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Sports Then and Now

Preparing for the World Cup: Australia, Team to Watch 4

Posted on March 29, 2010 by Thomas Rooney
Tim Cahill will lead Australia in the World Cup.

Tim Cahill will lead Australia in the World Cup.

Australia is one of the World Cup participants with the strongest links to English league teams. Many players from the Premier League, Championship and lower divisions are likely to feature for the Socceroos in South Africa, and whilst some are journeymen likely to have a limited impact, Tim Cahill is a top class international capable of making a big impression at the finals.

Cahill has a historic place in Australian football history, scoring his team’s first ever World Cup goal in Germany four years ago. His two goals against Japan also meant he was the first Aussie scorer of a World Cup brace and maiden World Cup man of the match. He will surely increase his tally this time around.

An international record of 19 goals from 37 matches is an excellent goal to games ratio, especially considering the Everton man’s deep-lying position. It is easy to see why he has a reputation for being a goalscoring midfielder, but as any Toffees fan will tell you, his game is about more than arriving late in the box and scoring headers.

These are fine attributes, but Cahill’s creative skill and tenacity are often overlooked. Top Premier League midfielders cannot rely on goals alone and Cahill’s passing and tackling mean he can play in a flat midfield as well as in a midfield diamond or withdrawn string role.

Australia performed well in Germany, losing unluckily in round two to Italy. Despite not being favorites to win 2010 FIFA world cup, another second round appearance is achievable and perhaps needed, as the Aussies will go to the next World Cup without Mark Schwarzer, Brett Emerton and perhaps Cahill. This is his chance to shine and it is a safe bet that the famous corner flag boxing celebration will be in use.

As for the 2010 FIFA world cup favorites odds, Spain and Brazil lead the way at the moment, closely followed by England, Argentina and Italy.

Preparing for the World Cup: Will Maradona’s Ego Cost Argentina? 0

Posted on February 22, 2010 by Thomas Rooney
Is Diego Maradona capable of leading Argentina to success at the 2010 World Cup?

Is Diego Maradona capable of leading Argentina to success at the 2010 World Cup?

Usually World Cup previews focus on the players who are likely to be involved but Argentina, as with most things involving Diego Maradona, are a special case. The sputtering qualification campaign which saw the Albicelestes secure their place in the tournament with a late goal against Uruguay was well documented. Equally well reported was Maradona’s foul-mouthed rant which followed that win. His outburst earned him two month ban from his official duties, meaning he missed the 2010 Football (Soccer) World Cup Draw.

However, it’s highly unlikely that Maradona’s absence is the reason behind a lacklustre run of friendly games for Argentina. A defeat to Spain in November suggests the side will struggle to cope when it comes up against the leading contenders at the World Cup. More worrying though were the unconvincing wins over Costa Rica and Jamaica. The former was described by Argentine newspaper La Nacion as “a victory which didn’t provide the necessary answers”.

Despite this, Maradona said that he has decided on 60 per cent of his squad already. And this could be part of the problem. Although players such as Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano would no doubt walk into any other team in the world some of the manager’s other favourites are more puzzling. Jonas Guiterrez is a fine example of this. He currently plays in the English Championship and although his pace and ability to go past players are not in question, he struggles with crossing and shooting and it’s hard to envisage him ever making a massive impact on the world stage. Read the rest of this entry →

Preparing For The World Cup: As One Problem is Solved, Another Develops 2

Posted on February 15, 2010 by Thomas Rooney
Wayne Rooney and England is getting ready for the World Cup.

Wayne Rooney and England is getting ready for the World Cup.

The scramble for World Cup places is well underway. All potential England squad members know they need to prove to Fabio Capello that they are fit and in form, with little managerial instinct or sentimentality coming into play. There will be no bizarre call-ups this time around, no repeats of the Theo Walcott controversy in 2006.

Despite this, there are several ‘untouchables’, notably Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Gareth Barry, Ashley Cole and, still on the list, John Terry. Football World Cup Betting experts know that these players are guaranteed a place on the place to South Africa, dependant on fitness.

This means there are as many as 15 places still up for grabs and it is ironic that the Three Lions are suddenly stronger in attack than in defence. Finding in-form strikers has been a problem that has plagued England recently, with the centre of defence looking after itself.

Not anymore. Wayne Rooney is in the best form of his life and seemingly ready to take the finals by storm. Jermain Defoe is enjoying his most productive season, whilst Darren Bent is back in the goals after finding regular football at Sunderland.

Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole’s seasons have been disrupted by injury, but so good has Peter Crouch’s form been at Tottenham, they have not been missed. Gabriel Agbonlahor is ready to make the step up to international level. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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