What A Balls-up! - Little Boy Blue's World Cup Diary

Last updated : 21 June 2010 By Little Boy Blue

As far as I am aware, the ball has to be the same size, the same weight and inflated to the same pressure as it was before.


If players can't control it, I think they should look at themselves, rather than point the finger of blame at the ball.  Kenny Dogleash, my favourite Septic manager of all time (Dr.Jo and Tony Nobody ran him quite close!) even came away with the priceless line: "The ball is too round."  Ferfuxxake, does he want them to invent a square ball?


Maybe a square ball would have kept Rob Green's place in the England team and Japanese keeper Eiji Kawashima and his Ghanean counterpart Richard Kingson might not have been quite so easily embarrassed.  But it is the same ball for both teams.


Just as they had done against Denmark on Monday, Holland appeared to be just going through the motions in the first half, although it must be said that Japan worked hard to close them down at every opportunity.  It was indicative of the first 45 minutes that the Dutchmen's first shot on target came just before the interval but in this instance Kawashima saved comfortably.  But I just knew they would pick things up in the second half and I wasn't wrong, was I?


A cross from Gio Van B and a Van Persie header hinted that the half-time teamtalk had touched the spot and, in the 53rd minute, Wesley Sneijder let rip from the edge of the box, the keeper got a touch to it but, with the ball swerving in the air, he could only knock it into the corner of the net.  It was a good shot but, no matter how much he wants to blame the ball, Kawashima really should have done much better.


In an effort to get back into the game, and maybe buy a free-kick on the edge of the box or a soft penalty, the Japs brought on Knackeredfella.  But Argentinian referee Hector Baldassi was not nearly as gullible as those who operate in the SPL so all the one-time Parkheid pin-up boy did was stroll around and fall down to no great effect.  Tamada tried to do a wee bit of cheating of his own right at the death but he too was told to get up.


I wonder if Japanese player Yuki Abe drinks in a pub in Broughty Ferry.  Well, PC Plod insisted the Post Office Bar take down their 'racist' Anyone But England banners.  Maybe they should just stick an Abe jersey on the wall.  And while we're on the topic of nonsensical complaints, is there any truth to the rumour that a Nil By Mouth delegation is already on its way to South Africa to greet about the number of players wearing orange boots?  Who said you couldn't make it up?


Ghana and Australia gave us a tremendous match in Rustenburg and once more the Aussies found themselves down to ten men.  Harry Kewell didn't know much about it when Jonathan Mensah smashed the ball off his upper arm but he had denied a certain goal so, by the letter of the law, he had to go.  Just as he had done against Serbia last weekend, Asamoah Gyan tucked the penalty away with the minimum of fuss, for which goalkeeper Kingson will be eternally grateful.


Earlier he had made a rip-roaring Noel Hunt of a free kick from Marco Bresciano, the ball fell at Brett Holman's feet and he fired the Socceroos into the lead.  Australia certainly looked a better side than they were against Germany and, if they'd got in at half-time with the lead, they would have fancied themselves to hang on.


Both sides went for it in the second half, each could claim to have done enough to merit a win but the 1-1 draw was a better result for Ghana and they are in the driving seat going into the third phase of games.  However, facing Germany at Soccer City on Wednesday, they still have work to do.  The Serbia v Australia match will have a huge influence on who qualifies from Group D.


It may well be that Ghana could be Africa's only standard-bearers in the last sixteen.  With both sides having lost their opening game in Group E, Denmark and Cameroon had everything to play for in Pretoria and it was the Danes who did the business, coming from behind to win 2-1 and make sure Paul Le Guen and his team will have no involvement in the knock-out stages.


There was no repeat of the madness of playing Samuel Eto'o in a wide position.  PLG restored him to the traditional centre-forward role and the Inter Milan star responded by cashing in on some sloppy Danish defending to batter his team into a tenth minute lead.  For all the talk of dissent in the camp - more Le Guen man-management issues? - they looked good in the early stages and might have gone further ahead.  But the Danes were no bit-part players and soon clawed themselves back into an excellent match.


Nicklas Bendtner levelled the scores before the interval, both teams had chances to edge ahead before and after the break but it was Dennis Rommedahl who settled the game with a clever jink inside and left foot shot low into the corner of the net.


Cameroon were perhaps a little unfortunate to lose and be confirmed as the first team eliminated from the competition but their exit was due entirely to their insipid performance against Japan last Monday and, by played Eto's as a winger, PLG must shoulder responsibility.


They were worthy of at least a draw against Denmark, they created a number of opportunities to grab the equaliser but keeper Thomas Sorensen didn't have any problems with the ball and made several fine saves.


By all accounts, the Cameroon media have been far from impressed by Le Guen's way of doing business, they want his head on a stick, so my money would be on a quick resignation and a flight back to Paris rather than Yaounde.  And who knows where his next assignment will be|?


Tomorrow:  Paraguay v Slovakia, Italy v New Zealand, Brazil v Ivory Coast