Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup: Africans are failure magnets.

Cameroon boarded the plane to the 2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup late due to the issue of bonuses. Ghana bonuses were airlifted to South America late. Nigeria met over the bonuses until late and skipped training as a result. The Ghanaians hoped to be better than Cameroon in the way they handled the players and their grievances. The Nigerians are hoping to be way better than Cameroon and a little better than Ghana. What is the difference here, really? The administrations of these associations would argue that theirs would either be appearance fees and not bonuses, or allowances and the like. If that is where the difference lies, then we expect different results.

Cameroon were a disaster as they even fought amongst themselves on the field of play. Ghanaians fought at training and in the hotels. Nigerians fought in the bus as they failed to attend the scheduled training. Who is better here? Will the results differ? Ok, forget about about this World Cup. African administrators are skilled in this kind of behaviour. Give me one nation that has never been hit by the players’ strike and over and over again. We thrive in failure. We smell failure and get attracted to it. We are failure magnets. I am not even sure what the word Africa means. It could be something to do with folly. You may think this is being heartless but ‘who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?’ Moreover, how many hearts can one have only to be broken? I am just fed up about celebrating mediocrity and then nursing heartbreak after heartbreak. Leaders of our football just suck and big time. After that, they fire coaches and hire expats.

Let me change the subject. Twenty years ago, Italia ’90, many thought African football has come of age when Cameroon bamboozled the reigning world champions, Argentina, at the prime of one Diego Maradona. The performance led to the famous prophesy by Pele, that Africa will win the World Cup by the turn of the millennium. He had good reason and man of us believed. That team reached the quarterfinals and were in the semis until one referee decided that African participation was enough. England was the recipient of two penalties converted by Gary Lieneker for their 2-1 lead. From an African point of view, there was a cry of conspiracy.

In 1994, Nigeria had Africa’s greatest team of all time. Under the tutelage of Clemens Westerhof, they progressed through the USA ’94 tournament with authority. They attracted the world with their beautiful football. In the quarterfinal against Italy, they fell to a late penalty that took the match to extra time, which they eventually lost. The conspiracy theories flew everywhere, albeit a bit subdued to the excitement the Africans brought.

France ’98 went fairly well, but Nigeria could have had a case to cry foul. Senegal rose to the occasion in Korea/Japan ’02. Germany ’06 was modest and then came South Africa 2010. Ghana went all the way to face Uruguay in the quarterfinals. Before that point, there was already much cry about how Luis Suarez’s Uruguay beat South Africa. That was a huge glaring home-made victory over the hosts. Suarez blocked a last second goal by had to force the match into a penalty shoot-out. Ghana lost.

This is Brazil 2014 and the game has evolved since, with Goal Line Technology ad all. The African demise is static. The continent has leant nothing over time about the game and officiating. This is despite the fact that the motherland saw the rise of its son to be the best player in the world since those days. George Weah remains the only player to win that accolade. However, the French triumph has since been dubbed Pele’s prophesy but I will not go there for now.

At this moment is time, we have the best players in the world as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It would be unfair to actually compare anyone with the two. Do not mention Neymar yet. He is a new kid on the block and he still needs to show the world and Europe what he is made of. So far, he has given us an idea of football player ideality. Besides that, the best players in the world in the past five years are African. The best teams in the world over the past ten years depended on the African contingent. They grace the palaces and all high places representing their paymasters. They dine and wine with the kings and queens. Many have adopted countries that feed their families.

Playing in the elite leagues for these great clubs has a distinct advantage of plying their trade with the best and against the best in the world. It exposed them to the live the world envies. They win a lot of respect from peers and foes, referees and coaches. Their statuses remain a beacon of hope for many, but becomes their downfall at the World Cup when they come home to their national teams.

Referees will respect and protect Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o as long as they play for Manchester City, Chelsea or Barcelona respectively. As soon as they don the Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana or Cameroon shirts, they are on their own. The problem is that they do not see that. They carry their superstar tag on wrong ground. It may not be the will of the officials to act that way. African teams look strong and act robust when in tussles and duels. Their combats are physical and no matter how fair, they attract the wrath of the officials. Some of the referees feel like blowing the whistle just by looking at the muscles. The assistant referees find their hands up for offside even if the ball has not been played or is behind the centre line.

How do players deal with this? Common sense is not common. The referees compensate for these either before or after match-changing decisions. The officials drag the carrots by awarding questionable decisions lie throw-ins and free-kicks at points of the field and of the game where there is no advantage or benefit. They will caution useless opposition players to massage the minds of African players. After receiving those fringe benefits that do not count, they come with the big one. They will award a penalty against the teams where there is minimum contact; give a red-card without merit, well with little but no reasonable doubt.

Basically, the African players from the big leagues get frustrated when they cannot get away with what they normally get away with in European leagues. That naivety leads to basic errors, both in attack and in defence. In attack, a shove at the back when one plays for Chelsea, a penalty is awarded by the officials. In the World Cup, when representing the nation, one may have to be amputated by a tackle to get one. In defence, the speedy and strong tackle to clear the ball will see the officials set the ball on the whitewash, and a bonus red-card of course. It must be remembered that many African strikers have strength and try to stay on their feet despite heavy and brute tackling. Penalties are not awarded for falling, but for committed fouls. Non-Africans commit these fouls against Africans but the officials take it like, ‘You are an African, that shouldn’t hurt, no penalty for you. Play on’.

The conceived violence of these players make referees ignore protecting them. The African players never get the doubt of the benefit from officials. They seem not to appreciate that officials will never give favours in productive areas unless in glaring cases, and even then, once in a while usually before the centre line or in areas that do not threaten the opposition sensitive areas.

All said and done, in the Fifa World Cup, if you are an African, never play the ball square at the back. Short passes should be prohibited, cover and balance at the back are mandatory. It is always fatal to play without support. There is no defending nicely. The ball should stay as far away from the goalkeeper as possible, not some of the time, but all of the time. Iran parked the bus and maybe it is high time African teams parked one and let the world complain. Too much respect of non-African teams because one solicits for the jersey after the match does not work. Africans need to prove that under any coach, and anywhere in the universe, they are the master of the game. They should deliver without with African or European teammates.

As for the leadership of the game, the involved people mess up the spirit of the people, waste the money and hire white European expatriate whom they pay huge salaries to come and fail. For the record, all World Cup winners did so with indigenous coaches. Many African countries qualified or won continental success with local coaches, but none earned as much as the expats. There is still hope in Nigeria and Algeria, but otherwise Africa deserves to shed the tears of their own making at this 2014 Fifa World Cup.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Algeria draw 1-1 with Russia in 2014 Fifa World Cup

The high tempo possession football by Algeria dealt an early heavy blow when Feghouli received treatment for the head injury and Russia pounced from the left. Kokorin jumped to jerk-knife a header to the left top corner a perfect Kombarov cross. This should now be a boring line, that there was no pressing to the crosser and the marking on the header of the ball was very bad.

