The lull in World Cup action seems as good a time as any to crack open a beer, kick back with friends, put on a cigar (the three activities combined to be known as doing an â€˜Azzaâ€™ from now on) and contemplate, from a Spurs angle, the goings on of the last few weeks in South Africa.
Where better to start than England? We had the biggest representation in the squad of any English club & Spurs players could at the outset have been expected to play a large part in the campaign, successful or otherwise. In the end, only one of our â€˜Five Lionsâ€™ played a full game, Aaron Lennon against the US, and only Jermain Defoe featured in the decisive game in Bloemfontein last Sunday. Whilst it wasnâ€™t the little fellaâ€™s best of games, England wouldnâ€™t have been there at all without his shinned effort against Slovenia. Ledley, Dawson and Crouch were all peripheral figures with Kingâ€™s most notable act being to (allegedly) take the picture splashed all over the papers during the week, the one that gave those making calls for a public flogging for the players something more to lose perspective over.
As well as the game against the US, Lennon played for an hour against Algeria and overall was nowhere near as bad as people have made out. Whilst he wasnâ€™t the game-changing, match-winning player we see at WHL, he was careful in possession and contrary to popular belief did sling in some dangerous crosses. Alan Shearerâ€™s TV analysis of Lennonâ€™s performances prior to the Germany game was particularly woeful as he tried to perpetuate the myth that the winger has â€˜no final ballâ€™. Total cock. The only definition of a good cross is apparently one which is delivered by Saint Becks or one that ends up being diverted into the back of the net. I donâ€™t think so.
Few countries had a worse World Cup than England when measuring performance against expectations but Cameroon were probably one of them. Sebastien Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto were two relative newcomers in an experienced squad that went nowhere close to justifying their pre-tournament billing as Africaâ€™s best hope of making an impression at the continentâ€™s first World Cup. All three of their group games ended in defeat. Bassong played in the whole of the loss to Japan and most of the one to Denmark. Benny showcased his new hairdo (itâ€™s all about containment) in all of three of Cameroonâ€™s games. Both players will hopefully have learnt something from the experience not the least of which is that their decision to ignore the land of their birth and opt out of the possibility of being involved in the French debacle was a good one.
Speaking of France, one of the most enjoyable games so far has been Mexicoâ€™s demolition of the Gooners on tour in their group game. Mexicoâ€™s last sixteen, spirited loss to Argentina and the referee means that Giovani dos Santos has also packed his trunk and headed for warmer climes. To me he looked stylish but lightweight, like a lot of his teammates. Heâ€™s only a kid but Iâ€™d be surprised if heâ€™s done enough to change Harryâ€™s mind about him.
Honduras were one of the smallest countries in South Africa and will be disappointed not to have scored, but on the other hand they got a point and only conceded three to two of the tournamentâ€™s best teams, Spain and Chile. Their performances were more muscular than skilful but they never embarrassed themselves. Wilson played in all their games and (what a shocker!) was booked in two of them. He looked what he is, a non-stop runner who led by example in terms ofÂ â€˜they shall not passâ€™ type commitment. The sort of player that England couldâ€™ve done with for example.
We started with ten players in the competition overall, but only one is left. The magnificent Heurelho Gomes played most of Brazilâ€™s warm up game against Zimbabwe and all of the friendly against Tanzania where he was given the man of the match award in many reports despite Brazilâ€™s 5-1 win! Julio Cesar is back in nets for the tournament favourites now, but Gomes is well placed to become the first Spurs player to win a World Cup winners medal whilst at the club since, well Iâ€™m not sure to be honest, but my guess would be Jimmy Greaves. Good luck to him I say.
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