Saturday, June 24, 2006

World Cup Group G Round Up - Korea Crashed Out While France Find Some Form

Vieira Breaks French Curse:

Rhein Energie Stadion

0 - 2 France

FRA - P. Vieira (55min), T. Henry (61min);

Patrick Vieira, taking over the captain's armband from the suspended Zinedine Zidane, showed the team the way to victory as France finally broke the 5 game winless streak and beat Togo 2-0. He's the central figure for this game and other than scoring one himself, he assisted Henry for France's second goal.

France, for the first time, started David Trezeguet alongside Arsenal's Theirry Henry and the opening few minutes was fast and furious, with France searching for the opening goal. But it seemed to be eluding them and Trezeguet missing a couple of chances. Franck Ribery was then put through and had all the time in the world to finish the move, but his lack of composure made him blast the ball harmlessly over the bar. My personal view on Franck Ribery is that although he is a lively and a constant threat to the opponents, his lack of experience and horrendous quality of his finishing makes him look more like a fringe player and would not cut at the highest level. He had a few bad decisions based on what I've seen. When he's supposed to shoot himself, he passed the ball and when he shoots, it always lacks the finishing to beat the keeper.

Other than Vieira, another player that performed very well is Willy Sagnal. I thought he played a blinder with a few crucial blocks and vital interceptions. So, France will go through to the next round together with group leaders, Switzerland and will face Spain in the last 16.

Korea Crash Out As Swiss Tops Group:

AWD Arena
Switzerland 2 - 0 South Korea


SUI - P. Senderos (23min), A. Frei (77min);

Ah, Asia's only hope, Korea has finally crashed out of the World Cup as they're beaten by Switzerland. Their performance at the last World Cup made a lot of fans believe and hope that they can once again, emulate the fantastic performance and sadly, it all came to a halt and will be going home disappointingly. As Asia's representatives, Iran, Japan and Saudi Arabia all crashed out earlier on, all of Asia's hope and pride are on the shoulders of the 'Red Devils'. They still might have a chance to go qualify from the group if they could get at least a draw, but things didn't really go their way and sometimes, depending on comebacks doesn't always work. On the previous 2 matches, they came down from 1-0 down to beat Togo 2-1 and once again, 1-0 down and drew 1-1 with France. But this time round, it was no way back for them as Switzerland scored through Arsenal defender, Phillippe Senderos.

As Graham Poll's incompetency is being under scrutiny, once again we saw a refereeing decision that is pretty mind-boggling and really caused lots of confusion, to the players as well as people watching the game. A through ball was placed for Alex Frei and it actually touched a Korean player on its way. Frei is in an off-side position so the lines-man lifted the flag. But the referee didn't blow the whistle and Frei rounded Lee Woon Jae and rolled the ball into an empty net. The Koreans thought the linesman's flag was up so they turned their back away and started walking back and to their horror, the referee actually let the goal stand and it sparked a confrontation from the Korean players. I'm not an expert with all these rules of course, but isn't this some kind of a grey area in the rulebook? Do players play to the whistle or to the flag actually? No matter what, I sympathise the Koreans and that goal completely shattered their dreams.

It's sad to see the Koreans crashing out of the competition not only because we will not see anymore Asian teams in the last 16, but also the players, the team itself and the fans. This Korean team never fail to amaze me. Although they are technically not the best and could say, inferior to most teams, but the spirit and the commitment of those 11 players on the field is commendable and their bounce-back-ability somehow reminds me of our Liverpool. Their fans have been immense too. Watching the game on TV, you could always hear the Koreans singing and dancing and the drum beatings and seriously, they never stop and continue for the whole 90 minutes. There is no such thing as a certain goal silence the Korean fans as they cannot be silenced. The spirit of the Korean side will leave great memories for fans and players alike. Let's hope to see more of them soon. Yea, 4 years from now....

Final Group G Standings:
  1. Switzerland 7pts (Qualify)
  2. France 5pts (Qualify)
  3. South Korea 4pts
  4. Togo 0pt

Last 16 Match-Ups:

26th June
Ukraine vs Switzerland

27th June

Spain vs France

No comments: