Monday, May 31, 2010

11 Days To Go: Summer Time


Bright, sunny days such as today in New York City remind me what I love so much about soccer.
Lush, green grass.
Warm, balmy weather.
Dust being kicked up from the tracks of football players.

It's the sight, smells and feelings of playing the sport that drive one to identify so much with the Messis and Ronaldos of the world, who'll be vying for the world's richest sporting prize in 11 days time.

What's the weather going to be like in South Africa anyways?

Today's Tidbits

1 - Fabio Capello looks set to steer the England ship until 2012.

2 - USA lands safely in South Africa. USA, USA, USA!

3 - Nice pictures of South Africa's World Cup stadiums.

4 - Guess who's the new coach of Real Madrid? The Special One, Jose Mourinho. A match made in heaven, if you ask me.

5 - What's the mood in South Africa less than two weeks before the start of the Cup? The World Cup and CSR blog has an interesting take, with a view of the ongoing situation before the Cup starts from blogger Adam Boros.

What I Think I Think

Can it be? Could someone from FIFA actually be talking sense?


According to the football website The Spoiler, the annoying South African noisemaker known as the vuvuzela may be banned during the World Cup.

Joy of joys!

Look, I'm all for expressing your unique cultural qualities.
Singing, dancing, etc. I think it's fabulous.

But the vuvuzela is incredibly annoying.

It's 50,000 people blowing their air horns (vuvuzelas), making a noise that can only be described as a nasty beehive descending on your head.

Remember the Confederation Cup last year? How indescribable the noise of the South African noisemaker was? You didn't hear cheering or singing or boos and yays. You heard a non-ending BZZZZZ that kept going and going and ...

According to the website:

Prior to South Africa’s warm-up friendly with Colombia yesterday, fans were warned the plastic horn was still ‘under review’ and could be banned from the World Cup if too much noise was made during the match. Apparently TV networks have been struggling to cope with the 140db onslaught during broadcasts, while players have complained of not being able to hear their manager, or even each other.
Making a point of not actually referring to vuvuzelas directly, head of the World Cup Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan, warned fans to choose the right moment to make their noise:

'If there is an order to evacuate that stadium and an announcement is made, you have to ask yourself, will everyone in that stadium hear that evacuation order?'

Jordaan also made it clear the instruments would banned if “one incident of violence [occurs] involving a vuvuzela”. We’re not sure how much damage you can do with a plastic stick, but there you go, the man has spoken.

Hallelujah!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

12 Days To Go: Protracted Edition


We're less than two weeks away from the 2010 World Cup and we here at 'Road to 2010' pause to reflect during a holiday weekend in the USA ...


(pause)


And how was that for everyone?


Today, a short edition of the blog as it's Memorial Day in the US and we'd like to get our BBQ on.


Today's Tidbits


1 - USA defeated Turkey 2-1 last night in their final domestic tuneup before traveling to South Africa. Not bad. But June 12th is what counts.


2 - Quick! What's the best country never to win a World Cup? Yep, the Dutch. Can they win it all this year?


3 - Samuel Eto'o whined and threatened to take his ball home if people didn't stop bad mouthing him. All for naught, as Eto'o plans on playing for Cameroon in the World Cup. Baby ...


4 - England didn't look too hot in a 2-1 win over Japan.


5 - Mexico '86: The World Cup that had everything! According to Four Four Two magazine, at least.


What I Think I Think


I think I need to get off this computer and enjoy some sun! You do the same. See you tomorrow!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

13 Days To Go: Travel Advisory


I know tons of people making their way to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.

One thing these very (very) lucky people don't have to worry about is tickets, as most people venturing to the tournament have their entrance passes.

But ticket sales to African citizens have been sluggish. (Maybe because the tickets are 6 feet tall? Look at the size of that thing!)

Not anymore. Looks like ticket demand is sky high with the Cup a mere two weeks away.

So all these tales of empty stadiums we've been reading the past few weeks? Doubtful.

Now does anyone have a ticket they can spare for their friendly neighborhood blogger?!?

Today's Tidbits

1 - Photographer Michael Donald of the Guardian tracks down the men who have lived every boy's dream – to score in the World Cup final. A compelling gallery.
2 - Five questions England must answer before their 2-1 loss to the United States in their opening match.
3 - Just-football.com has an analysis of all 32 squads at the World Cup. Here's their Spain assessment. Can you say winner?
4 - Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o on Friday questioned his participation at the World Cup finals after criticism from former compatriot Roger Milla that he had brought nothing to his country. And we thought divas only existed in American sports.
5 - The Columbian national team were robbed by 'scantily clad girls' at their Johannesburg hotel hours after 2-1 friendly defeat to South Africa. Salacious.

