Friday, October 26, 2012

George's Premier Predictions October 27 2012

Last time, George got 6 results right including 2 perfect scores and George has high hopes for another good weekend of predictions.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Aston Villa  1 v Norwich City ‎1
Reading 2 v Fulham ‎2
Stoke City 2 v Sunderland 1
Wigan Athletic 1 v West Ham United ‎0
Arsenal 3 v Queens Park Rangers ‎1
‎‎Manchester City 2 v Swansea City ‎0

Sunday 28 October 2012

Everton 3 v Liverpool ‎2
Newcastle United 1 v West Bromwich Albion 1
Southampton 1 v Tottenham Hotspur ‎2
Chelsea 1 v Manchester United 1
‎‎
Last time's Premier League predictions

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Football enters the space age

FIFA have rubber-stamped agreements with GoalRef and HawkEye, ensuring goal-line technology is now officially a part of professional football.

Extensive official testing by IFAB concluded in July and the board unanimously approved the two systems for usage and the signing of contracts heralds their arrival in leagues worldwide. England's Premier League is keen for their introduction for the 2013/14 season, providing IFAB alter the rules of the game accordingly.

Subject to final match venue tests, the first appearance of goal-line technology will be at this December's FIFA Club World Cup in Tokyo, with one systems in use in Toyota and the other in Yokohama.

Goal-line technology is expected to be in situ at 2013's FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

HawkEye, a British system of multiple cameras, is already used to assist tennis umpires and is familiar to TV viewers of cricket.


GoalRef, A Danish-German technology, relies on a microchip inside the ball being detected by an electromagnetic field behind the goal line.



Both transmit their decisions to the referee's digital watch within one second.

2012 FIFA Club World Cup participants 6-16 Dec 2012

  • Chelsea
  • Corinthians
  • Monterrey
  • Auckland City
  • J-League winner (01/12/12)
  • AFC CL winner (10/11/12)
  • CAF CL winner (18/11/12)

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Seoul set for K-League success

Dejan Damjanovic
Who can stop the Demolition Duo? Nobody so far this season and time is running out. Dejan Damjanovic and Mauricio Molina have spearheaded FC Seoul's frontline to devastating effect in 2012 and with eight games remaining; the club is seven points clear of Jeonbuk in second. With the two meeting at Jeonju World Cup Stadium this weekend, the feeling is that if the Motors don’t take maximum points, then the title race is going to grind to a halt.

Damjanovic was at it again last weekend as Seoul picked up three points as the always tricky away trip to Jeju United. The Montenegrin got both goals in that 2-1 victory, numbers 26 and 27 of the season. He has already broken the total goalscoring record for a foreigner in the K-League that stood at 116. Molina, has contributed 17 himself, and his all-round play has created plenty for others.

Coach Choi Yong-soo has been criticized in some quarters for relying too much of the pair but when they are in such blistering form, he is not about to change now. 12 wins from the last 15 games shows that the team are on track for a second title.

Jeonbuk have managed to keep pace, kind of, in second partly thanks to some generous refereeing. Of late, the Motors have often had the luxury of playing against teams that lose a man or more thanks to a red card. In the team’s last three wins, the opposition have seen red no less than five times. And then a trip to Ulsan, a team without its national team players and in the middle of vital Asian Champions League knockout matches, came at exactly the right time. Those three points kept Jeonbuk in the race but they can’t afford any more slip-ups.

The rest are nowhere as far as the title goes. Third place and a 2013 Asian Champions League slot is what it is now all about and it is looking good for Suwon, three points clear. Ulsan are still in with a shout but have fallen behind due to continental and international commitments and Pohang have already qualified for next year's ACL thanks to last weekend’s FA Cup win.

At the bottom, Sangju Sangmu are already down leaving Gangwon, Gwangju and Chunnam Dragons fighting to avoid the second spot. Chunnam probably have a little too much quality but for the other two, anything could happen. Both have started to improve lately. The K-League;s first ever relegation struggle could be one to remember.

Third FA Cup for Pohang Steelers

It was cruel for Gyeongnam FC. The Cup final on October 20 was the biggest match in the club’s history. A chance for a first trophy and also a place in the 2013 Asian Champions League - glory awaited at the Steelyard. Gyeongnam had their chances in a poor game with Brazilian striker Caique going the closest as he rounded the goalkeeper only to shoot into the side-netting.

