Friday, June 2, 2006

What You Won't Get To See
At World Cup 2006

Before we get to what to watch for at the World Cup, let's take a minute to look at what we will not get to see.

Lots of quality players, including Frenchmen Robert Pires, Ludovic Giuly, and Nicolas Anelka, Dutch heroes of the past Patrick Kliuvert, Edgar Davids, and Clarance Seedorf, Spanish striker Fernando Morientes, Italian marksman Antinio Cassano, Mexican striker Blanco, Argentine defender Javier Zanetti, and Brasilians Rivaldo and Julio Baptista were all left off of squads that are in the World Cup. Nigeria's absense means no Obafemi Martins, Jay-Jay Okocha, or yours truly. Wayne Rooney, one of the top 8 players in the world, may or may not play as he rushes to try to recover from a recently suffered broken metatarsal.

Barcelona Eto'o: all smiles

These are all good players, but the best player that we will not get to see this summer is Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon. He is as good a pure striker as you will find anywhere in the world. He finished 3rd in the 2005 World Player Of The Year award. In 2004-5 at Barcelona, he was the leading scorer in La Liga all year only to lose out on the Pichichi on the last day of the season by one goal. This year he won the Pichichi award as the leading scorer in La Liga, and he was also voted MOTM (Man OF The Match) in Barcelona's Champions League Final win over Arsenal (although many feel that the true MOTM for Barca was Henrik Larsson who came on and setup both goals). In short, he is a badass, and it sucks that we will not get to see him this summer on the World stage.

Cameroon Eto'o:not so much

Personally I would say that the two best teams not participating in this year's WC are Nigeria and Cameroon. Nigeria tied Angola at the top of their qualifying group but lost out on the head to head tiebreaker because they tied Angola at home and lost 0-1 on the road. Extremely disappointing that we will miss out on the flair and free-flowing play of Kanu, Okocha, Martins, Aghahowa, Obi Mikel, Babayaro, and the rest.

Super Eagles: grounded.

Cameroon's qualification miss was even closer. All they needed to do was win their final match to qualify at the Ivory Coast's expense. They were tied in extra time when they were awarded a penalty in the 94th minute. Convert the penalty and they are in the World Cup. Pierre Wome stepped up, shot right, the keeper dove the wrong way, and the ball aganozingly hit the post and bounced out. Wome was gutted, received death threats, and was a shell of himself as a player the rest of the season for Inter Milan. Hopefully he can recover and put it past him, as he is a very good player. So no Cameroon, no Eto'o, no Wome, no Lauren, or any of the rest of the Indomitable Lions. It's a shame in a way, but hopefully Ivory Coast and Angola will represent Africa well in the place of these two African giants who, like you and me, will be watching at home.

Indomitable Lions won't get a chance to not get dominated

According the the somewhat wacky and always controversial FIFA World Rankings, the top teams that did not make it through to the WC Finals are Nigeria (T-11), Denmark (T-11), Turkey (14), Cameroon (15), Egypt(17), and Euro 2004 Champions Greece (20).

So pour out a little liquor for these homies as you start to watch the tournament next weekend.

I'll miss you most of all, Kanu


Moin said...

Rooney is slightly too inconsistent for me to put him in the hypothetical "world's top 8". (BTW, this means he's #8 on that list right?) Though his play for England has been stellar (especially what he did in Euro04.

I've always felt that Kluivert and Anelka are grossly grossly overrated. Every match I've ever watched involving Kluivert has involved him missing at least 3 sitters (as every Newcastle fan in the world nods). Anelka, well, he wouldn't start a match with Trezguet and Henry up front and would be competing with Wiltold for bench duties anyways.

Other than that, most of the other people you listed are just plain old. Seedorf and Davids don't control the midfield like they used to anymore. Rivaldo, Blanco, and Morientes are shells of their former selves. Baptista looked great at Sevilla but has looked positively lost since the move to the Bernabeu. Zanetti and Giully are really the only big surprises.

Also, by the by, alot of Real Madrid connections there: Anelka, Seedorf, Morientes, Cassano, and Baptista. Not a good year for Los Merengues.

