Monday, October 18, 2010

Latest Standings for CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Draw

Well first off congrats to Canada for getting a point off Ukraine! That result kept us in the top six, but we are by no means safe with Panama & Jamaica on our heals. Also Dominica needs a mention as they have jumped up into 11th in the table after their strong performances in Gold Cup Qualifying. This should also see Dominica achieve an all time high when the latest FIFA rankings come out in a few days. Without any further delay here are the latest standings:

May 2011 Rank Country Points
1 USA 992
2 Mexico 848
3 Honduras 521
4 Costa Rica 470
5 Canada 401
6 Jamaica 398

7 Panama 392
8 Guyana 320
9 El Salvador 273
10 T & T 247
11 Dominica 233
12 Suriname 199
13 Puerto Rico 198
14 Barbados 160
15 Grenada 149
16 Guatemala 142
17 St. Vincent 132
18 St. Kitts 124
19 Haiti 123
20 Antigua 121
21 Bermuda 94
22 Cayman Islands 90
23 Cuba 82
24 Dominican R. 70
25 N. Antilles 57
26 Nicaragua 53
27 Belize 44
28 St. Lucia 31
29 Turks & Caicos 13
30 British VI 12
31 Bahamas 9
32 Aruba 7
33 USVI 3
34 Anguilla 0
34 Montserrat 0

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Latest Standings as of 6AM Eastern (8pm Down Under)

May 2011 Rank Country Points
1 USA 963
2 Mexico 835
3 Honduras 512
4 Costa Rica 440
5 Canada 401
6 Panama 359

7 Jamaica 344
8 El Salvador 273
9 T & T 254
10 Puerto Rico 198
11 Barbados 160
12 Grenada 149
13 Guatemala 142
14 St. Vincent 132
15 St. Kitts 124
16 Haiti 123
17 Antigua 121
18 Guyana 105
19 Dominica 101
20 Bermuda 94
21 Cayman Islands 90
22 Cuba 82
23 Suriname 67
24 N. Antilles 57
25 Nicaragua 53
26 Belize 44
27 Turks & Caicos 13
27 St. Lucia 13
29 British VI 12
30 Bahamas 9
31 Aruba 7
32 Dominican R. 4
33 USVI 3
34 Anguilla 0
34 Montserrat 0

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Latest on the Road to Brasil 2014

Greetings football fans,

Pompey Canuck here again with an update on the Road to Brasil 2014. After the grand spectacle of the World Cup (which required many late nights & early mornings to follow from Australia), I spent two travelling around the Outback, making it difficult to keep up with the all of the football news...but I have found out some crucial info affecting Canada's journey to Brasil.

First off, after the strong performances of our CONCACAF brethren Mexico & the States at the World Cup in South Africa, CONCACAF has seen our Global co-efficient rise from the minimum .85 to .88! That is great news! It means that Canada will now get more ranking points for beating CONCACAF opponents, which should see all CONCACAF teams move up the overall FIFA rankings. It also means that CONCACAF is the third strongest football federation in the World after Europe and South America (which both have the maximum co-efficient of 1). I should also point out that the strong performance of Ghana boosted the CAF to .86 leaving only Asia & Oceania on the minimum.

Second, I have the current standings for the May 2011 FIFA rankings, which as far as I am aware is still when the draw for World Cup Qualifying is likely to take place. The top six are seeded in the draw and should progress to the final stage. So without further ado here are the standings which include Puerto Rico's win over Anguilla on October 2.

May 2011 Rank Country Points
1 USA 963
2 Mexico 835
3 Honduras 499
4 Costa Rica 440
5 Canada 366
6 Panama 346

7 Jamaica 344
8 El Salvador 273
9 T & T 254
10 Grenada
11 Guatemala 142
12 Haiti 123
13 Antigua 121
14 Puerto Rico 117
15 Guyana 105
16 Dominica 101
17 Bermuda 94
18 Cuba 82
19 Barbados 72
20 St. Kitts 68
21 Suriname 67
22 St. Vincent 58
23 N. Antilles 57
24 Nicaragua 53
25 Belize 44
26 Cayman Islands 24
27 Turks & Caicos 13
27 St. Lucia 13
29 British VI 12
30 Bahamas 9
31 Aruba 7
32 Dominican R. 4
33 USVI 3
34 Anguilla 0
34 Montserrat 0

There you have it: Canada is sitting in 5th place. However we are by no means comfortably in 5th place - Panama and Jamaica are right on our heels. Now with May 2011 just around the corner, the matches we play count for a lot more towards the standings, so it is not out of the question for Canada to catch Costa Rica or even Honduras. To give you an idea of the amount of movement possible, Dominica picked up two wins over Barbados, grabbing nearly 100 points and moving from 26th to 16th. With that in mind, here are the matches coming up for the top eleven teams in October:

USA - Home to Poland & Colombia
Mexico - Home to Venezuela
Honduras - Away to New Zealand, Home to Guatemala
Costa Rica - Away to Peru, Home to El Salvador
Canada - Away to Ukraine
Panama - Home to El Salvador & Peru
Jamaica - Home to Trinidad & Tobago
El Salvador - Away to Panama & Costa Rica
Trinidad & Tobago - Away to Jamaica
Grenada - No matches scheduled
Guatemala - Home to Belize, Away to Honduras

If Canada manages a victory over Ukraine it will take our points total to 471. That would put us ahead of Costa Rica if they drop both of their matches and just behind Honduras if they lose theirs. It is going to be a close fight to make the top six no matter what happens. That said, because Canada have been playing matches we are going to be a lot better off than we were four years ago, when we were only the 11th ranked side in the region.

