It's been a busy week on the international stage as the World Cup Finalists get their final tune ups in for the impending extravaganza. Here's how they shook out...(teams in the tournament are in bold, each team's Coca Cola Rating is shown before them, so you can put things in some context).
- #20 Australia and #78 New Zealand hold the all important fate of Oceanic Football in their hands this year. Although they are in different groups in the tournament, they squared off to test their mettle on Monday, or maybe over there it was Tuesday, I don't really know. AZ Alkmaar's Brett Holman scored in stoppage time to give Australia a 2-1 win. The Socceroos trailed 1-0 at the half and were booed off the pitch by their home fans, who also were throwing boomerangs at them. Good thing they won or they would have been fed to the kangaroos.
- #83 South Africa may have a hard time getting out of a group that includes Mexico, France, and Uruguay. They put forth a decent showing in their tuneup this week against #39 Bulgaria. They managed a 1-1 draw thanks to an early goal by Siyabonga Sangweni.
- #45 Japan's manager Takeshi Okada had his request to commit ritualistic seppoku denied by the Japanese football authorities following their shameful 2-0 home loss to #47 South Korea.
- #3 Portugal limped to a bizarre 0-0 draw at home against the Cape Verde Islands. It wasn't that they rested all their stars. They didn't. They had Cristiano Ronaldo starting and still couldn't score against the #114 Cape Verde Islands. My God.
- #7 Argentina inspired coach Diego Maradona to threaten us all with running around naked if his team wins the World Cup, thanks to their 5-0 thrashing of #63 Canada.
- Leave it to #8 England to flagellate themselves for not playing well enough and being convinced they are doomed even though from where I am sitting they looked fine in a workmanlike 3-1 home win over #17 Mexico.
- In a matchup of the 2 worst governed nations on Earth, there fittingly were no winners. #13 Greece and #105 North Korea played to a 2-2 draw. An interesting result though for a North Korea team that nobody knows anything about, playing a top 20 team to a draw.
- #19 Cameroon's Indomitable Lions weren't domited by #120 Georgia, but they didn't inspire a lot of confidence either as they sleepwalked to a 0-0 draw.
- #21 Nigeria was another African Nation in this watershed event for the continent that failed to impress in their prep this week, 0-0 against #66 Saudi Arabia.
- #41 Ireland was famously robbed of a spot in this tournament thanks to some goofy officiating in their qualifier against France. They took it out on #31 Paraguay, beating them 2-1 in Dublin.
- The #14 United States didn't play their A-lineup against the #33 Czech Republic, but still it's hard to take anything positive out of the 4-2 loss they suffered in Connecticut against a non-qualifying nation.
- #18 Chile bumbled to a 0-0 halftime score at home against #71 Zambia, but finally found their game after the break to cruise to a 3-0 win.
- #17 Mexico had a really busy week, just 2 days after facing England they turned around and took on #4 Netherlands. 2 goals from Robin van Persie in a driving rain gave Holland a 2-1 win. A pretty demanding preparation week for Mexico though, going across the ocean and playing 2 games in 3 days against top 10 teams. We'll see if that helps them when the games count in a couple of weeks.
- #36 Denmark looked like a team that could sneak into the 2nd round in a draw that includes Japan and Cameroon, who both failed to impress this week. They topped #75 Senegal 2-0.
- #16 Uruguay has a pretty favorable draw, and they looked like they have the intention of taking advantage of it when they battered #25 Israel 4-1 in Montevideo.
- #9 France continues to sputter. They fell behind #40 Costa Rica early before bouncing back to win 2-1 on a late goal from OM's Mathieu Valbuena. Valbueno!
- Not that anyone is expecting big things in South Africa from #38 Honduras, but they really looked like easy pickin's in a lackluster 2-2 draw against #82 Belarus.
- All 3 goals of #83 South Africa's 2-1 win over #35 Colombia were scored on PK's.
Group A- Uruguay, South Africa
B- South Korea, Argentina
G- North Korea
Group A- France
B- Nigeria, Greece
C- United States
E- Cameroon, Japan