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December 9, 2009

World Cup 2010 Preview: Group C

Peter Crouch can see beyond group 'C'

Peter Crouch can see beyond group 'C'

The draw for World Cup 2010 (South Africa!) is complete, and now we must wait for 6 months until the matches begin. But here at UF we are incredibly impatient, and have no fear of being proven idiots, so we are launching our Group previews. Who plays who, and where? Which players will we identify as vital to their country’s advancement only for them to be left off the roster in the next few months? Which country will we tab as the surprise of the group only to see them fail to earn a single point in the group stage?

Join us after the jump for generalizations, highly inaccurate predictions, and straight-up misinformation, won’t you?

Ned here, and who better to discuss Group C than an Englishman who lives in the U.S of A?

I must admit, I really wanted to avoid this draw. Most of my friends are American and quite frankly, I’m not a good loser (not that I think that’s a possibility) when it comes to England. This situation for the limey in the states is a ‘no win’ one for sure. The smack talk has begun already!

OK, more on that later, lets get the facts out of the way and see who’ll be heading home early in the fantasy World Cup in my mind.

June 12 – England v USA – Rustenburg – 2.30pm ET
June 13 – Algeria v Slovenia – Polokwane – 7.30am ET
June 18 – Slovenia v USA – Johannesburg – 10am ET
June 18 – England v Algeria – Cape Town – 2.30pm ET
June 23 – Slovenia v England – Port Elizabeth – 10am ET
June 23 – Algeria V USA – Pretoria – 10am ET

And on to the teams…

Country: England
Coach: Super Fabio Capello
Current FIFA Ranking: 9th (Down from 6th in May, FIFA are f’ing idiots)
WC history: We all know the story and many think they know the script. Winners of the WC in 1966. Bobby Moore, Nobby Stiles, the Charlton brothers, Peters and Hurst and of course one of the most famous calls in any game by Kenneth Wolstenholme (see below). Since that magical summer England have been cursed at World Cups and my memory of every one since birth has ended with tears and controversy. The hand of God that coke- fuelled, fat, cheating bastard, the Beckham sending off, Campbell’s perfectly good disallowed goal and penalties. Always down to the penalties. Cue failure and the inevitable Pizza Hut commercial (once the country has calmed down) featuring the villain (Southgate, Pearce, Waddle etc) wearing a bag on their head in public. The story is an old, repetitive one.
How we qualified: England qualified in awesome fashion, winning all but 1 of their 10 games and scoring 34 goals in the process. That’s more goals than anyone else including Brazil who played 8 matches more! England conceded just 6 goals.
Players worth a mention: For me, England have finally got plenty of options and depth but we won’t win it without key players staying fit. Terry, Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney have all proven their worth and importance to Capello’s England and the fitness of these 4 will be key in how we do. Rooney especially. We won’t win jack without him hustling, supporting the midfield and bringing his team mates into the action around the box. The rest of the team will be fighting it out for the remaining places and the competition in wide area’s is refreshing. Beckham’s inclusion in the team is threatened by the pace of Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott, 2 players with a similar style that appears to be the way Capello likes to play. The major worry is in goal. David James is getting on and often crocked these days, Robinson has been a disaster in the past and for me, there is really only one option: Robert Green. He may be unfashionable in the world of football but he is consistent and deserves his chance.
Notes: I’ve been saying it for a while and I’ll say it again. 2010 will be England’s best chance of WC glory since 66. The weather climate will suit, the team is playing well and the squad pretty much picks itself give or take a spot or two. In Fabio Capello, England have found a manager who is passionate and smart. He arrived ready to organize and be listened to and the players have responded. The man has an air of victory about him and its been rubbing off. England should make the semi’s but I am hopeful of an appearance in the final. From there? I’ll make sure i have tissues.


Wolstenholme: “They think it’s all over”!

Country: Algeria (The Desert Foxes)
Coach: Rabah Saadane
Current FIFA Ranking: 28
WC history: 2010 is Algeria’s third WC finals after qualifying in 82 and 86. in ’82 Algeria won 2 of its group games, including the shock win over West Germany. They failed to make the second round as Austria lost to West Germany 1-0 in controversial fashion, criticized for not trying. This was the last time that the third and final group games were played at different times.
How they qualified: Algeria qualified after a fierce 2 games in 4 days with rivals Egypt. The Algeria team bus was ambushed in Cairo, injuring players before Egypt won 2-0. Four days later the return fixture was moved to Omdurman in the neutral Sudan where Algeria sealed a place in South Africa with a 1-0 victory as group winners.
Players worth a shout: Algeria have several key players plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues. Nadir Belhadj and Hassan Yebda at Portsmouth, forward Kamel Ghilas at Hull, Karim Ziani at Wolfsburg (46 caps) and Madjid Bougherra at Rangers in the SPL. Hameur Bouazza at Blackpool is also worth a mention. He looked set to be a star after a good spell at Watford and then Fulham but he never found a place in the first team at Craven Cottage and more recently has been on loan to Charlton before signing a one year deal at Blackpool. At 24, Bouazza has hit a rut in his career and not lived up to the hype surrounding him. That said, when he wants to play he can be very good.
Notes: Algeria are better than many think and England’s newspapers are guilty of dismissing the Desert foxes. I’ll hope that Fabio Capello doesn’t think the same way. I can see them slugging it out with the USA for the second spot in this group.

