Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Day 5 Review

Another day, another set of disappointments from those teams we'd been holding in such high esteem. France stepped up to the plate to face Switzerland in the 5 o'clock kick-off, loaded (as they are) with talent as far as the eye can see. Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, Gallas, Makelele, Barthez... I could go on, but I won't. That's because with all those star players (and more besides), they looked decidedly average as they laboured their way to a 0-0 draw.

So much for reputation then, but what of the mighty Brazil, loaded (as they are) with talent as far as the eye can see? Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Edinho... I could go on, but I won't, except to say that the Brazilians at least managed a 1-0 win in their unimpressive performace against a tricky Croatian side. Very little of their equisitely unique flair was on show as the Europeans made life decidedly difficult for them all over the pitch. Kaka, fortunately, sent Brazil on their way to a win in their opening game, but it wasn't enough to put them on top of Group F. That belonged to Australia who, it has to be said, now stand a reasonable chance of making teams re-evaluate them.

How strange then that in the other game of the day, Togo, who we were lead to believe were a team in complete disarray on all levels, came straight out in their first ever World Cup game and took the lead against South Korea. Mohamed Kader gave the Africans the lead on half an hour, and they enjoyed a numerical superiority for almost 25 minutes before South Korea finally equalised through Chun-Soo Lee.

Togo still engaged in the end to end football with their counterparts and seemed to have an equal chance of winning until Ahn struck the winner for South Korea with 18 minutes remaining. For all their determination and attacking play, Togo's undoing was their lack of decent fire power up front. Korea weren't much better in that respect, but their experience at previous World Cups must have counted for something as they continued to make chance after chance in the hope that luck would finally swing their way. In the end it did, and who's to say that South Korea didn't deserve their victory any less than Brazil did, let alone England or Holland or Portugal?

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