June 18, 2006

After Twenty-four Games

I missed one observation in my first posting on the World Cup: the African teams have done well. They haven’t gotten any wins, but each of them have played strong. Ivory Coast scored on Argentina and held them to two goals. Angola held Portugal to one goal. Ghana didn’t do as well against Italy, but didn’t look bad. Togo made Korea look slow and scored first, making Korea come from behind to win.

Ivory Coast also took some of the shine off Netherlands in their second game and, though they were unable to come back from those two early goals, they did score their own. And, that same day, Angola held Mexico to a zero-zero tie, earning the second point for an African team in the tournament, after Tunisia had to come from behind in extra time to tie Saudi Arabia. There might well be an African team or two in the next round. There will certainly be a lot of attention on Ghana’s next game in this country, as they stand between the US team and their only hope of advancing.

The highlights of this segment of the first round have to be Ecuador’s earning the top spot in its group, setting up a great game with Germany on Tuesday. England won awkwardly again, earning themselves a top spot in the group. Sweden, if they are to live up to their pre-tournament reputation, have an opportunity to expose England’s weaknesses. Argentina really let it all hang out on poor, doomed Serbia and Montenegro, setting up my pick for biggest game of the third set against Netherlands on Wednesday.

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