Algeria tried to crack the Russian defence by going through the middle to no avail. Russia was full of energy and hard running as they pressed high up in front. The strategy was to get as many players behind the ball as possible. They kept compact by quickly closing any gaps and options before the Africans could pounce.

The Africans played a patient game for the suitability of the occasion and that made them create less opportunities. There were a few possibilities that were not fully utilised, especially aerial balls. The Russians were content to let the Algerians shoot from way out. Their midfield job was superb as they took control of that department in terms of tight marking, intercepting, getting to the ball first and picking up the second ball. They dominated the duels and completed more quality forward passes.
The continued pacey game by Russia troubled the slow and calculative Algerians. Brute force of the Europeans team could not be matched by the desperate Africans tired their level best to wrestle the match. As they probed the right and then the left, the Russians showed some cracks as they could not cope with sleek skills, conceding free-kicks.

Feghouli won one free-kick on the right and Djabou won another on the left immediately afterwards. Brahimi took a nice right-footed delivery to the far post for Slimani to head past a sprawling Frei to level the score. There was no man to mark the scorer tight and the goalkeeper came off his line for the ball but he missed it completely.

It became an open match, action swinging from end to end. Algeria were resolute and solid closing all available spaces and clonking the balls away and Russia were committed to prying open that which stood between them and the next round. They starred directly into the barrel as the Africans pulled the trigger. Algerian passed through to join Nigeria as Africa’s representative in the last sixteen.

Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

Ghana and Portugal exited the 2014 Fifa World Cup despite Germany doing both a favour by beating the United States of America 1-0. Portugal scored in each half through a Ghanaian defender and Cristiano Ronaldo. Ghana had pulled a goal through Asamoah Gyan.

The Europeans’ goals were very soft and easy. Like many seen so far, they were generated from the left flank. They retreated too much and too often but managed a few dangerous counters. Cristiano Ronaldo struck a post with a cross due to lack of Ghanaian pressing on the right. He received a cross from the right and forced a great save from Dauda when he headed towards goal from point blank range.

The Africans had to execute a well orchestrate counter attack for their goal. Poor crossing from the right and the lack of quality on the final pass characterised the first half. Gyan forced an excellent save from Beto with a right-footed shot. Otherwise, the match became subdued and dull at the beginning of the second.

Ghana could have been punished harder as they were guilty of very short and square passes at the back. What makes this a cause of concern is the fact that Nigeria and Cameroon were found wanting in the same areas with the same behaviour. Cote D’Ivoire too, are not innocent.

 The match grew in stature after the goal. The counter attack on the left with Andre Ayew set up the goal. He played Kwadwo Asamoah who belted a left-footed cross with his outside of the foot to pick up Gyan’s run. Gyan headed the ball down past an air-borne Beto.

Portugal attacked the left flank and and delievered a cross that the defenders failed to clear. The headed ball went into a 12o’clock position and Dauda palmed it into the feet of Ronaldo who hit a first time shot to make it 2-1. Ronaldo had great chances but Dauda put a man-of-the-match performance. It was Waris who squandered the best chance as he head wide with a glaring goal after a Gyan cross from the left.

The goals were a result of poor marking, no pressing on the man taking shots or crosses.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cote D’Ivorie succumb to Greece 1-2 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

There was just one more moment of a speculative and very wild shot before the final whistle. The tears of both players and fans confirmed how one can trust Africans to mess things up in the least likely of match situation. No single shot on target for Cote D’Ivoire in the entire first half despite a few forays to their account just to give you an idea. They probed from left, right and centre but the final ball strayed, eluded the Africans or just stuck in the defence. On few occasions, The Elephants squandered possession and lacked the cutting ruthless edge when entering the enemy territory due to poor decision-making.

Greece slowed things down as they nursed and eventually lost two men due to injury. Those moments were enough to disrupt the rhythm of Didier Drogba and company. Their porous defence began to gel and kept tight in key moments.

The key moment of the half, came when a simple looking situation brought pressure to Cote D’Ivoire. Deep in defence on the right, Aurier played the ball to Tiote in central midfield position. Tiote touched the ball for Koloe Toure, but the pass was too short. Samaras stole the ball creating a two versus one situation as he played the ball to Samaris. That swift move attracted Barry out of his goal line but Samaris kept calm and fired the ball over the body of the slanting goalkeeper who tried to make himself large and narrow the angle.

The Elephants of Africa started the second half stronger with opportunities to restore parity, but like in the earlier half, the midfield stayed too much behind to pick up the second ball when strikers ran into defenders. The Greeks utilised winning the loose ball to mount very threatening counter attacks.  The midfield remained stuck at the back when the team attacked and stuck upfront without tracking their opponents.

Greece defenders started to feel the heat as the Africans turned on the gas. They launched their attacks well due to the large numbers of Ivorians thrown forward in search of the elusive equaliser. They created the clearer of the opportunities of the match, hitting the crossbar with thunderous shots twice with the goalkeeper beaten.

Cometh the moment, cometh the man. Bony Wilfreid came in for Tiote and caused anxious moments for the Greek defence. Salmon Kalou picked up a ball in midfield and quickly fed Gervinho on the left side of the penalty box. The speedy winger played the ball square to Bony who stabbed a side-footed ball home. They were caught flat-footed, as they looked comfortable on the way forward. Their marking was extremely bad as three men could not intercept the ball or close down on Gervinho.

The failure in match management resulted in a freak penalty after Yaya Toure missed a clearer chance in a four versus two in the penalty box. From that situation, Greece attacked from the left wing and delivered a cross into the penalty spot. In an attempt to shoot at goal, Georgio Samaras’ foot hooked a defender’s leg and he tumbled to the ground. The referee had no hesitation but point to the white spot. The Greek picked up his frame and dusted himself before sending his spot kick to the right bottom corner of the net, despite the fair attempt by the diving Barry.

Naïve piece of football.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Uruguay beat Italy by 1-0 in 2014 Fifa World Cup.

Diego Godin scored a late winner after ‘heading’ in a Gaston Ramirez corner kick. After a failed penalty claim, Uruguay won a corner kick conceded by Italy’s Sciglio. Ramirez sent the corner kick from the right side, and the Azzuri were in sixes and sevens as Godin rose and with his body half-turned, scored with his left shoulder, sending Italy to join Spain and England on that early flight home.