I am going to put out the next update at the start of November. Look for a lot of movement from some of the smaller nations as the qualifiers for the 2011 Gold Cup get underway.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Group H Preview

Finally we get to Group H, home of the European Champions and World Cup favourites Spain, along with Chile, Switzerland, and Montreal's favourite team, Honduras. Each team in the group has had injuries: Chile and Honduras have lost star players in Humberto Suazo & Wilson Palacios. Switzerland have had unlucky striker Frei injured again; Frei also missed Euro 2008 through injury. Spain have a number of slightly injured players: Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, and Torres.

Here is how the teams' travel, elevation and preparations look:

Spain get going in Durban at sea level, next they travel 569km north to Jo'burg and gain 1753m, and lastly they have the short 62km trip to Pretoria and drop 539m. By way of preparation, Spain played Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Poland. They played Saudi Arabia and South Korea in Austria, winning 3-2 & 1-0 respectively. They wrapped up their preparations with an easy 6-0 win over Poland in Spain.

Chile start in Nelspruit at 660m, followed by a 1410km move to Port Elizabeth and drop to sea level, and finally they head north to Pretoria and gain 1214m along the 1123km journey. Chile had five warm up matches, beating Trinidad & Tobago, Zambia, Northern Ireland, and Israel all in Chile. They also travelled up to Mexico and suffered a 1-0 loss.

Switzerland kick off at sea level in Durban, stay at sea level as they move to Port Elizabeth 950km away, and then they go 664km north to Bloemfontein and gain 1400m. The Swiss played two matches both at home, losing to Costa Rica 1-0 and drawing with Italy 1-1.

Honduras start at 660m in Nelspruit, travel to Jo'burg 345km away and 1093m higher, and wrap up in Bloemfontein 353m lower and 397km east. Honduras have had a disastrous build up, drawing Belarus and Azerbaijan, plus losing to Romania 3-0.

Here is how I think the matches will go:

Honduras - Chile
Chile are too strong for Honduras and get off to a good start with all 3 points.

Spain - Switzerland
Spain don't have many problems breaking down the Swiss and win comfortably.

Chile - Switzerland
Draw. Both teams are going to fight hard but they will split the spoils in this one.

Spain - Honduras
Spain enjoy another easy win and eliminate the Hondurans.

Chile - Spain
Chile reap the rewards of Spain giving their A team a rest and manage a draw against the European Champions.

Switzerland - Honduras
The Swiss complete the sweep of the Hondurans with a 1-0 victory.

Here is how the table will look:

Spain 7 points
Chile 5 points
Switzerland 4 points
Honduras 0 points

Group G Preview

In Group G we find the Confederations Cup winners and perennial favourites Brasil, along with Portugal, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). There have been some big injuries in this group, with Portugal's Nani & Ivory Coast's Drogba both getting hurt before the tournament starts.

Here is how the teams' travel, elevation and preparations look:

Brasil start in Jo'burg at 1753m, then just like Argentina they stay there for their second match, before moving down to Durban 569km away at sea level. Brasil opted to make some money and played Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Neither of these sides made it to the African Cup of Nations, but I think that Brasilian Football did make $5M from the encounters...both of which Brasil won comfortably.

Portugal are the only team in the tournament to play all of their matches at sea level. They start off in Port Elizabeth, then travel 748km to Cape Town, finishing off 1638km away in Durban. At home, Portugal were held 0-0 by Cape Verde, then beat Cameroon 3-1 before heading to South Africa where they beat Mozambique 3-0 at 1753m in Jo'burg.

Ivory Coast start at sea level in Port Elizabeth, then go 1062km to Jo'burg and gain 1753m, and finally head 345km to Nelspruit and drop 1093m. Ivory Coast drew 2-2 with Paraguay in France, and beat Japan 2-0 in Switzerland.

North Korea kick off in Jo'burg at 1753m, next they travel to Cape Town 1398km away at sea level, and then have the longest journey in the tournament: 1747km to Nelspruit and up 660m. DPRK lost 1-0 to Paraguay in Switzerland, drew 2-2 with Greece in Austria, and lost 3-1 to Nigeria in Jo'burg.

Here is how I think the matches will go:

Ivory Coast - Portugal
Without Drogba, the Ivory Coast are missing their main weapon, but they are still a very strong team and should get the win here.

Brasil - North Korea
It is Brasil - North Korea...really only one winner possible here. That said, if Brasil get overconfident they could be in for a shock. Still, 3 points to the Brasilians.

Brasil - Ivory Coast
Brasil don't have to travel at all and the Ivorians gain 1753m in altitude; this equals a comfortable win for the Brasilians.

Portugal - North Korea
North Korea may have a shot at a point here, but I think the Portugese are too strong and take all three, eliminating "Our Dear Team".

Portugal - Brasil
Portugal need a win here to have a chance to advance; unfortunately for them Brasil is a rival and would love to get a win over the Portugese and eliminate them, which is exactly what the Brasilians will do.

North Korea - Ivory Coast
Unfortunately for "Our Dear Team", the Ivorians also need a win to ensure they advance and they will get it.