Country: Slovenia
Coach: Matjaž Kek
Current FIFA Ranking: 33
WC History: Slovenia appeared in their first World Cup in 2002 in Japan (Slovenia became an independent state in 1991), failing to win a single game.
How they qualified: Slovenia finished second in group 3 with 6 wins to force a play-off with Russia from qualification group 4.
Players worth a mention: Slovenia are a very young team lacking experience. There are not many players I recognize from European football but the most recognizable is Robert Koren, the captain who has now been at West Bromwich Albion since 2007, playing over 100 games for the Baggies. (Ed. Note: don’t underestimate Aleksander Radosavljevič – no slouch in midfield)
Notes:Remarkably Slovenia conceded just 4 goals in qualifying. However, this does not mean that they be a dark horse at the World Cup. Inexperienced players and a lack of quality will prove the factor as they will struggle to gain a single point next summer.

Country: U.S.A.
Coach: Bob Bradley
Current FIFA ranking: 14th
WC history: Everyone is talking about the famous 1-0 victory over England in 1950 these days, but let’s focus on the ‘now’. The USMNT has done pretty well in tournaments over the last decade. The Gold Cup isn’t worth a rub, so we will ignore those and the B-team players they use in that waste of time competition and move on. Like England, they have been victims of a few dubious decisions in World Cup play. They made the quarter finals in 2002 losing to Germany and the talking point was a hand clearance on the line. The 2006 campaign was subject to some questionable non-calls against Italy as the team headed home from the group stage. Last year they made the final of the Confederations Cup (World Cup host nation warm-up competition) beating Spain and making the final. They lost to Brazil 3-2 but the gutsy performance was typical of American teams over the years.
How they qualified: The US always plays better in a tournament than in qualification and they really should have made easy work of their WCQ campaign. They won 6 games, lost 2 and drew 2 in a pathetic group that housed Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rico, El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago.
Players worth a mention: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Ricardo Clark will need to be at their best for the U.S to do well next year. Howard is the key figure in the team and without his incredible consistent performances, the U.S will struggle to keep a clean sheet.
Notes: The US should not be taken for granted when in a major tournament. They play with guts and heart, never knowing when to quit. The notion that that America will be an easy victory to most comes from all the crap competitions the country plays in, using duffers like Brian Ching, Robbie Rogers and Jeff Cunningham. Players that will not see an inch of South African turf. The Gold Cup and other competitions devalue the US team as many Americans see these games without realizing that the players on the pitch wouldn’t make the Brighton and Hove Albion 11. But in South Africa it will be different. The US has many players in top leagues these days, players whose clubs would laugh at Bob Bradley if he tried to take them to South America for a Gold cup game. These European-based players make up the real US national team and I expect them to make the second round next summer with 2 wins in round 1. From there who knows. A second place group finish would likely bring a meeting with Germany.

My predictions for the group…

England 3 wins.
USA 2 wins.
Algeria 1 win.
Slovenia 0 wins.

The stand out fixture is obviously on June 12th when I am on an absolute loser.

I will be watching at a special UF event (news to come) and be surrounded by Yanks with just fellow limey James T for patriotic company. Should we win, I will be greeted with “Well that was expected, ho hum, on to the next”. Draw or lose and I’ll be the victim of more abuse and mockery than that bird who typed a sexy note to her one-night stand on her Facebook page by accident.



About the Author

Norfolk Ned
I like football. What else is there to say?




32 Comments


  1. hadley

    I could see the USA finishing 1st. Then again, I can just as easily see them finishing 4th.


  2. James T

    I’m bumping up the poor Slovenes to 3rd place. What havoc they hath wrought upon Russia; that same pain can be inflicted upon Algeria too.


  3. Ryan

    Desert Foxes is a pretty kick ass nickname. More teams should be named after defeated WWII generals.
    And there’s no reason Bob Bradley shouldn’t be spending the month of January in Angola watching Algeria right?


  4. Keith

    CTRL + F “James Milner”

    . . .

    UR DOIN IT WRONG


  5. Norfolk Ned

    He’ll probably go to Louis’ana and watch a prison team insted.


  6. Nathaniel

    …using duffers like Brian Ching, Robbie Rogers and Jeff Cunningham. Players that will not see an inch of South African turf.

    Jinx!


  7. James T

    Keith: I really enjoy watching James Milner. He’s a handy player indeed, and should make the squad on versatility if nothing else. That said, I am fully prepared to see his talents get squandered.


  8. Keith

    My thought is that after this season, if both players’ form holds, he’ll be sitting in Gareth Barry’s seat on the plane. And as an American, I’ll be much more the worried for June 12th.