The match was littered with fouls, lacked flair and did not have true attacking football. There was a Marchisio red card in the second half when he went over the ball with studs showing and caught his opponent on the shin with a career ending action. Luis Suarez got his fangs to work on Chiellini moments before the corner kick that led to the solitary goal.

A characteristic Italia defensive display dominated the ugly match in which Cavani and Suarez were starved of the ball. Italy interrupted all the Uruguay build-ups contracting the pitch size by reducing all possible spaces and blocking pass paths.

Uruguay played with Suarez in a deeper position on the left as he sought refuge as the Italians barricaded the defending third by placing a blue wall at the edge of the penalty area. They could not break down that resolute Italian defence until that vital moment.

For the second time in a row, the three-time world champions were sent home packing early. As for Luis Suarez’s actions, he should be banned from the rest of the tournament and probably from the next Fifa World Cup qualifiers.  

Brazil, Netherlands, Chile and Mexico, two of these will not win the Fifa World Cup

Brazil will seek to eliminate Chile in their quest for glory. The Netherlands will want to represent non-South Americans and gun for the elusive title when they date Mexico who are maturing and getting better with each match in the tournament in Brazil.

The four have now set a date for second round encounters, a date that sets to send a pair home. For the sake of the progress and success of the Brazil Fifa World Cup, Brazil need to up their game in defence if they are to be in shape to deal with the marauding attacks of the Chileans.

Brazil has issues with the pair Thiago Silva and David Luiz playing too far apart, poor in marking and losing their men and positions easily. As if that Achillies’ heel is not enough, their central striking position is a worry for the hosts. Even though Fred scored, his threat has been so insignificant that he may be a liability in future matches.

Given their men in camp, they should consider using Neymar in that position, as a false number 9. That will necessitate the swap in the set-up, with Hulk resting and Fedinandinho coming in to tighten things up. This will provide cover in front of the defence. The interceptions in midfield will mean more control of the match from that department going forward. It will facilitate the ball supply to Neymar.

The other option would to utilise Ramirez from the onset, but the Chelsea workhorse is sitting on a yellow card at this point on time. Further down the line of options would be the involvement of Dante in that central midfield position and have David Luiz push in front of Thiago and Dante.

Permutations and combinations aside, the technical team has work to do. So far, they have been buoyed by the home crowd and they are yet to face stern tests. Are they ready for the pace and skills of the world ‘s top strikers? Time will tell.  

Croatia lose 3-1 to Mexico in 2014 Fifa World Cup

Mexico went on overdrive to overpower a committed and stubborn Croatia. The tactical maturity and discipline of the strategy won the day for the Mexicans, as they had to absorb pressure and mount attacks in reasonably acceptable portions.

The spaces between defenders and midfielders were kept to the desired specifications, and the angles of support were superb. They provided ample cover for the first defender and stayed composed and concentrated to keep their performance levels at optimum.

It was in response to the relentless attack from the Europeans who sort to destabilise and crack them in the early minutes of the match. Their excellent starting positions provided a springboard from which to mount counter attacks. They became a real threat going forward and stretched the Croatians who reacted well to keep the Aztec Warriors at bay.

This had to change in the second half. Herrera took a corner kick and found Marquez who opened the day’s account with a header at the centre of the box. The Croatian marking bestowed a chance upon the Mexicans to score. The goalkeeper failed to deal with that header as he stayed on his line and dived in vain. He could have tried to move a step forward and dive.

In a matter of five minutes, Guardado had doubled the score as his left footed shot beat the goalkeeper after the industrious Peratta supplied the killer pass. It was becoming a little easy as the Europeans lost grip of the match and gave Mexico the initiative.

Chicharitto ended the show with a typical close range header. The Manchester United goal-poacher was always in the thick of things with his great attitude as he sought to make a difference, as he always does. It followed a corner kick as Marquez set him up with a header.

Rakitic had time to supply Perisic with a ball that was nothing but a face-saver for Croatia. Perisic had to be well composed to score from an acute angle to leave the score at 3-1.

Spain beat Australia 3-0 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

Goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Mata secured a victory for the faded Fifa World Cup champions, Spain, who were largely a second string team. To underline the insignificance of the fixture, the Socceroos looked disinterested anyway.

There was some measure of commitment and a degree of urgency from the Spanish attack, probably for the goal tally and future statistics. It might have been that the fringe players were trying to prove that they were supposed to have been the main actors in a romantic movie that turned into horror.

Play started in midfield and played to the right. Juanfran received the threaded ball, took it to the by-line, and cut it back for Villa who faced the ball, let his leading left football pass in front of the coming ball. As the ball went through his wide-open legs, he dragged the trailing one to score a cheeky goal past a guessing goalkeeper.

Iniesta, from the central position in midfield, found Torres on the left with a through ball inside the penalty area. The Chelsea striker took his time to control and tuck in the ball past a diving Matthew Ryan.

Play on the left side of the midfield was played across the box by Cesc Fabregas to Mata who received it at the far post and pushed it between the goalkeeper’s legs. Spain kept looking for easy goals and wasted many opportunities as they began to be selfish. That performance did not stop the embarrassment of their failure to make a better impression as the defending champions as they left with their tails between their legs.

Brazil beat Cameroon 4-1 as Africans put in a good shift

Neymar scored twice in the first 45 minutes of their encounter with Cameroon. The African team that turned up for this encounter surprised all by their spirit for go forward without giving any respect to the 5-time Fifa World Cup champions. So were they, that they were denied by the post before scoring what many could term a miracle goal, but it was such quality.

Both teams wasted early chances and stretched each other’s defences to the limit. The Cameroon backline limit was reached when Brazil kept a cool tempo and breached it with a lot of easy. After starting at a high pace with less control of the proceedings, Cameroon lost the ball very easily on their right in midfield. Moukandjo was dispossessed and the ball fell to Luis Gustavo who found Neymar with a pass inside the penalty area. The Brazilian talisman scored with a passing shot.

Besides the poor midfield play, Cameroon central defence played too far apart. They let Neymar have all the space he needed. The covering was inadequate and they paid the price. Going forward, Cameroon kept paving the way and utilising the available spaces in the middle of the field. They tried to attack through the wings and crossed the balls that troubled the Brazilian central defence. They won a few corner kicks in succession. The first was headed against the corner of the right upright and the cross bar after a slight deflection. The resultant kick from the right was cleared to the left where it was played back to Moukandjo who roasted Dani Alves twice and squared the ball to Matip to tap in.

The suspect Brazilian defence could not clear the ball away, just as they were guilty of conceding too many easy corner kicks. Dani Alves was set on his bums by the Cameroonian winger and the entire backline remained static as the ball travelled to Matip. However, Cameroon lost concentration in midfield again, and gave away another cheap goal. Neymar received a ball from Marcelo and scored from the edge of the box with a directed shot.

