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World Cup Q&A

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Piers Edwards | 08:00 UK time, Wednesday, 2 June 2010

This week some of our regular bloggers are answering your World Cup questions. South American expert Tim Vickery and European expert Phil Minshull have had their turn, now it is African expert Piers Edwards's chance to give his views.

Q. Who do you think will win the World Cup and who do you think will be the star of the tournament. I think Netherlands could win, and I think the star of the tournament could be Luis Fabiano, so what do you think?
Andrew David, Wales

A. I think Brazil will beat Argentina in the final, however insane it may be to back a team coached by Diego Maradona. The World Cup does throw up the implausible and I think this one will have a few shocks.

This isn't really answering your question, but I can't wait for the competition to start, especially after three years' build-up here. Perhaps I'm just hoping to be entertained but the prospect of both Maradona and Messi lighting up South Africa could be memorable. The Zanetti and Cambiasso decisions were strange but Maradona does have incredible talent at his disposal.

I also think the Dutch may do well, especially given Arjen Robben's fantastic displays for Bayern in recent months. Play and score goals like that at the World Cup and he'll be a major star. I agree that Brazil's Fabiano will have a good tournament and think he'll actually finish as top scorer but I'm not sure he'll be the star as his clinical style of play won't light up a World Cup like a Messi, Rooney or Ronaldo.

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Q. Who do the bloggers think will be the real surprise package this time around? Both overachieving and underperforming.
Ben, Thailand

A. From below the top tier of contenders, I expect to see the US, Serbia, Paraguay, Ivory Coast, Chile and hosts South Africa overachieve.
Underperforming: Nigeria, Italy and Portugal.

Q. Which unheard of players will shine in this tournament?
Faraz, UK

A. Focusing first on Africa, I think fans will enjoy watching South African wingers Siphiwe Tshabalala and Teko Modise, should they continue their bright form. Ghanaian striker Dominic Adiyiah could make an impact if given a chance and Ivory Coast's Gervinho could also turn heads - ditto Algeria's Karim Ziani, Nigeria's Osaze Odemwingie and Cameroon's Achille Emana.

As for the non-Africans, a motley crew of players I expect to sparkle include Serbian winger Zoran Tosic, US defender Oguchi Onyewu (if fully fit), the Netherlands' Moroccan-born midfielder Ibrahim Afellay and Germany's Mesut Ozil.

Q. Very little has been said about the Asian teams. How well are they expected to do this time, with South Korea having really progressed in the last two World Cups?
Jay Goolaup, Mauritius

A. I'm not too familiar with many of their players but I'm not anticipating a great deal from the Asian teams. North Korea are an unknown quantity, even though they've been in camp for many months, and hopes of repeating their 1966 heroics were surely dashed by their group draw - perhaps the hardest facing any team.

Japan's coach has (in)famously said he's aiming for the semi-finals but I doubt they'll even exit their group. South Korea have every chance of progressing given they seem to be on a par with Group B rivals Nigeria and Greece - but not Argentina. As for Australia, the Socceroos are in an incredibly-tough Group D from which I think Germany and Serbia will progress.

Q. In its current format the World Cup is predominantly made up of teams mainly from Europe & the Americas. Do you think it's time Fifa change the rules so that more countries from Africa and Asia participate in the finals. After all it is the 'World' Cup?
Amit, UK

A. I hope Africa performs so well that it continues to have six World Cup teams, which it has for the first time this year because South Africa are hosts. Should the continent revert to five places for its 50+ nations for 2014, then the Concacaf allocation of 3.5 places would seem, in my personal opinion, overly generous given the region's impact.

Q. Do you think England have a good chance of winning the World Cup?
Luke Anderson, England

A. Yes I do. They have the necessary criteria to win: a good group of players, a good coach and a player who can make the difference in Rooney.

In addition, they should feel fairly at home in South Africa with no language barrier (the last time England contested a World Cup in an Anglophone-speaking country was, incidentally, 1966) and the cool weather will allow them to play their high-tempo game - although it'll be interesting to see what effect altitude has in the knockout games.

That's my view as a journalist. As a fan, and having witnessed many disappointments first-hand, I'll believe an England World Cup win when I see it!

Q. Who do you think will go out in the 'group of death' - Brazil, Portugal or Ivory Coast?
George Wysocki, England

A. Very hesitantly, I expect Portugal to lose out here. I watched several of their qualifiers and was rarely impressed, especially up front. Yes, Ronaldo was injured but Liedson didn't convince and Pepe's return after so long out does not bode well.

It's hard to see Brazil failing, especially when starting against North Korea, while the Ivorians may find that goal difference could be decisive. Under Sven-Goran Eriksson, I expect to see a very different Elephants side to the one at the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola - and a very different Drogba now he won't have the Premier League at the back of his mind.

Q. Is the vuvuzela trumpet going to put you off the World Cup at all?
David, Scotland

A. Not in the slightest - but bear in mind I say this knowing I'll be buffered from the din by watching from the press area, which should be relatively quiet in comparison. But having watched various matches from the stands, I can tell you it's incredibly difficult to have any sort of conversation with your neighbour - simply because once you've started, a short sharp burst of a nearby vuvuzela can quickly extinguish any desire to continue chatting, unless you want to shout.

Vuvuzelas are very loud - but they also provide an unforgettable atmosphere.

Q. Do you think Algeria have a realistic chance of emerging from their group as at least runners-up, bearing in mind that they have already beaten a potential dark horse for the World Cup in Ivory Coast this year.
James Feligha, Wales

A. I think Algeria's victory over Ivory Coast has to be looked at from the latter's perspective, when the Elephants' defence - and tactics - were in disarray, which ultimately sparked Vahid Halilhodzic's dismissal. That said, Algeria did display the never-say-die attitude for which they're famous and which often serves them well.

Their chances of progressing are only realistic in that their opener is against Slovenia where a win will keep them alive in the group until the end - but I think a lack of quality means they'll come up short.

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Q. Piers - are Algeria likely to 'park the bus' in their group game against England? Do they have the potential to pose a problem for us?
Mitch Holder-Mansfield, England

A. They are likely to park the bus - but that's only because that'll be their general game-plan against everybody. Algeria are a limited side but the defence is their strongest suit - especially when Belhadj, Halliche, Yahia and Bougherra are all there - and they largely rely on counter-attacks or set-pieces to score.

Their lack of firepower up front, as well as an over-reliance upon Karim Ziani's creativity, means I have to agree with Hassan Yebda's assessment when I asked him during the Nations Cup if Algeria can beat England. "No, I don't think so," he replied. "We'll try everything but I don't think we will."

Q. Which Chelsea midfielder will be missed more during the World Cup: Michael Ballack for Germany or Michael Essien for Ghana? Just out of instinct I feel the Germans would have more depth to replace their captain, but he was huge for them in Euro 2008.
Evan, USA

A. I think your instinct is spot on. It's impossible to underestimate Essien's loss to the Ghana side - or any team, as Chelsea fans will tell you - given his dynamism and quality. Yes, several Ghanaian midfielders can fill in but none have Essien's enormous drive, unsurprising really given that very few players anywhere can match it.

Losing Ballack is obviously a big blow for Germany - coach Joachim Loew is now saying they can't win the World Cup - but I've been very impressed when watching Bastian Schweinsteiger playing that central midfield role for Bayern in recent matches and expect to see him step up.

Q. With Ghana losing Essien to injury, how do you think they will cope and do you think their young players, who won the U20 World Cup, will shine without his influence?
David Watson, UK

A. I'm not sure if you were watching January's Nations Cup or not, but suspect you weren't as otherwise you'd have seen how several of these youngsters shone in Essien's absence, such as Sam Inkoom, Dede Ayew and the unfortunately-injured Agyemang-Badu.

What was impressive was not just their ability but also the tactical discipline they showed despite being thrown in at the deep end. They carried out coach Milovan Rajevac's instructions to the letter and took champions Egypt all the way in the final. A fearless bunch who've only really known success, I'd imagine their confidence is sky-high.

Ghana defender Hans SarpeiGhana suffered a 4-1 defeat by the Netherlands in Rotterdam before heading for South Africa

Q. Piers - Kwadwo Asamoah of Ghana is a player with great talent and quality. Why has he not already moved to a big club?
Tom Mensah, London

A. I think he's just bedding down at Udinese, getting some good first-team action under his belt at a young age. The 21-year-old may also be happy with the knowledge that suitors will soon come calling as he's a fine player, often accurate in passing and he keeps the Black Stars' central midfield smoothly ticking along.

Q. What are the chances of an African team doing well or even winning in this World Cup? I really fancy Ivory Coast to do something, simply because of Drogba. And South Africans will be looking to do fairly well since they are hosting. Has Africa lost its chance with the absence of Egypt who have shown they are the best African side in the African Cup of Nations?

Sonny Rodgers, UK

A. Yes, the continent has undeniably lost something - not just because the reigning African champions are conspicuous by their absence, but also because Egypt, as they showed in the first half at Wembley, can live with most sides.

As for Ivory Coast, as said earlier, I find Group G impossible to call but I think they'll make it through and perhaps make the quarters. While I'm not convinced Africa will break the quarter-final barrier, I think 2-3 sides could make that stage for the first time.

Q. Ivory Coast and Ghana are the two African sides touted as making an impression on the tournament but they both have tough groups. Do you see Cameroon, or even Nigeria, being the African team to go deepest in the tournament?

Jonathan, England

A. It's a question I've often pondered and think Cameroon, Ivory Coast (as said) and, perhaps surprisingly, South Africa have the best chances. Ghana are definitely one of the strongest African sides, with an excellent coach, but Essien's absence might make Group D too tough.

Nigeria's saving grace is that their Group B rivals are fairly beatable but I'm not convinced. This team needs to be well-prepared and strongly-gelled, which I don't feel it is. As for Cameroon, they could build some momentum if they get out of the group while

South Africa will be Africa's best-prepared team and are ever-improving under Parreira. I wouldn't give them much hope anywhere else but at home where the frenzied support could be key.

Q. How much effect will the weather have on the outcome of the winners of the tournament?
Mike Bennett, England

A. The cold climate here - especially at night - means the laments of previous World Cups, when teams have blamed the heat for limited displays, should be absent. We should see faster-paced games as a result, even with the effects of altitude.

As for the actual winners, Brazil won last year's Confederations Cup in bitterly-cold conditions, overcoming Italy, South Africa and the United States along the way, so I don't think conditions will favour any continent above another.

On Thursday it is the turn of chief football writer Phil McNulty to answer your questions about England.


  • Comment number 1.

    Have to disagree with some of your predictions. I see a few little shocks in the group stages this year with the following teams qualifying from their groups:









  • Comment number 2.

    Very insightful.

    I hope the African teams do well too but I'm not so sure. I actually agree with you in regards to Portugal, I think Ivory Coast may overcome them.
    It's a shame Egypt haven't qualified as I'm sure they would have fared better than the others.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am really excited about this year's competition but I have to disagree with some, not all, of your assessments. I think Argentina will be the major underperformers with France, Italy and Portugal the other potentials. As for the winners, I agree with Brazil but fancy Spain to get to the final.

  • Comment number 4.

    In the entire history of the World Cup there has only been two countries from Africa which have managed to progress to the Quarter Finals (Cameroon in 1990 & Senegal in 2002).

    That's a very poor return, considering the number of slots which have been allocated to African nations over the years.

    Looking at the teams involved in the 2010 Finals, I don't think that there's much chance we'll be seeing an African nation in the Quarter Finals or better, despite the fact that they have a record 6 participants this time around.

    I'm really at a loss to explain why the Africans have had such a relatively poor showing in the World Cup during its history, despite providing some of the world's best players.

    Here's the progress made by every participant Nation in the World Cup from 1930 to 2010:

  • Comment number 5.

    Hey, I wonder why the BBC is so anti-Nigeria. If you give England a chance to lift the world cup, why do you think England is better than Nigeria. Among the African teams to the World Cup, the Ivory Coast is the only team with high profile players than Nigeria. Why dont you guys accept that you are ignorant of the Nigerian team. You only know players who play in England. But you do not know quality players in French, Russian, Spanish or German leagues. I bet that England will never beat Nigeria in a world cup game. Even if Nigeria parade school boys and England parade the best players, England can never beat a Nigerian world cup team. The bulk of the boys for the Nigerian team played at the last Olympic finals. Go check the players profile again and come back here to report your finding.

  • Comment number 6.

    Why do most referees think that african football is hard? And will easily give a red card to an african than others. Don't you think the refereeing will also contribute much to stop most of the african countries from progressing in this tournament ?.

  • Comment number 7.

    Rolly - I'm not sure that the refereeing will just be harsh on the African teams. Previous World Cups have often been marked in the early days by a Fifa-backed refereeing clampdown, resulting in various dismissals which have often changed the expected course of a game. This is one reason why I'm expecting a few upsets here, although not as many as in Asia in 2002.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have done a lot of past and recent research and i said it before that only Nigeria has the team to do African proud,strond,maturity with youth,skill,passion and goal which most African team lack right now, the Cameroun team is too sluggish,old and lack ambition,the Ghana team just dont know were they stand and too many over aged players in the Ghana team and in team fighting and jealousy, The Code d Ivorie team is talented but lack organisational team culture and the coach expensive inclusive,the Algeria team is a bunch of misfit and will try to impress, the South Africa team can make the second round.
    Moore, Leeds,Phd

  • Comment number 9.

    Had the World Cup been in the heat of the African summer, I would have shared your confidence for the African teams, but the timing has probably removed their only advantage. I can't see the winner coming from anywhere but Europe or South America.

  • Comment number 10.

    Piers Edwards, why do you think a team that played the finals against Argentina in the last Olympics is not good enough to do well at the World Cup while England has a chance to win the World Cup. Back your argument with facts. Unless you just hate the Nigerians for their guts and .never say die attitude.
    In another BBC page, one of your analyst said a reason to adopt Nigeria during the world cup is because the World Cup will keep the Nigerian fraudsters busy. Why are you guys so harsh to a Country England benefitted so much from and still benefits from.
    Do you doubt the competence of Nigerian Swedish coach? Do you doubt the competence of the Nigerian players? Is England players more competent than the Nigerian players? Be objective in your analysis.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ 4 THEFC6069 says "I'm really at a loss to explain why the Africans have had such a relatively poor showing in the World Cup during its history, despite providing some of the world's best players".

    My comment: What do you make of the role of the officiating against the Africans teams. If officiating have been fair to the African teams, do you not think that African teams would have gone further than the quater-finals?

    Africa is grossly under-represented at the World Cup. Do you expect a continent that do have only 5 teams to have more chances of doing better than Europe with almost 16 teams? In mathematics, what will be the probability of 6/32 and 16/32 getting to the finals. Obviously, the World Cup is an European party with Africans being invited to participate. The Africans dont have a fair chance at all when compared to the Europeans.

  • Comment number 12.

    When African nations start performing consistently well at the world cup then they will be an argument for giving them more places. However what would the point be of giving them more places when they cannot compete as things stand. There is not a single African team capable of beating England in this years world cup and we are by no means the best team there. As England showed by beating Egypt 3-1 in what was a poor English performance at wembley. I hope the African teams do well though and secretly fancy SA and Ivory coast to make the Semi's if results go the right way. The African nations have the support of the whole continent and that cannot be underestimated. It will give them the advantage over middle rank teams like Mexico and Denmark. However when they come up against top opposition like Spain and England i think they may struggle. The exception to this being the Ivory coast who may do something against Brazil (who i think will go out in the group stages). Oh and the only reason i class England in the same bracket as Spain is because of the tactical genius that is Fabio Capello.

  • Comment number 13.

    There's also on 13european sides

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Dennis - the reason I doubt a decent Nigerian performance in this World Cup is because of the far-from-smooth preparations the team has enjoyed. It's my belief that when Eriksson took charge of Ivory Coast, around the same time as Lagerback, he did at least know many of the squad from their high-profile European exploits and just needed to tweak an established side here and there, install some tactical discipline (particularly in defence) and then take it from there.

    But the challenge facing Lagerback appears far greater as the Nigerian team is nowhere near as settled as the Ivorians and the Swede has had desperately little time to effect any real change. Nigeria failed to impress in both World Cup qualifying and the Nations Cup (despite finishing third) and the team's style of play seems far too slow - surely, they would play better and be more entertaining to watch if some pace was injected into their build-up.

  • Comment number 15.

    Decent Blog. Ivory Coast and Cameroon I think will be the only 2 African teams to go past the second rounds and as far as the quarter finals. However no African team will win it because the organization of the other top teams(Spain, England, Brazil) will be too much for them and even though they have raw talent I dont think any of the African teams are the finished product.

  • Comment number 16.

    Every teams chance of winning WC:

    1. Brazil - 23.4%
    2. Spain - 17.0%
    3. England - 10.3%
    4. Netherlands - 9.8%
    5. Argentina - 7.5%
    6. Germany - 5.7%
    7. Italy - 3.7%
    8. France - 3.1%
    9. Uruguay - 2.7%
    10. USA - 2.0%
    11. Paraguay - 1.6%
    --- Portugal - 1.6%
    13. Ivory Coast - 1.5%
    14. Denmark - 1.4%
    15. Australia - 1.3%
    16. Mexico - 1.2%
    17. Serbia - 1.1%
    18. Nigeria - 1.0%
    19. Greece - 0.8%
    20. Japan - 0.7%
    21. Chile - 0.6%
    22. Cameroon - 0.4%
    --- Switzerland - 0.4%
    24. Ghana - 0.3%
    --- Honduras - 0.3%
    26. South Africa - 0.2%
    --- South Korea - 0.2%
    28. Slovakia - 0.1%
    --- Slovenia - 0.1%
    30. Algeria - 0.0%
    --- New Zealand - 0.0%
    --- North Korea - 0.0%


  • Comment number 17.

    11. At 1:28pm on 02 Jun 2010, Dennis wrote:

    What do you make of the role of the officiating against the Africans teams?

    Africa is grossly under-represented at the World Cup.

    The officiating at the World Cup is the same for all the teams. The problem probably lies with the management of those teams not fully understanding and adapting to the FIFA refereeing directives.

    Africa is not under-represented at the World Cup.

    There are 5 African countries in the current Top 31 FIFA-ranked countries, so add the host nation South Africa and you've got your 6 African participants.

  • Comment number 18.

    "There is not a single African team capable of beating England in this years world cup"

    Wait a minute there!....almost any team can beat any another team, in a one-off game. There's been plenty FA cup upsets over the years to confirm that. Even if the chances are 1 in a 1000, there's still a chance!

    You sound so arrogant!

  • Comment number 19.

