COS contributor Aódhan Donnelly thinks the World Cup could be set for its first African winner.
It is not easy deciding every 4 years as to who you are going to put your money on in the world’s most prestigious tournament. This time however it is different. As with every world cup there is the favourites who sometimes go on to win the competition or do very well. This year in my opinion the favourites will again fail. I also believe that is a perfect chance for some of the underdogs to shine.
As the main contenders for the World cup came to the forefront in qualification, Brazil having had an almost blotless qualifying record winning 9 and losing out on just 2 occasions were the early favourites. England in the European section of qualifying also had an amazing qualifying record winning 9 also but losing out on just 1 occasion. But by far the most astonishing record was Spain’s 100% campaign, winning all their matches, scoring 28 goals and conceding just 5 in the process. An honourable mention goes out to New Zealand Having won 5 and lost 1 albeit in a much easier qualifying group.
On the other hand there were the disastrous qualifying campaigns of Argentina with their star studded squad failed to impress. They started off well but then a string of bad results including a 6-1 hammering by Bolivia put them on the fringes off the automatic qualifying spot, but they pulled through with two last gasped games both which included late goals which sparked the memorable Maradona celebration. Italy, Portugal and France did not have an easy time getting to the finals in South Africa. It was so tough for France that (as any Irish fan will tell you) they had to “cheat” to get there.
The African teams had a different sort of qualifying campaign there were all bidding to reach the African Cup of Nations for 2010 as well as the World Cup. All the big the big African nations qualified with the exception of Egypt who were beat by the surprise packet Algeria. Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast has been pipped by some to do well at this summer’s tournament and are seen as Africa’s best chance of doing well.
Now for my point to be explained, ‘Why will the favourites fail at this year’s world cup?’ Well the three strong favourites are talented and have exceptionally gifted players, only one of them has the flair needed to do well at world cups. Brazil are now organised like an army under coach Dunga and Fabio Capello has England playing one route football. Spain has the passing flair needed to do well under the conditions a world cup provides and they have showed at Euro 2008 that they can perform under pressure.
‘How will the underdogs shine?’ the underdogs have materialised to be the 5 African nations, along with Argentina, The Netherlands , Serbia, Chile, and Portugal. All these teams have a desire to win at this year’s competition. Chile had an exceptional qualifying campaign and they have shown during that campaign that they can compete with the likes of Brazil and Argentina. Serbia had a good qualifying campaign which saw them fend off the likes of France and Romania, although I stated that Argentina and Portugal had bad qualifying campaigns the always seem to produce when it matters. The Netherlands are full of talented and skilled footballers which could see them do well also.
But the main underdogs are the African teams. Although Ivory Coast are seen as giving Africa the best chance of doing well the other 4 could also do well. The climate is suited to them which gives them an advantage over all the other competitors. They are also good footballing sides most of which have players playing at elite European clubs. So do not be surprised if you see the likes of Essien, Drogba and Eto’o guiding their nation to success at this year’s tournament.