Monday, November 30, 2009

Update from Delhi

Greetings Everyone,

I am writing to you from New Delhi India. So far my journey has taken from Ottawa - Montreal - Amsterdam - Athens - Cairo - Kuwait - Delhi - Dehra Dun - Delhi. Leaving Ottawa was a little crazy and we were a lot closer to missing our flight from Montreal to Amsterdam than I would have cared for, but we made it without any problems. We then flew from Amsterdam to Athens, as we were flying over Macedonia, the Captain announced on the intercom that everyone had been awarded two penalties. Landing in Athens, I was able to go out sight seeing and enjoy the novelty of watching football in the evening. Unfortunately I was not able to watch Canada battle Poland, but I was able to see Greece make it two the World Cup. The commentary of the match was obviously in Greek, and when Greece scored I initially thought it may have been offside as the commentators didn't get terribly excited, but it was onside and sent Greece to South Africa. I was also surprised that I didn't hear the streets erupt in celebration which was fine with me as I needed some rest as I flew to Cairo the next day. I was able to get online briefly during the Greece match, so I was aware of the Egypt - Algeria before arriving in Cairo. Once there I noticed huge numbers of riot police stationed near our hostel. The taxi driver told us that they were there because of the Egypt-Algeria match. Apparently there were huge crowds in front of the Algerian Embassy burning Algerian flags. This is an aspect of football that bothers me. We have the positive examples of Turkey & Armenia re-opening relations because they had to play each other in World Cup Qualifying, and then we have the negative example of Egypt and Algeria breaking off relations because of there match. First off I think that FIFA was cowardly in not punishing Egypt before their match after fans attacked the bus with the Algerian team on board injuring three players. I realise that there is a certain amount of gamesmanship in keeping a team awake etc. However I feel quite comfortable saying that throwing rocks at the bus carrying the team crosses the line by a considerable distance. FIFA should have acted immediately and played the game in an empty stadium, as they would have done in Europe. The fact that the governments of both countries got involved was a little ridiculous. Algeria had a complaint that the Egyptian security did not do enough to protect their players, but recalling the Ambassador is a little extreme. It was almost comical to see presidents sparing with each other over fights between people at a football stadium. That said, what is most sad is that the people in each country followed their governments example and acted like children, with both sets of people doing considerable damage to businesses owned by nationals of the other country. I think that FIFA needs to come down hard on both countries to prevent this sort of ridiculousness from happening again. Can you imagine what would happen to Ireland if they recalled their ambassador to France, burned French flags, trashed Renault dealerships, and French Restaurants? That aside I had a wonderful time in Egypt and the Pyramids are definitely worth a visit.

From there we went to India, via Kuwait. I was hoping to catch the Stoke - Portsmouth match at the Kuwait airport given that our lay over coinsidered with the time of the match. However there are no televisions in the Kuwait airport. Nor was I able to find a reliable wifi connection. So I was blissfully unaware of what was transpiring at Pompey, until I caught a headline roll across the bottom of an Indian newscast saying that Darren Ferguson was the new Pompey boss. This told me that we had lost to Stoke and were still bottom, and that Pompey had some cash because we wouldn't have been able to sack Hart if we didn't. I thought that Fergie Jr. was a brave choice especially since Peterborough weren't exactly lighting up the Championship. However the next day I was able to jump on the net and saw that in fact Avram Grant had taken over. I feel better with Grant at the helm than with Fergie Jr. Hopefully he will get us to stay up. Though having missed the match with United as I was travelling down an Indian highway at the time. It sounded like Sam & Matt's prediction from Canadian Terrace Talk that Dindane was the Chad Barrett of the Premier League, could be bang on. It did seem like Pompey under Grant was like Pompey under Hart, we played well but we didn't get the result. The way things are going I am worried that people will be saying Portsmouth play good football and they will be a strong Championship side.

Things are going well, I reach Australia in 3 weeks at which point there should be more regular updates, I hope that you are all well, Cheers

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Updates will likely be infrequent until the new year

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my blog, I have enjoyed writing it. As you have likely heard already my wife & I are moving to Australia. We are taking the slow way to get there, with stops in Athens & Cairo plus a month in India. While I am on the road I will try to get a post or two up, but there won't be any regularity to it. I hope that you have a great time and I will see you again in the new year.


Pompey Canuck

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode Seventeen

On this episode of Canadian Terrace Talk Duane Rollins of the 24th Minute makes a quick cameo as we discuss Canada's upcoming friendlies and we rehash the weekend in the Premier League.


Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 17

Monday, November 9, 2009

What can Canada expect from Poland on the 18th?

Once the friendly with Poland was announced I enlisted my friend Michal (who helped with the Polish League Preview) to write his thoughts on the Polish side for the upcoming friendly. Thanks Michal! (The full squad list for Poland is at the bottom of the post)

The upcoming match against Canada will be the second game on the national team level for the new Poland’s coach Franciszek Smuda. His team will play the first match a few days earlier, against Romania. Smuda has been known as a great motivator and his teams have always played attractive, offensive football regardless of who they were facing. He has had some successes coaching the best Polish club teams (Widzew Lodz, Legia Warsaw, Wisla Cracow and just recently Lech Poznan), especially doing well with them in the European cups. Last season he led Lech in the UEFA Cup to advance from the group stage and in the end to lose to Udinese by conceding a late goal in the second leg game. In the group phase Lech with Smuda played against Deportivo La Coruna (1:1). Julian de Guzman played in that match, so now he’ll be back in Poland and again facing Smuda’s team. To make things interesting, another Canadian player, Michael Klukowski, who was born in Poland, also played against Lech in the Europa Cup, early this season.

What are the strengths of the Polish team?

In theory, it is the offense. Poland has some talented offensive midfielders: Jakub Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund), SÅ‚awomir Peszko (Lech Poznan), Kamil Kosowski (APOEL Nikozja), Ludovic Obraniak (Lille OSC) and Roger Guerreiro (AEK Ateny). Obraniak has made an appearance for the France U-21 national team a few years ago, however due to having Polish roots through his grandfather and his desire to reconnect with his heritage, he was officially called up for the Poland’s senior team by Leo Beenhakker for the friendly against Greece this year in… Bydgoszcz, where he scored the only two goals in the match.

Up Front

Three forwards are in the squad for the friendlies: Poland U-21 starlet Patryk Malecki (Wisla Cracow), Lech Poznan’s best player Robert Lewandowski and speedy Ireneusz Jelen (AJ Auxerre).

Who’s missing?

In the goal we will see either the third Manchester United’s goalie, Tomasz Kuszczak, or the fourth Arsenal’s goalkeeper, 19-year old Wojciech Szczesny. Artur Boruc wasn’t called up, but Smuda says that he will get a chance in the future games. Another controversial decision made by the Polish coach was to not call the Poland’s captain Mariusz Lewandowski from Shakhtar Donetsk who simply didn’t earn Smuda’s trust. Two other first squad players that initially got called up for the coming games are injured. These are the last season Polish Ekstraklasa top scorer Pawel Brozek from Wisla Cracow and a defensive midfielder Rafal Murawski from Rubin Kazan. Right back Marcin Wasilewski has been recovering from his (Eduardo da Silva style) broken leg injury and missed a few recent Poland’s games. Ebi Smolarek is currently without a club and this is the reason (for Smuda) he will not play for Poland in the coming games.

What can we expect to happen in Bydgoszcz on November 18?