    Why do English people class England as one of the top teams. English Players are as average as the US or any other team. You cant class England in the same league as Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Ivory Coast. England cannot beat any Sub-Saharan African team, no matter how ill-prepared they are.
    Nigeria may have its football problems, which they have always had in the past. But when it comes to the world cup, they are a different team and difficult to beat. To play a non-African team is much more easier than playing an African team. Ask the Drogbas and Etos, they will tell you than African opposition is far more difficult than European opposition.

    Let fancy a chance of England meeting Ivory Coast, Nigeria or Cameroun and then all the pro-England boasting will end once and for all.

    Which players are there for England to give them a chance to lift the cup, aparts from Ashley Cole?

  • Comment number 20.

    Piers Edwards,
    You are being anti-Nigeria for no obvious reasons. Ivory Coast, cameroun and Nigeria do have the same problems. Nigeria did better in the African Nations Cup than the otherr two African hopefuls, yet they are not given a chance. Nigeria never lost a world cup qualifying match, yet you dont give them a chance among the African teams.
    You make defence for Ivory Coast because you think Sven Erikson knows the players and you think Lars Largebag do not know the Nigerian players. The Coach won the right to coach Nigeria over Sven Erikson and Glen Hoddles because of his knowledge of the Nigerian team. He has done much research and have followed their career in their respective teams.
    Stop being biased and be objective in your analysis. Among the African teams, bar Ivory Coast, which team has good enough players than Nigeria?

    You would have been happier if Nigeria did not even qualify for the world cup. But unfortunately, they keep surprising you guys. Watch out for Osaze and Obasi.

  • Comment number 21.


    nobody is being " anti-Nigeria", more simply stating their chances of lifting the cup. If you truly believe they will win then I whole-heartedly applaud your optimism. But know that it is purely optimism as I think everyone would agree, it is hard to see past the usual suspects ( Brazil, Spain, Italy, Germany and yes even England!) as they are by far and away the most consistent performer. Personally I would like to see holland do well, but would love for England to win!!

    In my opinion you are trying to turn this footballing debate into something entirely different. Please don't!!

  • Comment number 22.

    I know its late but I had a problem signing in, solved now! Why in all the comments about players being left behind is Darren Bent's possible contribution so neglected ....

  • Comment number 23.

    I tend to agree alot wih this guy Dennis. Nigeria have a good squad capable of winning games and a solid spine of their team. They have players with flair like Obasi and Odemwingie. I was suprised and disappointed that Uche was left out. I would give them an outsiders chance at the 1/4 finals. I would agree that there build up is slow and i think it is down to Mikel to speed it up in the midfield.
    I feel that they share the same problem as Ivory Coast and Cameroon that appear to be a team of individuals but admittedly i can only base these predictions on what i seen on at the ACoN as i did not see the WC qualifiers.
    I would give Ivory Coast a chance given players like the Toure bros, Drogba, Gervinho, Keita and Romaric. They have players playing and starting in the top teams in the world and arguably have the best striker in the world so you have to give them a chance.

    re SouthernFairy

    Why are England third favourites - based on what their ability to beat Croatia and Ukraine??

  • Comment number 24.

    23. At 5:04pm on 02 Jun 2010, msteele_2009 wrote:

    Why are England third favourites - based on what their ability to beat Croatia and Ukraine??

    Several reasons, not least being the amount of money punters stake on the participants.

    The more money which is placed on a team, the shorter their odds become.

  • Comment number 25.

    And again Piers you underestimate Nigeria. I remember prior to the Nations Cup in February Nigeria was not among the favourites but got farther than the much touted Cameroon and Ivory Coast earning third place after Ghana and Egypt.
    This is a team that has lost 2 games in the last 2 years and even won France last year in a friendly. The team may not look convincing but it has an air of perseverance about it and keeps grinding out results.
    It is comforting to know that Lagerback chose essentially the same team as previous coach Amodu, so it is still the same team going to the world cup. I expect the team to at least make it out of the group stages and do better than most pundits predict.

  • Comment number 26.

    I love this guy Dennis, blind optimism to the end. Nigeria seem to have a playable group, but I'd say both South Korea and Greece are tough, organised sides that will be difficult to beat. African teams are always overhyped before World Cups, but usually fail to deliver. Is it now or never?

    I still don't believe why many people favour South Africa while writing off both Uruguay and Mexico, who traditionally and consistently do rather well in the WC finals, and who both have some proven players and talent. I believe South Africa have, from their perspective, a horrendous group and all the verve of a host nation may not be enough. All of their group opponents would expect to progress, and all of them would see quarter-finals as a reachable target. It is in fact perfectly expectable that SA will end up without a single point.

    By the way, I have not yet seen anyone suggest that with some bad luck, the underperformers could very well be England. That Round of 16 game against any of Serbia, Germany or Australia could be rather tricky if any of your players get injured during the group stages.

  • Comment number 27.

    Moore (#8): What do you mean Cameroon team is too "old"? Here are the ages for the players likely to see playing time:

    Idriss Carlos Kameni 26
    Benoît Assou-Ekotto 26
    Nicolas N'Koulou 20
    Sébastien Bassong 23
    Stephane Mbia 24
    Alexandre Song 23
    Landry N'Guémo 25
    Achille Emana 28
    Jean Makoun 28
    Eyong Enoh 25
    Georges Mandjeck 21
    Joel Matip 19
    Samuel Eto'o (C) 1 29
    Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting 21
    Pierre Webó 28
    Mohammadou Iddisou 30

    So where do you get Cameroon is "old" from? Or maybe because you see Geremi and R. Song as reserves in the squad?

    Piers. as on, save a couple of adjustments: I think Choupo-Moting will be a revelation in the world cup if Cameroon plays one or two more important games. Also, Cote D'Ivoire can be the one to reach the semis (if they can believe in themselves and shore up their defense a bit more). Finally, the referees will be Africa's downfall - they tend to red card African teams in World Cup a bit more. A red card in a friendly for a soft foul like Eto received yesterday? (never a yellow card offense really, especially not in a friendly!!!).
    Nigeria will surprise...same as South Africa.

  • Comment number 28.

    We Nigerians have a tendency to be blinded by what is before our eyes.I have no doubt about our quality but this is not just age-grade tourney but the world cup.Whatever said i still see Nigeria putting a shocker in the eyes of the Argentines come June 12 but will get out in the second round.The only reason i fancy England is their easy grouping but they'll be sent packing in the Qtr or semi-finals only to start giving excuses like we were red-carded,Rooney injured,wr denied a legitimate penalty etc.I see south-africa & maybe Nigeria making it thru with spain,Italy or Germany. being champions in the haul.That said, ivory coast,cameroon,ghana & whipping boyz Algeria will be mere visitors.

  • Comment number 29.

    Totally agree with djjm2009.Darren Bent was IMO the most shocking omission given Capello's previous statement about picking players who were both playing regularly and playing well. Thought Bent was outstanding this season and honestly believed he would go to SA. Hopefully not a decision Mr. Capello will live to regret.

  • Comment number 30.

    #26 - I fully agree it's possible South Africa could end up without a point, which would make them the first World Cup hosts to never win a game, but at home they have every chance of surprising. Yes, they are taking on some superior sides but many a tournament has shown the power of playing in front of your own fans. So much so in fact that Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has already said that he accepts it as a 'fait accompli' that SA will get through. Could be mind games of course...

    However, obviously you need more than home advantage - and SA have improved drastically since Carlos Alberto Parreira took charge last year. They're getting better with every game, finding their best line-up and will give a good display of themselves whether they make it through or not, which couldn't have been said when the bumbling Joel Santana was in charge.

  • Comment number 31.

    #30 Thanks for a rather enjoyable article and all your answers in the comments.

    I would say that SA won't disappoint if they manage a single win with some nice goals scored. That would be a realistic target, would probably border overachieving and, as you said, would not make them achieve the worst host nation record so far.

  • Comment number 32.

    What do you think the impact, if any, will be, of the idea that South Africans may back England to some degree, and pull against the Netherlands? Just asking--I think there would have been that tendency in the past, not sure it's still true now.

    For surprise, if you can call it that, a good bet would be Germany, Italy, or both. No one seems to like them, and they both win so often.

    Disappointment: the South American teams outside of the big two, and the African teams outside of South Africa. Don't know why, but the South American teams beside Brazil and Argentina rarely seem to do as well as they should. The only African team to make it out of the group stage, I think, will be South Africa. Slovenia will qualify and the US won't, as well.

    I've been more and more impressed with the Netherlands lately.

  • Comment number 33.

    Why in all the comments about players being left behind is Darren Bent's possible contribution...

    Perhaps unfairly, a lot of people think that Bent/Defoe is six of one, half dozen of another.

    The omission which I think is insane is Adam Johnson. You have one (1) left footed attacking player, so you leave him at home? Because he's not a proven international? How is it that one very talented player who starts ahead of one of the team members for his club stays home because he's a question mark in world football, while another (Carrick, to name one) go despite the fact that there's no question he's not an international level player.

    If Johnson had played a dozen games and looked horrible, which would have put him on a par with Carrick, would he have been selected?

  • Comment number 34.

    I believe Nigeria has a pretty good chance of doing well in this World Cup. Media hype (BBC's or any other) has hardly been successful in predicting who would go on the win the tournament, as every WC throws up its own surprises.