What I Think I Think




The entire premise of this blog centered around a trip to Africa for the 2010 World Cup. That didn't materialize. So while I'm extremely jealous of everyone making their way south for the Cup in 2 weeks time, heed my advice: be careful.


The alert includes mentions of a heightened risk for terrorist activity (American citizens traveling in South Africa are encouraged to register with the United States mission to receive specific alerts), a general warning on crime and “public disturbances,” and even a note about a shortage of lodging, particularly in the smaller World Cup host cities.

There is also a reminder about the so-called yellow fever belt, which covers much of Africa and South America, and the need to carry proof of yellow fever vaccination.

Better safe than sorry, eh?

Have fun ... lucky buggers.


Friday, May 28, 2010

14 Days to Go: Almost There!


14 days away!

Two weeks to go until the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa! Can you believe it? Time flies when you're having fun.

South Africa v. Mexico opens the biggest sporting event in the world in two weeks time and I'm wondering: Will the casual fan watch?

Now I know many people could care less about soccer/football in the United States. But this is the World Cup. This is as big as it gets.

Even the soccer hater has to at least gaze at the TV screen to see how the Italys and Brazils of the world are doing, no?

Even someone who doesn't understand the 1st thing about the 'Beautiful Game' must want to know what the hub bub is about, eh?

Ahh, what do I know?

What I DO know is that I can't wait ... two weeks away!!!!

Today's Tidbits

1 - How will the host country do at the 2010 World Cup? South Africa have been widely tipped for World Cup humiliation but Carlos Alberto Parreira has forged a new team spirit, according to David Smith of the Guardian.
3 - Meet the soccer studs of the 2010 World Cup. This one's for the ladies.
4 - Who are the top 10 teams to never win the World Cup? Holland? '82 Brazil?
5 - France will host Euro 2016. Road to 2016 Euro, anyone?

What I Think I Think


Days after Argentina coach/Greatest Player of All-time Diego Maradona promised to run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires should his country win the Cup, more salacious news from the South American power.


Joy!

It's common practice to sequester players during a tournament. Honestly, who wants athletes wasting energy on their significant others when they should be trying to win matches?

Apparently that's not the thinking of the Argentinians.

"The players can have sex with their wives and girlfriends during the World Cup," Dr. Donato Vallani said on Radio Del Plata (via AP). "Players are not Martians."

But the doctor did have one set of restrictions, saying the players' sex "should not be at 2 a.m. with champagne and Havana cigars."

So what would his words to former President Bill Clinton be?


Thursday, May 27, 2010

15 Days To Go: The Beautiful Game


Followers of soccer or football or futbol (or whatever you call it) also refer to the sport as 'the Beautiful Game.'

Certainly, long-time fans know why it's beautiful.

Skillful play, impeccable ball handling, expert dribbling and exhilarating goals make us jump out of our seats and tremble with joy.

But where I'm from, the United States, most people would rather watch baseball or golf than 'the Beautiful Game.'

Come 15 days, though and the casual fan will catch a match or two to figure out what the rest of the world finds so fascinating about this strange game.

So for those of you with friends who have no idea what the World Cup is about, I present ...

Today's Tidbits

1 - A World Cup FAQ for your friends who have no idea what the World Cup is about!
For example, say your friend ask, 'How does the World Cup work?'
Well, there's an answer for that and so much more. Make sure to forward it along.

2 - President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton welcomed the USA national team to the White House before their departure to South Africa.

"Everybody's going to be rooting for you" Obama said.
No, they won't.
3 - Some bad news: Michael Essien is out of Ghana's World Cup squad. UGGH.
Brazil.
Surprise, surprise.
5 - Another FAQ of sorts for people who don't watch soccer but want to watch the World Cup. This is comprehensive and just awesome in so many ways.
It's good, it's informative and it's very funny ... Read it now!

What I Think I Think

I don't really have anything to say today, so I'll just list some stuff I think.

- I'm not a fan of friendlies. I understand they're important, but they're pointless overall. So until the real matches start in 15 days, I just don't care.

So the US lost to the Czech Republic in a friendly. And? What exactly does that mean and why should I care?

- Speaking of the USA, if they happen to win the World Cup, what would the celebrations be like in the States?

- Who do you think is the favorite going in to the Cup?
For me, it's Spain. Some say Brazil. Others say it's England. Others say it's Holland.
I'd really like it to be Spain. It's their time and they play brilliant football.

Umm, that's it people. I don't have anything more.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

16 Days To Go: Hot Hot Hot!


If you're in New York, you're probably standing in front of an air conditioner or fan.
It's HOT, something like 99 degrees.
Since when is it summer in May?!?
I wonder if it'll be this hot in South Africa for the World Cup?
Probably not ... anyways, I digress.