Here is how the table will look:

Brasil 9 points
Ivory Coast 6 points
Portugal 3 points
North Korea 0 points

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Group F Preview

Group F is home to the defending champions Italy, as well as Slovakia, New Zealand, and Paraguay. The All Whites of New Zealand are definitely the minnows in this group. Italy aren't attracting a lot of attention to repeat as Champs, and the injury to Pirlo puts more pressure on them just to make it out of the group. Slovakia are my surprise team of the tournament, I think that they have a decent chance to make the Quarterfinals. Paraguay nearly topped the South American qualifying but top scorer Cabañas if out of the tournament as he recovers from being shot in the head in Mexico City. That said the Paraguayans still have a wealth of attacking options including new Paraguayan Lucios Barrios.

Here is how the teams travel, elevation and lead up look.

Italy kick off in Cape Town at sea level. They then have the longest journey in the tournament to Nelspruit 1747km away and 660m higher. The Italians then gain 1093m as they make the short journey 345km journey to Jo'burg. Italy had two warm up matches, both against other teams in the World Cup. They lost 2-1 to Mexico in Brussels, and drew 1-1 with Switzerland in Geneva.

Slovakia start in Rustenburg at 1500m, then they move 502km to Bloemfontein and drop 100m, lastly they travel 397km to Jo'burg and gain 353m. Slovakia also had two warm up matches against World Cup opponents. They drew 1-1 with Cameroon in Austria, and then beat Costa Rica 3-0 in Slovakia.

New Zealand begin their second World Cup campaign at 1500m in Rustenburg. Next the All Whites move to Nelspurit, 436km away and 840m lower. They wrap up the group stage in Polokwane after traveling for 345km also gaining 650m. New Zealand played three warm up matches all against World Cup opposition. They lost 2-1 to Australia in Melbourne, to an injury time goal. They shocked Serbia 1-0 in Austria and put the World on notice. Slovenia paid attention and beat the Kiwis 3-1 in Slovenia.

Paraguay get underway in Cape Town at Sea Level, afterwards they travel up to Bloemfontein and gain 1400m over 1002km journey, finally Paraguay travel to Polokwane 717km away and 90m lower. Paraguay played four warm up matches. They beat North Korea 1-0 in Switzerland, they lost 2-1 to Ireland in Dublin, they drew 2-2 with Ivory Coast in France, and beat Greece 2-0 in Switzerland.

Here is how I think the matches in Group F will play out:

Italy - Paraguay
The strong Italian defense and the strong Paraguayan attack. I see this playing out as a draw, and as both teams see this as a match up between the strongest teams in the group I think they will both be happy with the result.

New Zealand - Slovakia
The All Whites and the Slovaks are both up for this one, and the Kiwis don't get embarrassed but they do lose.

Slovakia - Paraguay
The change in altitude helps the Slovaks and hurts the Paraguayans. Slovakia takes the game in the second half and books their place in the next round.

Italy - New Zealand
The shocks continue as the All Whites fight the Azzuri the entire way and hold on for a draw, securing the Kiwis their first World Cup point.

Slovakia - Italy
The Italians need victory to get them a place in the knock out stages, but find it difficult in the high air of Jo'burg, Slovakia sits back and gets a draw.

Paraguay - New Zealand
Both teams need to win to give themselves a chance of progressing, resulting in a blow out as Paraguay win big and advance behind Slovakia.

Here is how the table would look

Slovakia - 7 points
Paraguay - 4 points
Italy - 3 points
New Zealand - 1 point

Group E Preview

In Group E we find Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, and Cameroon. I have picked the Dutch to win the whole tournament and I don't think that they will have many problems topping this group. Japan has been poor in their warm up matches, Cameroon has plenty of off field drama, and Denmark is battling injuries. It is all about the fight for second in this group.

Here is how the teams travel stacks up:

Netherlands start in Jo'burg at 1753m, next it is on to Durban 569km away at sea level, finally they move to Cape Town 1638km along the coast and still on sea level. As for warm up matches the Dutch have faced Mexico & Ghana, both of whom I predicted to win their groups, and won 2-1 & 4-1 respectively.

Denmark start in Jo'burg at 1753m, then they travel 62km to Pretoria and drop 539m, and they wrap up the group stage in Rustenburg only 104km away and 286m higher. The Danes beat Senegal and lost to Australia in their warm up matches with one more against South Africa still to come. The injury to Simon Kjaer has been the most serious of the many niggles on the Danish team.

Japan begin in Bloemfontein at 1400m, next they drop to sea level as they go the 637km south to Durban. Japan finish the stage in Rustenburg 693km away at 1500m. Japan's World Cup preparations began with a 2-0 loss to South Korea in Japan. They followed that up with losses to England & Ivory Coast in Europe.

Cameroon begin in Bloemfontein at 1400m, secondly they play in Pretoria a drop of 186m but 459km away, then they go to sea level and Cape Town, a journey of 1471km. Cameroon have had draws against Georgia and Slovakia as well as a loss to Portugal. They have one friendly remaining against Serbia. The off field war of words between former great Roger Milla and current star Samuel Eto'o has grabbed the most headlines in their lead up.

Here is how I see the matches going:

Netherlands - Denmark
The Dutch send a message to the rest of the teams in the tournament with a convincing win and a Robin van Persie hat trick.

Japan - Cameroon
Draw. Neither side has been playing well lately and neither look like finding much form before the tournament starts.

Netherlands - Japan
The Oranje continue their domination of this group with an easy win over the Blue Samurai.

Cameroon - Denmark
The Danes rebound from their loss to the Dutch with a solid win over Cameroon.

Denmark - Japan
The Danes only need a draw to advance if the Dutch beat Cameroon, and they put in a solid defensive performance and grab the second spot.