    In fact for the last 4 WCs, the pre-tournament favourite(s) have fallen short, with one or two other teams excelling beyond expectations

    USA'94 - Columbia fell short, and Bulgaria and Sweden surprised all

    France 98 - Brazil didnt win, and Spain was disastrous; France won and Crotia excelled beyond expectation

    Japan/Korea 02 - Argentina, France, Portugal and Italy disappointed; Korea, Turkey, Senegal did well, with Brazil winning

    Germany 06 - Argentina, Spain and Brazil disappointed; Italy and France whom few predicted won the tournament

    Nigeria's team contains some of the players who won silver at the Olympics in 08, and also the bulk of which reached 3rd place at the AFCON in January. Hardly the cause for alarm, and the general concensus that there isnt a team in place.

    Enyeama is an experience keeper who played in the Japan/Korea 2002, in the last game against England. In Martins and Yakubu, you have two players who are proven at the highest level. There was a statistic I believe that, between 2003 and 2007, no player apart from Henry scored more goals than Yakubu in the league. Granted, Saha has taken his place in recent times at Everton, but Yakubu is still a decent striker. Better than Heskey or Crouch in my opinion.

    Mikel Obi, who has just won a title with Chelsea, is among the world's best in his position, and you do not play centre midfield for Chelsea if you are not top drawer. Etuhu while not as technically gifted, ran Fulham's mf in their Europa campaign.

    I do have worries about the defence, and I was silently hoping Nedum Onuoha was drafted to provide cover. Adeleye who plies his trade in Holland is a former U-17 WC winner and has very good positional sense and aerial ability. I do worry about Yobo and Shittu, especially against the smaller speedy nippy forwards. Nigeria has one of the best attacking full-backs in Africa in Taiwo who has just won Lique one with Marseille. He needs to work on his tackling and positional sense though.

    Osaze, to whom Spurs and Blackburn have been linked recently is a technically gifted player, who can play wide, behind the strikers or in a support role, and I believe he will shine in this tournament. I remember a Champions League game, Lille vs Man Utd, where Osaze ran the United defence ragged. They had an Osaze goal disallowed, for no valid reason at all, and a Giggs freekick saved Man Utd's blushes.

    Ogbuike and Nsofor are also very good players. Nsofor, on loan from Inter Milan to Malaga (how he will be gutted at missing out on the treble) is well known to Pro-Evolution Soccer players as Obinna, the extremely pacy wing-forward. Though not a clinical finisher, his pace and dribbling ability as an impact sub will be good to see.

    If Lagerback can temper Nigeria's natural skill, strength and flair with tactical discipline, any thing could happen.

    I wonder though, every World Cup, whenever England fall short, the press finds an excuse or a scape goat. Lets start from 90

    Italia 90 - Waddle and Pearce penalty miss
    France 98 - Beckham was villified for the kick on Simeone
    Japan Korea 02 - Beckham was blamed for dodging a tackle, and Seaman was slaughtered by the media for being old, and clumsy
    Germany 06 - Ronaldo was blamed for getting Rooney sent off, even though Rooney committed a stupid foul! Not once, was Wayne "Who can do no wrong"Rooney blamed for stupidly losing control.
    Sven was also blamed.

    Who will be the scape goat this time?

    food for thought.

    Come on you Eagles!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    Its amazing how Peers Morgan seems to have written the Super Eagles off.I respect the fact that its just an opinion,so i'll give mine,The only player i'd take from the England team to the Eagles is Rooney,rest of your squad is pretty average,to think England can win the world cup shows how naive you are.I cant wait for England to crash out of the tournament and watch you guys tear each other apart,and when that happens i'll be the first on your blog laughing at you and the Joker who suggested internet fraud would be down with Nigeria taking part in the world cup.

  • Comment number 36.

    Piers Edwards, have you gone back to research facts about the Nigerian players and their capability?

    Compare that to English players and their capabilities. Also compare facts about Cameroun and Ivory Coast players.

    Why would you give England a chance and consider England a top side and not give Cameroun, Nigeria and Ivory Coast the same chance.

    Aparts from Brazil, Spain and Argentina, every other team is as average as can be. There is no easy team and England will never beat any Sub-Saharan African nation in this world cup. Rooney and Ashley Cole are the only players that can make the African teams because of their power. Ashley Cole for his skills which is as good as that of the Africans.

    Let the World Cup start and then we will see the face of our Eurocentric wives, kids and friends.

    Go Nigeria, Cameroun, Ivory Coast and maybe Ghana. Luck to South Africa and Algeria.

  • Comment number 37.

    From, Hawaii with love to my 2 favorites Europa country's in this soccer tournament England and Italy! good luck and of course my beloved USA!!
    to Rooney!! you are cute and too Gigi! good luck

  • Comment number 38.

    re:34 A thorough and welcome analysis, and finally some facts to back Dennis' hopes up. I do still think Nigeria will have a hard time in their group, and may need more than a little luck to go through. The players, one by one, may have quality, but as far as team organisation and tactics are concerned, well... my bet would be against them. I think the Greeks will just bore and foul them to death and South Korea will manage to hang onto a draw.

    "Mikel Obi, who has just won a title with Chelsea, is among the world's best in his position, and you do not play centre midfield for Chelsea if you are not top drawer."

    Mikel Obi was hardly a world-beater at Chelsea this season. He is a very decent, fit, dedicated squad player, most of the time flying high and, unfortunately, rather wide. Also, I would be surprised if your opinion that Yakubu is better than Crouch would be shared by any other people than Dennis here.


    "Aparts from Brazil, Spain and Argentina, every other team is as average as can be. There is no easy team..."

    I think the likes of New Zealand and North Korea are not to be overestimated, and very few people would agree with you that in the course of a World Cup competition, teams like Germany or Italy are just as "average" as, say, Switzerland or Honduras.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think having watched South Africa at the Confederations Cup last year they seem to have improved a lot now and its shame they did not qualify for the Nations Cup because that would have been a good gauge for them.

    At the time of the draw in December I didn't think they would get out of the group but its looking better now and lets hope they do well and make their nation proud.

    Full time analysis

  • Comment number 40.

    Is this Dennis guy for real?

    While I agree Spain, Brazil and Argentina are the more likely winners, comparing all the other teams as average is just insane.

    I suspect we have a bit of a wind up merchant....

  • Comment number 41.

    Is this Dennis guy for real?

    I suspect we have a bit of a wind up merchant....
    Either that or a seriously deluded individual. Firstly, I am an African and I will back all African teams- Yes, including the Fennecs- to the hilt. I would love to see one of them lift the cup. I will shed tears of joy if any get past the Semis.
    That said, I didnt believe any team from our qualifying group (Nigeria, Tunisia, Mozambique and Kenya) played football worthy of a World Cup. Nigeria are simply the best of the worst, in my opinion. I hope they surprise us like Ghana in 06 but I am not holding my breath.
    It is therefore very disrespectful of you, Dennis, to imply that Piers hates Nigeria and whatever other implication we read from that. I believe its an objective opinion. It is both his right and his job based on his experience and training to offer one. He has not claimed to be a soothsayer or a , how do you put it? a man of power. I think its laughable that Diego Maradona could be in the final but Greece and Italy winning Euro and WC respectively shows that nothing is set in stone.
    My prediction and preference beyond Africa? I will be pleasantly surprised if either England or The Netherlands win it and will be glad if either of the two favourites Brazil and Spain win it also. However, France, Italy or Germany or even Argentina could make us all look like proper dufuses. I hope to enjoy myself in chilly Nairobi evenings and enjoying good/ palatable football even if its the DPRK playing.

  • Comment number 42.

    @ peirs or whatever u call ur self,u know absoluteley nothing about nigerian football.

  • Comment number 43.

    Playing African football is different from playing the world. Playing an African team is different from playing an European team and also different from playing a South American team. It is far more difficult for Nigeria, Cameroun and other top Sub-Saharan African teams to play any Sub-Saharan African team that an European team. Ask the top players such as Eto, Drogba, Yekini, Okocha, Roger Milla and co.
    That said, that Nigeria found it difficult qualifying in their group shows that it was difficult. At the end, Nigeria did not loose a match.
    Nigeria have got the same problem as it is with Ivory Coast and Cameroun. So Piers Edwards cannot single out Nigeria as being the only team in a hopeless situation. He has never written anything good about Nigeria anyway.
    For the African Nations cup, Piers Edwards wrote all the nonsense about the Nigerian team but Nigeria still fumbled till the semis and did better than Ivory Coast and Cameroun who are in the good books of Piers Edwards.
    The teams to beat are Spain, Brazil and Argentina. To imagine that England is good enough to win the world cup is sheer foolishness. England is not better than any of the African teams. Unless Piers Edwards believe that England will have the officiating behind them, which the African teams wont be lucky to have.
    But among the African team, Nigeria are as strong as Cameroun and Ivory Coast and these three are the strongest and Africas best hopes.
    Piers Edwards is not any better than African soccer pundits. He writes as his hearts tells him which manifest in his reguler anti-Nigerian stand (which is a general BBC stand).

  • Comment number 44.

    Thank you Dennis for defending our great country Nigeria,we're disliked outside our shores but its cool,cus we'll keep striving, keeping the haters guessing.Piers Edwards claims to be a veteran journalist who's been covering African football for over a decade,but its clear he's just an hopeful England fan with biased views,to write us of so quickly and heap praise on Ivory coast and Cameroun who fumbled in the last nations cup shows the magnitude of his intellect.

  • Comment number 45.

