WCF’s – Groups E and F (Match 3)

FIFA ranked 2nd in the world Czech Republic were knocked out after their 2-0 loss to Italy. Koller’s injury in the first match robbed them of their main attacking threat and their vaunted midfield were lost playing behind an unfit Baros and the donkey they brought in as a target man. Materazzi and Inzaghi scored the goals from a corner and break away repectively, their trademarks. That meant Ghana made it through to play Brazil in the knockout phase, in their first Finals. They dispatched a poor USA (themselves ranked highly by FIFA) side 2-1 and, for all the whining from the American players and coach Arena, it was the right result. The UK media, predictably, talked up Chelsea’s Ghanain midfielder Essien, but it was Gyan (told you so!), Muntari (ditto), Asamoah and Appiah who impressed throughout the tournament. Muntari was mocked throughout the match for his failed trial with Manchester United, before scoring the clinching goal. Appiah, after his tactically naive performance against the Italians, showed his class against the Czechs and US. They don’t have a hope in hell of beating Brazil, but Ghana deserve their place in the last sixteen. Japan did a remarkable impression of Scotland’s 1982 Finals team by scoring a great goal (Tamada) to lead Brazil, before being slaughtered 4-1. The Japanese keeper made several great saves in the first half before failing miserably with Juninho’s long range shot. Ronaldo had already beaten Pele’s Finals record before half time and he equalled Gerd Muller’s all time record of fourteen Finals goals before the end. Not bad, for a fat bloke. Australia will join them in the second round, overcoming two horrendous goalkeeping mistakes of their own to draw 2-2 with Croatia. Kewell’s equaliser the decsive strike. I think Italy will beat them easily in the next phase but, like Ghana, they can be proud of their showing.

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