Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Brazil 2014

Brazil has just selected to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This is a welcome change to the crap World Cup I am expecting in South Africa in 2010...

Brazil is still the most successful World Cup country of all-time, and with 5 titles (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002) also the most winning nation ever. However, what makes the hosting of the World Cup very interesting is that Brazil, in spite of its dominance, has not hosted the World Cup since 1950.

In 1950, Brazil was already one of the most powerful footballing nations on the planet, but had still never won the World title. But in 1950, at home, in front of record crowds, the Brazilians surely expected to come top of the world. In the final match in Maracana, in Rio, in front of an all-time record crowd of (an estimated) 200,000 spectators, Brazil lost 1-2 to their little neighbor Uruguay, in what is still one of the most painful defeat for Brazilians.

To this day, of all the World Cup winners, Brazil is the only one that has not won the title at home.

It is likely too early to predict anything for 2014, but I don't think we should expect a repeat of 1950... But be sure that Brazil will probably do anything to wash away that date, and finally be win the title as hosts!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Champions League

I was working; I was out in the bush, talking I don't know about what to some poor Africans. And I tell ya'all: seeing the results didn't excite me too much:
  • Valencia lost to Roseborg (of all teams!)
  • Liverpool is messing it all up by losing to Besiktas
  • Chelsea beat Schalke
  • Real Madrid defeated Olympiakos 4-2 even though being down 1-2
  • Arsenal cruised through to a 7-0 (!) vistory against Sparta Prague.
  • Inter defeated CSKA Moscow in Moscow.
  • Roma defeated Sporting Lisbon 2-1.
On more positive news, Rangers continued being great by tying Barcelona 0-0; Sevilla beat Steaua Bucharest; Marseille tied FC Porto 1-1 and are in the game, and Manchester United defeated Dynamo Kiev away.

Loads of interesting matches! Hope I will be around to watch on 6-7 November!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Greece to defend its title

Greece qualified for the EURO 2008 in Austria-Switzerland last night, after defeating their arch-rivals of Turkey 1-0 in Istambul on a goal by Amanatidis.
All in all it was a very well-deserved victory, and I was impressed by the defending 2004 champions, who were otherwise missed in the 2006 World Cup. Greece managed to put pressure on the home team, who was unable to open the typically tight Greek defense. But Greece played great, and will be very welcome next year to defend their title!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I recently read the book, "Dynamo", by Andy Dougan.
I think that many people have heard part of this tale, at least the more popular version: the Ukranian footballers who in Nazi-occupied Kiev defied the Wehrmacht in what was to be a friendly football match they were supposed to lose, and died for it. Much of the myth around the legendary side Dynamo Kiev is built up on this. Andy Dougan largely follows the story; he tries to demystify the myth of the heroic players who defied all odds for their love of the game; most were men trying to survive a war, and had been working at a bakery managed by a sports-crazed Ukranian, who decided to make a football team from all the former stars to play in a football tournament set up by the German occupiers.
The team outperformed all, even humiliating a German side. But that is where the story somehow questions whether the team actually was torn apart because of that victory: many of the players continued in Kiev, some survived the war, and some were sent to Siretz, a prisoner camp known for its barbarism on the outskirts of Kiev. Three of the great players of Dynamo Kiev were executed at Siretz, a part so well described in the book that one feels the grueling suffering the prisoners went through. The ones shot were Ivan Kuzmenko, Alexei Klimenko and the great Nikolai Trusevich, who had been one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the time. And here, Mr. Dougan adds to the legend telling how Trusevich last words were “red sport will never die” and wearing his goalkeeper jersey!
The book is excellent, as it puts the dilemmas of the war into the trivial world of football; how football was seen both as a means to motivate people, and as an outlet for political protest in an environment where life was worthless (this book is interesting to read in conjunction with Simon Kuper’s “Ajax, the War and the Dutch”, also about the world of football during WWII).
If one is interested in sports, football and history, this is well-worth a read!

Denmark-Spain and other EURO qualifiers

Danes call Spain their "onde aand", or bad spirit, ever since the painful defeats inflicted by the Iberians on the Danes in 1984 and in 1986. For this EURO-2008 qualifier, it seemed that what the Spaniards were fearing most was the danger of some unruly spectator invading the pitch, even though the game was being played in Aarhus and not Copenhagen after the misshap against Sweden.
I must admit, that I didn't watch the match, under my present condition, but on the Spanish magazine Marca there was a debate raging on whether Sergio Ramos' goal was the best of a Spanish national team ever. This is surely a big remark, considering all the great goals of Spanish history.
Otherwise, this group F is quite clear: with Sweden winning 3-0 against Liechtenstein, only Northern Ireland could potentially upset the two top teams.

In group D Germany's goalless draw against Ireland put them firmly in next year's European Championsship, likely to be followed by the Czhechs.

Group B, with some great footballing nations, is one of the most interesting ones. as three teams are bitterly fighting for the two spots. Surprisingly, the mighty Ucrainians are out of this struggle after losing 3-1 to the ever-fighting Scots, who have now taken to the first spot in the group, ahead of World Champions Italy and France. A bit unexpected I guess, but well-deserved for a Scottish team that seems to be on its way back into the world limelight. With a victory away in Georgia, Scotland will qualify for sure, leaving either France or Italy out.