    RedWhiteandermBlue - re. the South Africans supporting England, well, that's a no-brainer. The Premier League is extremely popular here and some South African fans will be rooting more for Rooney, Gerrard etc. than their own team. However, the second team for most South Africans is actually Brazil - as this fascinating poll will show you:

    Dennis - to suggest I'm anti-Nigerian because I don't think the Super Eagles will do well is rather disingenuous. It's a simple opinion based on my own beliefs. I have a looming blog on Nigeria coming up where I'll expound my reasons further but in the meantime, please don't suggest I'm anti-Nigeria just because I think your boys will underperform!

  • Comment number 46.


    I feel so sorry for you for being villified by so many people, even being branded a "hater" just for giving your opinions to questions asked by other people.

    I enjoyed the entry and your insights though.

    Of course, as an English, I'm rooting for England to win, by blind hope - since it IS the World Cup... and we should only hope for the best (without sounding too condesending of course) and cheer our lungs out for our lads and country no?.

    Admittedly, from Argentina's group, Nigeria and S.Korea, in my opinion, will be fighting hard for the 2nd spot. I reckon, whoever does better against Greece, will qualify - since Greece play around some obstinate defence based football. Because I'm ethnically asian, I'm betting on S.Korea to qualify through 2nd place, though.

    As for Ivory Coast and Portugal's group - I also think this will be a tough one to predict. Brazil should win all 3 matches, albiet in a less fashionable way than they have been with Dunga at the helm. I reckon the Elephants should win comfortably against North Korea, while the Portugese might just pull off a 1 goal win against them. In this case, I guess it really boils down to the match between Portugal and Ivory Coast... and if Cristiano does turn up for his country like he has for Madrid and United, then I believe Portugal might just win it.

    Back to England: do you reckon we will be playing Joe Cole off Rooney as we did for 30minutes against Japan? Or would he revert back to the semi-442 formation with Crouch and Rooney up front? How do you think we will fare against the USA, Algeria or Slovenia? I'm in the opinion that as long as we confidently win against the USA, we will win the lot. I'm also further predicting that we will meet the Serbians in the last 16, French at the QF, Brazil at the Semis and Spain/Argentina for the Finals. Thoughts?

  • Comment number 47.

    I agree with Dennis one hundred percent on his conclusions about Piers Edwards. Although to be fair I think Mr Edwards probably does not know enough about Nigerian football to know that the Super Eagles and Nigerian age group teams dazzle and impress most when they have been written off. The last Olympics where they narrowly lost the gold to a Messi inspired Argentina is a case in point. They actually won the Olympics Gold, defeating the mighty Brazil with all their world cup stars (Ronaldo, Bebeto, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, etc, ditto-Argentina with their world cup stars) in 1996 and they have previously won the African Nations cup twice as well as other global tournaments. I believe they will "shock" pundits like Mr Edwards in the next two months by going really really far (maybe even all the way). As for England, who knows where I can place a bet that they will definitely not win the world cup as I am happy to take up any opportunity to make easy returns on earnings. They are no hopers, though I expect them to win the group but to go out in the quarters.

  • Comment number 48.

    @Eze and Dennis

    Piers is just expressing his candid view and is clearly not anti-Nigerian. We must not as Nigerians vilify him for his comments even if we disagree. This is a platform where we can also express our opinion and depict our version of our beloved Super Eagles the way we see fit.
    In the spirit of sportsmanship please restrain from belittling the chances of teams from other nations as it will do our argument no good. We need only remind the world of the strength of our team and not the failings of others.
    Every country going to the world has a statistical chance of winning it. No analysis however thorough or lopsided can change this fact. Right now as it stands before kick off it is anyone's cup, and this is the beauty of football.

  • Comment number 49.

    piers edward you are clearly anti-nigeria. what dennis is trying to say is that how came piers edward is so confident that ivory coast and ghana can do well but not nigeria. look at cameron, so far they have played three games
    1 against georgia, against slovakia and against portugal they draw two and lost 1. if you look at their defense it is weak, midfield is full of defensive midfilders and forward has a faded etoo. in nations cup they were badder than nigeria, so edwards how are they better than nigeria. the reason why nigeria curse their team too much is because we have no okocha, but that's not enough reason to say cameroun is better because cameroun and ivory coast also lack a playmaker. nigeria was in beijing olympics in 2008 where was cameron,ghana and ivory coast. anyway i still thinks nigeria have the best squad on paper going to world cup they are even better than the ivorians i douth if any african team can stand this 11


    odiah...... afolabi..... adeleye..... taiwo.....


    osaze.... haruna...... obinna...

    martins.... obasi...

    contrary to the belief that nigeria main man is yakubu,kanu,yobo or utaka the 4 of them are old and useless they are not rated at all in nigeria. even england cannot win this 11 this players are mostly the players that played in olympics

  • Comment number 50.

    Nigeria to go all the way, and all the pundits and bookies in the world got it totally wrong this time, eh? Arguing about football is lovely. Reminds me of a quote I heard the other day:

    "Facts are meaningless. They can be used to prove anything."

  • Comment number 51.

    Piers Edwards,
    I say you are anti Nigerian because of your analysis without any fact.
    Ivory Coast and Cameroun have the same problem with Nigeria, you gave them a chance and not Nigeria. Accepted that Ivory Coast have better high profile players, do they have the depth the Nigerian team has?
    Your reason for Ivory Coast doing better than Nigeria is because Sven Erikson knows the players from their clubs. But the same Sven Erikson applied for the Nigerian job which was given to Lars Lagerba... Why did you not take the pains to know why Lars Lagerba..was appointed ahead of Sven Erikson and your own Glen Hoddles. It is because Lars is very technical and have been folwoing the team since 2002. He showed that he knew the Nigerian team, player to player in 2002 to be able to beat Nigeria with a less capable Swedish team, which a high profile England team with Beckham could manage a draw.
    You predicted the same thing againts Nigeria at the nations cup. They played badly and got to the semis where they out-played Ghana, though lost through Ghanas only attempt. Where was Ivory Coast and Cameroun who were your favourite.You still think these three West African teams stand a chance than Nigeria.
    You refused accepting that Nigeria never lost a match during the first round and second round of the world cup qualifier. You did not think that the only reason why they struggled is because Tunisia is also a good team and a power house in African football. Did Cameroun not loose to small Gabon. Do you think Nigeria will loose to Gabon? The worst is a draw, like they got against Mozambique, who outplayed them in Mozambique.
    Have you seen a Nigerian team appearing on the world stage and fail to do well. Nigerians have a mental attitude of wanting to do well, no matter the odds. Have you heard the phrase wobble and fumble but get to the finals.
    The Nigerian team have done well in all world cup they attended, in Olympics and age grade competition because they know how to play the Europeans than the Africans. They beat the Europeans easily than the Africans. That was why in 1998 World cup, Nigeria beat much favoured Spanish team 3-2.
    Because you have always predicted doom for Nigerian football, that is why I call you anti-Nigerian. Take time to study the players character and their history. Which Nigerian player do you doubt?
    You think England stand a chance? You got two own goal against Japan in your last friendly. Is the English team as good as the Ivory Coast? is the English players as good as the Ivorian players? Why do you think England has a chance to lift the cup and not Ivory Coast. Is Wayne Rooney half as good as Drogba. If Wayne is injured, who plays for England in their one man team? Why do you think England can play Cameroun or Nigeria? I wont include Ghana because of the Essein being out.
    You need to be objective if you want to be a good journalist and avoid doing what other BBC journalist do, hate Nigeria because of fraud offence of few Nigerians when millions of Nigerian doctors, university teachers and solicitors (which I am one) contribute to your british economy more than your own British citizens.
    One of you wrote that a reason to adopt Nigeria is because the Eagles will be in your inbox and keep the fraudsters busy. What a shame for BBC, mixing football with the crime of a few individual. On Wednesday, a taxi driver shot many people but killed 12 people among whom are his twin brother, his solicitor and colleague. Should we support England because football will keep the English, whom most of them are serial killers, busy?
    Please, sanction your colleagues to concentrate on football matters only when talking football.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Dennis your a very intelligent man,you've said everything needed to be said,thank you.

  • Comment number 54.

    "Most English are serial killers"

    This Dennis guys sounds a bit mental.

    I actually think Nigeria will do better than any of the other African teams, but some of the things Dennis is saying are just stupid.

    Piers is a journalist. Paid to give his opinion. His opinion is that Nigeria won't do as well as Ivory Coast, etc. Fair enough. If he is proven to be wrong then you can come back on here and laugh at him. But to say he is anti-Nigerian just because he doesn't think they will do that well is just bonkers.

  • Comment number 55.

    Nigeria are dreadful. Some decent athletes but no creativity, no poise and, barring a slim chance of qualifying ahead of South Korea/Greece, no chance. I saw them in the African Cup of Nations and the fact that they got into the semi's tells you all you need to know about the complete lack of quality these days in African football (although Ghana did impress me).

    Just because Piers does not rate a team particularly highly does not mean he is "anti" them.

  • Comment number 56.

    no 19-dennis. AShley Cole is not Englands best chance of helping them win the world cup, have you heard of a guy named wayne rooney!

  • Comment number 57.

    Dennis I'd say you are more anti-english than Piers is anti-nigerian.

  • Comment number 58.

    @dennis. I think your accusations are well out of order. Surely everyone is entitled to their opinion on everyteam! You come across rather arrogant and what is even more shocking is you have absoultely no reason to be so! The current nigerian team is dire and thats a FACT!! Surely they can spring a suprise (any team can spring a suprise) but I wouldnt go on bragging to all and sundry like you are.Your are constituting an embarassment to all Nigerians and I think u better stop this nonsense NOW!!!!