Cameroon - Netherlands
Another Dutch win, to wrap up the group with all 9 points.

Here is how the table will look:

Netherlands 9 points
Denmark 4 points
Japan 2 points
Cameroon 1 point

Friday, June 4, 2010

Group C Preview

In Group C we have England, Algeria, USA, and Slovenia. England have just lost their captain Rio Ferdinand to injury in South Africa, they have replaced him with Spurs defender Michael Dawson. While this may affect them in the later stages I don't think it will have a large impact in the group stage. Slovenia are a little bit of a surprise team here, they had an excellent qualifying but were drawn against Guus Hiddink and Russia in the playoff, and they impressed again. USA put a lot of teams on notice with their strong performances in last year's Confederation Cup. Algeria emerged from a difficult group battling it out with African Champions Egypt. I suspect that had Russia & Egypt qualified instead of Algeria and Slovenia this would have been labeled the group of death.

Here is how the elevation, travel and preparations break down for each team:

England start off in Rustenburg at 1500m above sea level. From their they travel the 1423km to Cape Town and drop to sea level. For their last match they go to Port Elizabeth 748km away and also at sea level. In terms of preparations England played Mexico and Japan, they won both matches but didn't really impress in either.

Algeria start in Polokwane at 1310m. They then make a long 1719km trip to Cape Town and drop to sea level. Algeria make their way back across the country with a 1471km journey and an increase in elevation to 1214m. Algeria lost 3-0 to Ireland in their 1st warm up match and will face UAE before the tournament kicks off.

USA begin in Rustenburg 1500m up. The States then have a short 121km trip to Jo'burg and gain 253m. USA wrap up the group stage in Pretoria 539m lower and 62km away from Jo'burg. USA lost badly to the Czech Republic before beating Turkey in their warm up matches in the US, they will face Australia in South Africa before the tournament.

Slovenia start in Polokwane at 1310m. They move 322km to Jo'burg and gain 443m. Finishing things off in Port Elizabeth 1062km at sea level. Slovenia had a comfortable win over New Zealand in their only warm up match.

Here is how I see the matches going.

England - USA
USA come out strong eager to make a good start in the tournament, unfortunately for them England have a lot more talent and are also keen to grab all three points. England wins.

Slovenia - Algeria
Algeria are carrying a few suspensions into their first few matches and haven't been known for their consistency, Slovenia have done nothing but impress. Slovenia wins comfortably.

Slovenia - USA
Both teams have a short distance to travel and have a hard fought battle with neither yielding. I see this one as a draw all the way.

England - Algeria
England need to careful to not get overconfident ahead of this one, Algeria do not travel well and England should win this easily, which I think they will.

Slovenia - England
Slovenia need a point to ensure they advance, England need a point to guarantee top spot, a draw suits both teams, however I think that Slovenia will push for the win. England's reserves will feature in this match and will take their chance to shine, I see this as a scoring draw.

USA - Algeria
USA have a short journey and Algeria have another long one. I see the travel taking its toll and the USA getting the win they need in case the Slovenes slip up.

Here is how the group will finish:

England 7 points
Slovenia 5 points
USA 4 points
Algeria 0 points

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Group B Preview

Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, & South Korea. Argentina are now led by Diego Maradona, who took over last year, and how shall we put it... is crazy. Greece are still lead by the same man that guided them to victory in Euro 2004. Swede Lars Lagerbeck took over the Super Eagles in Feb of this year, while South Korea are on their 7th boss since they hosted the World Cup, but lucky #7 has been in charge since 2007. Argentina are big favourites to win this group, in spite of their manager such is their talent. It is second place in this group that is up for grabs, who will get it? Defensively resolute Greece? The inconsistent Nigerians? The organised Koreans? Lets have a look at the travel, elevation, and preparations of the teams and find out.

Argentina begin the tournament in Jo'burg at 1753m, and stay in Jo'burg for their second match as well. They have to travel the 322km to Polokwane and drop in elevation 190m. By way of warm up matches Argentina played Canada and won easily 5 -0. While it wasn't the strongest side Canada has ever fielded we weren't going to do much damage to Argentina, especially not at their 200th birthday party.

Greece start in Port Elizabeth at sea level, then they head north to Bloemfontein a distance of 664km and an elevation gain of 1400m. Next they make their way north east to Polokwane 717km away and a drop of 90m. Greece played North Korea to a 2-2 draw in May, before losing to Paraguay 2-0 yesterday. Not really the sort of results that inspire confidence in the Greeks progressing.

Nigeria kick things off in Jo'burg at 1753m before going to Bloemfontein a drop of 353m and a distance of 397km. Nigeria wrap things up in Durban at sea level 637km away and 1400m lower. Nigeria were held to draws by Saudi Arabia and Colombia in their two warm up matches and have one remaining against North Korea. The draw against Colombia was particularly shocking, given that the match was in the UK and Colombia had played against South Africa in South Africa only 3 days earlier.

South Korea begin in Port Elizabeth at sea level, then it is off to Jo'burg 1062 km away and a gain of 1753m. South Korea finish the group stage in Durban at sea level 569km down the road from Jo'burg. South Korea's warm up includes victories over Ecuador in Korea, Japan in Japan, as well as a loss to Belarus in Austria. The Taegeuk Warriors have one match remaining against Spain, also in Austria.

Here is how I see the matches in this group going.

South Korea - Greece
The Taegeuk Warriors will break down the stalwart Greek defense and earn a hard fought victory.

