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Date: 23 April 2019

  World - Soccer

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Is the 2010 World Cup written 'South America' all over it?

[Posted 18 Jun 2010]
Is the 2010 World Cup written "South America" all over it?

By Brighton Mupangavanhu

Many commentantors have bemoaned lack of genuine quality of football at this year's World Cup finals. Some have even gone as far as saying that there is nothing to write home home about yet. Well, I beg to differ. There are so many talking points in this World Cup so far. I can write about the organisation of the World Cup, the passion shown by the South African population towards their team Bafana Bafana, the limelight hogged by the so-called minnows at this World Cup. But in the past week, the quality of football from South American teams has really caught the eye. And there is something about how these teams have performed this far.

In case you haven't been watching the games, in the World Cup opening match of Group A, Mexico dominated the hosting nation in the first half, but fell to a goal behind in the second half. They then rallied from behind and found the all important equaliser. The history of the World Cup shows that it is always difficult to play the first match against hosting nation. A draw was a good result for the Mexicans, coming against the background of close to 90 000 local fans blowing vuvuzelas.

The Group B opening match saw Argentina take on a fired up Nigeria. A Lionel Messi inspired Argentina played entertaining football and sent the Super Eagles tumbling down to their first defeat in this tournament. In the second Group A match, France struggled to beat a tactically superior Uruguay who kept the usually marauding mega stars of world football in the French team like Ribbery of Bayern Munich and Malouda of Chelsea at bay all night.

Chile did well in their group to open their account with a 1-0 win over Honduras. Then in the very critical Group A second matches, Uruguay did what many neutrals did not expect. Instead of employing a defensive formation against the host nation South Africa at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday night, Uruguay came to the match with a 4-3-3 formation. Surprisingly it was the host nation who played like visitors. The result, Uruguay 3 South Africa 0. Bafana Bafana did not know what hit them in this match. But I know what happened. It was the power of South American quality football.

If there were any lingering doubts as to the quality of South American teams in this World Cup thus far, those doubts were were laid to rest in style by Argentina and Mexico in Thursday's second matches in Group B and Group A respectively. A South Korean team that had attracted attention by dispatching Greece 2-0 in their first Group B match, were taught a good footballing lesson when they were walloped 4-1 by Argentina. Mexico, against expectations from some sections of World sports media, out-thought and completely outplayed France in their 2-0 triumph last night.

Why are South American teams more successful than European, African or any other teams at this tournament? There are various factors.

Chief among the factors is the fact while the South Americans have genuine quality like World Footballer of the year Messi (for Argentina), Uruguay's Diego Forlan of Atletico Msdrid who has scored 56 goals only in two seasons or the huge influence of Barcelona's Raphael Marquez in the Mexican team, the South Americans play soccer like a unit and not as indiciduals.

Argentina, Mexico or Uruguay have skillful players who are quick on the ball, know how to fall back to defend when under pressure and are very dangerous on counter attacks. They use width effectively. And in all this, they do not rely on one player to achiebe their results. Team work matters more than anything.

For the record, A South American team (Uruguay) is leading Group A, followed by a South American team (Mexico). Argentina tops Group B with a 100% record in this tournament thus far, having collected 6 points. Brazil is leading a group of death with the likes of Ivory Coast and Portugal.

There is every reason to believe that a South American team will walk way with the coveted prize at the end of this World Cup tournament. That team may not be Brazil. That team may not even be Argentina. It might be Mexico or Uruguay. But should these two South American giants fail to live to their promise thus far, then you have the usual suspects, Argentina and Brazil. They haven't disappointed in their opening matches anyway. The World Cup trophy may be written South America all over it as early as this moment.


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