Connect with us

Sports

2010 W/Cup: How Will Spain Cope With Favourites Tag?

Published

on

Spain are universally considered to be favourites to lift the FIFA World Cup in South Africa on July 11.

Their triumph at Euro 2008 has loosened the medallion of ‘nearly-men’ from around their neck, a hindrance which proved to be too heavy for Raul’s generation to overcome, and for the first time ever, La Furia Roja enter a major tournament with little to prove.

Similar to the respect that domestic champions Barcelona collect from across the globe, Spain are widely regarded as wonderful to watch, and have a squad bristling with talent. To many, they would be worthy winners of a tournament where the major European superpowers such as Italy, France and the injury-hit Germans are not seen on paper as viable threats.

However, in a similar vein to France after their Euro 2000 victory, the weight of expectation that success can bring can often be as overbearing as the hunt for success itself. At World Cup 2002, Les Bleus were deemed to be the team to beat, but their bid to become the first side since Brazil in 1962 to retain the title was a disastrous one. An unfamiliar climate in an unfamiliar continent combined with a stunning opening game defeat to Senegal, the absence of Zinedine Zidane in the first two group matches, and a dramatic loss of form to key individuals left France winless, goal-less, and going home.

Vicente del Bosque’s men should take heed. On paper, their draw seems relatively straightforward, but being installed as pre-tournament favourites immediately places them on a pedestal, to be shot down by Honduras, Chile and Switzerland, who will be in the hunt for a famous result. Furthermore, La Roja’s World Cup history is littered with giant-killing defeats – Northern Ireland in 1982, Nigeria in 1998 and South Korea in 2002, to name but a few.

Being the team expected to do well, and expected to win, can psychologically disrupt a player’s focus and drive; if anyone in the squad feel that they will cruise through Group H simply by turning up to the party, they could be monumentally brought back down to Earth.

It could be argued that this team is too experienced to allow for such an elementary error of judgement, but it comes with the territory of being the team to beat, and the failure to perform in one match (think of the defeat to the USA in last summer’s Confederations Cup semi-final) can bring a methodically-planned campaign to a grinding halt.

Indeed complacency is a concern of every manager when facing inferior opposition, and one that is difficult to eradicate. Del Bosque’s array of talent must be able to disregard the praise and channel their preparations solely on the next opponent. ‘Taking each game as it comes’ may be a tired cliché, but in knockout competitions such as the World Cup, taking place in a month of intense action, it is absolutely crucial.

South Africa will become the epicentre of the planet from June 11 until July 11, with players facing greater media demand, greater scrutiny, not to mention seven matches in the space of 30 days, should they reach the final. The next match is the biggest match, as Del Bosque will repeat ad nauseum to his final 23, and there will be no talk of finals, of being victorious, only on the next task in hand.

World Cup fever is beginning to kick in, and one way of recognising this is the manner in which each nation’s domestic press exacerbate any minor team issues, and pinpoint any errors in a ruthless manner. If ever proof of this fact were needed, it can be found in the recent criticism of goalkeeper Iker Casillas following his performance versus Saudi Arabia. If even ‘San Iker’ isn’t safe from the snipers, then it’s time to recognise the euphoria and chaos that can ensue during a World Cup campaign.

Spain and in particular Victor Valdes, handled the situation superbly, giving the Real Madrid legend his full public backing. There had been concerns that Valdes’ inclusion despite never being capped at international level, could be a potential disruption to an otherwise harmonious squad. Valdes, however, was appreciative of the situation, and behaved diplomatically – an attitude that Spain’s squad as a whole has maintained, and will stand them in good stead.

The point being that it isn’t only the teams on the pitch that want to see a favourite falter, if there is potential for upsetting a squad, the manic, press-orientated World Cup bandwagons can see to that. Moreover, Spain’s recent imperious form has led to a general anticipation that this is a team in the midst of a halcyon era, and that world domination will naturally follow.

There is still the ongoing saga regarding the future of Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres at club level, and transfer rumours affect players more than they would like to admit. The English Premier League duo have been subject to incessant questioning regarding their destination for the 2010/11 season, Del Bosque needs to know that his players are focused on the task in hand.

The role of favourite brings additional problems to a coach and squad ahead of a major tournament that can easily be succumbed to. Vicente Del Bosque’s side will need to use all of their experience to avoid falling foul of the problems that have haunted them, and indeed others in their position, in the past.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Sports

NDDC U-17 Peace Cup To Resume In Uyo

Published

on

The long awaited finale of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) U-17 Peace Cup would expectedly resume next week as two qualified teams from the nine states converge in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.
Technical Director of the tournament  Etim Esin in a statement on behalf  of the Local Organising Committee Chairman John Ekpeyong and Secretary Ada Gwegwe yesterday said the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, will declare the tournament open.
It added that the Special Assistant to the President Muhammad Buhari, on Sports Development, Coach Daniel Amokachi, NFF Technical Director Coach Augustine Eguavoen along with football legend Taribo West and other notable Niger Delta-based and foreign scouts will be on ground.
The LOC appreciated the Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, for his support towards the conclusion of the tournament, adding that it is better late than never, as the competition will still be among his numerous legacies.
According to the statement, the arrival date for participating teams is 11th of December, while screening of teams and official kick off, will take place the following day.
The statement further called on the Coordinators of the states not to forget the rules of engagement, especially on the age bracket of the players, as the screening will be strict, for the aim of the competition to be achieved.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Sports

FIBA World Cup: Kida Lauds D’Tigers’ Strong Qualifiers Start

Published

on

Top basketball administrator and immediate past Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) president, Engr Musa Kida, has congratulated the D’Tigers for starting their 2022 FIBA World Cup on a strong note after picking two victories in three matches.
With five points from a possible six and a superior point difference, the team sits comfortably atop group A ahead of the next round of games coming up by the 27th of June, 2022.
Kida described the team’s performance as inspiring despite peculiar circumstances surrounding the federation’s election as well as FIBA’s stance over Nigeria’s participation at the qualifiers.
“It is really nice to start such important qualifiers on a winning note which is very good for our chances of qualifying for the World Cup. We had to put our administrative differences aside for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
“We feel elated and justified that our decision to give FIBA the go ahead to register the team which enabled them participate paid off in the long run as we join hands with all stakeholders to continue growing the game in Nigeria”.
16 teams are vying for the available five spots at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Nigeria grouped alongside Mali, Cape Verde and Uganda.
“The top three teams from each group will advance to the Second Round of the African Qualifiers and will join three other teams to create two six-team groups with results from the preliminary rounds carried over,” Musa added.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Sports

AWCON Qualifiers: Ebi Targets Revenge Against Ivory Coast

Published

on

Super Falcons defender, Onome Ebi, says the team will go all out for revenge when they clash against Ivory Coast in their final 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers next year.
The qualifying game which will be played on a home and away basis is scheduled for February 13 and 17 with the winners qualifying for the AWCON in Morocco.
The Falcons who will be hoping to defend the title they won at the 2018 in Ghana are eyeing their 10th trophy Morocco but to qualify for the event, they’ll have to go past the Ivorians who knocked them out of contention for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Ebi, who is Nigeria’s current longest-serving player says her aim is to avenge the loss that saw them miss out on the 2020 Olympics at the hands of the Ivorians.
“I can tell you that we still nurse the pain of missing out of the Tokyo Olympics as a result of the loss to Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying series,” Ebi said.
“This time, we will repay them in their own coins. Personally, I want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup, and I know it is the same for my teammates.”
The Falcons are the most successful African women’s team in the world and have won the AWCON a record nine times and will be hoping to get their 10th next year after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Trending