The beginning of the second half started just as interesting and entertaining. After conceding a corner kick, Cameroon failed to clear their lines. The ball went wide but not long enough. It was played to the wing to Marcelo who crossed and found a reasonably offside Fred to head home from close range to increase the score line to 3-1.

Each of the Cameroonians who took to the pitch were value for money as they put in a good shift. Their overzealous tendency to bid farewell the 2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup undid the otherwise respectable job done on the night. It was their over-confidence that handed the Brazilians the fourth goal. A poorly taken free-kick outside the box by the Cameroon defence backfired as that haste turned out to be a goal for the hosts. The ball was intercepted by Oscar, and then played to Fred who returned it to Oscar. Oscar set up Ferdinandinho who toe-poke the ball into the net to close the show at 4-1.
After their crazy antics of the fixture against Croatia, the Africans made amends despite a large score-line. They gained much respect in the absence of Samuel Eto’o and Alex Song.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Holland beat Chile 2-0 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

The match was dull for most of the first half. Holland won a few balls midfield and failed to utilise them. They could not capitalise on loose balls, and their counter attacks proved fruitless and the Chileans were content to deal with the blunt attacks.

Chile injected some pace into attack but the final pass disappointed. They occasionally penetrated the Dutch defence and claimed a few penalties that were not given. There match lacked creativity from both sides and the entertainment value was minimum.  

Two late, one very late, goals ensured Holland recorded a win that took them to the top of the group. A ball from the right was delivered to the penalty area. Frei was unattended as he jumped and headed the cross home. No one pressed the man on the ball as the ball was crossed. There was lack of marking as the Chileans ball-watched.

Holland defended a corner and quickly set up a counter attack when De Jongh’s clearance fell to Arjen Robben who sprinted towards the penalty box and played the ball square to Depay to score at the far post.

The win placed Holland on the summit of Group B

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dynamos 1, Highlanders 0 (By Ezra Tshisa Sibanda)

(By Ezra Tshisa Sibanda)
Ridiculed and embarrassed, After 8 years of trying Highlanders Bosso wanted to show how good they were this time around, they talked themselves up and looked at their opponents Dynamos as equals. In the end, they were just loudmouths, ridiculed and made complete fools of, by out of form but determined DeMbare.

This was a chance for Bosso to finally end the dominance of DeMbare, they have the squad which should be delivering but they have been found wanting yet again. In the past, excuses were given that the team lacked depths and experience hence played second fiddle to their fiercest rivals. Beginning of this season, Highlanders executive went out in full force purchasing players in preparation for the season while the coach was away supposedly at his usual training courses which seem not to be helpful to the cause. With all these players and such a big squad how and why is Bosso still performing badly?

In football, consistency is the key and it is opposite at Highlanders. The technical team led by their head coach have failed to come out with their first eleven since the season started. As far as I'm concerned the head coach calls the shots, he is responsible for team selection and certainly the blame should be on him. The way he tinkers with his team, week in week out, makes people wonder what his strategy is all about and how he expect to win games without continuity.

Players need to get used to each other, create an understanding, to know each other's strength and weaknesses so as to compliment one another during games but it is impossible with this coach who changes the team every game they play. Basic football requires you not to change a winning team and it is the opposite at Bosso. You do not need the most talented individuals to be a good side. Football is a team game, Highlanders do not play as a team because for the last few seasons at least, they rarely play with the same 11 in the same positions for two games in a row.

A huge part of football is becoming drilled in your job and learning the nuances of your team mates. This manifests itself in accurate passing and intelligent movement and thus creating half decent chances. Bosso have none of this, the poor coaching strategy, team and formation selections over the past few years, rendering this Bosso side, a team of strangers and boy does it look like it, with lack of communication and wayward passing all day long.

We also lack guile in the midfield and attack, we seem naive in our play, getting caught forward. My main concern is the defence. Where are the young players to take us forward in the positions held by the ageing Mapuranga and Fazo and why don't we get a real right back than playing ageing defensive midfielder Munawa out of position? From top position two weekends ago, Bosso are now number 4 and going down the ladder!

Lets face it, the problem is deeper at Bosso! Highlanders FC lacks real valuable characters, we do not need people with spoilt attitude, no dedication and no commitment. It is plain to see that if you want to win at club level, you don't need players like the current majority at Bosso. You need players like the late greats; Mercedes Sibanda, Cleopas Dlodlo, Adam Ndlovu, Benjamin Konjera (may their souls rest in peace) Willard Khumalo, Peter Ndlovu, Madinda Ndlovu, Netsai Moyo, Abraham Madondo, Peter Nkomo, Douglas Mloyi, Zenzo Moyo, Siza Khoza, Thabani Masawi, Dazy Kapenya, Alexander Maseko, Dumisani Ngulube, Tobias Mudyambanje to name some of the finest Highlanders past players who would huff and puff, break legs and sweat blood to ensure Highlanders are victorious against rivals.

They wouldn't let themselves and the club down and allow to be dominated by one team for all these years. With the current crop of players led by the current coach, there is a very slim chance they will improve this season, and to win the championship is to beat your fiercest rivals like Dynamos. The unbeaten run is gone in smoke, so those who were bragging about it what's your defence now? Bosso now need to pick themselves up after today's fiasco. Nothing insurmountable, as long as Kaindu's protégés show more appetite than in their first half of this season so far!

Algeria blast 4-2 South Korea in 2014 Fifa World Cup thriller

From the onset, Algeria carved the South Korean defence open and created two clear chances that went begging and a corner kick they wasted. They could have scored three goals by the 10th minute. They forged forward like a hurricane and retracted to defensive positions like a tortoise into its shell when they lost possession, all men behind the ball. They occasionally proved a little careless in midfield losing possession easily.

For their part, the Koreans were slow in tracking the opponents’ runs, and their marking was questionable on several instances. They capitalised on the loose balls straying in midfield from the Africans as they entered the penalty box looking for the opening goal.

It was Algeria who found the elusive ball. They won a midfield duel, quickly sent a long ball from behind the centre circle over the central defence by Medjani, between two Koreans. Slimani chased for the ball towards goal, sandwiched by his markers, touched the ball with his tummy as he entered the penalty box, and dinked the ball over the advancing goalkeeper’s left shoulder.

The Asians did not press the passer of the ball. They were caught square and far apart. They did not tackle their man and the goalkeeper could have delayed his advance as Slimani still had the attention of the defenders. The goal spurred the Algerians on as they won a corner kick.