Poland will try to play offensively and I see Canada’s chances in counterattacks. Polish defence hasn’t performed well recently and mostly this formation was blamed for conceding key goals in the World Cup qualifiers. As Poland didn’t make it to the tournament in South Africa, their next competitive game will be played during Euro 2012, which Poland is hosting along with Ukraine. This means two and a half years of experimenting with the squad, tactics and playing friendly matches only. If Smuda decides to play experienced players against Romania and put younger players against Canada, we could see a more open game in Bydgoszcz and more chances for goals for Canada. If Tomasz Radzinski plays in that game, he’ll probably be very willing to score a goal, as the venue will feel like home for him. He was born in Inowroclaw which is located just about 40 km southeast of Bydgoszcz…

Poland Squad

Tomasz Kuszczak, 27 years old (currently at Manchester United)
Wojciech Szczesny, 19 (Arsenal London)

Marcin Kowalczyk, 24 (Dynamo Moscow)
Jakub Rzezniczak, 23 (Legia Warsaw)
Michal Zewlakow, 33 (Olympiacos Piraeus)
Maciej Sadlok, 20 (Ruch Chorzow)
Adam Kokoszka, 23 (Empoli FC)
Piotr Brozek, 26 (Wisla Cracow)
Seweryn Gancarczyk, 27 (Lech Poznan)
Kamil Glik, 21 (Piast Gliwice)

Jakub Blaszczykowski, 23 (Borussia Dortmund)
Slawomir Peszko, 24 (Lech Poznan)
Dariusz Dudka, 25 (AJ Auxerre)
Radoslaw Majewski, 22 (Nottingham Forest)
Janusz Gancarczyk, 25 (Slask Wroclaw)
Kamil Kosowski, 32 (APOEL Nicosia)
Ludovic Obraniak, 25 (Lille OSC)
Roger Guerreiro, 27 (AEK Athens)
Maciej Rybus, 20 (Legia Warsaw)

Robert Lewandowski, 21 (Lech Poznan)
Ireneusz Jelen, 28 (AJ Auxerre)
Patryk Malecki, 21 (Wisla Cracow)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Half Time EPL Table

You may recall seeing what the MLS standings would look like if matches only lasted 75 minutes. It would have been a very different season for TFC, one that would still be going in fact. But I digress, I was on the Premier League website looking at some statistics (I'm cool like that) and I came across the Half Time Table. It is the same idea as we saw with TFC only instead of 75 minutes they look at what the standings are if matches ended at the half. They could also call the table why it sucks to be a West Ham fan this season.

When I first looked at the table two things jumped out at me. Well actually the same thing jumped out at me twice from different angles. First off I noticed that West Ham would be in 11th place on 14 points - and said something to the effect of What The ____!? They are tied with Manchester United! What The ____! are United doing in 10th! I also noticed that Portsmouth are still in the relegation zone, but that didn't really jump out at me. At the time of writing the table wasn't updated from West Ham's match against Aston Villa. Since they had a 1-0 half time lead they would be in 5th place in the Half time League. Since they managed to win the game they are now 17th in the actual League. In the Half Time lead they would be fighting for a Champions League spot, when in reality they are fighting to avoid another trip to the Championship. All it really tells us is that West Ham aren't that great at holding onto a lead, perhaps they should hire an Italian to coach them, oh wait. It also tells me that as long as they don't have to sell their best players in January they should be fine.

Manchester United are the cardiac kids this season. They are in a very un-Red Devil like mid table position in the half time League. They have a lot of quality and confidence to come back, but they have only led three matches at the half so far this season. I can't imagine that has escaped the notice of Sir Alex. I think that this will start to improve or Sir Alex will go shopping in January. I can't imagine he wants to bust out the hairdryer every weekend.

Other highlights of the Half Time League are Everton one point above Liverpool with the Toffees having a game in hand. Liverpool is also ahead of Manchester United. While the top four are Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Sunderland. The funniest thing is probably all four teams that begin with B in a row. So there you have it, the Half time League.

Looking Ahead to the African Cup of Nations - EPL Perspective

There is starting to be a lot of talk about the African Cup of Nations, mainly due to the number of players a team may lose for the tournament. But we should talk about it more as one of the top football tournaments in the World. The tournament will be in January 2010, running from the 10th to the 31st. The Nations involved will likely call up their players before the 10th. So far there are 12 of the 16 spots taken with only four up for grabs. The qualified Nations are:

Angola (Host), Cameroon, Gabon, Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Benin, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso.

The 8 teams remaining are fighting for third place in their World Cup Qualifying groups and the final spot in Angola. Here are the teams that are battling it out:
One team from each pairing will advance (however in most cases they are not playing each other)

Togo - Morocco
Mozambique - Kenya
Zambia - Rwanda
Malawi - Guinea

Looking at the English Premier League I checked out the rosters from one of the twenty nations I have just mentioned. These are players that are eligible for the African Cup of Nations. Whether they will all be picked it is a matter for their national team boss. Players whose team have not yet qualified are marked with an *. I have also listed the matches that teams will play during the African Cup of Nations.

Fans of Birmingham, Blackburn, Manchester United, and West Ham can all relax because they don't have any players that will be heading to Angola in January.

Arsenal - Song and Eboue (v. Everton, @Bolton, @Aston Villa, v. Manchester United)
Aston Villa - Salifou* (@Wigan, v. West Ham, v. Arsenal, @Fulham)
Birmingham - NONE (v. Manchester United, @ Pompey, @ Chelsea, v. Spurs)
Blackburn - NONE (@ Manchester City, v. Fulham, v. Wigan, @ West Ham)
Bolton - Shittu (@Sunderland, v. Arsenal, v. Burnley, @Liverpool)
Burnley - Bikey (v. Stoke, @ Manchester United, @ Bolton, v. Chelsea)
Chelsea - Essien, Mikel, Kalou, Drogba (@Hull, v. Sunderland, v. Birmingham, @Burnley)
Everton - Yobo, Yakubu, Anichebe (@Arsenal, v. Manchester City, v. Sunderland, @Wigan)
Fulham - Paintsil, Etuhu (v.Pompey, @Blackburn, @Spurs, v. Aston Villa)
Hull - Ghilas, Cousin, Ekra, Olofinjana, Zayatte* (v. Chelsea, @Spurs, @United, v.Wolves)
Liverpool - El Zhar* (v.Spurs, @ Stoke, @Wolves, v. Bolton)
Man. City - Toure, Adebayor* (v. Blackburn, @Everton, @Stoke, v. Pompey)
Man. United - NONE (@Birmingham, v. Burnley, v. Hull, @ Arsenal)
Pompey - Dindane, Belhadj, Yebda, Kanu, Utaka (@Fulham,v. Birmingham, v.West Ham, @City)
Stoke - Sidibe (@Burnley, v. Liverpool, v. Man City, @ Sunderland)
Sunderland - Mensah (v. Bolton, @Chelsea, @Everton, v. Stoke)
Spurs - Assou-Ekotto, Bassong (@Liverpool, v. Hull, v. Fulham, @Birmingham)
West Ham - NONE (v. Wolves, @ Aston Villa, @ Pompey, v. Blackburn)
Wigan - Kingson, Bouaouzan (v. Aston Villa, @Wolves, @ Blackburn, v. Everton)
Wolves - Elokobi (@West Ham, v. Wigan, v. Liverpool, @ Hull)

So there are 34 players from the Premier League that may be participating in the African Cup of Nations. Hull and Pompey may lost five players while Chelsea will lose four big players. Fans of the Manchester club with money will be hopeful that Togo fail to qualify so they can hold on to Adebayor. While Spurs fans will be hoping that King, Dawson, and Woodgate are healthy as they will be without two of their back four.

It is important to remember that as teams are knocked out of the tournament their players can return to England. So not all of the players listed above will be out for the duration of the tournament.

Once the draw is made I will put a preview of the tournament.

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode Sixteen

In this episode we're joined by Matt Wooding of The Subs Bench. We go through one of the best Premier League weekends to date (not just because Pompey won) and we touch on the Canadian friendly with Poland.

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode Sixteen


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Canada to play Poland on November 18th

You read that correctly. Canada is playing on both of the upcoming International Dates. We are playing Macedonia on the 14th of November and have now added a fixture against Poland on the 18th. I have no idea if either of these matches are going to be shown in Canada. However I am certain that the Poland match will be available on some of the grey media out there, given that much of it is run out of Poland.

Poland is not an ideal opponent as they have just dropped 20 places in the FIFA rankings to #56. While Poland are the sort of opposition that Canada should be playing (a strong side in Europe, that we have a chance of beating). It is a little frustrating that we are playing them when they are ranked artificially low. I mentioned in my previous post that we are planning to play a lot of matches. This is good for the team, but it hurts our Rankings. I would much rather have the team playing well than a high FIFA ranking. However I think that it is possible to have both. I know that scheduling friendlies is never an easy thing to do. That said Slovakia, who qualified for the World Cup after a disastrous 1-0 win in Poland where they were massively outplayed are ranked 20 spots above Canada. They are of a comparable quality to Poland, but they are ranked much higher. It would be better if we were able to play against them.

