SoccerPoint! Feel it, it is here!

After months or countdowns, it’s finally here!  People are at fever-pitch already and it’s only 10am.  Woke up to the sound of vuvuzelas today, it was awesome.

In celebration of the Soccer World Cup in our wonderful country, here are the stats as published by the SoccerLife Magazine, June 2010 World Cup Special Issue

Team Odds Coach SWC Wins Interesting Facts
Algeria 500/1 Rabah Saadane 0 The greatest Algerian to play the game never actually pulled on the white and green shirt.  Both of Zinedine Zidane’s parents emigrated in 1953 before the start of the Algerian war, yet despite proudly wearing his heritage on his sleeve, he has denied turning down Les Fennecs for Les Bleus in the 1990’s.
Argentina 9/1 Diego Maradona 2 Martin Palermo returned to the national team 10 years after the 1999 Copa America in which he’d missed 3 penalties against Columbia.  The Boca striker scored the goal against Peru (2-1) that practically secured Argentina’s tickets to SA and is the leading goalscorer under Maradona with 6.
Australia 125/1 Pim Verbeek 0 With English fathers, Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill could both have been lining up for England at this world cup.
Brazil 5/1 Dunga 5 Spurs keeper Heurelho Gokmes is struggling to make the squad, despite and outstanding season for the North London club.
Cameroon 80/1 Paul Le Guen 0 Cameroon’s qualification may have been saved by the death of Gabon president Omar Bongo, which forced the postponement of their qualifier in Libreville.  By the time the game was rearranged, Le Guen had arrived and Cameroon were rejuvenated.
Chile 50/1 Marcelo ‘El Loco’ Bietsa 0 Despite the earthquake, incoming President Sebastian Pinera used his first weeks in power to organise an over-50’s friendly with Bolivian leader Eva Morales.
Denmark 80/1 Morten Olsen 0 Denmark scored the first goal in the 1908 Olympics in London, which is widely regarded as the precursor and prototype for the world cup tournament model.
England 11/2 Fabio Capello 1 Proportionally, England have drawn more games at the world cup finals than any other side to have reached four or more tournaments.
France 12/1 Raymond Domenech 1 More than 300 000 Ireland fans and 5000 French joined Facebook groups demanding a reply between the two nations following Henry’s handball shame.  One group threatened to chop off Henry’s hand with a guillotine; another encourages Irish fans in South Africa to back France’s opponents.
Germany 14/1 Joachim Low 3 Despite their consistency, Germany have not beaten any of the big footballing nations – Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Holland, Italy or Spain – at a tournament in regulation time or after extra-time since 1990.  Wins against Argentina in 2006 and England in 1996 were both on penalties.
Ghana 75/1 Milovan Rajevac 0 Don’t mess with the Ghanians.  John Menash is known as “The Rock of Gibraltar” for his imposing physique, Michael Essien is “The Bison” for his thundering tackling style; and midfield enforcer Stephen Appiah revels in the nickname “The Tornado”.  Crikey!
Greece 100/1 Rehhagel 0 Rehhagel was named Greek of the Year in 2004, the first foreigner to win the award.
Holland 14/1 Bert van Marwijk 0 Arjn Ronne’s reputation as the Man with Glass Ankles is unfair.  The winger has played more than 30 games in the past two seasons.  “Specialists compare me to a Formula 1 car”, he says.  “Whenever one little screw is loose, the engine is blown.  But my problems are behind me now”.
Honduras 400/1 Reinaldo Rueda 0 A loss in the qualifying round for the 1970 world cup ignited a six-day war against neighbouring El Salvador.  It is known today as the “Football War” because it was sparked by riots in the aftermath of the game.
Italy 12/1 Marcello Lippi 4 This year is the 100th anniversary of the Azzurri’s first ever international football match, an uncharacteristically attacking 6-2 win against France, played at Milan’s Arena Civica.  In the 700 games that Italy ave played since then, they have won 378 times, drawn 185 and lost 137.
Ivory Coast 25/1 Sven-Goran Eriksson 0 Ivory Coast won the Cup of Nations in 1992, and the credit was taken by two local witch doctors.  But when they weren’t paid, they cursed the team.  They duly struggled until 2004, when the government settled the bill with $2000 and a bottle of whiskey.  Ivory Coast promptly qualified for their first world cup.
Japan 200/1 Takeshi Okada 0 To say Japan don’t travel well is something of an understatement – they have never won a world cup match overseas.
Mexico 50/1 Javier Aguirre 0 Mexico play most of their games in the United States.  And why?  Money!  Mexican immigrants in the US fill the State’s cavernous football arena and pay top dollar.
New Zealand 750/1 Ricki Herbert 0 The goal that beat Bahrain and sent the All Whites to South Africa was scored by an Englishman.  Sort of.  Plymouth Argyle striker Rory Fallon represented England youth, but switched just before last year’s crucial play-offs after FIFA relaxed rules governing players who hold dual nationalities.
Nigeria 100/1 Lars Lagerback 0 Indicative of their tendancy to fluff their lines, Nigeria have appeared in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations 13 times – but have just won it twice.
North Korea 1000/1 Kim Jong-hun 0 Mm, no interesting facts were posted for this team.  Shame.
Paraguay 40/1 Gerardo Martino 0 The Paraguayans speak the native American language Guarani on the field to avoid being understood by the Spanish-speaking opponents.  Cabana’s first words after being shot in a bar-room incident was in this language.
Portugal 25/1 Carlos Queiroz O He may be the most expensive player in the world and has scored a hatful of goals for Real Madrid, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s last competitive goal for Portugal was against the Czech Republic in Euro in 2008.
Serbia 66/1 Raddy Antic 0 This will be Dejan Stankovic’s third world cup for a third different country (Yugoslavia in 1998, Serbia-Montengro in 2006 and Serbia this time).
Slovakia 200/1 Vladimir Weiss 0 Coach Vladimir Weiss’s dad (also Vladimir), played for Czechoslovakia.
Slovenia 175/1 Matjaz Kek 0 Slovenia is the smallest country to qualify for two non-consecutive world cups.
South Africa 100/1 Carlos Alberto Parreira 0 No world cup host has ever failed to beyond the group stages of a tournament before, so the pressure is definitely on for Bafana Bafana.  (My note : Izzit??  They’ll make us proud either way!)
South Korea 250/1 Huh Jung-moo 0 South Korea were the only unbeaten team in the Asian zone during the qualifying.
Spain 4/1 Vicente del Bosque 0 Spain set a new record during qualification for this summer’s world cup.  No country has ever qualified for the finals with a perfect “10 out of 10” record before.
Switzerland 175/1 Ottmar Hitzfeld 0 In 2004, Johan Vonlanthan became the youngest scorer in European Championship history, breaking the record Wayne Rooney had set 4 days earlier.
Uruguay 80/1 Oscar Washington Tabarez 2 Right-winger Alcides Ghiggia, 83, who scored the winner against Brazil in 1950 is the only survivor of the Uruguay team and the oldest man alive to have scored in a world cup final.
USA 66/1 Bob Bradley 0 The USA’s best world cup finish is third place – one better than this year’s tournament favourites Spain, who have only ever managed fourth.  (shorted article)

Don’t forget the words to the National Anthem :

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa la matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa South Afrika – South Afrika.
Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

BAFANA BAFANA – we will be proud of you no matter what!!!

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