    My apologies to Piers on behalf of this igonrant tool!

    From: true nigerian fan

  • Comment number 59.

    You keep insisting that Piers be 'objective'. A touch ironic I think, as you 'objectively' claim that Nigeria are better than England. 'Objectively', by any possible criteria, for example, FIFA world rankings, previous world cup performance, number of players who ply their club football at the highest level, that is not the case. Nobody here has professed even the merest hint of anti-Nigerianism, and yet you have peppered your peculiar rhetoric with anti-English sentiments. 'Objectively' I would say that you need to look up the meaning of the word 'objective'. Peace out

  • Comment number 60.

    FIFA world ranking dont mean a thing. At present, Cameroon and Nigeria are ranked higher than Ivory Coast, but Ivory Coast have got the more high profile players than this two teams.
    I have followed Piers Edwards blog since before the Nations cup and he never gives the Nigerian team a chance, yet they keep going further than other teams he rates higher. If you read through my posting, I think Ivory Coast have got more high profile player while Cameroon and Nigeria are at par. The three nations have the same pre-world cup problems, but which team has more depth.
    Now, why would Piers Edwards think England has a chance to win the world cup when England is a one man team? Can England beat Ivory Coast? Is Rooney as good as Drogba. Why does he or other BBC pundits write-off Africans and think England has a chance, when England is not as good as Ivory Coast and is not better than Cameroon and Nigeria? That is what I expect him to educate us and be objective about it.

  • Comment number 61.

    Dennis mate, Piers is entitled to his opinion, and respectfully he has not said anything 'anti' or hateful, it's a fair assessment based on his observations. Everyone has different views on which team will do well and which won't, you don't see any Portuguese fans here accusing Piers of being anti Portugal simply becuase he thinks they'll underperform?

    You can disagree with Piers, nothing wrong with that, but don't falsely accuse him of some bizarre things ('You would have been happier if Nigeria did not even qualify for the world cup') based on what he has written here, he's even replied to you to say he is not being anti Nigeria.

    On the topic of the World Cup, deeply excited, I am expecting African teams to do well, got my eyes on Ivory Coast, they have a number of game changing players like Drogba. I think Spain will win looking at their outstanding squad, and going to SA as Euro 08 winners. Hopefully England will do well, I'm still unconvinced by what I've seen during qualifying.

  • Comment number 62.

    Because of Dennis I now actively want Nigeria to do badly, as opposed to merely thinking they would based on the talent of their squad.

    I'd be surprised if they got past the 2nd round and they certainly won't get past the Quarters.

  • Comment number 63.

    Spain do have very good players, probably the best squad in the World Cup, but they have never won the World Cup and are favourites. I think that puts a hell of a lot of pressure on them - in a similar way to the Netherlands team of the 70's. I think most people would argue that the combination of excellent players and the "Total Football" the Dutch displayed back then stood a better chance than this current Spain squad - but they failed.

    Spain have only won the European Championship twice and the past shows us that winning the Euros doesn't mean you will win the following World Cup (neither does having the strongest squad).

    Incidentally the first time Spain won the Euros was in 1964 - and we know what happened in '66 - COME ON ENGLAND!!

    Finally I think Maradona's tactical naivety - and general poor management (he can't even get the best out of MESSI!) will negate the strength of his squad and result in him letting Argentina down badly. The discipline of Greece and S. Korea and the endeavour of Nigeria will, I believe, see them on the first flight home.

  • Comment number 64.

    yo dennis 60.
    England have a much better all-round team than ICoast... Nigeria have a few star players but recently have been underperforming.

  • Comment number 65.

    It is great to be passionate about your nation and it can be important to defend it, but i think Dennis should be avoiding using a recent national tragedy as part of his argument. It renders all of his other comments pointless.

  • Comment number 66.

    I can't believe some of the absolute rubbish on this board today. Let's face it we all have different opinions on who will the World Cup. The African Nations are improving all the time because of them playing within the top European leagues however many of these players play as individuals not as a team and so thats why they have failed so far to make a real impact, and therefore have less participants at the competion than Europe.
    As for people slagging off England, I have to say that's quite funny. England have some of the best players in the world, some of which are being linked to the most successful club side in the world, Real.
    And for those who think Darren Bent should go have not seen him play, only just looked at his stats. He is an absolute waste of space who misses considerably more than he scores and can't control a ball. However is he worse than Emile Heskey - I think not as Emile is ok everywhere but in the box. At the moment English football does not have a dearth of talent upfront, and other than Rooney there is not a world class striker.
    And my opinion who will win the world cup - Brazil, Spain or Germany. Yes I know Germany they look another average side but as usual they will turn up and perform in competion mode.

  • Comment number 67.

    To Iavgotashout
    Your claim that England have a better all round team than Ivory Coast is not true because you can not prove it .What makes you think that England have a better team than the African teams ? is it because of the English league ahhahaha ? Or what BBC is telling you ?

  • Comment number 68.

    Piers Edwards is entitled to his opinion about Nigeria,who knows he may be right at the end of the day,but it wouldn't hurt for Piers and his BBC colleage's to occasionally be optimistic about Nigeria,i'm willing to report some of the positive sporting stories out of Nigeria on this site if that would help the BBC with thier reporting,on the comments written by the BBC blogger suggesting internet fraud would be down due to Nigeria's involvment in the world cup,its unbelivable to think the BBC would allow that on their website.

  • Comment number 69.

    "37. At 00:52am on 03 Jun 2010, Kamalanii wrote:
    From, Hawaii with love to my 2 favorites Europa country's in this soccer tournament England and Italy! good luck and of course my beloved USA!!
    to Rooney!! you are cute and too Gigi! good luck


    I have made the schoolboy error of booking a holiday in Hawaii with the missus when the World Cup is being played. Not that I don't want to go to Hawaii of course, but I can't miss the World Cup! How easy will it be to watch the football in bars/hotels etc? Will it be on cable channels?

    Can I come to your house?!!!

    I will bring beer!!!

  • Comment number 70.

    FAO of Dennis

    As of 2008 Englands record against african nations is as follows:

    VS Cameroon: Played 4 Won 3 Drawn 1 Goals For 9 Goals against 4

    VS Egypt: Played 2 Won 2 Goals 5 Goals Against 0

    VS Morrocco: Played 2 Won 1 Drawn 1 Goals For 1 Goals Against 0

    VS Nigeria: Played 2 Won 1 Drawn 1 Goals for 1 Goals against 0

    VS South Africa: Played 2 Won 2 Goals for 4 Goals Against 2

    VS Tunisia: Played 2 Won 1 Drawn 1 Goals for 2 Goals against 1

    Total Record against African Teams (up to 2008)

    Played 14 Won 10 Drawn 4 Goals for 22 Goals Against 7

    You wanted some evidence that England could beat the African Nations at this years World Cup?

  • Comment number 71.

    @ 63

    Very good points about Spain, but I think that not only have they got a great squad, but they play as a team. The backbone of the defence and midfield: Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Puyol have played together in the Barca team for years now. Villa and Torres are simply world class and they also have 3 outstanding goalkeepers (Valdes, Reina, Casillas).

    Of course I'm not suggestion winning the Euros will lead to winning the World Cup as well, I'm just saying that this team have tasted success finally, confidence will be high, and they have shown themselves to be capable of going all the way.

  • Comment number 72.

    I am a first time blogger, but passionate PL follower.

    Like everyone else, the WC2010 fever, I too am engulfed but this time around in a realtic way. I am an African an Eritrea, Ethiopian, an Addis Ababan and what not. I grew up loving Ipswich on top of my love to the Ethiopian team (Ayer MenGed = Air Lines) in the mid & late 70's, and others in the 80's. But, my naive love to English clubs & Western society in general came to end when I first came face-to-face to the Western world & culture in Aug of 1986. The then West Berlin revealed to me the very ugly reality how the Western world see us, treats us, us the most brutally, tragically pinned down human fellows. Never became the same since. a rude awakening and never became the same. I was angry at our, Africans, naivety for loving the English clubs so deep and the western cultue that millions of naive Africans still do, sadly.

    from this blog, I particularly see two groups that are blindingly, with no sound reason, or realism attack Phil. simply, passion & ignorance, prejudice & bias appear to chain them down.

    they are the brits & the Nigerians.

    Sure, we all are biases in many ways that we can't see & admit. we have it deep in us. it is etched in us, in our blood, bones, flesh and soul.
    We, humans, are the worst creatures on this achingly beautiful mother-earth.

    The bias Brits completely see the artistic, talent, potential of ONLY the English team, then other European teams, and then South Americans. it is hard for them to see the African talent and can you blame a soul that has not been on the other side?

    The Nigrians are the worst African fans who simply are blinded by ignorance and refuse to swallow the bitter pill and accept -facts on the ground!-

    Matter of factly, Africa's failure is not on the field, the physical power. it is on the mind-set. We let the world saturate us with the -everything- that they do to keep us deep down there.

    Otherwise, we, like everyone are humans with power, brain and what stop is from having a mind, a physical power that others possess. the difference, our space & time is saturated and ripped off so we focus NONE! and see a bigger horizon.

    we have NO space & time to bring the BEST in us. we are too saturated with how they label us and the ego that they inflate in us.

    I had been a huge fan & follower of soccer and I was convinced Africa had a chance with Nigeria in 1994 & 1998 and once more in 2000 with Senegal.