It was a costly miss. In the 120th minute and a penalty shootout looming, Park Sang-ho rose to head a free-kick into the top corner of the Gyeongnam goal. Cue wild celebrations from the Pohang fans, players and bench. The match was barely allowed to restart before the referee blew for full-time and a third triumph for the Steelers.

Kim Byung-ji makes 600

The Limahl-style hairstyle is not what it was but the 42 year-old goalkeeper is still going strong and recently passed the 600 appearance mark in the K-League. He is not about to stop now and wants 700. “ My goal is to To be the oldest K-League player. Shin Ui-Son has it now but I'll overtake him in two years. In that time I could reach 700 appearances," said Kim.

World Cup Woe

It was always going to be the toughest match of the qualification campaign to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Korea arrived in Iran top of Group A and left in the same position. That was perhaps the only positive. A 1-0 defeat did not go down well in Seoul.

In front of 105,000 fans at the Azadi Stadium, the Taeguk Warriors had chances to win. Twice in the first half, they hit the bar from close range but in truth, it was a plodding performance. Going forward, Korea were predictable, aiming long balls at tall striker Kim Shin-wook and hoping to feed off the knockdowns that never came.

And then in defence, the team’s persistent inability to defend set pieces cost them again when Javad Nekounam was left unmarked in the area to fire home a low shot.

Monday, October 22, 2012

QPR 1 - 1 Everton

QPR 1 - 1 Everton 21 October 2012

When we think of the history of Queen's Park Rangers, we might remember Rodney Marsh, Gerry Francis, Ray Wilkins, even Luigi Di Canio. We may think of the hooped shirts, of Formula 1 motor racing magnate Bernie Ecclestone's financial involvement with the club.

We may not know the name Lakshmi Mittal, reputedly the world's fifth richest person, or that in the 2005-2006 season chairman Gianni Paladini was allegedly "held at gunpoint during a match at Loftus Road by hired thugs at the instigation of rival directors" (BBC) and was "wearing a bullet-proof vest" for a period of time (Sunday Mirror).

We almost certainly will not think of the club's huge successes on the field given that they have been far and few between.

Big guns Everton are the visitors today. It is their best start to a Premier League campaign for eight years, and a win today will make it their best start ever. QPR look like they might be favourites for the drop as they have garnered only two points so far. Manager Mark Hughes has been given a vote of confidence by the owner ahead of this game, but a win for QPR against a robust though (today) Fellaini-less Everton looks unlikely.

Coleman is up in support of the Everton attack early after kick-off, but soon Hoilett picks the ball up the ball 30-odd yards from his own goal, dribbles to the Everton goal, ignores Taraabt's clever diagonal run, shoots and scores via a deflection. 1 - 0. A dream start for Hughes after only two minutes; it is QPR's second home goal of the season.

QPR are emboldened by the goal and after seven minutes, Taraabt's clever reverse pass and Traore fizzes the ball across the face with Baines doing good work to come in off the left flank to protect the ball. This incident seems important: where is the real pressure to score, perhaps indicative of QPR's scoring problem?

However the score is still one-nil and eleven-nationality QPR look lively. But then it's Everton's turn with Jelavic's free kick palmed away by Cesar and Anichebe's shot on the half turn. But Everton cannot build on their good work in midfield as they are playing with just one up front. Mirallas is more or less invisible.

1 - 1. An Everton free kick is met by a totally unmarked Distin whose header hits the post and comes back to hit Cesar's body and end up in the net. In QPR's best move of the first half, involving Taraabt and Bosingwa, the latter's cross is cleared away by Jagielka. The first half ends 1 - 1 and this scoreline reflects the play with 2 shots on target each.

46' Everton free kick, and the QPR defence must have eaten turkey sandwiches at half time as Baines runs into a huge space down the left. Mirallas seems to have a freer role in this second half, but it looks as though Fellaini is even more important to this Everton team than we first thought.

Diakite slaloms up the field, crosses to the Ji-sung Park (hardly noticed he was playing in this match up to now), but Jagielka blocks. In an underwhelming move, Anichebe is taken off by Moyes and is replaced by Naismith, who arrived from Rangers of the Glasgow variety on a free in the summer. But then the improving Mirallas plays a ball out to Pienaar who cuts off to the left, but because he has no left foot cuts back inside and the ball is taken from him by a collapsing QPR defence. [Tip for managers of Premier League teams: buy two-footed players and you will probably win the league.]

60' Pienaar picks up a second yellow for persistent fouling. Off. A third of the game to play - can we expect QPR to go on to win the game now they have one player more than their opponents? Not on the current evidence.