Argentina - Nigeria
Argentina cruise to victory but Nigeria get on the score sheet.

Argentina - South Korea
With only having to switch stadiums in Jo'burg, Argentina are well rested and ready, and have little difficulty dispatching South Korea.

Greece - Nigeria
Both teams recovering from opening losses, they will battle back and forth, and nobody will score.

Nigeria - South Korea
With both teams knowing that a win will likely see them advance, there is a good game here and the nobody will take it. I think it will be a scoring draw.

Greece - Argentina
Argentina having already secured first place will field a weaker side, unfortunately for Greece their weaker side is still too strong.

Here is how the table will look at the end of the group stage:

Argentina 9 points
South Korea 4 points
Nigeria 2 points
Greece 1 point

Group A - Preview

Might as well go back and start with Group A, which is of course made up with the hosts South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, and France. As you are aware no host nation has ever failed to make it out of their group. However no host nation has ever been as weak a side as the Bafana Bafana. With other host nations people have wondered if they had to qualify would they have made it? With South Africa we know that they wouldn't. That is because African Cup of Nations qualifying was tied in with World Cup Qualifying and South Africa didn't make the Cup of Nations.

There have been a few selection surprises with the squads in this group, South Africa left top scorer Benni McCarthy out of the squad, and Mexico dropped Jonathon Dos Santos. With McCarthy he obviously isn't in the best shape of his career, however he was viewed as someone that had to be on form for Bafana Bafana to get something out of this group. Jonathon Dos Santos wasn't expected to start any matches as far as I know, but what was surprising about his omission was that his brother Gio Dos Santos is know talking about quitting the squad. Gio Dos Santos is a starter on the Mexican side and they need to have him if they are going to progress deep into the tournament.

As I mentioned in the Group of Death Preview, I have been looking at the distance that teams have to travel, the elevation that they play their matches at and their build up to the World Cup. Here is how the teams of Group A break down.

South Africa start off in Jo'burg at 1753m. They then travel 62km to Pretoria and drop 539m in elevation. For their final match they move to Bloemfontain which is 459km away and 186m higher. In their buildup a lot has been made of South Africa's unbeaten run. They have had a few good games, particularly the one against Colombia, however a large number of the matches have been against poor teams. I think that the streak has helped with the confidence of the side, but it hasn't really sharpen their match skills.

Mexico start off in Jo'burg at 1753m. Next El Tri are off to Polokwane a distance of 322km and an elevation drop of 443m. Lastly Mexico head to Rustenburg which is 355km away and 190m higher than Polokwane. I really appreciate the matches that Mexico have arranged for their World Cup preparations, they took on England and Holland, and their last match before the tournament is against Italy. While they lost against both England and Holland they put in solid performances and both the English and the Dutch are stronger than any team in their group.

Uruguay begin in Cape Town at sea level. Next they are off to Pretoria which is 1471km away and 1214m higher. They wrap up in Rustenburg a short 104km away and 186m higher. Uruguay have only scheduled one warm up match against Israel which they won by a comfortable 4-1 margin.

France begin in Cape Town at sea level, then they go to Polokwane 1719km away and 1310m above sea level. Afterwards they go back across the country to Bloemfontain 717km away and 90m higher. France's build up has been atrocious they had to come from behind to beat Costa Rica, and then were held to a draw by Tunisia.

Here is how I see the matches in this group happening.

South Africa - Mexico
South Africa will have home field advantage and the crowd will be buzzing, literally. However they just don't have the quality to deal with the Mexicans. Short of food poisoning or dubious refereeing Mexico wins this easily.

Uruguay - France
Uruguay are hungry and have a lot of talented players that are looking for big money moves after the World Cup and need to prove themselves on a bigger stage. Luis Suarez is a perfect example. France have buckets of talent but have been underachieving since the World Cup in Germany. Last place in their group in Euro 08, second in their WCQ group and needed a handball to advance to South Africa. Looking at the teams in a vacuum France is better, looking at them in the real world, Uruguay win.

South Africa - Uruguay

Bafana Bafana take advantage of a much shorter commute and put in a solid performance, however Uruguay cruise to victory. Not a blowout, but a match that could only have one winner.

France - Mexico
Mexico are feeling good after their win over the hosts and now face France who have just made one of the longest commutes in the tournament. I think that after Mexico take the lead the French players will start thinking about Blanc's reign and Mexico win the group.

Mexico - Uruguay
Neither team had to travel a great distance for this match, and both are feeling good having already qualified. Normally you would expect them to field weaker sides in this match, however with the likely opponent in the next round for the second place team Argentina I think this will be one of the matches of the tournament. I have it as a 2-2 draw.

South Africa - France
This is South Africa's best chance of a point. A demoralised French team travelling back across the country and eliminated from the tournament, unfortunately for Bafana Bafana the gap in quality is too great and France win a close one.

So the group finishes thus:

Mexico - 7 points
Uruguay - 7 points
France - 3 points
South Africa - 0 points

Monday, May 31, 2010

World Cup Contests!

With the World Cup less than a fortnight away, it is time to enter some World Cup contests. There are plenty to choose from, predictors, fantasy teams, classic leagues, and head to head leagues. They are all free to enter and some of them have prizes for the winners. Join one or join them all, here are the ones that I am participating in.

Super Bru - pick the result including the score for every match.