    Africa produced the most dynamic. capable, confident, powerful in 1994, 98, 00. However, as I said, that same -ugly, corrupt- mind-set not having a depth understanding of how this world see us as humans shadows their conscience to win and win it all!

    so, Nigerians & Brits get a grip and be realstic. Both Nigeria & England have NO chance, the way I see it. I wait and be proved wrong. No exceptional talent & power that get them win it or advance far enough.
    No African team to make it either. Our best chance was '94, '98, '00.

    Best of luck for each team.

  • Comment number 73.

    @ 71

    I agree with your points about the strength of the Spain squad and their ability to play as a unit. As a betting man though, I would steer clear of the favourites for this World Cup.

    Spain could win it consecutive to the Euros - France did it in '98 and 2000. The only thing with France is they won the World Cup first and they had less pressure on them as they were largely dismissed as one of the main contenders having never won it before. They were also the tournament hosts.

    Which brings me to another point... The first (and only) time France won it, they hosted it (in '98). The first time Argentina won it was in Argentina (in '78). England '66 (nuff said). You have to go back to Brazil in Sweden (1958!) to break the trend and that was only the 5th World Cup! Also the first two were hosted by Uruguay and Italy and won by the hosts. (Germany first won it in Switzerland which is pretty much their own back yard)

    My conclusion is - as I can't see SA winning it (quarters maybe) I expect one of the previous winners to.

  • Comment number 74.

    Also a point about Brazil...

    Could Dunga's management style (setting his team up to be difficult to beat) and his squad selection (probably fewer flair players than we have seen in a Brazil squad) take away the unpredictability which can strike fear into teams, score a vital goal from nothing or overrun a team with wave after wave of attacking football?

    They are also in possibly the toughest group they have ever been in at a World Cup.

    Kaka has not had the best of seasons by his high standards (pretty high still, by most players standards), everyone knows about Robinho's form, Luis Fabiano is no Ronaldo, Pele or Romario, Elano and Baptista are the other attacking midfield players - are they world class?

    Strangely the Brazil goalkeeper and defence seem to be the strongest part of the team - admittedly with Kaka the star man.

    Would marking Kaka man for man remove the majority of Brazils threat? I can't see Luis Fabiano creating something without supply like Ronaldo could. Admittedly the wing backs are class which provides something going forward.

    You'd be a fool to rule Brazil out but does this management style - which the Brazil fans openly dislike - level the playing field for the the other teams? Usually we go into a world cup admiring the wealth of unpredictable, creative and attacking talent in their squad. I'm not sure about this year...

    Any thoughts?

  • Comment number 75.

    This is probably the best Q&A blog for the world cup that I've read on this site so far. Just one problem -
    "In addition, they should feel fairly at home in South Africa with no language barrier (the last time England contested a World Cup in an Anglophone-speaking country was, incidentally, 1966)"

    Language barrier should never be a problem, as so many people in all the countries that have hosted the world cup since '66 have spoken English. It's just another omen we can place our hopes on, just like North Korea being in the World Cup.

    I've watched Nigeria a lot and I'm not sure - on their day they could stage a major upset, because lets face it, they're not in the list of favourites, but I have been impressed with some goals they scored at the 2008 Olympics - however that was 2008, and I'm not sure about now. I hope they do well because it would be nice to see an African team do well, but who knows what will happen?

    My tip for the group of death is Brazil and North Korea ;D

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 73 pne33
    How many world cup mathces have England played with African teams. How may world cup matches have England played with Nigeria.
    England takes friendly matches seriously. They play friendly matches as if it is a competitive match. The African side dont take friendly matches serious. The big stars dont turn up to play friendlt matches in Africa. Friendly matches is used to test the fringe players who are yet to tie down a position in the National team. Thatis the attitutde of the Nigerian and Cameroun national teams and most African teams. So, when England turn up with their best players in a friendly, we parade our 3rd eleven to compete with England best.

    Ivory Coast have got better players than England in all ramification.

    I have never said Nigeria has the potential to win the world cup. But, I know that England is not a better team than Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast. So for Piers Edwards to give England a chance of winning the world cup ahead of a team like Ivory Coast is unprofessional. I accuse him of being anti-Nigerian because he has never written any thing positive about Nigeria even before the nations cup.

    I am very objective about my analysis. England is at par with the African teams of Cameroon and Nigeria. Ivory Coast is slightly ahead, but because of injury to Drogba, they may have problems.The English do write off France, but France inspite of their poor showing is a better side than England.

    The favourites should be Brazil, Argentia, Spain.

    England, Holland, Cameroun, France, Nigeria, Germany, Italy, Ivory Coast (without Drogba)and the East Europeans are in the same league. England without Rooney will find it difficult being in this league.

    Greece, Algeria, USA, South Africa, Ghana (without Essein)are in the same league. Maybe the Asian teams can compete here.

    The English fans only assess football from watching the English league and do not seems to know that the French league is dominated by Africans. Maybe, that is Piers Edwards major disability and therefore lack the knowledge of African football.

    Apology for mixing football with the recent taxi driver shooting in North of the UK. That is also the stupidity of a BBC analyst suggesting that internet fraud will be reduced because of the world cup.

    Let focus on football matters.

    It is a pity that Micheal Essein, Micheal Ballack, Mikel Obi, Arjen Robben and maybe Didier Drogba will be missing from the world cup. My favourites were Essien and Drogba. I had put so much hope on them and will realy miss them both. Both of the players cannot be replaced by anyone and therefore will be missed by their teams. My consolation is that Mikel can be replaced easily.

    Eto must play safe during warm up training, so also must speedstar Obafemi Martins.

  • Comment number 77.

    I completely understand everyone has their own view on who will do well or not, even though sometimes we might not agree. Yes Dennis I agree with you in some aspects of what you are saying. But I feel you are taking your anger on Piers Edwards opinion and views.

    I agree with what you said about some BBC journalist bring some relevant issues to football. One BBC journalist actually did say, to adopt Nigeria is because the Eagles will be in your inbox and keep the fraudsters busy. Why would you say something like that and expect some Nigerian not to get offender. But Dennis it is wrong to bring tragic events like the 12 people who was killed into this. If you want to bring another event but not that.

    England does have a shot at wining the world cup but that is on paper, they have class players that cannot play well together.Although I feel Piers Edwards knows completely jack all about Nigerian football and has not even any significant fact of reason why he think Ivory Coast and Ghana has a better chance than Nigeria. We have not been playing well true but Ivory Coast even with their high profile players couldn't get to the semi-finales the African cup of Nations.

    And Ghana did play well with out their stars and did beat us although we outplayed them with their only chance won the game, it just shows football anything can happen.
    People on here saying Nigerians fan are arrogant and deluded needs to think first before opening your mouth. So you are going to tell me your not a die hard fan off your own country and no one in your own country is arrogant.

    this guy Piers Edwards is not anti-Nigerian believe me he is just arrogant. so what if the Premier League is extremely popular in Africa so your telling me no English person will be supporting Brazil instead of England. You can not come up with stupid replies like that. You make me laugh when you say fans will be rooting more for Rooney, Gerrard etc.So no one should support any team in the premier league. lool
    Dennis lets wait and see what Spain, Argentina, England and the other big names will do. Rio Ferdinand is now injured if anything go wrong they will blame it on him saying it was because he gotten injured lol

    I love England because England is my second home. anyone who is reading this, do not think I hate English people in anyway. But I just feel sometimes they come out with the funniest things without knowing facts about a opponent.

    Its really not that hard to know who will win the world cup. It is the team who plays the most convincing football which Nigeria has lack but has pull out results.

    Most EUROPEAN teams will always have a advantage over African team and players because they are use to playing in big competitions. What I really want to see is when they step into Africa and experience the atmosphere.


  • Comment number 78.

    African teams beware of refereeing , Same faults of the same magnitude the one commited by an african should be sanction ,that comitted by a European should n't be sanction .One reason why African teams won't progress will be because of bias match officials Its very clear that its going to happen at the world cup we can't do anything to prevent it .Shame to fifa .

  • Comment number 79.

    This time around African footballers are better prepared to face their rivals on the African stage. No team can afford to take them lightly. A maximum number of African teams could proceed to the next stage. World Cup on the African continent is their chance and they will grab it with both hands. Visiting teams cannot afford to take the African factor lightly. Best wishes to the footballers and fans of all the teams out there in South Africa.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 80.

    i have learnt a lot on this could cause world war 3 if we are not careful.Pier overstep his journalistic boundary by his fraudster accusation of Nigeria and Dennis using everything to fight back is a bit harsh on other English gentlemen.
    Back to football, if am to judge by the recent freindlies being played,the Dutch would be in the semi finals(all semi-finalists could be champion).England has one the best league in the world but the foreign players makes it like that not the English players, I see them getting to the Quarters not beyond.
    Among the Africans, S.A could spring a surprise considering the home support they would enjoy.In'96 nations cup and the last confederations cup the crowd really make the big difference for them(it was even hard for Brazil to beat them).
    Nigeria could breath hot or cold depending on some inexpliable force,on their day they could blow Brazil away and could be beaten by a pub team on their day off,but I still believe the Africans will give everyone a run for their money.
    In conclusion,suspensions and injury will play a big part in whoever would be CHAMPION.

  • Comment number 81.

    I've been saying for months that Capello is a fraud and the quality of play of the England team is no different to what was obtained under Sven and Mclaren,and its begining to show.I'd like to say that i think England will probably have a shocker at this world cup and may go out in the group stages,what do you think Piers?