Djabou supplied a perfect corner to the middle of the goal. Halliche out jumped the defence to score the second. The marking was atrocious as they allowed a free header. The goalkeeper came off his line and missed the ball after misjudging the flight of the ball.

The third goal came after very quick inter-passing. There was a degree of patience on possession as Algeria grew in confidence and put their foot on the ball. In a two versus two situation, the Koreans hesitated to mark tightly and Slimani squared the ball to Djabou to score past a defenceless Sung-Ryong Jung.

The South Koreans came into the second half in serious mood and looked set to turn the game on its head. Each man put in a double shift and they fought for the each other until the equaliser came. In similar circumstances to the goal that they conceded, a long ball from the left of midfield beyond the centre line by Ki Sung Yeung hit H. Son on his back. He turned around to pick it up, turn again to face the goal and fire a shot between Rais’ legs. The marking by the Africans was suspicious as they let the Asians play the long ball. They failed to clear the ball in the penalty area.

There were two consecutive goal-scoring opportunities after that goal, but the Koreans failed to convert them. Their best spell by far of the match turned into heartache as the first threat to their goal resulted in Algeria getting the fourth. A pass across the midfield from right to left found Ibrahimi who played a wall pass with Feghouli and side-footed a shot into goal. There was too much space for the Algerian attack and no one tracked the run of the scorer.

South Korea showed a lot of determination and refused to throw in the towel. They resorted to the long ball again. It came from the left side of the midfield to the right of the central position. As the panicking Algerian defence tried to deal with the situation, the ball was squared by Lee Kuen-Ho to the middle of the penalty area, almost into the 12-yard box. Koo Ja-Choel scored from close range, placing the ball to the far post.

The match tempo remained high and both teams spared no energy in attacking each other. The determination of the Koreans kept them going to the bemusement of their opponents who thought they had supped all the joules out of the pint-sized Asians. Despite fighting for a losing cause, they put a marvellous and brave show, fought tooth and nail in midfield duels and chased each and every ball, covered for each other and above all, believed that they could get something out of the match until the final whistle.

What a match! 4-2 it ended.   

Belgium win 1-0 over Russia in 2014 Fifa Worlld Cup

Belgium began this fixture better than the previous one. Mertens enjoyed skinning his man on the right flank, but his final ball failed to find Lukaku or the target. They had good pace and used width. Russia found their feet and exploited the left side. They began to wrestle the match away from Belgium in midfield and created the best scoring chances of the half. Courtois made brilliant saves to keep the score line 0-0 at half-time. Russia shot at goal a pass to early, making it easy for the Belgian keeper to shine.

The youthful and faster Belgium team failed to match the experienced Russian campaigners who gave a good account of themselves as they showed great attacking power. Their  energy levels were higher and they deserved the lead by half time. They did well to avoid confrontation with the experienced central defence marshalled by Vincent Kompany whom they by-passed by going through the wings.

It was a quiet half until the Origi goal which came courtesy of an attack on the left. That run from the midfield, a pass further out and a very strong run by Hazard in the box made the static Russians pay dearly. The Chelsea cut back the ball from the by-line and Origi obliged with a first time shot.

Nigeria beat Bosnia 1-0 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

The teams showed early intentions as they forced errors from each other’s defences, creating chances at each end of the pitch. Nigeria sought to win the ball early in the attacking third, but they wasted the chances they created out of that pressing. The match was fast and produced a scoring goal in each of the first 10 minutes. The Africans got out of the midfield well but the final ball never worried the Europeans.

There was purpose and gusto in the Nigerian attacks as they settled down and forced the Bosnians to back paddle. They got the men behind the ball and pushed into attack in numbers upon winning possession. With a little composure, Nigeria could have been two goals up by the 20th minute. Each wasted Nigeria chance encouraged the Bosnians who grew stronger in counter-attacking. Nigeria’s Musa could have put the match beyond the Europeans with better alertness and finishing.

In the push to get an opener, they got exposed on the wings, especially the right side where Emunike and Odemwinge found favours from their defenders. Odemwinge picked a ball in the defensive third and accelerated across the midfield third. Emunike received the ball and swept past a Bosnian who claimed a fouled. The Nigerian striker had tactical awareness to see Odemwinge’s continued run. He played a cut back that the Stoke striker took first time through advancing Begovic’s legs.

Emunike did well to slow down, take off at pace, round his man, attack the by-line and looked up before cutting the ball back. Peter also made a clever run and then hanged back a while waiting for that pass from the right. The defenders lost sight of him as they failed to keep a tight leash on him. The communication between the goalkeeper and the defence could have been better.

Edin Dzeko began to play away from the last men, preferring to come short around the D-zone. Nigeria failed to realise that and did not track him as he began to touch the ball more often, taking wild attempts at goal. Regardless, the Africans looked threatening with each attack and they tried to get the green wall behind the ball.

Bosnia Herzegovina upped the tempo a little and increase pressure on the ball to force errors. They got first to the ball and won the second ball while Nigeria were content to absorb the pressure. They could not utilise the ball possession. The African champions got stuck and failed to play out of midfield as they began to lose the ball without pressure and took a lot of time to retrieve it.  

Begovic made a lot of telling saves to deny Nigeria a handful of goals especially from Emunike who had a field day on the right. Victor Enyeama had to be at his level best to scoop the late Dzeko header from a corner kick. There was further drama as the Enyeama saved Dzeko shot by his legs. The ricochet crushed against the left upright. That ended a brilliant maiden campaign of the Europeans, but Nigeria deserved the victory as they managed the match well after scoring. They could have easily scored a few more goals, had they not sat back and be content with the odd goal.   

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ghana 2, Germany 2 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

Germany played with caution showing some tactical superiority by winning the midfield battles and taking the game to the Ghanaians. The Black Stars the game started well with good wing play and creating half chances. It was their defending that was not well defined as they gave much space for their opponents to play. The marking was not at its best and there were too many players in front of play. The midfield played very square and failed to press as much as they should.

The Africans stayed too long on the ball and did not release the balls early. Play was too causal and allowed Germany to go a little easy without suffering any losses. They let Ghana came at them with the hope of springing a counter attack as there were spaces in midfield and defence. There was not much effort by Ghana to get manpower behind the ball in the centre of the park. This loaded the defence as they found themselves stretched.

It was a different kettle of fish in the second half as Thomas Muller set Mario Gotze with a pass through the porous central defence. Gotze finished off that pass with a header to his knee and the ball tricked the Orlando Pirates goalkeeper into the net. The ball came from the right side of midfield could have been cleared by the first defender. Muller was not pressed as he supplied the ball and the central defenders were too far apart.

