep in my head than Bafana are going back to footballing school this evening.

That said, tickets are all but sold out for the game and the support for Bafana will be fanatical and will include at least some (or more) vuvuzelas (or so I would imagine). Maybe turn the sound down if you don’t like the noise.
Just an idea. Tolerance and respect for others, you see?

Confed Cup opening: Shine2010

Nothing would please me more than to be wrong about the scoreline – I have neither affiliation nor huge admiration for Brazil, but they’re on top of their game at the moment and are hot favourites.

One more thing: have done one of their famous The Big Picture spreads on Soccer in South Africa. There are some superb photos in there, numbers 14 and 18 being my favourites.