In group G Romania is looking more and more likely to participate after defeating the Netherlands 1-0 in Bucharest. next game against Luxembourg can seal it for them, while the Netherlands are ahead of Bulgaria bya couple of points.

Portugal took a small step towards the EURO-2008 by defeating Azerbaijan 3-1 in group A, at the same time as Finland only drew against Belgium. this puts them on equal points on second spot, but with Portugal one game ahead of the Finns. They are both trailing Poland by 6 points on first place. The Poles are only a game away from sealing their participation as well.

The defending champions from 2004, Greece, after winning against Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-2, are leading their group C four points ahead of Turkey. Next match will be between these two rivals, and that may be the only hope for Norway on third place.

Finally, in group E, England seems to have found its way. They defeated Estonia 3-0, and is now on second spot after Croatia, who won 1-0 against Israel. England's big test will be next match, against Russia in Moscow. The Russians are trailing England by five points, and will need to win to keep hoping for participation.

It is looking more and more clear what the EURO-2008 will be like!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Womens World Cup

As promised in an earlier post, below is a table of the five official FIFA World Cups for women that have taken place so far:

China 1991





Sweden 1995



USA 1999





USA 2003





China 2007





As can be seen, the lot has been dominated largely by the same countries, even as hosts, not giving womens football the more interesting variations of the mens side.
The next World Cup will be hosted by Germany in 2011.
The list of top-scorer of each tournament is as such:
  • 1991: Carin Jenning, USA
  • 1995: Helge Riise, Norway
  • 1999: Sun Wen, China
  • 2003: Birgit Prinz, Germany
  • 2007: Marta, Brazil

Friday, October 12, 2007

Top Five Dida Excuses

Dida, AC Milan's great acting Brazilian goalkeeper just got two days match ban for his performance against Celtic.
I have a proposal of top five excuses he could use though:

5) Come on! I deserve an Oscar!
4) He patted me! Nobody did that before! I was so touched!
3) Too much Scottish whisky for me!
2) It was a delayed reaction. I am really that slow!
1) He smeared my make-up!


This is a service message for my football-blog:
Due to my precarious access to internet, I will be back-posting entries. That is, I put back the date, as I usually write the entries on my laptop.
Sorry, a bit old-fashioned, but best I can do living in the Mozambican bush...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Champions League in Nacala

And so, Football Mojo is back... On Tuesday I went out of the way to watch football... I was working in a poor community in Namatapa (don't try to find it on a map...) and then afternoon, drove some farmers on lousy roads to the community of Nivali (site of the splendid match between Nipita and Mazua). I then hurried 120 Km, on lousy roads to the community of Geba, by the coast, before taking the last 60 Km to Nacala. This is a medium town, a port town, with a few hotels, bank, so I figured there was an hotel showing football. And there was... But they weren't showing it. I drove around, desperately and tired to three possible places, until finally crashing a small hotel where the South African run DSTV was available. It was a relief. I was tired though, having left home at 4.30 that morning.
I started watching Besiktas against FC Porto. But predictably, I fell asleep... Not the glorious return of Champions League I would have hoped for after all the hazzle... I saw that FC Poto had won 0-1, thus achieving a second place in a group where Marseille upset a horrible Liverpool side at Anfield.
They then announced that they were showing Celtic against AC Milan. The defending champions against the ever-fighting Scottish underdogs. And this was an exciting match, with Scott McDonald's last minute strike giving Celtic a well-deserved and surprising win. The end was marred by a spectator running on the pitch, but Dida's pathetic acting made it all seem very grotesque!
Otherwise, I was disappointed to see that Valencia lost at home to ever-present Chelsea. There were also some surprises in this round, with Benfica losing at home to never-to-be-underestimated Shakhtar Donetsk and Glasgow Rangers destroying Olympique Lyon in Lyon (Really a great day for Scots!).
The teams to watch, Barcelona, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Arsenal, all won, while Real Madrid managed a 2-2 draw to Lazio in Rome.

But for me, football mojo is back :-)
Pity I am living somehwere where it may prove difficult to follow...

Monday, October 01, 2007


A friend sent me a message after my recent "update", that nobody cared about David Beckham any more: the new star was Marta! The Brazilian super star of the world cup for women in China. In spite of Brazil losing the final 0-2 to Germany, Brazil came out as a new entertaining super-power of football.
I have never really enjoyed watching womens football. Not any gender thing here, but I have found it too mechanical, too much "women wanting to be like men", and not too much spice. You can even see it in which teams have done well in women football (and I hereby promise to publish a table of the Women's World Cups): Germany, Norway, US.... Not exactly the teams that get fans overly excited on the male side... (with all due excuses made).
Now the Brazilians have arrived.
I have little access to communication, but in a small cheasy bar, did see the goal Marta scored against the US, where she made a marvelous heel-tip to snare an American defender. Splendid!
I think womens football needed some Brazilian spice, and I just hope we will see more in the future!
In the meantime, congratulations (again) to the German ladies.