You should include surprise exclusion of Vicente, Baraja, and Jesus Navas on the Spanish side. Aragones apparently wasn't paying attention or something. Luckily for Spain, Del Horno got hurt and Pernia was called up in his place (he should have been picked to begin with). Either way, the original decision to go with Del Horno gave us the best quote about selection this time around, by his manager at Getafe:

"It's obviously better to kick shit out of Messi than to actually have a good season, if you want to go the World Cup."


Also, you left out the biggest active name not participating: Paolo Maldini.

Kanu said...

Good stuff Moin. That list was more of a rundown of 'name' players who will not be playing, used as a leadin to get to Eto'o, because I felt like if I just siad Eto'o from the start then some of my tens of readers would say "what about....?". Anyhow, my main point was that Eto'o is the best player in the world that we won't get to see, and that is a shame - the rest was really just set up material.

I think Rooney is amazing yet inconsistent. When he is on he can singlehandedly change a game. When I say he is top 8 I am thinking of his performances in Euro 2004 before getting injured (he was the player of the tournament before he went down, and low and behold as soon as he went down England went out to Portugal, despite Sol's disallowed header), as well as some EPL games I saw him play this year, specifically ManUtd 2-0 Arsenal where he completely dominated the match. When he plays like this he is one of the top 5 in the world, but he doesn't always play like this. With age I think he will become more contistently amazing (if that makes any sense) as he reaches his peak between now and 2010ish.

Thanks for the other insight - I haven't seen enough of those other guys to comment on them, although Vicente was a suprise. I only know that Aragones is a racist and a bit of a nutt apparently.

That quote about ADH is pretty epic.

And I am pissed that I missed Maldini- I have always really liked that guy. Thanks for correcting me.

moin said...

Oh I agree with the awesomeness of Eto'o and Rooney. Eto'o was a bit of a clunker for Real Madrid. I (and everyone else in the world) knew he was special when he was at Mallorca. The funny thing about it all was that he was there on a kind of permanent loan/half-ownership thing from Real Madrid. (I know that the Spanish FA does not allow co-ownership like they do in Italy, but somehow RM, big surprise, bent the rules a bit there.) Anyways, so basically, a couple of years ago, Real Madrid wanted him back as a backup but he refused, seeing (correctly I might add) that a move back to Real Madrid would mean loads of bench time and a stagnation of his career. That's when Barca steped in and, over some what I could only imagine as great fun negotiations, he ended up there. I can't really blame Real Madrid, since, well, Eto'o didn't want to play there. Still, it was somewhat ironic/fun to think that summer, both Ronaldinho and Eto'o almost ended up at the Bernabeu before landing at Nou Camp. Sometimes, hand-me-downs are gifts from the gods. Seriously, years from now, people should go back to that summer and write a book about the intrigue and ramifications of what happened between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Beckham, Ronaldinho, Eto'o, Makalele, Milito, Morientes, etc. Unreal how big of a turning point that summer was in the fortunes of both clubs (and Chelsea, since that was the summer that they became Chelski). Maybe Sid Lowe? I'm just putting it out there.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Rooney. I do agree with you, but there's a chance that he'll become another Gazza (though instead of alcoholism, it'll just be the disease of big ears, or maybe random bone growth in the foot or something). In all seriousness, this is the 3rd metatarsal injury that I can recall him getting off the top of my head, not a good thing when you consider how short his career has been.

Oh, before I forget to ask ya. What do you think about the scandal involving Arsenal and the obscure Belgium club? I do think it is a big deal if collusion could be proven (especially given that Arsenal ended up buying Eboue from there). Oh, and the scandal in the Serie A has been fun too. Schadenfreude, my friend, schadenfreude.

moin said...

Actually, just ran a fact check on myself. Eto'o's transfer happened one year after Ronaldinho's. Well, I was close. Still, crazy summer of transfers that was.

A10 said...