It became a tight match and Ghana threw everything at the Europeans. A few passes outside the penalty area and then a ball wide found Afful who crossed the ball for Andre Ayew. The Ghanaian out jumped the German substitute to head the ball past Neur. The marking was bad while the heading technique was superb as the ball was directed low and away from the central position away from the goalkeeper.

Ghana went for the kill. Sully Muntari intercepted the ball in midfield and quickly set Asamoah Gyan on his way. Gyan controlled the ball well, beat his marker and with the inside of the foot, played the ball past the diving Neur. From that point onwards, the Africans poured forward and fluffed chance after chance, Jordan Ayew making a good run on the left and his tame shot was save. There was a counter attack where the German defence could have conceded as the Ghana attack forced a five versus two, but the decision-making on the delivery of the final ball was horrible.

The marking by Africans became sloppy, that usual false sense of security resulted in loss of concentration. As much as the numbers behind the ball improved, there was lack of pressing in midfield. The German substitutes found spaces to run into, had time on the ball to pass and shoot. In one particular moment that mattered the most, Schwansteiger had room to do as he pleased. He found Ozil on the left and the Arsenal man crossed the ball without anyone charging. That ball was headed out for a corner by Jonathan Mensah. The resultant corner kick was flicked by Hummels to the far post for Miroslov Klose to score the vital equaliser with an outstretched right foot.   

The defence of the African team got stretched more and more as the midfield job worsened in performance. That caused the central defenders share the man-of-the-match performance, as they had to be on overdrive to cope with the marauding Germans. The pair threw their bodies on the line and conceded several corner kicks, the weakness of African teams. The German finishing was not at its best and the Africans were not going to complain about it.

Argentina beat Iran 1-0 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

Negative football typified Iran’s first half approach as they frustrated Argentina with ultra-defensive tactics. They were compact, quick to close down attackers, set out to have all men behind the ball and doubled on the man in possession and then tried to counter attack with few players after winning the ball. The aggression made them commit fouls outside the penalty area but the South Americans wasted the chances.

Iran won a few set plays and proved a little more threatening in both delivery and in dealing with them than the revered former champions. They only sent in four men in the penalty area for corner kicks and free kicks, allowed three in the attacking half and the rest guarded against the counter attacks. When pushed hard, they had all players in the penalty area and gave Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria the attention of three markers.  

Argentina could not create a clear goal-scoring chance but squandered the half chances that came their way. They probed ineffectively with quick little passes outside the D-zone. The quality of the final ball was bad as they could have tried going around the wings at fast pace. On few occasions, they got Zabaletta and Di Maria in good crossing position, but the deliveries took too long and lacked quality.

Iran had the best two chances of the match, forcing Romero to make an excellent save in the 63rd minute and one of the save of the tournament in the 66th minute. A reasonable counter attacking opportunity came in the 85th minute but Reza was not clinical in his finish. In between, there were penalty shouts after the hard-working Dejagah raced into the penalty box and seemed to have his progress halted by a challenge that the referee thought was legal. Argentina looked vulnerable in corner kicks.

There was just enough time on the clock for one magic action by Messi. He received the ball from the right, taking it to his left foot with just man in attendance. He set himself for a shot, raised his head to see the position of the keeper, planted the non-kicking foot alongside the ball, spread his arms wide for balance, his eyes on the ball, he struck the ball at the bottom half with the inside of the foot to give it a spin. The ball rose and curled around the defender and the diving goalkeeper to the net, breaking the brave and fighting Iranian warriors.

Iran failed to properly deal with a cross, making a clearance to their left. The ball fell to Zabaletta who played the ball along the line and the reverse pass to the inside was collected by Messi who slowed down, searched for options, tried to find space and an angle for a shot. Reza was a shade too far, enough for the Argentinian to do the needful, scoring a fabulous goal for a hard fought 1-0 win.

Honduras lose 2-1 to Ecuador in Brazil

The 2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup fixture between Honduras and Ecuador was almost a perfect match with action swinging from end to end. Both sides missed many early chances with clear view to goal. They both pressed up high to win the ball after losing it. The match pace was sensational as the teams forced good goalkeeping saves. They produced quick inter-passing and physical combats in midfield.

Eno Valencia of Ecuador missed a seater after a long pass that by-passed the midfield and found him onside at the edge of the penalty area. His first touch was super but the second did not match it as he could not wrap his left foot well enough to direct the ball over and around the advancing goalkeeper. Honduras’ Carlo Costly received a similar long pass from the back and utilised the opportunity. The ball bounced once, and he took it in his strike and shot with his left shoelaces past the advancing keeper, Alex Dominguez.

In both cases, the men who delivered the passes were not pressed, he receivers’ of the ball were not picked up, neither were their runs tracked and the goalkeepers came off their line. Only the quality of the finishing was the difference.

The Ecuador equaliser came in different fashion. The hard running Paredes ran rings at the right channel and with the support of Montero, carved himself enough space to pull the trigger. The shot deflected off the defender to the far post. Enner Valencia sneaked behind the defence to tap the ball past a desperate Valladares to equalise. The goal came after committing a cardinal sin of not closing down and lack of tracking.   

It became a blow-by-blow affair, each team giving as much as they took. The midfield contest remained tight with duels in the middle third getting more physical. The all-South American encounter was entertainment value from start to finish as the teams spent most of the time in the attacking third.

Ecuador upped the stakes with a Valencia special from a dead ball situation taken from the left. Montero won the free kick, and Walter Ayovi drove a perfect out-swinger. Enner Valencia out jumped Carlos Carcia and headed the ball downwards to give the Ecuadorians the lead. The marking could have been better and the three-man wall from that angle should have blocked the ball. Honduras had the ability and power to respond, taking the fight to their opponents with renewed vigour. Ecuador were equal to the task defending the lead like wounded lions to protect the three points that keep them in the tournament a little longer.

Friday, June 20, 2014

France dismantle the Swiss 5-2 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

France meant business from the start of their 5-2 demolition job of the Swiss, their team selection and offensive line-up being evidence of their serious intentions. They were so good that they had the luxury of squandering a penalty kick. Switzerland looked the part until the Olivier Giroud header from a corner conceded by Djourou. Benzema sprinted to meet a low cross from the right, only for the Swiss defender to clear his lines and play the ball over the by-line.

The corner kick taken from the right to the far post, drifted away from goal. Giroud was not tightly marked as he jumped above his marker to jerk-knife the header past the goalkeeper and the covering defender. The marking by the Swiss was bad and the challenge for the ball was token Moments from the restart, Karim Benzema stole a Swiss ball in midfield, charged towards goal and threaded a neat pass to his left for the scampering Motuidi who scored with his inside of the foot at the near post.