Alas what is done is done. And we have Macedonia and Poland coming up. So now the real question is who do we pick in the side? Do we bring European players in the middle of their season? Do we bring North American players who have finished their season? Do we call up some of the people with other national team options to try to sell them on Canada? It will be interesting to see what team Hart selects. Personally I am hoping that every player selected in the side will be able to play in the 2014 World Cup. That said it would be fun to line up both Klukowski and Radzinski against Poland, given that it happens to Canada all the time. So here is my starting XI for the two matches:


Ledgerwood - Edgar - Attakora - Klukowski

JDG2* - Atiba - JDG - Hume

Jackson - Hoilett**

*Why not eh? If we don't select him, I would use Will Johnson.
** Why not eh? If we don't select him I would move Hume to striker and play Issy.

Thoughts? What is your XI?

Transfer Ban WTF!?

Apparently Pompey fans are not allowed to feel happy for very long this season. After our brilliant 4-0 destruction of Stoke in the League Cup. We are hit with a transfer ban. Why you ask? Because we haven't paid clubs or agents in a long long time. Now this is not the first time that we have heard this information. I heard it when Sulaiman Al Fahim was trying to take over the club. Peter Storrie said that a lot of the agents and clubs weren't demanding payment as a personal favour to him. But now we have apparently a rich new owner in Ali Al Faraj. In fact Al Faraj gave 5M pounds to Pompey so they could pay players and staff after it became apparent that Sulaiman Al Fahim didn't have a lot of money. This was not long before Al Faraj bought a 90% stake in the club. So I know that I am not a multi-millionaire but I don't think it is overly complicated that when you buy a club that you settle the outstanding debts. When Al Fahim took over we paid off the South African bank that we owed 30M pounds. Now with Al Faraj we haven't paid for the players that we have on our club. It is flat out embarrassing. Al Faraj has brought in some money from a few people that were a part of his initial attempt to purchase the club. Hopefully this money will be used to pay the clubs and agents that we owe money to.

I should mention that the Premier League deserves full marks. I am pleased to see that they are taking action on debt in their league. My compliant is with the Pompey owners that allowed this to happen.

I, like all Pompey supporters, would just like to know what is going on. Every week we read one story saying one thing and then read a story contradicting it. It is embarrassing and frustrating. It can't be easy on the players either. With the amount of times that we have been in the news this season for embarrassing reasons, I can't see a whole lot of players queuing up to sign with us in January.

So now that we seem to have got the play on the pitch sorted out, it is up to the ownership to get their performance sorted out. Play Up Pompey, Owners PAY Up!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 15

In this episode we're joined by James Sharman of the Footy Show. We discuss the Premier League weekend, the disaster that was TFC, and a Canada match to boot. Plus we discuss whether I may have an influence on the CSA, also Sam tells us why Liverpool will win the League,


Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 15

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pompey Canuck on the Subs Bench

The boys over at the Subs Bench invited me on their podcast, for a second time no less. We discuss the Champions League results, what is going on at Liverpool, the situation at Portsmouth, is West Ham getting relegated, TFC, and have a lot of fun doing it. Luckily I got out of there before they made me sing,

To listen to the podcast go here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The curse of the Scorpio?

It is well known that France coach Raymond Domenech is a little odd. He doesn't like to pick Scorpios in his side. Regardless of how good they may be. Well the World Cup Qualifying draw was made under during the Scorpio window, and it looks like Domenech has another reason to dislike the sign of Scorpio. Franck Ribery is out for the playoff against Ireland. This can only help the Irish cause. Ribery is in my opinion the best player in the French side. I don't know how the French side will respond to Ribery's absence but it does tip the scales a bit in favour of the Irish.

Why Canada IS playing Macedonia

I know that many of you have read my post about why Canada should not be playing Macedonia. Like you I want Canada to be in the best position going into qualifying for 2014. With that in mind I was prepared to not see Canada take to the field for another 7 months, solely to preserve our high FIFA points totals that we earned in the Gold Cup. As I mentioned on Canadian Terrace Talk when Sam first mentioned that Canada would be playing a friendly in November, I went to talk to the CSA to present my case about why we shouldn't be playing Macedonia. I wasn't able to meet with Peter Montopoli when I went to the office (a perk of living in Ottawa) but I met with his assistant and was able to set up a chance to talk with him. That happened yesterday. I told him that I wanted to understand the other issues that led to scheduling a friendly against Macedonia, and make sure that the CSA was aware of the numbers ahead of a potential qualifying draw in May 2011. What I heard was encouraging. We are playing Macedonia because we need to play matches otherwise we won't be good enough to qualify. We are also going to be playing other friendlies some of them even in Canada! I mentioned that the key thing was to play 5 matches between May 2010 and May 2011 and that didn't sound like it was going to be a problem. Which is great news for Canadian Soccer fans. As I mentioned in my post about the whole process Canada really dropped the ball between May 2006 and May 2007. We didn't play enough matches and we didn't play the right kind of opponent. I told Peter that I would keep him updated with the numbers. If Costa Rica lose their playoff with Uruguay (we should all hope that they do) then Canada is competing for three spots with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Jamaica, & Trinidad and Tobago. Right now we are in second. With a sizable lead over third. Things are looking good for Canada. The main thing for us is to win the matches that we play, and hope that Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama etc lose any matches that they play. This should see Canada seeded as a top six team going into World Cup Qualifying for Brazil 2014. Which ideally means that we will be in the Hex, which would give us a shot at Brazil which I know we could take. Play Up Canada!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why is no one talking about West Ham as a crisis club

West Ham are sitting second from bottom on 5 points. They could easily find themselves bottom after this weekend's fixtures. I don't think that many people had West Ham getting relegated at the start of the year predictions so why no talk? Obviously Pompey stole a lot of the headlines with their double ownership switch and losing streak. But West Ham's ownership looks none to stable. With Portsmouth putting in solid performances every week, there aren't a lot of people talking about us taking the drop. I would say that if I had to pick West Ham or Pompey to take the drop this year, I would take West Ham. I know I am a little biased but looking at the fixtures for Pompey & West Ham between now and December 5th. Here is what you get


West Ham

Looking at those fixtures I think that Pompey will get more points than West Ham. Also that West Ham could easily stay on 5 points until they play Hull (on November 21st). There also have ownership questions and may need to do some selling in January to keep going. There is a lot of talent on the West Ham squad and if they have to sell it and bring in a bunch of new players, you don't need to be a Portsmouth fan to know how that is going to go.

I think that after this weekend the focus of the media will shift from the South Coast to East London.

A shorter version of this was posted on Pompey Gossip. Apologies for those that read it twice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 14

On this episode of Canadian Terrace Talk we are joined by Squizz from Some Canadian Guys Writing/Talking About Soccer. We talk EPL, WCQ MLS, USL, the Canadian national team and why there is hope for all you soccer geeks out there.


Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 14

Monday, October 19, 2009

Euro WCQ Playoffs - Updated

The draw is made, as I understand it the home team for the 2nd leg is listed first.

UPDATE - CBC was wrong and the team listed first is home to start and then away.
Ireland - France: I think that this is advantage Ireland unless the star charts tell Domenach to actually put out a solid French team. Hopefully this loss is what convinces the FFF to let Domenach go.

Portugal - Bosnia: Portugal's to lose, however they have not played well against Balkan opposition. That said I think that Bosnia are the weakest side in the draw. However with strikers like Dzeko anything could happen. Who knows maybe we could see Portugal lose to Bosnia and Begovic not named in the World Cup side, that would make me smile.

Greece - Ukraine: This is a toss up. Greece were in the easiest group in Europe and weren't able to make it, while Ukraine beat out Croatia. With the second leg in Kiev you would think it would be advantage Ukraine with Sheva there is always a chance that he will pull out one more great performance. However the Greek attack is led by UEFA WCQ top scorer and Pompey reject Gekas. This is the most interesting tie after Ireland - France.