Pool name: Think It All In
Pool code: prodrash

The Score - pick the result (no score) for every match

Pool name: Think It All In
Pool code: pompey

CBC - pick the result (no score) for every match

Pool name: Think It All In
Pool code: pompey

ESPN - build a fantasy team and score points off of players performance

Pool name: The Subs Bench
Pool code: podcast

FIFA - pick the result (no score) for every match
classic league
Pool Name: Think It All In
Pool Code: 58163-2790

FIFA - pick the result (no score) for every match
head to head league
Pool Name: Think It All In
Pool Code: 58163-2791

FIFA - build a fantasy team and score points off of players performance
classic league
Pool Name: Think It All In
Pool Code: 325748-76493

FIFA - build a fantasy team and score points off of players performance
head to head league
Pool Name: Think It All In
Pool Code: 325748-76491

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Advance Australia? A Group of Death Preview

No you haven't missed the previews for any other groups, I decided to start with the most interesting group. Which is of course the Group of Death, group D. The teams in this group are Germany, Ghana, Serbia, & Australia. Germany are undoubtedly the strongest team in the group, even with the loss of their captain Ballack. In my opinion Ghana are the strongest African side in the competition, even with the loss of the their captain Essien. Noticing a trend? This group is shaping up nicely for Serbia and Australia.

A few thing that I have looked at a lot in preparation for the matches at the World Cup has been the distance that a side has to travel for their next match, as well as the change in altitude, and their warm up matches. To give you an idea of the altitude in South Africa Jo'burg is 1753m above sea level, Denver is 1609m and Calgary is 1048m. Also by way of comparison La Paz Bolivia is 3640. For distance the longest journeys in the World Cup are between Cape Town and Polokwane, and Cape Town and Nelspruit both over 1700km. Think Toronto - Halifax or Vancouver - Regina.

Here is how Group D shapes up in those categories:

Germany start off in Durban at sea level. Then they travel 950 km to Port Elizabeth to take on Serbia and remain at sea level. For their last match they travel 1062km to Jo'burg and gain 1753 metres in elevation.

Ghana start off in Pretoria at 1214m. They travel 104km to Rustenburg and gain 286m when they face the Socceroos. After that they go 121km to Jo'burg and gain another 253m before their match with Germany.

Serbia begin in Pretoria at 1214m. Following that they travel 1123km to Port Elizabeth and drop to sea level. They wrap up by travelling 1410km to Nelspruit and go back up 660m.

Australia get going in Durban at sea level. They have a 693km journey to Rustenburg and an elevation increase of 1500m. Once they have faced the Black Stars, Australia move 436km down the road to Nelspruit and drop 840m.

Here is how I see the matches playing out.

Serbia - Ghana
Serbia are coming off a loss to New Zealand. While Ghana don't have Essien, they didn't have him for much of the African Cup of Nations either, and they made the final there. Ghana win comfortably.

Germany - Australia
This is a match that the Germans should win, however the Aussies will refuse to give up and hound the Germans all over the pitch and I think it will end in a draw. The Germans will be alright with a point and the Aussies thrilled.

Germany - Serbia
The Germans don't have a lot of problems breaking down the Serbian defense and eliminate them from the Cup with a win.

Ghana - Australia
Ghana will capitalise on their easier journey to Rustenburg and beat the Aussies who are a little worn out after their battling draw with the Germans.

Ghana - Germany
Draw. Ever since the FA Cup final I have thought this will be a draw. The teams are going to come out hard, but I don't think there will be a lot of scoring. Coincidentally a draw sends both teams through to the next round.

Australia - Serbia
Serbia are already eliminated while the Socceroos need a win to keep their hopes of advancing alive. Australia get their win but it is not enough to see them advance.

So here is how I think the Group of Death will finish:

Ghana - 7 points
Germany - 5 points
Australia - 4 points
Serbia - 0 points

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The FA Cup

The match

Chelsea came and brought the pressure, but they were unable to put one in the back of the net. This was through a combination of great keeping from David James and the goal posts. Of course poor finishing played a roll as well. Pompey were not without there chances, they were trying to hit Chelsea on the counter and had some success, but they were plagued by poor finishing as well. Kalou and Piquionne both missed absolute sitters in the first half.

At half time there was a definite feeling that Pompey could grab the victory, manly because there seemed to be some magic preventing Chelsea from scoring. When Pompey won a penalty I fully admit to thinking that we were going to get it done, then came the first of evening's poorly taken penalties. When Boateng missed the game changed, Chelsea felt they caught a break and immediately capitalised. Drogba hit a wonderful free kick and Chelsea won a match that they dominated.

I think that Avram Grant and the Pompey players did an excellent job is what was likely their last performance for the club.

The Pub
I watched the match live at midnight Australian time in the Charles Dickens Pub in downtown Melbourne. Luckily I was joined there by members of Pompey Down Under, all in all there were about a dozen singing Pompey fans, myself included. It was a great atmosphere at the pub, it felt like it was full of Pompey fans, until Drogba scored that is. There were apparently a number of Chelsea fans sitting in the pub, who had previously been as quiet as a mouse. Not one of them screamed out when Kalou missed the sitter in the first half. It was quite a shock to all of the Pompey fans to discover that there were in fact actual Chelsea fans in the bar, but I think it shows that if points were given for fans our league positions may well have been reversed.