In almost a carbon copy of that goal, the Real Madrid gunman, received the long ball and sped with the ball, carried it into the penalty box on the left. Djourou challenged him despite the fact that he had little chance to score from the narrow angle he created. The referee gave a penalty. Benzema picked himself up and took the spot kick. Benaglio blocked the shot by diving to his right. Cabaye took advantage of a static Swiss defence and shot his attempt against the crossbar.

France grew in confidence and began to menace as they found spaces in the porous defence that had Senderos who came in to replace the injured Von Bergen. Switzerland lost concentration and compactness in defence. There was no cohesion between units and lost battles in defence and midfield. They could not exploit the open wing left by the attacking French defenders and failed to penetrate the central defence. They became naïve when faced with the French attacking power and vulnerable against counter attacks as they let Giroud pick up the ball from midfield and attack the left wing. He played the ball square for Valbuena to score with a first-time shot. There was no closing down of the cross and Valbuena popped up at the far post without a defender tracking his run. The defenders could do little sprinting facing their goalkeeper.

The second half started slowly as the French seemed content to wait and absorb all the pressure the Swiss threw at them. The Swiss were got the encouragement to engage the French seriously by pushing harder and further ahead creating clear-cut chances. They failed to capitalise as they hurried the shots and missed the target. After those scary moments, France lifted their act a notch up and passé the ball around. They found spaces on the right flank, exchanged a few passes. Paul Pogba’s clever cross found Benzema who finished it off by driving the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs. The French striker ran in front of the defence across the centre to meet the ball. Switzerland were guilty of not tracking his run. The goalkeeper came off his line and started flying in the air as the ball came, instead of staying on his feet to deal with the shot.

The former Fifa World Cup champions enjoyed a purple patch and increased the pace of their game. They found spaces left, right and centre. They won the ball in midfield on the left and interpassed their way into the attacking third to the left. Benzema played the ball to his right and Sissoko placed the ball into the net. Again, the marking was atrocious as the defenders were just ball watching. They seemed lost and unaware of the third-man running. They were neither compact nor tactical aware of the events around them.

France had it a little easy from that point on and became guilt of loss of concentration in midfield. They lost the hunger to fight and win the second ball. It was at that point that Switzerland scored two quick goals as they won a free-kick outside the penalty box. Hugo Lloris’ wall was porous at it let a hard and low Dzemaili strike nestle at the left bottom corner of the net. Lightining struck twic at the same place as quick exchanges on the right resulted in the long pass to the central position to Inler. The Swiss midfielder picked up a good run by Xhaka who hooked the ball with a first time shot past a bemused Lloris.

The referee stole the limelight from a goal infested game when he blew the whistle while the ball was enroute to goal when Benzema connected a volley from a pass delivered from the right wing. He celebrated the goal that never was, as did some French players. As much as France played very well, the Swiss defence was shocking.  

Costa Rica beat Italy 1-0 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

England should be wondering how on earth they got beat by Italy. So shambolic was their performance that their entry into the final can be counted in one hand against the minnows. They looked set to control the match as they dictated play in the early first half. Pirlo dominated the midfield and set up Mario Balottelli a few times. Balottelli had hoped for a kiss on the cheek from the Queen of England, but he kicked that chance away twice in the first half.

Italy became nervous and jittery as they failed to deal with Joe Campbell’s runs. Costa Rica remained composed and never gave much away. They penetrated systematically without giving the former Fifa World Cup champions any respect. They won the midfield bouts and played the ball through the middle to Campbell who beat three Italians and was felled in the penalty area, but the referee ignored the incident.

Justice was done minutes later as they did not need that call. They played the ball in midfield and pushed it left. There was no Italian pressure to press the ball in the middle of the park. The winger had ample time to control and cross without anyone closing down on the ball. Bryan Ruiz timed his perfect run being monitored by two defenders and met the cross at the far post to head past Buffon.

Italy came from the break showing further signs of decay in midfield. They lacked compactness and exposed their defence, which became stretched and played too far apart. That crack in defence became more exposed as Costa Rica played the long ball consistently at the same point, almost ripping it open with each launch.

Pirlo played too defensively without affecting much of the attack. This made the Europeans too slow in attack and fail to deliver any final pass for the isolated Balottelli. The midfield carried the ball too much and could not penetrate the South Americans defence. They were too careless, lost possession easily, and gave away easy free kicks in a very amateurish manner.

To the credit of Costa Rica, they did not make special arrangements for Pirlo who played very far away from the dance floor, and Balottelli. They had their game plan that boarded around their own strengths and stuck to it. They counter-attacked very well playing directly with the long ball through the centre. They remained compact at the back and stayed composed without diving into tackles or unnecessarily rushing their attacks.

It became one deserved win for Costa Rica as they put a perfect all-round show. For Italy, they did not come to the party and everything that could go wrong went wrong. England should have been watching with awe, how they lost to the Italians. The result sadly sends England home early while Italy and Uruguay will decide who stays between them.

Greece and Japan draw 0-0

Greece and Japan drew 0-0 in the 2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup. to afford Cote D'Ivoire a better chance after the Elephants last the initiative in their match earlier on with that 2-1 to Columbia. There were real threats from both sides, missed chances and good saves.

The teams neutralised each other in many in midfield as they tried to pry open each other. They moved forward with pace and supported play going forward and retracted quickly to cover their tracks and deny spaces against attack.

The obvious fear to mess things up was there for all to see. The loser of the match could have been packing by the end of the match, but both teams were not will to risk anything.

England lose 2-1 to Uruguay in 2014 Fifa World Cup

Luis Suarez grabbed a magnificent double to blow away the English dream of a good 2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup. He delayed a run into the box, deceiving to go from centre to his left and then checked his run to the right to direct a Cavani delivery across the body of Joe Hart. England failed to win the ball in midfield, allowed Uruguay passage through the centre and refrained from challenging the ball before it reached Cavani on the left. With the attention of four English players, the striker had time to control, look up and pick up the run of Suarez who had three men guarding him; Cahill, Baines and Hart.  

The man who recently underwent knee surgery needed just two touches to finish off a Steven Gerrard flick on in the second half. Muslera cleared a long ball and Captain Fantastic’s jumped did not elevate him enough to make the relevant contact with the ball. Suarez lurked behind and outpaced Cahill, looked up to see the position of the goalkeeper, got his eyes on the ball, adjusted his stride and concentrated on the technique of striking the ball with his arms wide for balance.  He hit the ball hard in the middle, as if to dissect it into two hemi-spheres. Hart tried to spread his body across the goal by advancing and narrowing the angle, but he could not even see the ball whistle past him.

