Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fifa Confed Cup South Africa: my verdict.

The football

The Confederations Cup has its detractors, but some of the football it’s produced over the past couple of weeks has been exhilarating.

After Spain triumphed over South Africa in an enthralling third-place playoff, Brazil came back from two goals down at half-time to triumph 3-2 over the USA in the final.

Whilst it’s clear both that European nations don’t hold the competition in great esteem and that Brazilians are a particularly emotional sort of folk, the tears of the Selecao players are the end seemed indicative of how highly they value this prize.

I was impressed with Brazil. In Julio Cesar they have their best goalkeeper for generations, and the spine they have ahead of that – Lucio, Gilberto Silva, Kaka, and Fabiano is both physically imposing and, as you’d expect, technically adept.

America showed a resilience I didn’t know they had, though I still feel that coach Bob Bradley is a ‘first half coach’ and should be sacked now.

The atmosphere

South Africans are a passionate football country. Let us not take that away from them. The attendance may have sought to say otherwise but let’s be honest: would you really buy a ticket that cost 3 times the normal league ticket to watch New Zealand play Iraq? I guess not.

The high profile games attracted huge crowds and that, really, is the football maxim. Big, attractive teams pull big, money-spending crowds. Ask the English Premier League. And before I forget, if in 2010 New Zealand play Iraq again, the stadium would be fuller because there would be a glut of international fans in addition to the South Africans who’ll go and see it.

I tried not to speak of the vuvuzela but seriously, I’ve spoken enough about that. Bottom line, it should be maintained.

The down side

On the down side I would urge South African journalists – and by extension, others – to ask better questions than the 3 horrible ones. I mean, how could you ask someone how he feels about Michael Jackson’s death a day before he plays Brazil in the final. Fine, we have to think outside the box as journalists, but please not that far!


After the tournament the FIFA Technical Study group shortlisted these players for the Golden Shoe award:

Clint Dempsey (USA)

Landon Donovan (USA)

Kaka (Brazil)

Luis Fabiano (Brazil)

Bernard Parker (South Africa)

Steven Pienaar (South Africa)

Robinho (Brazil)

Fernando Torres (Spain)

David Villa (Spain)

Xavi Hernandez (Spain)

In the end these three had it:

Golden Ball: Kaka

Silver Ball: Luis Fabiano

Bronze Ball: Clint Dempsey

For the most goals:

Golden Shoe: Luis Fabiano - 5 goals

Silver Shoe: Fernando Torres - 3 goals

Bronze Shoe: David Villa - 3 goals

And then for being outstanding in post:

Golden Glove: Tim Howard