Today's Tidbits

1 - Diego Maradona will run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires if Argentina win the World Cup. Lock up your women and children now.
2 - USA announces their 23-man roster ... you know, the team that will defeat England 2-1 June 12th.
3 - Did you hear? Jose 'the Special One' Mourinho, fresh off his Champions League victory with Real Madrid, is the new coach of Real Madrid.
4 - From one of my favorite football websites, The Global Game ... 'Football's powers of resurrection have rarely had a better exemplar than Martin Afrika. The 32-year-old captain for South Africa at the Homeless World Cup has reconstructed his identity through sport.'
5 - Who were the 10 greatest Cameroon football players of all time? Glad you asked ...

What I Think I Think

This past weekend's Champions League final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich didn't do so hot in the ratings.

The first U.S. over-the-air network telecast of a European Champions League final got a 1.1 overnight rating and 3 share on Fox from major markets.

Fox Sports chairman David Hill said last week he hoped for a rating of 2.0 to 2.5. So it has to be somewhat disheartening to see the ratings info.

But when you think about it, it's not as bad as you think.

First off, it wasn't the sexiest match-up. Inter? Munich? We're not talking Manchester United and Real Madrid here.

Second, did you even know the game was on Fox? I didn't. It's not like the network did a great job of advertising the match. Maybe to the die hards that watch Fox Soccer Channel. But the casual fan had to search for the game.

Also, people usually watch big matches like this in groups. I watched it with about 40 people at a bar. So it makes sense that there were a lot more eyes on this match than the rating indicates.

Lastly, football's just not that big of a sport in the USA.

No big revelation here, of course. Soccer has its niche, much like ice hockey and Nascar. And that's ok.

Besides, more people will watch the World Cup, which usually attracts the casual fan.

Seen in this light, the rating's ok. No need to worry. The game's just fine here in the States.






Tuesday, May 25, 2010

17 Days To Go: A Correction


Whoops! I made a boo boo yesterday.

I mentioned that Inter Milan striker Diego Milito, scorer of two goals in this past weekend's boring Champions League final was off Argentina's World Cup squad.

Whoops. Thanks to my friend Andrew, I am now aware Mr. Milito is indeed playing for Los Albiceleste. So sorry for calling you a drug addict, Diego Maradona.

Today's Tidbits

1 - The aforementioned Milito is eager to face Nigeria in their Group B opener on June 12th.

"After what I have achieved with my teammates at Inter Milan, my attention is now to help my country do well at the World Cup. For us to do well, we must start well and I hope to do my bit in the tournament. It is important for us to win our first match and if I get the chance to play, I would try to score because I want our fans to be happy", said Milito.
So there.
2 - Cristiano Ronaldo is NOT happy about his Vanity Fair cover shot. Why? Click here and find out.
3 - If the U.S. wants to be a soccer power on the global stage, it should take a look at how the game is played kids on the fields in Queens: with freewheeling joy, according to the New York Times.
4 - Relive 40 years of absurd, borderline racist World Cup mascots, thanks to Deadspin.
5 - With barely a fortnight to go, the sound of keepers bleating about the official tournament football has been conspicuously absent, according to England's Guardian.

What I Think I Think




Besides the 2010 World Cup, what's the biggest story of the football summer?
No, it's not the transfer of David Villa to Barcelona and the rumored one of Fernando Torres from Liverpool.

It's the impending announcement of Jose Mourinho becoming the next coach of Real Madrid.

Honestly, isn't this a match made in heaven?

A smug coach for a somewhat narcissistic football club ... you couldn't write this better.

Mourinho is a winner. He's captured titles almost everywhere he's gone.

Problem is, Madrid go through coaches like most people go through toothbrushes: once they're worn out from the pressure, time to get a new one.

Look at this list of coaches since Vicente del Bosque was canned in 2003:

- Carlos Quieroz
- Jose Antonio Camacho
- Mariano Garcia Remon
- Vanderlei Luxemburgo
- Juan Ramon Lopez Caro
- Fabio Capello
- Bernd Schuster
- Juande Ramos
- Manuel Pellegrini

That's 9 guys, one who won the league title and was STILL sacked (Capello).

So what does this club need? Stability would be nice. Consistency even better.

Imagine the pressure on the Special One should he come to the World's (Self-Proclaimed) Biggest Club? He'd need to best FC Barcelona, who have built a super team with a much different philosophy than Los Merengues, promoting more from within and buying players more for need.

Also, he'd be expected to win the club's first European Championship (the elusive Decima, the 10th in Madrid's history) sooner rather than later.

The Spanish press is notorious for chewing coaches up and spitting them out. Does Jose really want to step into that vitreous cauldron? If the newspapers in Spain are to be believed, it's a done deal.

Of course, if anyone's ready for the pressure and can take it, it's the Special One.
Should make for an interesting season should you support one of the big two clubs in the Iberian Peninsula.