Looking at the body of the whole match, Uruguay had a game plan to deny England’s youthful team any space to settle on the ball and the time to think. They pressed hard high on the pitch and reduced the space by moving quickly to press when the ball moved from one player to the next. They packed the midfield, doubled up in marking, and got as many men behind the ball as possible. They were in ‘take-no-prisoners’ mood and were lighting fast in transition and were always first on both the first and second balls.

England started the match hoping for a calculative affair. They were taken unawares as they got intimidated and denied any space to play. They became ‘uncomposed’ and gave away the ball quite easily. The defence panicked and threw themselves at the ball and in flew into tackles. The wingbacks found pockets on the right and more so on the left with Baines. The frustration over failure to construct any methodical attacks caused anxiety and desperation in preparation zone as the midfielders tended not to track down their men as well as the third man running.

The marking was very bad and many crosses found their way to the penalty box as the wide men arrived late from attacking duties. However, the wide man run forward proved useful as Glen Johnson supplied Wayne Rooney with a tap-in in between Suarez’s double. Cahill robbed the Liverpool striker of the ball and quickly passed to Steven G who played with Daniel Sturridge who turned well and fed the overlapping Johnson on the right. The right back took his man on, darted in and out into the penalty box and passed to Rooney who timed his run perfectly and finished with aplomb. Rooney had a good match, forcing a fantastic save from the keeper and hitting a post with header from a foot out.

England could not string passes together and had no rhythm at all as they could not cope with the pace and intimidation of the South Americans. Their attacking moves out of the midfield and the entries into the final third lacked urgency and pace. Besides being too slow in mounting attacks, they were guilty of taking too long to deliver crosses too, allowing Uruguay to regroup and take good defensive positions and shape. As a result, Uruguay had sufficient personnel to deal with any threats posed, particularly forcing early shots that went off target, were weak or went straight to Muslera.

It must be said that Rooney finally got a Fifa World Cup goal.       

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Columbia beat Cote D’ Ivoire 2-1 in 2014 Fifa World Cup

The match began balanced at a fast pace. Columbia counter-attacked after winning balls in midfield as Cote D’Ivoire carelessly lost possession. They very easily found spaces in the middle of the park and attacked the right flank with pace. They missed the best chance when Rodriguez fed Gutierrez from the right after the South Americans played a diagonal ball on stealing possession in their own half.

The Africans defence cleared the crosses from either wing efficiently. That was a bad sign of poor defensive behaviour as their wing backs failed to shut out the crosses. The wing defenders pushed too much up field and played in front of the ball. This exposed the spaces behind them and the Columbians exploited these spaces reasonably well by dropping long diagonal passes that stretched the central defence.

The distance between the midfield and the defence also increased the susceptibility to counter-attacks. Yaya Toure played too much in front of the action as much of the game was played behind him, nullifying his trademark runs from deep towards goal. As Cote D’Ivoire found spaces in their slow attacks, they squandered possession easily by atrocious decision-making. Ball retention was not at its best for both teams who appeared to be too cagey in their approach.

The match pace stepped up in the second half as Columbia sought to capitalise on the indecisive defensive shape of the Cote D’Ivoire who had their wing defenders up high and the central defenders playing far apart. In one swift move by Columbia, the two clashed and caused a corner kick. Rodriguez was unmarked and powered his free-header past a static Barry. There was no man-marking, no jumping and no pressure by the defence who were content ball-watching.

Prior to the goal, Bony Wilfred missed a gilt-edged opportunity that was followed by a clearer goal-scoring chance. As The Elephants pressed hard for looking parity, and got caught by a counter assisted by naïve defending. Serie Die was almost the last man in defence but tried a dribble. He lost the ball to Gutierrez who was stalking him. The Columbian raced towards goal creating a three versus one, and then unselfishly passed the ball to his right to Quintero who made no mistake.

Yaya Toure moved to his normal position and began to dictate the game. The impact was instant and visible as he tried to feed Didier Drogba, Gervinho and Salomon Kalou. The only moment The Elephants shifted a little faster on the right after winning the ball. Gervinho received the ball and quickly took off charging goal ward. He swept past four defenders and fired a parried shot into the net. The South American rear guard froze as the nibble-footed striker waltzed past them for a beautiful goal.

Despite the beauty of the show, the lack of discipline of the strategy; the tactical awareness, it was a bitter pill to swallow as Cote D’Ivoire carried the hopes of the continent after the disaster of that Cameroon embarrassment.   

Cameroon decapitated by Croatia (0-4) in 2014 World Cup

The Indomitable Lions were slaughtered by Croatia by 4-0. Strong and fast off the starting blocks, Cameroon flattered to deceive, at least for a moment with forays on the right wing where Benjamin Moukandjo had a field day skinning his marker at will. Croatia put their bodies on the line in midfield and defence and began to take control of the game. Benoit Assou-Ekotto failed to prevent a cross being delivered from the right wing. The central defence messed up a clearance and Perisic fed Olic who was making a run on the blind side behind Mbia.

Cameroon ran like headless chickens, not knowing whether they were coming or going. Aboubakar was full of energy and tried to combine with Moukandjo on the right to run at the Croatian defence. The defending by the Africans became worse as Mandzukic rang rings with his menacing play.

The Indomitable Lions clawed their way into the match pressing Croatia, forcing the midfield errors, and bullying the Europeans in midfield. In that positive spell, Croatia picked a loose ball in a collision of Aboubakar and Moukandjo and counter-attacked. Barcelona’s Alex Song shoved Mandzukic with his arm and followed it with a hammering elbow. He was red-carded with six minutes of the first half to play.

There was extremely poor decision-making by Cameroon, bad choice of passing, wrong angles support and incorrect distances of support at the back. Charles Itandje, in goals for Cameroon, played a long ball to Perisic at the corner of the centre and touch lines. The Croatian set himself up with his first touch, got into the box with his second and scored with his third after a fine sprint.

Moukandjo fought a lone losing battle with his energetic runs and excellent technique of running with the ball and dribbling. Croatia were relentless with their bid to tear the Africans to pieces and achieved that with a lot of ease. They surprised themselves with a goal from a cheap corner. Mandzukic out jumped the entire defence to head down a powerful ball past Itandje. They could have buried a few more chances with some clinical finish as they ran rings around the bemused and dazzled Cameroon.

The Aboubakar-Moukandjo combination created few true chances, but Cameroon incredibly missed them. For each of the missed chances, Croatia scored an easy goal. The crushing score line was extended when Eduardo received a pass from the right wing after fine play, and his attempted curler was parried into the path of Mandzukic to tap in.

It became a stroll in the park, Croatia choosing when and how to enter into the box. They seemed to choose when Cameroon could enter their box too. With a clear sight on goal, Cameroon still missed the target in an embarrassing way. True circus, What a disgrace!!