  • Comment number 82.

    @80....You got the issue of Nigeria spot on...We do blow hot & cold without being provoked & that explains why we will be on the plane back home quickly...I have no doubt about the quality of the English teams but i don't see that spirit of true champions in them...

    This comments by piers & the subsequent back-clash really makes me sick.Its more pathetic because most people in europe hardly travel across Africa to see how things are & are often consumed by what the hear from the media...AS a Nigerian resident in UK, i have never heard about the thousands of English men benefiting from thieving from the Delta crude & its subsequent exportation to Europe through the international sea...The sins committed by this group of persons are well known & kept under by the media who instead will want to publish negative articles about the macabre Nigerian state whose citizenry & striving to still eek out subsistence in the 21st century .Whatever said, i still think we should keep all this crap politics outside footballing issues & try to enjoy the world cup & its thrills..

  • Comment number 83.

    Too much nastiness has crept in to this Q&A.

    Let us be clear, if you think Nigeria are going to do great things so be it. On the balance of seeing Nigeria play over the last 4 years I have my doubts. I do not think the 2010 Nigeria team is as good as the teams from the 1990's. And those teams were only good enough to reach the last 16.
    The key game to Nigeria's hopes of advancing from the group stage is the second game versus Greece. Sadly, I think Nigeria will not advance from the Group stages-2 draw and a loss is my prediction. The problem with this Nigerian team is I feel if the opposition gets the first goal, Nigeria seem to lose the discipline. Nigeria's strength is defence and attacking set pieces. A challenging side to play against, but one that you feel you can get a result from.

    The simple statistics tell us that England have consistently made the second round stages in 6 of the last 7 World Cup's and made the last 8 in 3 of the last 5. Far more consistent than Nigeria-or any other African nation. In fact England are pretty difficult to eliminate-penalty shoot-outs are the most consistent cause of elimination.
    You can do well at all the age-grouping championships and Olympics you like, but the facts are no Nigerian team as gone on to repeat that success at senior level-which is ultimately where teams are assessed. Using the excuse that match officials are against African teams is as cliched and predictable as Englands excuses of poor officiating.

  • Comment number 84.

    @83 Tigermilkboy
    Nobody said Nigeria is going to win the cup.The argument is that the team is capable of anything. On a good day, they can do very well and on a bad day, they will disappoint. Do you write off such a team? No. Because it could be their day and they surprise book makers. The players are good individually, just like any other team out there, including English players, but do have their problems like Ivory Coast, Cameroon and England. Good individually in their clubs and under-perform while playing for country (which is applicable to England, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and cameroon)

    Your argument based on England history has nothing to do with the present and the quality of opposition. England of 1966 set is not the same team today. Infact, the England team of 2002 is much better than the England team of 2010, while the Nigerian team of 2010 is better than the Nigerian team of 2002. In 2002, England with Beckham and co could only manage a draw against an under-strength Nigerian side at the 2002 World cup.

    England may have all the history behind them, but the England team to the 2010 world cup is not as good as Ivory Coast team to the 2010 World cup, and it is not better than the Nigerian or Cameroon teams to the 2010 World cup. Look at the English team, Ledley King, Crouch, Dafoe, Emiley Heskey, Caraga of Liverpool, James, are these not average players who would not make the Ivory Coast team.

    Having said this, England chance is as good as Cameroon and Nigeria. England is an average second rate team like the African teams. They are not in the class of Spain, Argentina and Brazil, who are my favourites.

    If you ask English men on the street of London. They will tell you honestly that England stand no chance. Always excuse of being cheated by the hand of God, penalty shoot-out, red card to Rooney etc. One English friend of mine said, if England is good, they should have been 4 nil up before any excuse of penalty against them.

    I have maintained that my favourites are Spain, Argentina and Brazil. Nigeria, like you rightly explained, is unpredictable and a difficult team to play againts or beat. They may do well and they maynot do well, just like England may do well and may not do well.

    End of the debate till match day.

  • Comment number 85.

    since as long as I rememebr touching that ball as a little kid, I vivdily remember in the -heat-of-the-moment, we, humans end up at each other's throat when our INDIVIDUAL passion for sports, politics, ..what not.. find themselves in a perpendicular mode to one another's.

    Simply our reasons totally collapse at that moment. It fails to find its spot in the inner of us. our blind-spots of bias, prejudice, racism and etc .. simply overpower, saturate our reason & judgement.

    TRUE, we, Africans, find ourselves cornered against this world, and it is not this world's fault -in its entirety-. Let us face it. Our sportsmen are breeds of our politicians, the insidious, visionless, unDignified, tasteless, animals.

    Even, the Egyptians who do not consider themselves as Africans REFUSED (read History ...) to play their "shoeless" Africans

    Even, in the Dawn of 21st century, we expect some miracles that suddenly our sportsmen, the PLUTOCRACYs' breeds become suddenly responsible, accountable to the ordinary massess emotion and pride.! Give me a break!

    They are Like father-like-son.

    Look how good Egypt's organizational structure than any other African nations. they are, may be, right to refuse to be labeled as Africans since the failure, the self failure, the failure to hold our black ass accountable is just too much for them to be stashed in the same DARK closet.

    so, Nigerians fans, leave Piers alone!

    The man could be a "racist or prejudice" if he had been, would you be surprised? if you do then that says something about you and just yourself. you ain't knowing the A, B, C of this freaking world and us the cruel humans. it is about might is right! Tell the African leaders to empower their people and become proud in themselves first. How in the world can an African kill himslelf just b/c Arsenal loses!? How IDIOT can we get to be to Loving (admirin is onething) & replicating, trying to be those who hates and disdain us!? How Idiot are we for Heaven's sake!

    so Get this my African brother, if Nigeria, by all miracles and probablity advances to the 2nd round, then that would be where the buck stops for it.

    Nigeria simply had its best, dynamics in the 1994 & 98 players. The likes of Okocha failed, and you expect from these...? Heaven must let its rains pour in the middle of July.

    so, how about this until, we Africans clean up our own mind-set to dismantle all the outer & inner chains that have chained us so bad then, you the West Africans dominate soccer in Africa and we the East Africans kick your & the Western world butt in long distance running. How about that!? :-)

    we, Eritreans/Ethiopians and our brothers from Kenya are surely kicking the Brits/Germans butt and why can't that be applied in Soccer!? simply, we are a collective failure while as individuals can shine like any human being. B/c we are created equal with the same mental & physical dynamism.

    so just wait for the games and go -game-by-game! and enjoy, cry if you want. I have, fortunately, stashed my emothions after the 2002 Senegal. Never again! I see our sportsmen as failurs as our ugly Politicians! cheers!

    this below remark is on the spot! .. nothing new though!

    78. At 06:32am on 06 Jun 2010, rolly wrote:
    African teams beware of refereeing , Same faults of the same magnitude the one commited by an african should be sanction ,that comitted by a European should n't be sanction .One reason why African teams won't progress will be because of bias match officials Its very clear that its going to happen at the world cup we can't do anything to prevent it .Shame to fifa .

  • Comment number 86.

    i do know who put a favourites tag on argentina and spain but this is what will happen. argentina will be egded out by greece on goal difference for second spot in group B behind nigeria and spain will crash out to ivory coast in the second round. it is only brazil that can go all the way to the finals.

  • Comment number 87.


  • Comment number 88.

    Re 84. At 5:43pm on 06 Jun 2010, Dennis wrote:
    @83 Tigermilkboy
    Nobody said Nigeria is going to win the cup.The argument is that the team is capable of anything. On a good day, they can do very well and on a bad day, they will disappoint. Do you write off such a team? No.
    Well, yes I do write off such a team since the World Cup involves consistency and winning a number of games. Hence, I dismiss New Zealand and North Korea has contenders. Sure they can have a good day, but one good day is not enough.

    Your argument based on England history has nothing to do with the present and the quality of opposition. England of 1966 set is not the same team today. Infact, the England team of 2002 is much better than the England team of 2010, while the Nigerian team of 2010 is better than the Nigerian team of 2002. In 2002, England with Beckham and co could only manage a draw against an under-strength Nigerian side at the 2002 World cup.

    England only needed a draw to advance, they didn't need to do anything else other than that. Hence England qualified and Nigeria limply went out. Teams with proven World Cup pedigree's tend to perform consistently-hence why Germany and Italy always seem to progress to the latter stages, despite often having weaker squads. I tend to believe the experienced mentality of knowing they can and have progressed does matter.
    History suggests that if England have a penalty shoot-out they will probably lose and if Germany have a shoot-out they will probably win.
    If we looked at the English Premier League, history would tell us that Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd have the best chances of success.

    England may have all the history behind them, but the England team to the 2010 world cup is not as good as Ivory Coast team to the 2010 World cup, and it is not better than the Nigerian or Cameroon teams to the 2010 World cup.

    This is entirely subjective.

    "If you ask English men on the street of London. They will tell you honestly that England stand no chance."

    All English men on the street of London-have you really asked all? Again this is an hyper-bole statement, not a fact. You are trying to place your subjective views as factual evidence. I am sure most would say they don't know what England will do. The expectation would be QF's but they are certainly capable of reaching the semi-finals.
    Personally, I am not sure of England, but neither am I convinced about Argentina and Brazil who have blown hot and cold of late. Spain would appear favorites, but we have been here many times with Spain and penalty shoot-outs could be their undoing.


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