Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brazil revert back to nation hero to inspire World Cup triumph

Brazil’s chances of winning the 2014 World Cup on home soil have received a huge boost this week after the Brazil Football Confederation (CBF) revealed their new manager who will lead the team into the tournament: Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The former Chelsea and Portugal boss is regarded as one of Brazil’s greatest ever managers after guiding the national side to World Cup glory in 2002. Scolari’s name goes before him and this appointment will no doubt inspire fans in the betting world to back Brazil for the trophy next summer.

Indeed, Brazil fans will be especially relieved to see the return of their national hero after enduring a difficult 18-month reign under former boss Mano Menezes, who was dismissed last week. CBF changed tact when they appointed Menezes after the World Cup in 2010, opting to employ an unknown domestic club manager rather than a former player or world-renowned head coach.

Menezes’ arrival was seen as a progressive step to involving the Brazilian domestic league with the national team, which so often has its players competition in Europe rather than South America.

Yet the Menezes experiment failed, with Brazil falling in the quarter-finals of the 2011 Copa America to Paraguay, winning silver at the London Olympics and slumping to a record-low 14th in the FIFA rankings.

With a home World Cup just 18 months away the CBF had to act fast and rightly reverted to type in appointing Scolari. Granted, the manager was exposed as a poor man’s Claudio Ranieri when in charge of Chelsea but his international record speaks for itself: a World Cup, a final defeat at Euro 2004 with Portugal and recently the Copa do Brasil with Palmeiras.

In Scolari, Brazilian fans’ already high expectations for the World Cup will be insurmountable come the tournament. He has the players at his disposal and the experience to match, making Brazil formidable opponents to any side in two summers time. 

Don’t forget to check out all the Betfair FA Cup markets ahead of the second round this weekend, including the pick of the markets as MK Dons take on AFC Wimbledon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Japan on verge of making World Cup

Japanese football continued its development on Wednesday after the national side all-but qualified for their fifth successive FIFA World Cup with a late victory over Oman.

The match saw Japan taken almost to the very end by a battling Oman team but in the final minute Shinji Okazaki popped up to secure a 2-1 victory and extend the nation’s lead  in Group B of Asian qualifying.

The football live betting had always fancied the Blue Samurai to qualify, but with 18 months still to go before the World Cup in Brazil, Japan’s manager Alberto Zaccheroni will be pleased his side have secured their passage so early.

Japan have been on top form already this season and with World Cup qualification now out of the way the squad can concentrate on the FIFA Confederations Cup, which will be played next summer.

Indeed, the Confederations Cup can act as a stepping-stone for national sides looking to make headways in the World Cup, just like the USA did in 2009. After making the semi finals three years ago, the USA overcame Spain 2-0 to reach the final where they narrowly lost 3-2 to Brazil.

However, their experience in South Africa proved worthwhile as the side then performed above expectations at the 2010 World Cup, topping Group C.

 With Japan now able to focus on the Confederations Cup, Zaccheroni will hope the experienced his payers gain from the tournament in Brazil will aid their progression 12 months down the line. Japan have never surpassed the round of 16 but with players such as Shinji Kagawa, Atsuto Uchida and Okazaki all key figures at European clubs, Japan look set to turn heads in South America in two summers time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Donovan 50/50 over World Cup participation

United States legend Landon Donovan has suggested he may not partake in his country’s exploits at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after revealing the strains of league football is slowly getting to him.

Donovan, who has 144 international caps to his name, told ESPN recently that both physical and mental elements of the game are forcing him to think of retiring early, with Betfair football markets reacting negatively to the news, given’s Donovan’s influence on the US national team.

“I feel like there is a physical point which you hit when your body can’t take it like it used to, but there is also a mental place where your mind can’t do it anymore.

“But if you do it for as long as I have, you realise you hit a barrier and have to work really hard to keep it going.”

Asked if he would play at Brazil 2014 Donovan replied: “I don’t have the answer to that. There are a lot of moving pieces. If I had to guess I would say it is 50-50.”

Indeed, Donovan has been in the game for almost 13 years now and the 30-year-old’s body is starting to strain. Loan spells at Everton and Bayern Munich have reinvigorated the midfielder and prepared him for the standards of World Cups and CONCACAF Gold Cups in recent years, but these stints appear to have taken their toll on his body.

The three-time World Cup finals participant is no newcomer to the game and is more than aware of what his body is capable of. His LA Galaxy contract is up after the 2013 MLS season and if Donovan is not tempted to sign a new deal after that date he may just hang up his boots for good.

It would be a severe blow to Jürgen Klinsmann’s World Cup preparations and US soccer fans are likely to want their hero to stay on for just two more years at least.

Monday, November 5, 2012

South Africa could get Surman for Cup of Nations

With the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations only two months away, hosts South Africa’s chances of winning the tournament could be set for a huge boost after their coach revealed he intends to contact Norwich midfielder Andrew Surman on his availability for the side.

Current head coach Gordon Igesund, in the hope of tempting the former England U-21 star to the Bafana Bafana this January, has contacted Surman, who was born in South Africa before moving to the UK as a child.

The 26-year-old had previously declined to play for the nation of his birth after rejecting approaches from Igesund’s predecessors, Carlos Alberto Parreira and Pitso Mosimane.

However, Igesund told BBC Sport that a change of heart might just be on the cards, with his side favourites in the sports betting to lift the trophy on home soil.

“I want to see what his situation is now because I think he would add a lot of value to our team,”
Igesund said.

“We have the Nations Cup on home soil coming up so it would be a great opportunity for him. We’ll have a chat and see want his intentions are."

Indeed, the chance to play at the Africa Cup of Nations might just be too tempting for a player who has previously harboured hopes of an England call-up one day.

International tournaments are a different world to club football and Surman will likely consider his options, especially with a void to fill after the international retirement of Steven Pienaar.

He is unlikely to be missed in the Norwich set-up after playing just five soccer games this season and, although Carrow Road may see more of him over the busy Christmas period, the chance of playing at a huge tournament like the Cup of Nations is surely too good to let go.