69' Everton are playing as well as at any time in the match, even with a man down. Mirallas is exploiting the space on the left, now vacated by the forward running Diakite.

70' In another underwhelming move, QPR boss Hughes (who played 18 times for Everton) takes off Zamora and puts Cisse on. Hoilett is QPR's best player and uses quick feet to get into a shooting position, but Howard saves low to his right. A good week for Howard who this week overtook Brad Friedel as the US men's national team's most capped keeper.

80' Hoilett's curling shot saved by Howard.

It ends 1 - 1. A dour game spoilt by the two managers, both of whom could have made more attacking choices to win the encounter. We can see why: Hughes doesn't want to lose a valuable point; Moyes is looking forward to next week's Merseyside derby. Most valuable player: Jagielka.

Peter Rodd

Friday, October 19, 2012

George's Premier Predictions 20 October 2012

Last time, George got 6 results right and 1 perfect score and George will be hoping for another strong performance after the international break.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Tottenham Hotspur 1 v Chelsea ‎1
West Bromwich Albion 1 v Manchester City ‎2
Liverpool 3 v Reading ‎‎0
Manchester United 2 v Stoke City ‎‎0
Swansea City 2 v Wigan Athletic ‎‎2
Fulham 2 v Aston Villa ‎‎1
West Ham United 1 v Southampton 0
‎‎
Sunday 21 October 2012

Norwich City 0 vs Arsenal ‎‎‎2
Sunderland 1 vs Newcastle United ‎‎‎1
Queens Park Rangers 1 vs Everton‎‎ 2
‎‎
Last time's Premier League predictions

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Race to Brazil hots up

We're roughly halfway to the next World Cup with 31 places still up for grabs. Europe, Oceania and the Americas have just been in action.

The competition in Europe, which has the lion's share of final qualifiers (13) is now beginning to thin out with some clear water emerging between the competing nations.

In Group A, Belgium and Croatia are tied at the top following comfortable wins over Scotland and Wales respectively.

Italy are in pole position in Group B after beating Denmark in Milan 3-1. The Azzurri are four points clear of second-placed Bulgaria.

The strangest match in Europe saw Sweden claw back a 4-0 deficit in Berlin to draw 4-4 with Germany in their Group C clash. When Mesut Ozil scored Germany's fourth in the 56th minute, all seemed lost for Erik Hamren's team.

But a Zlatan Ibrahimovic header just after the hour mark heralded an extraordinary comeback, capped by Rasmus Elm's equalising drive in the 92nd minute. Germany had never looked so stunned.



The Netherlands continued their 100% record with a 4-1 victory in Romania to top Group D and Switzerland maintained a three-point lead over Norway in Group E with victory in Iceland.

Russia enjoy the healthiest lead in Europe in Group F, five points clear of Israel and Portugal, who could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Northern Ireland. Bosnia & Herzegovina top Group G on goal difference from Greece, and in Group H Montenegro kept up the pressure ith a 1-0 win over Ukraine in Kiev to draw level on points with England, whose game in Warsaw was rained off.

Like Germany, world champions Spain were also victims of a late lapse in concentration, allowing Olivier Giroud to head an injury-time equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw for France in Madrid. The two countries are now tied with seven points from three games in Group I.

With Brazil hosting in 2014, the fight for the four and a half places in South America is a little easier.As it stands, Argentina are well on their way three points clear of Ecuador and four ahead of Colombia before a four point gap to Venezuela, Uruguay and Chile.



CONCACAF's final round is now set with the three automatic qualifiers to come from Mexico, the USA, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama. Wins for the States and Jamaica on the final day edged out Guatemala on goal difference, while Canada failed to make it through after an 8-1 mauling in Honduras.

In Oceania, New Zealand and New Caledonia are running away with it, with the All-Whites leading the Pacific Islanders by three points after four games. The two meet in Wellington on the 22nd of March and the group winner will play off against the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF for a place in Brazil.

In Asia, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran sit in the automatic qualification spots after four matches, with Oman and Uzbekistan poised to playoff the fifth-placed South American side.

Africa does not resume until March.