    /delicious, delicious irony


  9. Georger

    Capello seemed pretty wary of Slovenia and Algeria. Bradley did not. Guess which one is a good coach?


  10. Georger

    It would be better if the plane ran over Barry upon takeoff.


  11. phil

    If you think Brian Ching isn’t going to be playing, and possibly starting in WC 2010, you haven’t been paying much attention to Bradley’s “tactics.”


  12. Keith

    And I’d argue that the health of Onweyu, Demerit, Spector and Bocanegra are most important to Oo-sa’s chances. Without them as our starting backline, we’re pretty well boned.


  13. Nathaniel

    Agreed, Keith. We need to have at least 3 of these guys (I’d settle for Spector, Bocanegra, and Gooch) playing in top form for any sort of win over a country in the top 15.


  14. Ryan

    @Phil He’s been pretty much ignored for the last two months of qualifiers, gives me hope. We certainly don’t need both Casey and Ching do we? Do we?!

    @Keith I don’t rate Barry at all, but you have to think he makes the plane, if only because he can provide cover at left back, although I suppose Milner could as well?


  15. Precious Roy

    Yeah Georger… The mention of Algeria seem to put the fear of God into Capello. Glad there’s a decent chance we get our asses handed to us by England early. Give us a chance to get rid of that “It’s Algeria, you zip in, you zip out. It’s like going into Wisconsin” mentality.


  16. James T

    Milner has played wing-back before, and competently enough. I would hate to see our squad full of guys who all play the same f**king position. Need that versatility somewhere. Milner has it over a guy like Walcott or Wright-Phillips.


  17. Georger

    Such a truck would be good for picking up girls in Minsk.


  18. Keith

    @Ryan- Milner’s deputized at right-back, and played both wings since coming to Villa. With a fully-fit side, though, he’s been playing central mid. Which means he does everything Barry does, only he’s been doing it better as of late.


  19. Keith

    Although Barry did look a lot better playing LB against Chelsea than he’s looked all year for Citeh.


  20. Ryan

    I hope Engerland wears the white kit on the 12th, so we can avoid seeing the US in that white/gray sash monstrosity.


  21. strong like bull smart like tractor

    I like the picture of the Ciraffe you used on the main page. Shouldn’t an Englishman actually, you know, be able to read the English alphabet?

    /Scousers excepted, of course


  22. Norfolk Ned

    @Hey Phil. Not even Bradley would do that would he?

    @Keith. You are right, the defence of any team is important but the U.S has many options there no? Howard is the key.


  23. Norfolk Ned

    @SLBSLT It was deliberate sir as it looked like a C and allowed for a Crouch joke.

    @Ryan. We are indeed the home team and that means white for us.


  24. Keith

    Ned, beyond those 4, we’ve got Bornstein, Castillo, Conrad, Hejduk, and Pearce.

    So to answer your question, no.


  25. Keith

    And if Howard is crocked, I’d be happy to go into a tourney with the Guz.


  26. corky

    @ Ryan. Looking at the FIFA website, it appears that the US is the home team for the Algeria match only. Since all 4 teams wear white, that’s the only game we’ll be wearing the gray sash.

    And then, if we play Germany, we’ll be in our change kit again.


  27. Norfolk Ned

    @Keith. Rather you than me with Guz.


  28. Ryan

    Good good good.

    @Keith I wouldn’t mind Castillo at all. Marshall and Goodson aren’t awful. The rest you mentioned should be conveniently forgotten at the airport.


  29. Lucius

    Agree with Phil, almost laughed out loud when I saw that apparently Ching won’t see an inch of SA soil.

    I’d be shocked if he didn’t. SHOCKED I TELL YOU! That being said, I kind of like Ching. Doesn’t score on the international level but does a lot of dirty work. I don’t know who else we could realistically pair up top with Altidore operating under the assumption Davies is not going to be playing (and it sounds like it would be a miracle of all miracles if he was).


  30. Keith

    He might not be able to conduct an interview, Ned, but he’s a really solid keeper. He’s vocal, he’s a good shot stopper, he excels at penalties (witness Juve in the preseason, or Sunderland in the CC), and his catching has improved. Is he at TIMMAY’s level yet? No, but he’s damned close.


  31. Norfolk Ned

    @Lucius..He has started once for USMNT in last 8. The US has 4 better forwards than Ching. He scores against crap sides like Barbados and even as captain didn’t get any pitch time in Germany in 06. He is toot. When it comes to big Intenationals against teams not named Trinidad or El Salvador he will not be a thought.

    I bet you Ching does not start any WC games next summer. Lets say 50 bucks?

    @Keith. That’s my point. You are going to need ‘Timmays’ level!


  32. David baer

    Think about this.
    If you really did find a working formula that made you, say $1,000 a week online on average and it kept producing income no matter what, would you want to sell that idea to a bunch of noobs for $47 a pop and expect to retire on the proceeds? No way, man! It does not compute. It does not add up. And it does not make any sense to do that. I certainly don’t go shouting from the rooftops how I make my money online. Hell, I don’t want the competition taking a slice of my pie and neither would anyone who really does make good cash online.

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