Monday, May 24, 2010

18 Days To Go!


Ok, I'm finally back. And this time for good!
The 2010 World Cup is a mere 18 days away!
Time flies when you're having fun, eh?

From here on out, this is how the site will work:

- 5 links each day to interesting World Cup stories.
- My daily opinion on the day's events.
- Since I can't make it to South Africa for the Cup, I'll enjoy the sights and sounds of the US's most cosmopolitan metropolis, New York City, and hit up some of the city's best foreign enclaves to watch the matches with fans and soak up some international atmosphere.

That's a decent consolation prize, no? No?! Hey, it's the best I can do. Unless you can get me $10,000 in the next two weeks.

Ok, so here we go ...

Today's Tidbits

1 - How about a preview of one of South America's under-the-radar football powers, Paraguay?
2 - If you're going to the World Cup, be careful about getting sick ...

According to a new study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, visitors traveling to South Africa will need to worry less about 'exotic' tropical diseases such as malaria, and concentrate on protecting themselves from a wide range of more common travel-related diseases, such as acute diarrheal illness, sexually transmitted diseases, febrile illnesses, insect and tick bites, and vaccine-preventable infections, especially influenza and measles.

So maybe it's good I'm staying here in New York? Yikes!!
3 - US 'keeper Tim Howard is proud of America's goal keeper tradition.
4 - England beats Mexico in a friendly ... and more friendly results from Monday.
5 - Spain's Xabi Alonso thinks Spain can with the World Cup. Ya think?

What I Think I Think

Umm, let's see.

I didn't watch the friendlies, so can't go there.
The World Cup is weeks away, so why bother at this point ...

Hmm ... Oh! I know ... Did we all watch Inter Milan's domination of Bayern Munich in the Champions League final this past Saturday?

Excuse me, Mr. Diego Maradona ... but what exactly were you smoking when you left Inter striker Diego Milito off your squad list? Tsk tsk. And he brought 87-year old Martin Palermo instead? I dunno. I'm not sure how this move will pay off.

The Greatest Player of All Time may have some explaining to do come the end of the tournament.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Was Dunga wrong to leave out Ronaldinho?


Today, an interesting comment from 2010 World Cup head organizer Danny Jordaan concerning the selection of Brazil's squad for the tournament.

Jordaan criticized Brazil coach Dunga for leaving AC Milan star Ronaldinho out of Brazil's first-choice squad for the Cup, saying some coaches are "blinded" by a sense of power.

Jordaan said Ronaldinho is a "soccer genius" who had talents "enjoyed by few in the game, both past and present."

Ronaldinho will only play in South Africa if there are injuries to other players after Dunga left the two-time world player of the year out of his 23-man squad yesterday.

Jordaan said it was it was "sad and unfortunate" the tournament would suffer without Ronaldinho and that someone of Dunga's experience should have selected the Milan midfielder as a "matter of course."

Of course, the former Barcelona star isn't the only big star left out of the tournament.

Also missing is Francesco Totti and Luca Toni from Italy, Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso from Argentina and Patrick Vieira from France, along with many others.

Certainly, the Cup will miss the presence of these great players. But others will fill their shoes and be mentioned in the same breath as these wonderful talents as they display their wares for the world to see come June 11th.

What do you think? Is Jordaan right in his assessment? Should players like Ronaldinho be 'grandfathered' into Cup competitions because of who they are?



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Long Time No Talk!


Hey there, how are you? Long time no talk!

It's been some time since I've written on Road to 2010 and I wanted to update everyone on what's going on.

First, unless I win the lottery or someone sends me $10,000, I won't be going to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. Sad but true.

The premise of this blog was to document my journey to South Africa and the World Cup. In that vein, I've failed.

What happened? A variety of factors caused my desire and passion to wane.

One, I grew cynical about the game of football.

Football is a never ending sport, with fixtures popping up almost every weekend of the year. This saturation (over saturation?) caused me to loathe the game. I tried to stay away from it rather than embrace it.

Second, my economic situation changed. That's something that's happened to many people, not just me. The economy has been a whirlwind the past few years. I've been personally affected.

Lastly, I hit a wall. I didn't know how to continue the blog, my writing or my journey. I grew frustrated. I threw my hands up and simply called time out.

But not all is lost.

I feel I've got my mo jo back! I'm loving the Beautiful Game again and I'm excited to come back to this platform and write.

I'm looking for ideas on how to continue this blog through the World Cup and beyond.

I've a few good ideas. I'd like to hear from you, the readers and see what you think as well.

E-mail me at cesarbenoitjr AT gmail DOT com and let me know what you think. All suggestions and comments will be greatly appreciated.

The blog is back!! Hope to have you along for the ride.