Russia - Slovenia, Poor Slovenia. Russia were the strongest team in the draw and were going to beat any team that they were drawn against. Slovenia I think could have had a shot against any of the other three seeded teams. Tough break for the small nation. That said in Playoffs anything could happen. I will be rooting for Slovenia as once Russia are eliminated then Guus Hiddink can take over team Canada. Hey if the Slovenians can dream, so can I.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Canada Ranked #53

You may have noticed that Canada has jumped 13 places, and is now ranked #53. How did we accomplish this amazing feat without playing any matches? The FIFA rankings are based on four years worth of results. So for the October Rankings it includes Oct 08 - Oct 09 at 100%, Oct 07 - Oct 08 at 50%, Oct 06 - Oct 07 at 30%, and Oct 05 - Oct 06 at 20%. So for a painful yet concrete example that disaster in Montreal has now stopped counting against our 100% average entirely and is now counted against the 50% average. Given that our stellar performance in the Gold Cup is rated 100% we can expect to stay high in the rankings until July or August 2010 when that drops to 50%. At which point we should have already started playing friendlies in May so hopefully to maintain our ranking.

The points for each phase are calculated by average. So if a team accumulates 3000 points in a year. That total is divided by the number of matches that they have played (it must be at least 5, or it is divided by 5 anyway). So if a team only played 5 matches then they would have 600 points that count towards their ranking. But if they played another match and lost 3000 would be divided by 6 leaving them with only 500 points to count.

For the year May 09 - May 10 Canada has just over 2900 points from 6 matches or 484.5 points (at 100%). Any points that we gain will be added to our total and then divided by the number of matches. So it would make sense to play a team that could offer us at least 484.5 points if we won, otherwise we would be guaranteed to drop in the rankings. That means the lowest ranked team that Canada could play would be a UEFA team that is ranked #39 or #38. That means with a win we would stay where we are. To improve our standing we would have to play a higher ranked team and win.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Latest CONCACAF standings for the 2014 World Cup Qualifying

The good news for Canada is that Costa Rica may miss the World Cup, which would put them in contention with us. Hopefully Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan & co can ensure that the Ticos don't head to South Africa. Here are the latest standings for CONCACAF ahead of the 2014 World Cup Qualifying Draw, likely to be in May 2011. For information on the methods check out my previous post.

1. USA - 541.24
2. Mexico - 489.39
3. Honduras - 444.27
4. Costa Rica - 393.58
5. CANADA - 355.60
6. El Salvador - 269.58
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. Panama - 242.75
8. Jamaica - 211.52
9. Trinidad & Tobago - 194.99
10. Haiti - 174.21
11. Antigua & Barbuda - 148.41
12. Grenada - 114.54
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13. Guatemala - 111.88
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
14. Cuba - 82.96
15. Bermuda - 79.89
16. Barbados - 72.12
17. Suriname - 63.11
18. Nicaragua - 52.66
19. St. Kitts & Nevis - 50.63
20. Guyana - 50.30
21. Netherlands Antilles - 50.18
22. Puerto Rico - 44.24
23. Belize - 22.31
24. St. Vincent & the Grenadines - 21.54
25. Cayman Islands - 19.00
26. St. Lucia - 12.75
26. Turks & Caicos Islands - 12.75
28. British Virgin Islands - 11.90
29. Bahamas - 8.50
30. Aruba - 6.50
31. Dominica - 4.93
32. Dominican Republic - 4.25
33. US Virgin Islands - 3.40
34. Anguilla - 0.00
34. Montserrat - 0.00

Why Canada should not play Macedonia - UPDATED

Right now Canada have accumulated 242.26 points towards the World Cup Qualifying Draw for 2014 from Phase 3. For more information on the phases check out this post.

If we win against Macedonia (based on their current rank of 56) we would LOSE 3.75 points.

If we drew against Macedonia (based on their current rank of 56) we would LOSE 24.32 points

If we lost against Macedonia (based on their current rank of 56) we would LOSE 34.61 points

So no matter what the result against Macedonia we lose ground. The next FIFA rankings come out tomorrow. They will show us where Macedonia will be ranked when we play them. For their to be a chance that Canada could improve its standings Macedonia would have to be ranked #39. So it is not going to happen.

UPDATE - The Rankings have come out and Macedonia is Ranked #66. So if we win we will lose 5.89 points, if we draw we will lose 25.04 points, and if we lose we still drop 34.61 points. The dropped points are all in relation to the potential World Cup Qualifying draw for Brazil 2014 in May 2011. The effect would be even more pronounced on the current rankings where a win would cost us approximately 12 points.

This was a reckless decision by the CSA that makes zero sense from an organization that should be focused on getting Canada into the strongest position for the WCQ 2014 draw.

I am going to get the latest standings for the 2014 WCQ draw out tonight or tomorrow.

UPDATE - The updated standings are up. You can see them here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode Thirteen

Greetings Everyone,

I am back after my wedding, my lovely Arsenal fan & I had a great time. In this episode Sam & I cover World Cup Qualifying, the USL final, TFC, and then discuss Asmir Begovic,


Lucky #13 Canadian Terrace Talk

Friday, October 2, 2009

Predictions for the next week or so

I am not going to be near a computer for the next week or so. Thus I thought I would put up predictions for what will happen while I am gone, that way you can come back after a match and marvel at my predictions. The one thing that I do know is that Pompey will be bottom.

Bold prediction #1

Pompey will hammer Wolves and people will say "things are going wrong off the pitch but at least they have corrected the results on the pitch"

Bold Prediction #2

There will be a lot of draws this weekend. There haven't been a lot this year, but i feel there will be a lot this weekend.

Bold Prediction #3

Argentina will beat Peru in convincing fashion, but everyone will remain unconvinced about Maradona.

Bold Prediction #4

Russia will beat Germany and advance to South Africa.

Bold Prediction #5

Ghana & Germany will be in the final of the FIFA U20.

Enjoy the football, Cheers

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oktoberfest - Pompey style

No doubt you are aware that Pompey sit on the bottom of the table, but October brings good tidings for fans of the South Coast club. In the form of Wolves, Spurs, Hull, and Wigan. When I look at these four matches I see 3 relegation six pointers and an intersquad match from last season.

At Wolves:

Wolves are sitting on 7 points but these have come from some of the other weak teams. They got three points most recently in a 2-1 win over Fulham. You may remember that Pompey lost to Fulham when Clint Dempsey's harmless shot took a crazy deflection off Bobby Zamora's back. Wolves picked up a point in a draw with Hull. They got things started with a victory over Wigan. Hull and Wigan are also on Portsmouth's october menu. The Molineaux is not an easy place to play as 4 of Wolves 7 points have come from their three home fixtures. But after the performances that Pompey put in against Bolton, Villa, and Everton I like our chances to get our first points of the season, three of them.

Home to Spurs:

One year ago, Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch, Niko Kranjcar, Joe Jordan, and Harry Redknapp were all at Portsmouth, they are now all at Spurs. Needless to say that this one has been circled on the calendar for some time. I am expecting a lot of the former Pompey guys to get a tough time from the crowd, though mainly Redknapp and Defoe. I know that the fans will be up for this match, and I hope that the players are too. Looking at this without the history between the clubs I would say that Spurs should win, especially since Jamie O'hara won't be playing as he is on loan from Spurs. However in games where there is a lot of energy anything can happen and if Pompey are coming off a first win of the season, perhaps we can welcome Harry back with a win just like we did when he was at the Scummers.

At Hull:

The Tigers are sitting on four points at the moment. One from their draw with Wolves, and three from victory over Bolton. Hull have put in a few solid performances this season, but they have be blown out three times. Their confidence is quite low at the moment and Phil Brown looks like he would be sacked tomorrow if their was a different chairman. Before facing Pompey Hull take on Wigan at home and travel to London to take on Fulham. I am sure that these are matches that Hull are targeting for points. If they lose at least one of these two matches I think their confidence will be shot and they will be easy pickings for Pompey.

Home to Wigan

Wigan rank as the most confusing team in England. They have pulled off great victories over Aston Villa, West Ham and Chelsea. But also lost badly to Manchester United, Arsenal, and Blackpool (in the league cup). They also lost to Wolves and Everton. Really it depends more on which Wigan team shows up than which Pompey team shows up. I am expecting that beatable getting relegated Wigan shows up, as I believe those are their true colours this season.