BRAZIL 2014's final 32


  • Hosts - Brazil
  • Europe - 13
  • Africa - 5
  • Asia - 4.5
  • North & Central America - 4.5
  • South America - 4.5
  • Oceania - 0.5


Top Scorers so far


  • AFC- Younis Mahmoud (Iraq), Hassan Abdel Fattah (Jordan), Le Cong Vinh (Vietnam) 7
  • CAF - Tresor Mputu (DR Congo) 4
  • CONCACAF - Deon McCaulay (Belize) 11
  • CONMEBOL - Luis Suarez (Uruguay), Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi (Argentina) 7
  • Oceania - Georges Gope-Fenepej (New Caledonia) 8
  • UEFA - Edin Dzeko (Bosnia-Herz), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Tomer Hemed (Israel) 5



(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Euro U21 finals set

Qualification for next summer's UEFA U21 Tournament in Israel has finished with only England and Spain returning from the 2011 finals in Denmark.

All the big Euro guns have made it through this time, with the exception of France, eliminated by Norway in the playoffs.

Spain will be looking to regain their crown and erase the memory of their Olympic failure in London and Germany will be aiming to maintain the youth revolution which saw the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira take the stage at U21 level in 2009.

England offer Stuart Pearce a final chance to audition for the England senior job, while the Netherlands, winners in 2006 and 2007, are back having missed out on the last two finals.

Qualifiers:

England
Germany
Israel (hosts)
Italy
Netherlands
Norway
Russia
Spain (holders)

In 2013 the tournament travels to the far eastern reach of UEFA, Israel with games scheduled for four stadia:

Jerusalem (33,500), Tel Aviv (14,413), Netanya (13,800) and Petah Tikva (11,500) will host the finals from  the 5th to the 18th of June 2013.

Whilst Israel is in Europe for footballing purposes because the Arab nations in the AFC refuse to play them, the scheduling of a UEFA tournament in a high-profile trouble-spot has not gone all smoothly.

Eric Cantona was one of many who have spoken out against awarding a competition to Israel while certain footballers are imprisoned without trial, a protest echoed by the Palestinian F.A.

Next summer is sure to be another hot one for Michel Platini.

The draw for the finals takes place on the 28th of November.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blue Sharks the toast of Africa


African soccer was all the rage on Sunday as the final round of qualifiers took place for next year's African Cup of Nations.

Cape Verde sensationally knocked Cameroon out to qualify for their first ever ACN finals, prompting wild celebrations in the Atlantic archipelago.

Senegal however are facing FIFA sanction as their match with Ivory Coast was abandoned following crowd trouble in Dakar, after the Ivorians went two-nil up through a Didier Drogba brace.

Cape Verde lost 2-1 in Yaoundé but the Blue Sharks won 3-2 on aggregate following a stunning 2-0 first-leg victory. Although the team has yet to register internationally, the nation of half a million people boasts some football heritage. Portugal's Nani and Switzerland's Gelson Fernandes are both Cape Verde born, while France's Patrick Vieira and Swedish legend Henrik Larsson both have a parent from the country.

Reigning champions Zambia made it through to defend their title alongside 2012's beaten finalists the Ivory Coast.

The most notable absentee from the finals lineup is Egypt, winner of three of the past four tournaments (2006, 2008 and 2010). The Pharaohs, managed by former USA boss Bob Bradley, were dumped out in the first round in June.

The now domitable lions of Cameroon will also be watching on television along with Senegal and two sides ranked in Africa's top ten - Gabon and the Central African Republic, conquerors of Egypt.

The finalists are thus, with their October FIFA World Ranking:

  1. Ivory Coast 16
  2. Algeria 24
  3. Mali 27
  4. Ghana 31
  5. Zambia 41 (holders)
  6. Tunisia 45
  7. Cape Verde 51
  8. Nigeria 63
  9. Morocco 75
  10. South Africa 76 (hosts)
  11. Angola 83
  12. Burkina Faso 91
  13. Togo 93
  14. DR Congo 103
  15. Ethiopia 108
  16. Niger 137
The 16-team tournament takes place in South Africa from the 19th of January to the 10th of February 2013.  The finals draw is in Durban on the 24th of October 2012.

Five of the stadia from the 2010 World Cup will be used, with the opening game and final at Soccer City, Johannesburg. 

Cape Town misses out however, with Durban, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth and Rustenburg (pic) preferred.

In 2015 the finals visit Morocco with 2017 pencilled in for Libya.


-Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Friday, October 5, 2012

George's Premier Predictions October 6 2012

Last time, George got 5 results right and no perfect scores. So George improved a bit on the week before. This week we are hoping for a strong performance from our in-house tipster.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Manchester City 3 v Sunderland ‎1
Swansea City 2 v Reading ‎1
Chelsea 2 v Norwich City 0
Wigan Athletic 1 v Everton ‎1
West Bromwich Albion 1 v Queens Park Rangers 0
West Ham United 0 v Arsenal 2 ‎

Sunday 7 October 2012

Southampton  0 v Fulham 0
Liverpool 2 v Stoke City 1
Tottenham Hotspur 2 v Aston Villa ‎0
Newcastle United 2 v Manchester United ‎2

Last time's Premier League predictions

Liverpool 2 - 3 Udinese Calcio

Liverpool 2 - 3 Udinese Calcio 4 October 2012

Before Udinese's trip to the Emirates in 2011, the team took a stroll around Marylebone and Regents Park. The north-east Italian team's coaches obviously wanted a relaxed squad going into the big game. Arsenal won one nil, but Di Natale caused them all sorts of problems and Gunners' goalkeeper Szczesny had to be on his game to keep them at bay; the loss of Sanchez to Barcelona didn't faze the Italians as much as was anticipated.

Liverpool


I imagine the Liverpool coaching staff will have studied that match closely, for this was the first meeting ever between the two sides.

The teams lined up with Liverpool in a 4-3-3 and Udinese with 3-5-2. Which would dominate?

Downing is put out on the right flank; Shelvey is given yet another start, making one believe that Brendan Rodgers is putting faith in him as a permanent fixture in midfield; and Borini is also on again, perhaps so he can listen in on the Italians' banter. Assaidi, the Moroccan, whose first year this is with the Reds is out on the left.

It is he who looks lively early on, but he shows the defenders too much of the ball on more than a couple of occasions. Nevertheless, this is an indication that Rodgers is throwing his young players (19 year-old Robinson is on at right back too) in at the deep end, or giving them their chance to shine. Take your pick. In any case there's no Suarez and no Gerrard in the starting line up.

Early on it's difficult to tell who is on top. Shelvey shoots from distance, Udinese's Serbian keeper Zeljko Brkic makes a save, Udinese counterattack very quickly and Di Natale takes a shot. The Italians are not here for a draw by the look of it. Liverpool take the lead due to Shelvey's long pass out to the right to Downing who walls it over the the back stick where the unmarked Shelvey heads downwards inside the far post. Nice goal. 1 – 0.

The lead seems a little undeserved as the teams seem fairly even. Then Di Natale, from the right hits the ball with the outside of his right foot and the ball curves just over the angle of the bar and the far post. End-to-end with Downing's shot blocked, but then it would be.

Then Johnson finds himself in a position similar to Di Natale's a minute before: out on the right; but the Liverpool man hits the ball instead with the inside of his right foot, thus giving himself little to no chance of scoring. And there's the difference: Di Natale - top scorer in Serie A in 2009-10 with 29 goals – is easily the best player on show, and he is surrounded with generally competent teammates .. though of course Shelvey's run should have been tracked by at least one of Udinese's five midfielders.

Pinzi is driving the Italians forward from midfield. Suddenly Liverpool have a good couple of minutes of uninterrupted possession - so this is the new Swansea after all! Until we are reminded that Swanselona's possession play happened largely in the first two thirds of the pitch. Anyway, at least the dangerous Italiani can't score without a ball.

What will Francesco Guidolin tell his players before they duck their heads under the "This is Anfield" sign to emerge from the tunnel for the second time?

Whatever the manager said, the words must have been magic ones as only 30 seconds from the restart a mirror image of the Shelvey goal happens with Di Natale's great strike under pressure flying past Reina. 1 - 1.

The game trundles along for a while. Rodgers has decided that he now wants to win the match, so he puts on Gerrard and Suarez for the increasingly anonymous Assaidi and the constantly anonymous Henderson. The Liverpool energy gauge shoots up to a high level - into the red you might say. The Brazilian Willians is brought on to stiffen up the Italian midfield, and immediately an inswinging free kick is met by Reds' centre back Coates who deftly places the ball inside the far post. Own goal. 1 - 2.

Two minutes later Di Natale, in the box, back to goal, plays keepy uppy, then takes a preparation touch and passes into the path of Pasquale whose driven low shot inside the far post gives Reina no chance. Great goal. 1 - 3.

Three minutes after that Suarez cracks in a great free kick over a tall jumping wall. 2 – 3. Really is end-to-end. What an exciting match!

