World Cup Preview – Part 3

7 Jun

Group E


Paul Le Guen rescued them from a potentially disastrous qualification campaign, but a weak African Nations brought defensive worries to fore once more. Not helping matters, Samuel Eto’o threatened to quit the tournament recently after criticism from hero of 1990, Roger Milla.

Info for pun fans: Rigobert Song is well-versed in World Cup proceedings, while his namesake Alex Song may prove to be instrumental. 1990 hero Roger Milla will be hoping the team bread in well to their surroundings, but is a cereal offender when it comes to making a fool of himself.

Ben’s one to watch: Anfield legend Rigobert Song will roll back the years.

Prediction: Plenty of talent on show here, but little to suggest that the team can perform well as unit, especially when up against well-drilled opponents like Denmark and Japan. Group stage.


Unfancied by many, the Danish have built an organised unit which breezed through their tough qualifying group. A mix of old heads and new faces, expect a tight defence built on the centre-half pairing of Agger and Kjaer. Christian Eriksen is being touted as the next Michael Laudrup.

Info for non-fans: Denmark’s happy-go-lucky fans have dubbed themselves the Roligans, meaning calm, as a response to hooliganism. Expect to see plenty of Viking helmets with pigtails hanging off them.

Ben’s one to watch: Niclas Bendtner – his self-confidence is admirable. Will soon talk himself into winning the Ballon d’Or.

Predictions: With old heads like Sorensen, Tomasson and Poulsen among their ranks, the Danes have plenty of experience, and a canny coach in Morten Olsen. Could surprise a few people. Quarter-finalists.


Pardon the stereotype, but this Japanese side is extremely hard-working. Technical ability is not lacking either. Came close to beating England recently, before considerately donating two own-goals to prevent this, therefore allowing for the English campaign of self-delusion to continue.

Info for non-fans: Wikipedia specifies their imaginative nickname as the “Japanese Representatives (of soccer)”.

Ben’s one to watch: Shunsuke Nakamura – left the Dark Side and now uses the Force only for good.

Predictions: Plenty of work ethic, but perhaps not enough about them to progress. Group stage.


The Netherlands, as usual, arrive with a squad packed full of naturally-gifted players. A magic attacking quartet of Robben, Sneijeder, van der Vaart and van Persie would cause any defence problems. Sailed through a straightforward qualifying group.

Info for non-fans: You will probably able to see the Dutch fans in South Africa from here, without the aid of a television. Inventors of Total Voetball, the Dutch are perennial under-achievers, with an uncanny ability to press the self-destruct button.

Ben’s one to watch: In Nigel de Jong, Holland have a rare commodity – a defensive midfielder.

Prediction: Will stroll through the group, playing beautiful football in the process, before soiling themselves in the Quarter Finals. As usual.

Group F


Marcelo Lippi’s main selection criteria for his squad seems to have been “also present in 2006”. Having been let off the hook by Ireland in qualifying, the four years since they lifted the trophy have not been kind to Italy. Still, they possess a strong midfield of Pirlo, De Rossi, and Gattuso.

Info for non-fans: The current holders, Italy are the Covenanter Flats of international football.

Ben’s one to watch: Fabio Cannavaro can only get better with age.

Prediction: A weak group means they will probably be able to afford the luxury of a slow start, but an aging back-line will struggle to cope with pace. Hopes of retaining the trophy are pastry product in the sky. Second round.

New Zealand

After more or less qualifying automatically, New Zealand can look forward to their first world cup…with fear and trepidation. They looked utterly hopeless in the Confederations Cup last year, but a recent win over Serbia has lifted spirits somewhat.

Info for pun fans: The metallurgy-themed strike partnership of Smeltz and Killen is almost too good be true. Expect them to be in red-hot form.

Ben’s one to watch: Jonah Lomu

Prediction: They can’t possibly be as bad as they were last summer, but the All-Whites may still be found to be well out of their depth at this level. Group stage.


The nation that brought us Jose Luiz Chilavert are a somewhat unknown quantity. However, the strikeforce of Roque Santa Cruz and Oscar Cardozo promises much, with Cristian Riveros in behind pulling the strings. Have made the second round every time they’ve qualified.

Info for non-fans: Paraguay will be without forward Salvador Cabanas, who was ruled out of the tournament with a gunshot wound to the head. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Ben’s one to watch: Aureliano Torres – good name, good player.

Prediction: Have enough attacking talent to maintain their record of always getting through the groups, but a decent defensive side could stifle them. Second round.


Not to be confused with near namesakes Slovenia. Slovakia qualified as winners of Northern Ireland’s group, and as fans of the Occupied Six will attest, the debutants are a pretty decent side. However, recent friendly results have been uninspiring. The form of captain Marek Hamsik will be key.

Info for non-fans: Coach Vladimir Weiss has picked his son in the squad, also named Vladimir. Hottie-spotters will notice defender Martin Skrtel.

Ben’s one to watch: Martin Skrtel

Prediction: In their first World Cup, the Slovakians will be keen to impress. Sadly for them, Paraguay and Italy look stronger. Group stage.


11 Responses to “World Cup Preview – Part 3”

  1. Joel L June 7, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    “Niclas Bendtner – his self-confidence is admirable. Will soon talk himself into winning the Ballon d’Or.”

    His self confidence is second only to one person…

  2. ben June 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    no idea what your talking about joel…. also ‘the darkside’ bit was class

  3. Cream Bun June 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    He’s talking about you ben.

  4. Creambun (the real one) June 9, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Well I see that someone has been posing as me and doing a bit of clarifying! This is not on!

    I do not accept responsibility for the previous post even if the clarification is correct!

  5. Jonny June 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    “You will probably able to see the Dutch fans in South Africa from here, without the aid of a television.”

    Indeed, one only has to look out their “windowsh”.

    Disappointed to see some of the vital punning info disappear ;)

  6. Joel L June 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    You’ll note the imposter made a simple lingusitic error – “Cream Bun”, not “Creambun”.

  7. Creambun (the real one) June 11, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    Yes indeed Joel. ‘Cream Bun’ is an entirely different person, but I am, strangely enough, related to him.

  8. Joel L June 12, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    Perhaps you could show me how with a family tree sometime

  9. James Blair June 16, 2010 at 1:56 am #

    I’m not liking this impersonating!

    Men of this blog, note the probable change in the email address that is required between this comment and previous! I have resorted to using my real name to quash this false commenting and if it does not stop, I will never comment again.

    James Blair, Chairman of the CY Synodical Committee, BSc (Hons), PGDip.

  10. Joel L June 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Who is James Blair?

  11. Steelo June 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Jonny! Windowsh! Yesh!!

    What ‘disappeared’?!

    Good clarifying Cream Bun!

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