Boateng - Ballack
For those that don't know Kevin Prince Boateng recently pulled an Asmir Begovic and switched international allegiances from the country he represented at U21 level (Germany) to another country (Ghana). I wonder where he got the idea... (Begovic and Boateng were teammates for the first half of the season at Pompey) In case you were curious Boateng's father is from Ghana. To continue with storyline's that are all too familiar to Canadian fans... Boateng's brother (well half brother) plays for Germany and is a part of their World Cup Squad. Even more interesting is that Ghana & Germany are in the same group in South Africa. We actually shouldn't be surprised that Ghana recruited Kevin Prince Boateng afterall they tried the same thing in the last World Cup when they tried to recruit Freddy Adu. (USA was in Ghana's group in Germany) This was the situation ahead of what happened in the FA Cup.

Ballack went for a header and arrived late, in the process he deposited an elbow on the head of Aruna Dindane (who won the header) Dindane was awarded a free kick for this. Kevin Prince Boateng confronted Ballack about the elbow, and no doubt said a few things in German, and Ballack replied with a slap to Boateng's face. Had the ref seen it, it would have been a red card. To Boateng's credit he didn't flop on to the ground and roll around to draw the card. However Kevin Prince Boateng is well known for being a hothead, and his fewer red cards this season was seen as an improvement. It was this hothead that came in late and injured Ballack. We now know that Ballack will miss the World Cup with the injury that he sustained as a result of Boateng's challenge. That is a cruel blow to deal to any player.

Final Thoughts
Congrats to Chelsea on their first ever double, Congrats to Portsmouth for a fantastic cup run, and thanks to Avram Grant and the Pompey players for leaving it all on the field. Next season will be full of changes for Pompey as we rebuild from zero. Play Up Pompey!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What is Success?

I fully admit to being someone who looks at success relatively. If Pompey had finished 17th I would have said that we had a successful season. Spurs finished fourth, they had a successful season. However there are those people out there that believe success is winning things full stop. Granted these people tend to be fans of bigger clubs, who feel they have had an unsuccessful season if the trophy cabinet remains empty. So I thought if success is winning something who are the most successful teams in the past five years? I looked at the Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup, Champions League and UEFA Cup / Europa League, and this may surprise you, Only 5 premier league teams have won anything. They are Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Portsmouth, and Tottenham. When you look at the numbers there is not so much a "big four" as a big two. Chelsea and Manchester United have dominated English football for the past five years. United have won three League Titles, three League Cups, and the Champions League. Chelsea have won two League Titles, the League Cup, and two FA Cups. Spurs have won the League Cup, Liverpool and Pompey have both won the FA Cup. Pompey and Chelsea meet in the FA Cup final this weekend, which I am confident Pompey will win. So people that like clubs that win things here are the five clubs that have won things in the last five years. Go ahead and say it, Pompey are a more successful club than Arsenal, Everton, Villa any club that didn't make the list.

Wait what are you saying teams should get recognized for making the final, well alright, if we adjust the table so that you get three points for winning something and a single point for being the runner up, here is what the table looks like.

Manchester United - 24
Chelsea - 22 /20*
Portsmouth - 6 / 4*
Liverpool - 5
Tottenham - 4
Arsenal - 2
Fulham - 1
Middlesbrough - 1
Everton - 1
West Ham - 1
Aston Villa - 1
Wigan Athletic - 1

So there you have it, an FA Cup victory would put Pompey as the third most successful team in England over the last five years. It also shows you just how dominate United & Chelsea have been. Also it worth repeating that Arsenal have not won anything in the last five years, and that you can make that same statement about Liverpool if they don't win anything next year.

Of course there are other realities in football that dictate what success is, it is better to finish in the top four of the league and get into the Champions League than it is to win the League Cup. In my mind it all comes down to depth. If you have a deep squad you can compete across many competitions at the same time, if you don't have a deep squad then you will be exhausted and not about to compete effectively in all of them. Case in point Fulham finished mid table but made the Europa League final, the same thing happened to Pompey when we were playing in the UEFA Cup. I think that we would see better matches in the League, FA Cup, and in Europe if the League Cup was scratched as it overstretches most team, and funny enough affects the confidence of the bigger sides when they are knocked out by minnows. To make it through to the final of a Cup Competition or to stay in the hunt for a league title takes a lot of hard work and focus, full marks to the "Big 5" (Pompey, United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Spurs in case you forgot) for being able to win something in the last five years, because there are a lot of expensive trophy rooms that haven't had any new additions recently.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Super Pompey Playing Up and We'll Win the FA Cup!

G'day Everyone, I am a happy man this morning for two reasons. First off Pompey defeated the Pompey B side to advance to the FA Cup final. Secondly I finally have regular access to the Internet.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to watch the FA Cup semi, but the accounts that I have read said that David James was the hero, along with our goalscorers. Of course the pitch wasn't in great condition at the end of the match and Dawson slipped when attempting a clearance, then Piquionne was in the right place and converted the glorious opportunity. You didn't need to watch a season of Pompey footy to know that didn't happen regularly. I feel that the players are much more up for the Cup than the season, especially since we were relegated earlier this week. But I feel that this has been the case for awhile now. Winning the Cup is an attainable goal, whereas survival in the league has looked dubious ever since we found out Al Fahim was broke. It has also been a rallying point for fans, this FA Cup campaign has been the one thing that we could cheer about throughout the season. So it is a little distressing that there are stories about the lineup that we will be able to field for the final. This is because of the bonus clauses in some of the players' contracts. Luckily Richard Hughes came out and said that the bonuses could be differed until there is a new owner. As a fan I would prefer to see the players waive their bonuses to help the club, but they have certainly earned them. It is key that we are able to field a top side in the Final. Now onto the question of Europe.