Suarez almost equalizes, Gerrard shoots against a defender's back, Brkic saves from Suarez, Allen doesn't get called for a penalty, Sterling who's on for the lumbering Borini, fires just over the bar. Result: 2 - 3

There is some talk about why Gerrard wasn't playing from the beginning – or Suarez come to that. Famous last words and all, but it doesn't look like Liverpool will win the BPL this time, so here's a big chunk of silverware in the form of the Europa League that you might think would be worth winning .. but you don't play your best players.

Hmm. I notice Udinese played their best player from the start. Rodgers must be weening the babies – that's it. But hang on a minute, Liverpool and England right back Glen Johnson was playing from the start; the problem is he made poor decisions when in promising positions. Case in point - in the 27th minute he finds himself behind the Udinese defence, but panics and wastefully gives away the ball. So what does experience count for? Pros and cons, but Brendan Rodgers must be given all the time he needs to craft his team.

Next up for Liverpool: Anzhi.

Peter Rodd

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The coffee is brewing


Colombia have jumped 13 places to ninth in the latest FIFA World Rankings, another sign they are the South American country to keep an eye on as we approach Brazil 2014.

Los Cafeteros (coffee-growers) have not qualified for a World Cup Finals since 1998, when they went out in the first round after defeats by England and Romania.

But after seven games they currently sit second in the CONMEBOL qualifying table for Brazil 2014, and with four and a half South American places up for grabs, Colombia has a wonderful chance of returning to the World Cup after 16 years away.

Always the bridesmaid it seems, for a country capable of producing so many skilful footballers. Even when Colombia were granted the staging rights for the 1986 World Cup Finals, they had them taken away and handed to Mexico after FIFA altered the hosting requirements.

At Itaila '90 Francisco Maturana's team looked outrageously talented, at one point making the eventual winners West Germany chase shadows with their passing game. But with the flair came the hubris, as Colombia's crazy goalkeeper Rene 'El Loco' Higuita, he of the Wembley scorpion kick, dribbled the ball upfield in the second round clash with Cameroon, only to be robbed by Roger Milla, who went on to score and knock Colombia out.

At USA 1994 Higuita was not there having just served a jail term for his role in a kidnapping, but the sublime mop-haired passer Carlos Valderrama and attacking midfielder Freddy Rincon were, and Los Cafeteros also had the outstanding long-legged marksman Faustino Asprilla.

Expectations reached fever pitch pre-tournament as Colombia thumped Argentina 5-0 in Buenos Aires in the final qualifer, topping the group and sending the Albiceleste to Australia for an Intercontinental Playoff.

Pelé tipped them to hoist the trophy, but the supposed golden age of Colombian soccer collapsed in misery as the team lost 2-1 to a weak host nation and an own-goal by Andres Escobar, who ended up riddled with bullets in a Medellin car park ten days later.

The evil influence of the drug cartels on Colombian soccer was suddenly, shockingly, laid bare to the world. Asprilla later said the players were terrified going into the US match, expecting snipers would take them out from the stands of the Rose Bowl.

Almost two decades on and the cartels' power has been curbed, not least thanks to the death of Pablo Escobar, who 'invested' heavily in his favourite sport.

The Colombian national team is recovering well too and in Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao they now have one of the hottest strikers in Europe. At the helm is former Argentina coach Jose Pekerman.

There were high hopes going into last year's Copa America, and Colombia duly topped their group, but made an unexpected exit in the quarter-finals after two late goals from surprise package Peru.

With the next World Cup on South American territory and five and a half places on the table for CONMEBOL teams, Brazil 2014 should see Colombia make a welcome return to the highest stage.



FIFA TOP TEN October 2012

1 Spain
2 Germany
3 Portugal
4 Argentina
5 England
6 The Netherlands
7 Uruguay
8 Italy
9 Colombia
10 Greece

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fifa World Rankings October 2012

Fifa's World Rankings for October 2012 were published today at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

Euro 2012 winners Spain kept their position on top of the FIFA rankings followed by Germany, Portugal, Argentina, England and then Copa America champions Uruguay, Brazil remain out of the top 10 in 14th.

Ranking Team
1 Spain
2 Germany
3 Portugal
4 Argentina
5 England
6 The Netherlands
7 Uruguay
8 Italy
9 Colombia
10 Greece
11 Croatia
12 Russia
13 France
14 Brazil
15 Switzerland
16 Côte d'Ivoire
17 Chile
18 Denmark
19 Mexico
20 Ecuador


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