So their you have it, Portsmouth's October pointsfest. I would be disappointed if November started and we didn't have at least 9 points. Though 10 & 12 aren't out of the question. However if we are still bottom at the start of November then we are definitely in a lot of trouble. But there is not a lot of chance of that given the way that we have been playing. I am going for the full 12 points and a flourishing partnership between Piquionne & Dindane. Play Up Pompey!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 11

Be sure to join Sam & I as we talk Premier League, FIFA U20, Francophone games, and TFC. Listen as we discuss the managerial similarities between Phil Brown & Diego Maradona, plus laud Peter Storrie & Ryan Giggs.

and if you haven't already you can subscribe via itunes, just search for Canadian Terrace Talk,

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 11

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Portsmouth lose 1-0 again

7 played. 7 lost. This has happened in the top flight before in 1930 - 1931, that team Manchester United. Though United were relegated that year, Portsmouth were fourth that season by the way. I am going to keep saying what I have said already. We are not amongst the three worst teams in the premier league. I think that we will stay up. Here are some of my thoughts on the match against Everton.

Both keepers played amazing. David James gave a performance that would have caught the attention of Fabio Capello. While Tim Howard showed some of the form that helped the US make the Confederations' Cup final. They were helped out by solid defensive play around them. Both teams managed to clear balls off the line.

I thought that both teams played well, there were very few moments that we dull in the match. As I mentioned in my previous post looking at the first five matches, we haven't seem able to catch any breaks. The main incident here that easily could have gone our way was when Heitinga pushed over Boateng when the cross was coming into the box. The only reason that I can think of as to why the referee didn't award the penalty was that the cross was a little high, but it likely looked higher than it was because Boateng was on the ground. Penalties have certainly been given for less. Then Mokoena headed onto the bar, it made for painful viewing. The header from Ben Haim was almost directly at Howard, who made a fantastic shoulder save.

This is our fourth 1-0 loss this season and our fifth 1 goal loss. We are not playing poorly we are just not getting results. The way that we are playing we will get points, and finally we get some help from the schedule too. Our next matches are @Wolves, Home to Harry, Defoe, Crouch, & Kranjcar, @Hull, and Home to Wigan. Three of those are quite winnable and one is a match that everyone has circled on the calender. October is going to be a great month for Pompey.

League Cup - The actual draw

In my previous post - I put forward a potential draw that I would like to see, unfortunately none of the matches that I put forward were drawn. The closest that I came was with Barnsley who I put against Man City, but they got a home tie against Man United. Here is the full draw:

Barnsley - Manchester United
Arsenal - Liverpool
Portsmouth - Stoke
Tottenham Hotspur - Everton
Manchester City - Scunthorpe
Chelsea - Bolton
Sunderland - Aston Villa
Blackburn - Peterborough

The matches will be played on the 27th & 28th of October. I think that Spurs - Everton will be the best match with the Arsenal kids hosting Liverpool the next best. Here are my predictions:

Manchester United
Manchester City

Let me know your predictions in the comments.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

League Cup - Final 16

The third round of the League Cup has finished and we are left with 16 teams battling it out for the third most prestigious trophy in England. Here they are according to their current league rankings:

1. Chelsea
2. Manchester United
3. Liverpool
4. Manchester City
5. Aston Villa
6. Tottenham Hotspur
7. Arsenal
8. Sunderland
9. Stoke
10. Everton
11. Bolton
12. Blackburn
13. Portsmouth
14. Scunthorpe
15. Peterborough
16. Barnsley

Canadian Content in the Carling Cup

There is one Canadian & two possible Canadians remaining in the tournament. Iain Hume of Barnsley is the Canadian International, while Porstsmouth's keeper (for this tournament anyway) is Asmir Begovic who represented Canada at the U20, but has shown a desire to represent Bosnia at the Senior level, though they have yet to cap him. The other possible Canadian is David Hoilett who plays at Blackburn. He has the opportunity to play for us, but it looks likely that he will represent Jamaica instead.

The Next Round

The draw for the next round is random and will take place on Saturday. Here are the match ups that I am hoping for:

1. Manchester United - Peterborough aka the Battle of the Fergies. If you are unaware Peterborough are managed by Sir Alex's son Darren.

2. Arsenal - Spurs. A North London derby always a good match.

3. Liverpool - Everton. A Merseyside derby always a good match.

4. Barnsley - City. A big draw for the Tykes and a potential Cupset too.

5. Scunthorpe - Chelsea. A big draw for the Iron and a potential Cupset too.

6. Aston Villa - Blackburn. I think this would be a great game. Blackburn tend to play more open attacking football in the Cup, should be a lot of goals.

7. Portstmouth - Bolton. A chance for Pompey to make up for their blown points last week.

8. Stoke - Sunderland. Will Sunderland's new high power offense be able to break down Stoke at the Brittainia?

So there are my ideal matches for the round of 16. What do you think of them? Which matches would you like to see?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 10

Join Sam & I as we look back at the weekend's Premier League action, preview the U20 World Cup, and talk TFC. Also we are now properly available on itunes.

Canadian Terrace Talk Episode 10

Here is the link to the CBC U20 World Cup Preview that I mentioned on the podcast.

Sam & I mention our predicted final, we are certainly interested to hear yours, so leave them in a comment.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aston Villa 2 - Portsmouth 0

It is going to be a long year. Pompey's defense made two huge mistakes and Villa got two goals, coincidence? I think not. For large parts of the game Pompey controlled the play, but lacked the finishing edge. Villa were by no means perfect at the back but Pompey were unable to exploit their mistakes. Cuellar was definitely the weak link at the back, he didn't look comfortable in the right back role. Pompey were able to create a lot of opportunities, but a lot of those ended in a toothless shot at Friedel. We need to be able to convert opportunities if we are ever going to get a share of the points. Portsmouth were helped by the referee in this one, as I was surprised that Brown stayed out of the book, when he easily could have been sent off for two bookable offenses. I think that given how we played in the second half we had a chance to grab a draw, but like our other matches this season our defense errors & lack of finishing undid us.

Up next for us Everton, who we did the double over last year. Hopefully we can grab all three points at home. We also have a possibly moral boosting match in the league cup at Carlisle on Tuesday. Hopefully a few of our players can discover their scoring touch.

A look at Aston Villa from the Crow's Nest

Yaarrr - It be talk like a Pirate Day today, an' Portsmouth set sail t' Birmingham t' take on th' Aston Villa. (English version located below the pirate)

Villa be havin' seemed inconsistent t' me, as I mentioned on Canadian Terrace talk. Howereexaminin' the'r record they ben able t' grind ou' results without concedin' any goals. Which be a slightly worryin' aspect when Portsmouth be havin' only scored 3 times in 5 matches. Also worryin' be that after Kristian Jack at Th' Score told Agbonlahor t' decide if he be goin' t' be a goal scorer he has scored in aft t' aft matches.

Villa an' Pompey be havin' played two o' th' same teams so far, Birmingham & Fulham. Villa be havin' two wins & Portsmouth two losses. Villa didna be havin' too many problems wi' Fulham, beatin' them 2-0. Portsmouth & Fulham looked pretty evenly matched tho Pompey lost 1-0 t' a Clint Dempsey shot that tookst a deflection off o' Bobby Zamora`s aft. With Birmingham, 't Villa`s heated local Derby, so 't be a tight match, 'tis hard t' make many comparisons t' th' match that Portsmouth played against them. 'ere we lost 1-0 on an injury time penalty.

Gi'en Pompey`s track record this season ye would say that th' likely result be a 1-0 win fer Villa. Howere Portsmouth be playin' a lot better than the'r results indicate, so if Villa hade into t' this thinkin' they be goin' t' be havin' an easy match against a team wi' 0 points they be in fer a bit o' a surprise. Villa be havin' nay scored this season when an opponent scores first, so 't could be a Pompey victory if we be able t' get th' first goal.

Realistically this be as good a chance fer us t' get a point as anytime else, Pompey would be ecstatic wi' a victory an' would gladly settle fer a draw. I think that if Pompey come ou' an' play a solid match Villa would be happy wi' a draw as well. So me official prediction be a draw, tho I would love t' be seein' Pompey leave Villa Park wi' all three points, Play Up Pompey!

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day and Portsmouth travel to Birmingham to take on the Aston Villa. (Pirate Version above)

Villa have seemed inconsistent to me, as I mentioned on Canadian Terrace talk. However examining their record they have been able to grind out results without conceding any goals. Which is a slightly worrying aspect when Portsmouth have only scored 3 times in 5 matches. Also worrying is that after Kristian Jack at The Score told Agbonlahor to decide if he was going to be a goal scorer he has scored in back to back matches.

