Against the constant drone of the vuvuzelas, the games are well under way and providing plenty of exciting action. And with the third day of FIFA World Cup 2010 finished, The State News’ predictions are holding up well.
Group A’s matches on Friday showed the group might end up being the most closely fought group with all four teams — South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay and France — all square with one point apiece.
It was fitting the first goal of the tournament was scored by South African Siphiwe Tshabalala with Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s hilarious dance to follow. Despite ending in a 1-1 draw, and the Bafana Bafana defending against Mexico’s relentless attack for much of the game, South Africa could have come away with a victory had Katlego Mphela’s shot gone in and not bounced off the post. If we’re wrong on any group outcomes, I certainly hope it’s South Africa progressing out of Group A.
Uruguay and France provided a somewhat unentertaining game, with a 0-0 tie, but provided a humorously ironic situation when Thierry Henry called for a handball late in the game.
Uruguay, France, South Africa and Mexico all tied with one point apiece. (State News picked France and Mexico to advance.)
South Korea proved to be a more formidable side than most would have expected. That, or Greece is a lot worse than people thought. Greece made multiple mistakes and allowed the South Koreans to capitalize and win on a decisive score of 2-0. Park Ji-Sung’s time in the English Premier League could very well help South Korea progress past the group stages, especially after the outcome of the second game on Saturday.
Despite a quick strike by Argentina, Nigeria easily could have turned the tide of the game. Lionel Messi failed to capitalize on many opportunities while the Nigerians were merely unlucky with nothing going in the net. Unfortunately, the loss puts Nigeria on uneven standing with the two winners of the group Saturday, and barring two wins and likely an Argentina loss, Nigeria isn’t looking too hot to progress.
South Korea and Argentina have three points. Nigeria and Greece have zero. (State News picked Argentina and Nigeria to advance.)
The much-anticipated game between England and the U.S. provided a lot of entertainment and some surprising outcome. The English fans expected a victory, while the Americans merely wanted a tie. And tie they did — on what will likely be the least impressive goal of the tournament. But the Americans easily could have been victorious after Jozy Altidore’s close call in the 65th minute. After the early English strike, which put Americans on edge hoping goals wouldn’t come often, U.S. goalie Tim Howard put on a display of save after save, even after he suffered what could be broken ribs in a collision with England forward Emile Heskey. In any case, the draw puts the Americans in a decent spot to advance.
In Sunday’s first game, Slovenia’s Robert Koren scored a late goal in the 78th minute against Algeria to put the country into first place in Group C. The State News predicted the two countries to be the bottom feeders in the group, and despite Slovenia’s early lead, with losses to both England and U.S.A. could end those hopes.
Slovenia has three points. U.S.A. and England have one point. Algeria has zero points. (State News picked the U.S. and England to advance.)
In what looked like a game that could easily end in a tie, Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan was awarded (and scored) a penalty kick in the 84th minute that allowed for the African team to win 1-0. Ghana represents the first African side to garner a victory in the 2010 World Cup and could, with this win, help prove The State News right in selecting them to move ahead past group play, with what appears an automatic win against Australia, Ghana only has to fear Germany, the other pick to advance.
Germany showed the world they are still a power to be reckoned with. The three-time champions manhandled Australia. The SoccerRoos didn’t look like they belonged on the soccer pitch. The Germans scored four goals and had several other close calls. Although the Germans are likely a much stronger side than South Korea appeared in its match. Australia appears to be the weakest team in the tournament thus far.
Ghana and Germany have three points. Australia and Serbia have zero. (State News picked Ghana and Germany to advance.)