Eto'o may be out of the world cup but he most definitely is still indomitable. I have to pour out a little liquor for Oba Martins and pray for the life of one Pierre Wome who is directly linked to Eto'o's couch patato status Jun 9 - Jul 9. Godspeed Azzuri!!!

Kanu said...


I don't know what to make of the Beveren thing; it seems like not enough information has come out yet for me to form a solid opinion. Today there is much speculation that the whole thing was brought out the day prior to the FA board meeting vote to make DD (David Dein) look bad and get him voted off the FA Board, which is exactly what happened. SO that is one end of the spectrum, that they didn't really do anything too bad and that it was just a J.R. Ewing type plot to ensure DD is off the FA Board (he was replaced by an exec from ManUtd, for what it's worth, which is probably nothing). At the other end of the spectrum you have all this tabloid press rubbish about Arsenal getting booted from the Cl or relegated or whatnot. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. My guess is that Arsenal did not really break any rules, but they saw a position that would benefit them as a club which, although it falls into kind of a moral gray area, they felt was woth persuing given their lack of strength and resources vis a vis ManUtd and of course Chelsea. I know that the guy that set up that training centre in the IC that sends players to Beveren is a ex-Arsenal man. I think if they were doing some really shady shit then more would be coming out. I know that sounds like the answer of an Arsnal apologist, but like I said we heard all this sensationalist tabloid-like stuff up front and now it seems that all the facts will slowly come to the fore - it just has the look of one of those things where it's more smoke than fire, but time will tell.

I will say that if they in fact acted in a dishonorable way then I won't sit there and defend their behavior to the hilt; in fact I'll be very disappointed in the club which has always prided itself on it's classy club culture.

How's that for a non-answer?

Don't forget also that in 2003 Ronaldinho was supposedly all set to go to Old Trafford and United apparently fucked it all up.

Kanu said...


re: Godspeed Azzurri - more like God sakes, don't wear those hideous jerseys with the faux sweatervests that look like some guy named Biff playing 3 sets of tennis at a posh country club circa 1983. They seriously need to figure out a way to wear their blue kit every match and somehow avoid those hideous white things.

moin said...

I just really don't like how snug those Azzuri kits are. Very unflattering if you happened to have a belly of any sort. Luckily, soccer players are all pretty fit in the WC (save the odd Puskas or Maradona) and we are all spared the sight of such un-holiness.

The Arsenal "scandal" certainly feels out of proportion to me. It's not on the level of the scandal involving the Italian clubs (who better get relegated, by the way) nor is it any worse than what Abramnovich had going on with CSKA, Benfica, and Corinthian. I'd be shocked if more are unearthed. But this is a pretty pre-carious time in Arsenal history (moving to Ashburton and all), so who knows really? But just based on what's out there now, I highly doubt much will come of it.

And don't get me started on the Ronaldinho/Beckham saga. It'll take forever. The biggest thing you have to know is that Real actually agreed to terms with PSG and Ronaldinho about a day or so before Barca did. The kicker was that Real Madrid wanted to loan him right back out to PSG for one more season. That way RM would let Figo play out the last year of his contract (he signed an extension when the Ronaldinho deal fell through) and then bring in Ronaldinho as a replacement. Apparently, RM threw that proviso in late in the negotiations and Ronaldinho balked at it (he hated PSG that much). But because the agreed fee was leaked to the public, Barca was able to match it and wrap up it up relatively quickly after that (much like how Barca's initial bid for Becks smoothed the way for Real to wrap up Becks earlier in the summer). The crazy thing was that RM was proven right for half of the season. Figo was better than Ronaldinho for much of the first half of the season before Barca grabbed Davids during the January transfer window and steadied the midfield. Anyways, it was a crazy summer of transfers.

moin said...

One good thing the qualification of the Ivory Coast did: it gave us this great commercial:

Something goose-bump inducing about it all.

Kanu said...

Agreed that the commercial is great -really shows the power of football. BUT... every time I see it I also get sad knowing that as soon as they get knocked out the senseless killings and civil war will start right back up, and the "first world" won't give a flying fuck about it (see: Liberia, Darfur, Rwanda, etc.). Fucking tragic, man.