Villa and Pompey have played two of the same teams so far, Birmingham & Fulham. Villa have two wins & Portsmouth two losses. Villa didn't have too many problems with Fulham, beating them 2-0. Portsmouth & Fulham looked pretty evenly matched though Pompey lost 1-0 to a Clint Dempsey shot that took a deflection off of Bobby Zamora's back. With Birmingham, it Villa's heated local Derby, so it was a tight match, it is hard to make many comparisons to the match that Portsmouth played against them. Where we lost 1-0 on an injury time penalty.

Given Pompey's track record this season you would say that the likely result is a 1-0 win for Villa. However Portsmouth has been playing a lot better than their results indicate, so if Villa head into to this thinking they are going to have an easy match against a team with 0 points they will be in for a bit of a surprise. Villa have not scored this season when an opponent scores first, so it could be a Pompey victory if we are able to get the first goal.

Realistically this is as good a chance for us to get a point as anytime else, Pompey would be ecstatic with a victory and would gladly settle for a draw. I think that if Pompey come out and play a solid match Villa would be happy with a draw as well. So my official prediction is a draw, though I would love to see Pompey leave Villa Park with all three points, Play Up Pompey!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Canadian Terrace Talk returns - aka Episode 9

Canadian Terrace Talk has finally returned after numerous technical difficulties. Sam & I talk about the Premier League, World Cup Qualifiers, and a little bit of TFC.

Canadian Terrace Talk - Episode 9

As always you can subscribe to the podcast with itunes etc by clicking a link on the right side of the page. Once you have clicked the link to the Podcast, of course.

I hope that you enjoy the podcast. Don't forget to join my Champions League pool.

Champions League Pool

Greetings everyone!

The Champions League Group stage is upon us, and for those that are interested I am running a pool.

To join go to the SuperBru website

If you are not already a member (it is free) you have to register first. If you are select join tournament,

and enter the code landpace

it is as easy as that. You will need to act quickly as the first round of group matches is tomorrow.

Good Luck!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It is going to be a long season

We played a well and didn't deserve to lose. This phrase could easily become Portsmouth's new motto. Five matches played, five matches lost. In four of those matches we played well, in all of them we have been unlucky.

In our season opener we lost 1-0 on a deflected Clint Dempsey shot that went off the back back of Bobby Zamora. In our next match away to Birmingham we were set to record a draw until there was a penalty call in injury time. The commentary that I have read is pretty evenly split but whether it was actually a penalty or not. Both the Fulham match & the Birmingham match were otherwise pretty even affairs.

We then travelled to Arsenal, this is the match that I would say we didn't play well. I wasn't able to watch all of this match (I was with the other four) and in the part that I watched we were giving Arsenal too much space and inviting them on to us. In other words a recipe for disaster. However this match wasn't without it's talking points as well. The main one being John Utaka either being brought down down by William Gallas or tripping over his own feet. If he was brought down by Gallas then Gallas should have been red carded. At the time the score was 2-1 for Arsenal, so a sending off would have changed the complexion of the match, especially since Gallas scored the 3rd goal. Unfortunately I haven't been able to see the incident so I can't offer my opinion, only to say form the parts of the match I was able to watch we didn't deserve anything from it.

The Premier League's first Abu Derby was our next match as we hosted Manchester City. Much like the first two matches this was quite an even contest. However we fell asleep on a corner and let Adebayor head home the winner. This one we can't have any complaints about, we played well and didn't deserve to lose, but the result didn't go our way.

After the International break we hosted Bolton in a match between the only teams with 0 points. This was quite an exciting match. Our defense looked shaky at times , allowing Bolton to get behind which resulted in their first goal. Pompey then came roaring back and equalised through Kaboul. Kaboul & Piquionne both missed great opportunities a few minutes later. It looked like it would go to the half 1-1, with Pompey regretting missed chances. Then Bolton got in behind and if not for a last ditch tackle from Ben Haim would have had a scoring opportunity. Oh wait referee Chris Foy somehow missed seeing the ball go sideways after Ben Haim's tackle and decided to award Bolton a penalty. Former Pompey player (and still fan favourite) clinically struck it to give Bolton an undeserved half time lead. Over the half time break I was telling myself if we want to get anything from this we are going to need to overcome bad calls like the penalty. So I was pleased to see us come out roaring again after the break. Debutant Kevin Prince Boateng netting the tieing goal in the 63rd minute. Pompey had a few more chances that we should have converted, but looked on course for the draw. That is until Bolton got a long throw that was headed on to Cahill who scored. Of course the linesman chose not to raise his flag even though Bolton players ran from offside positions to contest the header. So Pompey played well and didn't deserve to lose or even draw really.

The match this morning against Bolton was the match that I enjoyed watching the most and also the most crushing defeat. There is nothing we can do now except wait for the inevitable apology from Keith Hackett and smile when Chris Foy & his crew are demoted to the lower leagues. Oh and hope that Paul Hart doesn't get suspended for saying how poor the ref was.

Looking ahead to the upcoming matches we are away to Villa and home to Everton. Both are going to be tough matches, it would be great to nick a draw at Villa Park but I wouldn't be surprised if we came back from the Midlands with six played and six lost. We need to get something from the Everton match, hopefully we can continue last year's form as we did the double over the Toffees last season.

But you get the idea it is going to be a long season, we are going to be involved in the relegation battle. I don't think that we will take the drop, but we need to start getting some points before the media starts to get in the minds of the fans and the players. Play Up Pompey!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Latest CONCACAF standings for the 2011 WCQ

El Salvador's win saw them make up some ground but if they lose their next two matches(@ Mexico & v. Honduras) they will fall back to nearly 100 points behind us. Trinidad & Tobago continue to lose meaning that Jack Warner will have extremely limited options if he is going to manipulate the way that the group is drawn to help them. The only way that T & T could gain a lot of points if they move the date back to include the Gold Cup. Which I believe would benefit Canada as much or more than Trinidad & Tobago. Speaking of which T & T were eliminated from the World Cup yesterday as well. If you would like to know the process that I used or my advice for what Canada should do I suggest you read the post I put up on Monday.

Without further delay here are the latest standings after the midweek International matches:

1. USA - 549.33
2. Mexico - 500.94
3. Honduras - 433.39
4. Costa Rica - 393.13
5. CANADA - 355.60
6. El Salvador - 284.76
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. Panama - 242.75
8. Jamaica - 211.52
9. Trinidad & Tobago - 178.98
10. Haiti - 174.21
11. Antigua & Barbuda - 148.41
12. Grenada - 114.54
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13. Guatemala - 111.88
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
14. Cuba - 82.96
15. Bermuda - 79.89
16. Barbados - 72.12
17. Suriname - 63.11
18. Nicaragua - 52.66
19. St. Kitts & Nevis - 50.63
20. Guyana - 50.30
21. Netherlands Antilles - 50.18
22. Puerto Rico - 44.24
23. Belize - 22.31
24. St. Vincent & the Grenadines - 21.54
25. Cayman Islands - 19.00
26. St. Lucia - 12.75
26. Turks & Caicos Islands - 12.75
28. British Virgin Islands - 11.90
29. Bahamas - 8.50
30. Aruba - 6.50
31. Dominica - 4.93
32. Dominican Republic - 4.25
33. US Virgin Islands - 3.40
34. Anguilla - 0.00
34. Montserrat - 0.00

Monday, September 7, 2009

Looking ahead to World Cup 2014 Qualifying - Version 2.0

Here we go again. Earlier this year, in July to be exact, I published a post about what Canada needed to do in order to be in the best possible place for the qualifying draw for Brasil 2014. I got some things correct in that post, but I got a lot of things wrong too. Luckily Edgar at Football Rankings noticed my post and decided to help me out. Rather than go over the mistakes I made before, I will lay out the way things should be done correctly and go from there.

First off there are four phases involved in the accumulation of points that will impact the rankings when the qualifying draw is made. For the purposes of this post I have based the phases on the way in which the draw was conducted for 2010 qualifying.