In case you haven't heard Pompey are not currently in line for the Europa League place that goes to the FA Cup winner or finalist if the winner is in the Champions League. This is because we did not apply for a UEFA license because we were broke. Our club Administrator is currently looking at ways to fix this as the prospect of a Europa League campaign will certainly make Pompey more attractive to a potential buyer. I think that the chance of an appeal working is quite slim. Platini wants to be tough on debt, and rightly so, I don't think that other clubs' fans should have to endure what Portsmouth have endured this year. Don't get me wrong to be in Europe again would be amazing, the match at Fratton against Milan is probably my favourite Pompey match. If we are able to find an owner there may be a silver lining to not being in Europe. That would be that we play fewer matches. When the new owner does arrive they are going to have their hands full rebuilding a club, and the manager will have their hands full finding players. There are going to be a few sales, plus all of the players that we have on loan will return to their other clubs. Basically at the start of the next season I expect Pompey to have a small squad, at the moment I would say it is unlikely that we will bounce straight back up to the Premier League, in fact I am more worried about us being in another relegation fight. That is why fewer matches could be a good thing, especially at the start of the season.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is next for Pompey?

Yesterday Pompey were in the High Court pleading for an extension of their winding up order. There were only two possible outcomes from this, first they could be granted an extension, and secondly they could be liquidated. For those of you that were thinking about administration, Pompey had already gone past the point where that would have been possible. So there is no chance of a 10 point deduction and every thing being sold. Liquidation is exactly like it sounds, without an extension Pompey would cease to exist. There would be no FA Cup match against the Scummers, there would be no more Premier League matches, and the Premier League would finish the year with 19 teams. In such a situation it is likely that results against Pompey wouldn't count.

Luckily for every Pompey fan, a 7 day extension was granted. So there will be an FA Cup clash with our greatest rivals. Unfortunately if things do not improve financially that could be the final match for the club. I think it is highly unlikely that Pompey would be able to secure a second extension. So there is one week for Pompey to prove that it can pay its debts, and for Mr. Chainrai to find a new owner or owners.

The Portsmouth Supporters Trust are poised to make some sort of move, but it will likely be tomorrow in England when we hear what that will be.

Sulaiman Al Fahim still has 10% of the club, perhaps he has finally found his wallet and could inject some cash. Speaking of which if Mr. Chainrai can't find a buyer in the next week he could inject some cash too, just to insure that he has a club to sell.

It is not going to be a fun week, unless Pompey are able to get some money together, but it is a lot better than waking up and finding out that the club you support no longer exists.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Day Another Owner

Pompey now have their 4th owner of the season, which must be a premier league record. If you haven't already heard Hong Kong based businessman Balram Chainrai has taken over the club using a clause in a contract he made when loaning Ali Al Faraj money. Chainrai is not in it for the long term, and already looking for the 5th owner this season. As far as I can tell this is great news for the club. The transfer window just closed so there is no chance of a fire sale that would affect the team for the remainder of this season. Also with the club facing a windup order (essentially the end of the club altogether) hopefully the new owner will be able to pay off the debt enough to avoid the club being wound up. Also if the players are able to get paid, they may have a little optimism return to their lives. This is key to survival as right now they seem a lock for the drop as they are suffering from Newcastleitis, which is the condition of not caring about the play on the pitch.

Moving on, I think that the key thing is the search for the 5th owner of the season. This owner has the chance to easily build a strong relationship with the club and the fans. Add to the fact that the club could likely be acquired for a nominal fee plus covering the debt of about $125M makes buying a premier league team more affordable than most North American sports teams, hell it is only 3 times what the MLS wants as an expansion fee.

Let's have a look at what you get if you buy Portsmouth
1. 60M pounds in debt (perhaps 45M pounds after the transfer window)
2. A Soccer Specific Stadium, but in need of expansion or a rebuild
3. A quality manager in Avram Grant
4. The last place club in the premier league only 6 points from safety
5. One of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases in the sport
6. A Clean Slate

For me number 6 is key, if Pompey are relegated this year no one is going to blame the 5th owner, they are going to blame numbers 1-3. That means that owner number 5 will be a hero if this club stays up, getting all of the credit for that achievement and none of the blame if they go down. All the fans, players, and staff at the club are craving is some stability so if the owner brings that then they will be loved by the fans, which is key to running a successful club.

So who should be the 5th owner of Pompey? I think that it would be a perfect fit for MLSE to break into the premier league market. Avram Grant could be their Mo. I think it would be a good fit for everyone. I know that MLSE are far from perfect, but I challenge any of their critics to show how they would be worse than the gong show that Pompey fans, players, and staff have had to endure already this season.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Canadian Terrace Talk Episdoe 19

After an extended break we are back with episode nineteen of Canadian Terrace Talk. We cover the Premier League, debt problems across football, the John Terry saga, the transfer market and Canada’s friendly loss to Jamaica.

Next week we’ll be back with the first of many World Cup previews as well so stay tuned!

There are a few ways to listen, we recommend subscribing on iTunes here.

But you can also listen online here.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Getting Established in Melbourne

My wife & I have now arrived in Melbourne. We spend most of time looking for work & a place to live at the moment. However I am hoping to get some new posts up soon. Here is what is in the pipeline:

An African Cup of Nations Preview
A closer look at the very bad situation in the Pompey board room and bank account
The latest CONCACAF standings in relation to the seeding for the 2014 World Cup