Troublemakers, Cheats And Con-men - Little Boy Blue's World Cup Diary

Last updated : 21 June 2010 By Little Boy Blue

Unhappy to see Nicolas Anelka sent home and pissed off by the fitness coach's treatment of Patrice Evra, France's players refused to train, leaving coach Raymond Domenech, a dead man walking if ever there was one, to read a statement slamming the French FA.


And the English players decided to get in on the act by having a pop at Capello at their team meeting.  Maybe Don Fabio is not the uncompromising my-way-or-the-highway boss he is reputed to be.  If he was he would surely drop John Terry immediately.

And it was the day for the nasty side of the game to raise its head as Italy and Ivory Coast adopted a very cynical approach to the beautiful game.  FIFA have a number of videos to look at if they are to restore football's good name.

Paraguay looked good seeing off Slovakia 2-0, thanks to goals from Enrique Vera and Christian Riveros.  Having kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw with Italy, the South Americans now look a good bet to qualify, maybe even as group winners as they face New Zealand in their final game.

But it would be a big mistake to underestimate the Kiwis.  They went ahead against Italy after only six minutes when Shane Smeltz was presented with a gift when the highly rated Italian defenders failed to defend a routine free-kick into the box.  Fabio Cannavarro succeeded only in teeing the ball up for Smeltz who just couldn't miss from inside the six yard box.  Having scored so early, it was however going to be a long afternoon for the All Whites.

Cannavarro, Zambrotta and Chiellini, who have turned booting forwards up and down the park into something of an art form, then embarked on an orchestrated campaign to get Rory Fallon in trouble with the referee.  The big man from Plymouth Argyle certainly knows how to put himself about but to see three rugged Italians rolling around, squealing like wee lassies after even the slightest of physical contact, was bloody uinfuriating.  The ref bought it, Fallon was booked after only 12 minutes and was less effective thereafter.

And seeing the underhand stuff work a treat at one end, the Tallies decided to adopt the same approach up front. Daniele De Rossi did something resembling a triple somersault with pike when defender Tommy Smith got too close to him.  I was genuinely worried for De Rossi, fearing that a phantom sniper had sneaked into the ground to take him out.  Sadly, referee Batres was fooled, Vincenza Iaquinta equalized from the penalty spot and most folks expected the Italians to step up a gear and win comfortably.

The All Whites were having none of it.  They defended superbly and even posed a threat on the break late in the game, thoroughly deserving an unexpected point.  Now Italy are under pressure against Slovakia on Thursday.  A win will be enough to see them through but their erratic displays against Paraguay and New Zealand give no grounds for optimism.

I've been one hundred percent behind Brazil since day one but, if there was any doubt about who I was going to support when they met Ivory Coast, they were dispelled as soon as the teams emerged from the tunnel.  Led by a back-to-front tricolour (I'll bet Timothy doesn't get that!) and playing in a version of green and white hoops (expect a few Ivory Coast jerseys to turn up at Breezeblock Boulevard next season), the cry was - no, not that one - 'C'mon Brazill, getrightintaerrum!'.  Dunga's boys didn't let me down.

Luis Fabiano, my tip to be the World Cup's top scorer, hammered in a cracker of an opener and he added another in the second half, with the help of a hand ball or two.  The shot of him and the ref trotting back to the halfway line in conversation was a beauty. "Did you handle that one, son." "No way, ref." "Ok, that's good enough for me."  Elano added a third and Brazil are well on their way to the next round.

He'd worked hard throughout so nobody could begrudge Didier Drogba his late consolation goal.  But Abdul Kader Keita's repulsive behaviour won him no friends.  He bumped into Kaka and collapsed in a heap, as if Daniele De Rossi's assassin had jumped on a plane from Nelspruit to Joburg to get another notch on his gun.  French referee Stephane Lannoy couldn't possibly have seen it but, whatever his assistant or the fourth official whispered in his ear, he decided Kaka was worth a second yellow card and had to walk.

It was a shocking decision.  Bears will remember Kaka as the man 'The Herald, tried to convince us was a 'good Kafflick bhoy' when, in truth, he is a born-again Christian.   FIFA must surely look at the pictures, review the decision and take action against Keita.  Otherwise their Fair Play campaign is nothing more than a sham.

Somehow I don't think I should hold my breath awaiting common sense to prevail.

Tomorrow: Portugal v North Korea, Chile v Switzerland, Spain v Honduras.