Phase 1 May 17 2007 - May 7 2008
Phase 2 May 8 2008 - May 6 2009
Phase 3 May 7 2009 - May ? 2010
Phase 4 May ? 2010 - May ? 2011

As a quick aside, there was a comment on Edgar's website that suggested the draw could be made in August instead of May 2011. This would mean the Gold Cup 2011 would be included. The commenter suggested the change could be made to benefit Trinidad & Tobago, but this would also be a big help to Canada, as we tend to do well at the Gold Cup. Therefore I will continue under the assumption that things will be done the same way they were in the 2010 qualifying draw. A change from May to August would benefit Canada and place a large importance on the Gold Cup 2011.

Points are accumulated in each phase by winning or drawing a match. The totalled points from the phase are then divided by the number of matches played. For example, if a team had won two matches, drawn one, and lost five, their point total would be divided by eight. However, if a team plays fewer than five matches their total is still divided by five, so it is important to play at least five matches in each phase.

The points from each phase are also weighted differently: you are only able to count 20% of the points from Phase 1, 30% from Phase 2, and 50% from Phase 3. Teams are able to count 100% percent of the points from Phase 4.

Now that you have got all of that, here are the current standings for the points accumulated towards May 2011.

1. USA - 540.79
2. Mexico - 482.03
3. Honduras - 457.00
4. Costa Rica - 412.68
5. CANADA - 355.60
6. El Salvador - 251.68
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. Panama - 242.75
8. Jamaica - 211.52
9. Trinidad & Tobago - 193.96
10. Haiti - 174.21
11. Antigua & Barbuda - 148.41
12. Grenada - 114.54
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13. Guatemala - 111.88
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
14. Cuba - 82.96
15. Bermuda - 79.89
16. Barbados - 72.12
17. Suriname - 63.11
18. Nicaragua - 52.66
19. St. Kitts & Nevis - 50.63
20. Guyana - 50.30
21. Netherlands Antilles - 50.18
22. Puerto Rico - 44.24
23. Belize - 22.31
24. St. Vincent & the Grenadines - 21.54
25. Cayman Islands - 19.00
26. St. Lucia - 12.75
26. Turks & Caicos Islands - 12.75
28. British Virgin Islands - 11.90
29. Bahamas - 8.50
30. Aruba - 6.50
31. Dominica - 4.93
32. Dominican Republic - 4.25
33. US Virgin Islands - 3.40
34. Anguilla - 0.00
34. Montserrat - 0.00

The draw is made and teams ranked 1-13 receive a bye to the Second Round. Teams 14 -35 play each other, with the eleven winners advancing to Round Two. The eleven winners from the first round plus the 13th ranked team then face the top twelve sides for a place in Round Three. Round three is a group stage that consists of three groups of four. When the draw is made the top six ranked teams are placed in such a way that should they advance from Round Two, there will be two members of the top six in each group. The top two teams from Round Three then advance to the final round known as "The Hex". The Hex contains six teams in one group. The top three teams qualify for the World Cup, the fourth place team enters into a playoff against the fifth place South American team.

At the moment we are sitting in fifth, which isn't bad news. The bad news is that USA, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Trinidad & Tobago are still playing in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. This means they each have a minimun of three more matches in Phase 3. Playing lots of matches isn't necessarily a good thing, but as these matches are worth two & a half more than a friendly in points value, these teams can get a lot of points. I think at this point Canada can give up trying to catch any of the teams above us in the standings and should focus on staying in fifth or sixth place. The bonus is El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago are last in the group. It would be ideal for Canada if they lost all of their remaining qualifying matches, which is possible since they have already played both games against each other. Matches at the World Cup will be a part of Phase 4 and count 100% towards the qualification rankings for 2014. Not only will matches at the World Cup be a part of Phase 4 when it is crucial to gain points, they also count four times as much as friendlies - meaning any results gained there will put those teams out of reach, so we need to have El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago miss out on the World Cup in order to give ourselves the best chance at making the next one.

The next piece of bad news is most countries that are chasing are likely to participate in four or five qualifying matches for the Gold Cup 2011. These matches will be in crucial Phase 4 and count two and a half times what a friendly does. This will give an advantage to the countries that are chasing Canada for a place in the top six.

Now for some almost good news. The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) has said there are no plans for any friendly matches for the next 18 months. I am fine with the decision not to play any more friendlies in Phase 3, which ends at yet to be determined date in May 2010. This is eight months from now. However we should start planning to play matches after the FIFA rankings come out in May 2010. We need to target countries that have higher than average rankings so we can get as many points as possible. The earliest opportunity is to play a country that was a part of the African Cup of Nations (ACN). This is the regional tournament of Africa; similar to CONCACAF's Gold Cup, it is played every two years. The matches in this tournament will count three times as much as a friendly. So we will see African teams fly up the rankings ahead of the World Cup, much the same way that CONCACAF teams flew up the rankings in August. Remember Canada jumped up 26 places. It won't matter that the tournament will affect rankings starting in March - as there will be no other competitive matches, the rankings shouldn't change drastically. The benefits are easy to see: if we play a team that is normally ranked in the seventies, but has moved into the forties or fifties, then we could get more than 60 extra points. We should also try to play matches against sides from Europe and South America, as these regions have a higher regional value. This means playing a team ranked 75 in the world from Europe or South America will get you more points than playing a team ranked 75 in the world from another region.

I am trying as much as I can to be realistic about the way this could play out. We had a disastrous Phase 4 in 2006-2007 and gained only 100 points and ended up finishing 11th. I am aware that the CSA is trying to expand the game in Canada, which I am in favour of; this will likely mean a friendly against a team with a big reputation. An example would be our match against Brasil a few years ago. However it would be more beneficial to save that match until after the qualifying draw for 2014 is made. With this in mind, here is my suggested Phase 4 friendly schedule for Canada.

Late May - before World Cup: Play an artificially high ranked African team. This would be a team that did well at the ACN, but did not make the World Cup and should be a side that Canada could beat. Ideally a team with only one star player. Togo is a side that may meet these criteria.

Any time - Play a friendly against Bolivia at sea level - either in Canada or at a neutral venue, but make sure it is at sea level. Bolivia are very, very difficult to beat at high alititude, but they are beatable at sea level.

November or February - Play a highly ranked warm weather team outside in Edmonton. Bolivia & other countries use their altitude to their advantage; we should take advantage of our cold.

Anytime - Play a European country, preferably ranked in the top 100. The match against Cyprus was a good example. How does taking on Bosnia-Herzegovina sound at BMO sound?

After the World Cup - Play a nation we can beat that was at the World Cup. If they managed to get some points there, their ranking will increase dramatically. That means more points if we are able to beat them.

If we follow this plan and win all five friendlies, we should double our points total which would be great. Even if we are able to add 200 more points, this would put us in good stead for claiming a top six place. Here are the points totals for the top six when the 2010 qualifying draw was made in 2007:

1. Mexico - 891
2. USA - 785
3. Costa Rica - 575
4. Honduras - 542
5. Panama - 514
6. Trinidad & Tobago - 463
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
11. CANADA - 342

You can see, as Canada are already at 355, we are already doing better than last time. We need to continue to build on our good form by playing at least five matches in Phase 4. In the 2006-2007 we only played four (Jamaica twice, Hungary, and Bermuda). As I mentioned above, the total points of a team are divided by a minimum of five, so only playing four is like losing a match. I should mention that staying at 355 is contingent on us not playing any more matches before Phase 3 ends and the May 2010 rankings come out. Even if we were to win, it would probably lower our points unless we beat a team in the top 40.

The way forward is simple: do not play any more matches until late May 2010. Then play at least five matches we can win before the May 2011 rankings are released and we should be in a strong position for the draw for qualifying. This should ideally put us through to The Hex, at which point we need to play our socks off, and hopefully in fours years' time Canada playing in the 2014 World Cup in Brasil will look like a reality.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No club football no problem - here is what to watch

Greetings Football fans,

With the International break upon us, there is no club football this week. There is no need to fret though, there are some great matches coming this weekend. Here is a list of the matches that caught my eye, I have put the ones that I am going to try to watch in bold.

Saturday September 5 (all times Eastern time)
Cote d'Ivoire - Burkina Faso (13:00)
Denmark - Portugal (14:00)
Poland - Northern Ireland (14:30)
Bahrain - Saudi Arabia (15:00)
France - Romania (15:00)
Argentina - Brasil (20:30)
Costa Rica - Mexico (22:00)

Sunday September 6
Nigeria - Tunisia (12:00)
Algeria - Zambia (17:00)

All things being equal I would probably watch the Asian Playoff first leg between Bahrain & Saudi Arabia, however I have lunch riding on the outcome of the Northern Ireland match. Before you ask I have no idea if any of the matches are on TV in Canada or anywhere else for that matter, I am going to try to find them on an Internet stream and sit in front of my computer with a beer.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

EPL Preview Part 1 - obviously a little late

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up. I have decided to not comment on the results of match day 1 or 2 in writing the predictions that I made before the season started. I hope that you will appreciate the honesty and laugh at a few of the predictions.

Greetings football fans. Welcome to the first installment of my three part EPL preview. This installment will look at where I think the clubs will finish and provide some insight into why I put them where I did. I will mention some players to watch and who I think will be the top scorer. The second part of the preview will come out in the first week of September once the transfer window has closed and look at the situation of the clubs now that they can not bring in more players. The third part will be in February looking at the final months of the season after the second transfer window has closed. Without further ado, here are my projected standings for the 2009/2010 EPL season.

Champions - Liverpool
I went with the Reds to win it all after they put up a good fight last season when they were hampered by injuries. If Liverpool can avoid the injury bug, especially to their key players, then I believe they have the squad that can bring home the title. This could prove easier said than done as it looks like the talismanic midfielder (and Phil Collins fan) Steven Gerrard could miss the opening match away to Spurs. They were definitely miss Xabi Alonso in their midfield, but though Aquilani is a different type of player I don't think Liverpool will notice much of a difference. Last season's Portsmouth player of the year - Glen Johnson is a big improvement at right back.

2nd Place - Manchester United
Obviously selling Ronaldo and allowing Tevez to leave will affect the way the Red Devils play. I think that they still have a talented roster and will compete for the title. Liverpool pushed them last season when they were injured, and I feel a healthy Liverpool will be too much for United. It will be interesting to see how United get through the first few months of the season with out their starting keeper Edwin van der Saar. Michael Owen is another player to watch as he seeks to rebuild his career after a disastrous and injury filled time at Newcastle.

3rd Place - Chelsea
On paper they are the strongest team in the Premier League. However having watched them play they are easily distracted. New boss Carlo Ancelotti will have his hands full controlling the massive egos of his new charges. Chelsea aren't exactly a squad of spring chickens either, so I expect the toll of competing in Cups, Europe, and the league to keep the Blues from the title.

4th Place - Arsenal
I have learned the hard way (in past predictions) that Wenger knows what he is doing. He has a young talented squad. I think that if Arshavin is able to continue his form from last season then the Gunners will have one of the top offenses in the league, even with the loss of Adebayor. I think that the Gunners defense still needs some improvement, the addition of Fulham defender Hangeland would do a lot to fortify their back four. There has been a lot of talk that Arsenal need some toughness in their midfield. I think this is largely because their back four are so weak that they need protecting. So if Wenger does make some improvements to his back line or brings some one into protect them, then the Gunners could join the race for the title.

5th Place - Everton
Everton were another team bitten by the injury bug last season. David Moyes has done an excellent job in keeping his squad together. They are without a doubt a strong side, however they do lack the out and out talent of some of the "big 4". I have them finishing 5th again.

6th Place - Aston Villa
Villa have made some strange moves in the summer after their drop in the standings last season. They let Captain Gareth Barry join Manchester City and brought in Stewart Downing from relegated Middlesbrough. I have the Stewart Downing transfer as my worst of the off season. Mainly because Downing is recovering from an injury and won't be able to play until January. I do however like some of the other moves that MON has made such as grabbing highly touted Fabian Delph from Leeds. A lot will depend on whether Villa are able to hold on to Ashley Young and bring in more players.

7th Place - Manchester City
City have been the big spenders this off season. I think that their squad will be a little dysfunctional as all of the egos get sorted out and they find their best squad. But they will definitely be in the hunt for a European place.

8th Place - West Ham
Zola has impressed me since he took over. He has West Ham's young stars playing well and is trying to bring in experienced players like Luca Toni. I think that this will be a good year for Barrack Obama and other West Ham fans.

9th Place - Sunderland
The Steve Bruce whirlwind has blown into the only premiership ground in the Northeast, and it has brought Darren Bent, Loric Cana, & Lee Cattermole with it. Sunderland are a vastly improved squad from last season. Bruce has excelled at getting the most out of his defenders. If Craig Gordon is able to rediscover some of his earlier form then the Black Cats could find themselves competing for Europe.

10th Place - Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Redknapp continued his big spending ways and now has a lot of money sitting on the bench. It remains to be seen if he is going to move any of it before the transfer window closes. I think that this season will go much the same as the past few Spurs seasons where they get off to a slow start over-react and sack their boss.

11th Place - Bolton
Not a lot to say here, beyond what everyone already knows. Bolton don't tend to play attractive football, they are tough to beat and despite a lack of big names on the squad they are in no danger of being relegated.

12th Place - Blackburn
Big Sam is building a side much like he had when he was in charge of Bolton, I expect them to be equally tough to beat and play equally unattractive football.

13th Place - Fulham
I like what Fulham have been doing in the past few seasons, unfortunately for them they remind me a lot of Portsmouth last season, without being up for sale of course. They are in danger of losing their best player Brede Hengeland to a number of interested teams, which would be a huge blow. Also they are in the Europa League and as I know from watching Pompey last year, even if you don't get terribly far in the competition the fixtures do catch up with a small squad that is why I predicting a drop for the cottagers.

14th Place - Birmingham
I think that they will do the best of the promoted sides. They have a quality boss and have made some good signings, most notably England U21 keeper Joe Hart on loan from Man City & Geovanny Patricio Espinoza. Espinoza has been a favourite of mine since I watched him in the 2006 World Cup with Ecuador where he made a number of game saving tackles. Birmingham may be involved slightly in the relegation battle, but I think this will be a good year for Birmingham City fans.

15th Place - Portsmouth
There is a lot of turmoil at Portsmouth off the field and very few players on it. This summer we have seen the departure of Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch, Sol Campbell, Sean Davis... All in all over 15 players from last year are not back this year. With Distin, Kranjcar, & James possible to follow the others out the door, Pompey are in need of more players. There is a takeover on the horizon and if this gets done before the window closes Pompey have a chance to build a stronger squad. The key player at Pompey this season will undoubtedly be Younnes Kaboul as with Distin likely to leave he will be a key part of our defense. Pompey will restock in the January transfer window. The real question will how much work do they have to do in the second half of the season.

16th Place - Stoke
Stoke were difficult to beat at home last season, they will need to duplicate that form if they are going to stay up again this year. They will be in the relegation battle but I believe they have the strength to avoid the drop.

17th Place - Hull (staying up on goal difference)
Hull rode an excellent start to last season to premier league survival. Phil Brown has been very active in the transfer window, though he has not had a lot of success, he has managed to bring in some quality to his side.

18th Place - Wolves
Last season's Championship winners are a lot younger than last time they were in the premier league. I expect them to play good football but it will not bring them victories. And wins are what you need to avoid relegation.

19th Place - Wigan
When have had a number of off season moves. The most notable was Steve Bruce leaving fro Sunderland and taking Lee Cattermole with him. They also lost Antonio Valencia to Man Utd and released Henri Camara and didn't bring back Amr Zaki. They replaced Bruce with Swansea's boss Roberto Martinez. Teams that Bruce leaves have a habit of getting relegated and I expect Wigan to suffer that fate.

20th Place - Burnley
Burnley went on some big cup runs last season and upset a number of big teams along the way. I think that they have a few upsets in them, come May it could well be points dropped to Burnley that decide the title. Much the same way Liverpool's dropped points to Stoke cost them the title last season. I like the team that Owen Coyle is building, however they look like a team that lacks the quality to stay up this season. I think that they will go down and come right back up perhaps with more staying power next time.

Top Scorer - Fernando Torres

Players to watch - Andrei Arshavin, star players on relegation teams; their teams survival could rest on their shoulders.

EPL Preview Part 2 will be up at the beginning of September when the transfer window has closed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A brief thought on the Portsmouth Takeover


Thanks to Pompey Beast for the idea & Monty Python for the content.