Tag Archives: World cup

World Cup 2014 – Brazil’s squad

Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was among the first of national managers to announce his final squad for the World Cup to be held at home ground in about a month’s time. He has made a few clever selections, but dropped several players to stir controversy as well. After all, FIFA limits the number of players in a squad to 23, so obviously harsh choices have to be made.

Scolari picked three goalkeepers in the squad, including possible first-choice Julio Cesar, Botafogo’s Jefferson and Atletico Mineiro’s Victor. He has opted to drop Fluminense’s Diego Cavalieri, although Cesar would most likely be the first-choice goalkeeper due to his vast experience playing at the top level.

In defence, Scolari has opted for experience over youth. His youngest defender is David Luiz, at 26. Luiz is likely to be paired up with captain Thiago Silva in defence, flanked by Marcelo and Dani Alves, both of whom are extremely offensive-minded. Their deputies will be Maxwell, Russ Henrique and Dante. Among those dropped are the young defensive prospect Marquinhos, Rafinha, Dede, Marcos Rocha, Rever and Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis.

Three Chelsea midfielders have been picked for the squad, they are Ramires, Oscar and Willian. Paulinho, Hernanes, Fernandinho and Luiz Gustavo have also been picked to provide cover in central midfield and speedy Bernard down the wing will definitely provide a threat to opponents.

Brazil’s talisman Neymar has also been included, as are his striker partners Fred, Jo and Hulk. Neymar has an incredible scoring record for Brazil, at the age of just 22, he has scored 30 goals while amassing 47 caps. Fred, too, has a decent scoring rate, scoring 16 times in 31 internationals.

Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho and Lucas Leiva have been surprisingly dropped despite being key men in Liverpool’s charge towards a second place position in the English Premier League this season. Coutinho has fallen behind Oscar and Willian in the pecking order and was thus dropped. Lucas was injured for the earlier half of the season and Scolari probably did not see the point of picking a sixth central or defensive midfielder.

Ronaldinho and Kaka have been denied chances to win World Cup glory this year, as they have been dropped despite their illustrious careers seeing both players win Ballon d’Ors. Lucas Moura, Alexandre Pato and Fernando have been dropped despite having their careers ahead of them. Robinho has been dropped after unconvincing form. Despite being picked for the Confederations Cup last year, Jadson and Leandro Damiao have too been dropped.

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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Real life football


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World Cup 2014 – Who will be England’s left-back?

With the World Cup 2014 descending onto us soon, England manager Roy Hodgson is facing a selection headache – he was too much quality at the left-back position. A spot long held by Chelsea’s Ashley Cole, it is now challenged primarily by Everton’s Leighton Baines and Southampton’s Luke Shaw. Nobody except Hodgson knows who will get picked, but it is probably confirmed that he will only pick two left-backs to ensure adequate depth in other areas of the field as well.

Chelsea’s Ashley Cole

Cole might have been the default choice in the past few years, but due to his lack of form at Chelsea which saw him lose his left-back spot to Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta, he has played fewer games under Jose Mourinho. However, with over 100 caps for the England national team and countless trophies won at Arsenal and Chelsea, he provides the experience that Hodgson needs in defence. The Chelsea man does have astute defending skills and can be efficient in attacks as well.

Everton’s Leighton Baines

Baines has been on-form in recent seasons and he is a late bloomer at the age of 29. With his marauding runs forward, he is considered more of a left-winger and can play efficiently as a left winger as well. This may attract Hodgson, as the left-winger spot seems to have weakened by Theo Walcott’s long-term injury. He has one goal in 22 games for The Three Lions. Baines is also known for his free kick accuracy, with him being only the fifth player in Premier League history to score two direct free kicks in a single game. He has also been in the PFA Premier League team of the year for the past two consecutive years.

Southampton’s Luke Shaw

Shaw is one for the future. At 18, he has already established himself as Southampton’s first-choice left back. He was recently called up by the England senior side and has one international cap. He is technically gifted with sound defending skills. Having been compared to former Southampton left-back and left-winger and the world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale, he is known for his attacking mind and speed. Even if he does not get picked, he can still feature in three more world cups before he turns 30. However, it is important to give youth experience at the dawn of their careers.

Jon Flanagan

But Hodgson could also go for the shocker by picking someone outside these three players. Among the dark horses are Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs, Liverpool’s Jon Flanagan, Tottenham Hotspurs’ Danny Rose and Kyle Naughton. Luke Shaw’s team mate at Southampton, Nathaniel Clyne, as well as Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand, who is currently at loan at Aston Villa are in the running. With three months to go, England is facing a dilemma, albeit a positive one, at the left-back position. Till Roy Hodgson’s announcements, we will be waiting in anticipation.

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Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Real life football


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Did you know?

Hey guys, how have you been? It took me a while to get this article done. Happy reading!

-The first international match to be played indoors was in 1976 in Seattle. The United States defeated Canada 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier.

Alberto Spencer holds the unique distinction of being the only goalscorer, capped by two different countries simultaneously: Ecuador, and Uruguay. However, the all-time leading goalscorer for the Copa Libertadores never played in a World Cup.

Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry played 63 times together for France, but Zidane only assisted Henry once in an international match. That goal came during the World Cup match against Brazil in 2006.

Ajax Amsterdam decided to invite Bayern Munich for Johan Cruyff’s farewell match in 1978. Bayern decided to spoil the party and destroyed Ajax 8-0. Highlights of the match can be viewed here.

Arsenal wore red colour jersey because the original team borrowed a set of red shirts from Nottingham Forest. It then became their club’s official color.

-In 2004/05 Serie A, Juventus were stripped of the title due to match-fixing and it wasn’t awarded to another team.

Warren Bradley is the only person to have played for both England Professional and Amateur teams in the same season. He was one of three players brought in by Manchester United from non-league Bishop Auckland following the Munich air disaster.

Lionel Messi went on a trial with River Plate when he was a 12-year-old. During the trial, he played against an older team. His partner on the forward line at that point of time was Gonzalo Higuain.

Hugo Sanchez was known for his somersault goal celebration, one of the first players to do it. His celebration was actually in honor of his sister, Herlinda, who participated in the Montreal Olympics as a gymnast. His famous goal celebration can be watched here

Sunderland in the 1976-77 season had a bitter goalless run of 10 games and then scored 17 goals in the next 4 games.

Players who played for two or more London clubs:

  • Clive Allen : QPR, Crystal Palace, Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham and Millwall
  • Paul Konchesky: Charlton, West Ham, Fulham and Tottenham
  • Bobby Zamora : Tottenham, West Ham, Fulham and QPR.
  • Scott Parker: Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham, Charlton Athletic
  • Neil Sullivan : Crystal Palace, Wimbledon, Tottenham and Chelsea
  • William Gallas : Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea
  • Ian Wright : Crystal Palace, West Ham and Arsenal
  • Danny Murphy : Charlton Athletic, Tottenham and Fulham
  • John Hartson : Arsenal, West Ham and Wimbledon
  • Carlton Cole : Chelsea, West Ham and Charlton Athletic

Players who played for two or more Madrid clubs:

  • Alvaro Morata: Getafe, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid (Youth team)
  • Luis Aragones: Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Getafe
  • Hugo Sanchez: Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano

Players who played for AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus:

  • Giuseppe Meazza
  • Roberto Baggio
  • Christian Vieri
  • Edgar Davids
  • Patrick Vieira
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Andrea Pirlo

Players who played for both Celtic and Rangers: 

  • Alfie Conn
  • Mo Johnston
  • Steven Pressley
  • Kenny Miller
  • Mark Brown

Player who played for Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid: Bernard Schuster

Player who played for PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord: Ronald Koeman

Players who played for Porto , Benfica and Sporting Lisbon: Futre

Last but not least, here’s some interesting past World Cup records

Fastest goal in a final: 90 seconds, Johan Neeskens (Netherlands, vs West Germany, 7 July 1974).

Most consecutive failed qualification attempts: 19 times, Luxembourg (1934-2014).

Most minutes played (finals): 2,217 minutes, Paolo Maldini (Italy, 1990-2002).

Most matches won: 16, Cafu (Brazil, 1994–2006).

Youngest player: 17 years and 41 days, Norman Whiteside (Northern Ireland, vs Yugoslavia, 1982).

Youngest goalscorer: 17 years and 239 days, Pelé (Brazil, vs Wales, 1958).

Oldest goalscorer: 42 years and 39 days, Roger Milla (Cameroon, vs Russia, 1994)

Most cards (all-time, player): 6, Zinedine Zidane (France, 1998-2006) and Cafu (Brazil, 1994-2006).

Most matches coached: 25, Helmut Schön (West Germany, 1966–1978).

Biggest margin of victory in a qualifying match: 31,  Australia 31-0 American Samoa, 11 April 2001.

Largest Total Attendance: 3,587,538, USA (1994), 52 matches, Average attendance 68,991.

These World Cup records were compiled by me via

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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Real life football


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World Cup 2014 – Group stage draw

World Cup

The group stage draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was made earlier this month and the draw sprang up several surprises, including several intensely tough groups and several key games to look out for. Let’s take a look at how the World Cup will kick off next summer.

Neymar will be Brazil’s man to watch next year.

Brazil will face Croatia in the first game of the tournament at Sao Paulo on the 12<sup>th</sup> of June. Mexico and Cameroon complete Group A. Brazil are favourites to top the group, boosted by their superior home ground advantage and massive fan support. Should star striker Neymar be on red-hot form and light up the tournament like he did in the Confederations Cup earlier this year, then Brazil would go far in the tournament.. Croatia may miss striker Mario Mandzukic for some of the group stages due to suspension, but they have other shining stars in Real Madrid’s midfielder Luka Modric, captain Darijo Srna and Everton striker Nikica Jelavic.
Mexico has Javier Hernandez in their ranks, and will be hoping that he bangs in the goals to ensure they progress in a rather tricky group. Cameroon are the underdogs in the group, boasting star forward Samuel Eto’o, and renowned defenders Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Nicolas N’Koulou.

Spain has won every major trophy available to them since Euro 2008.

Group B is where things get tricky. The group pits defending finalists Spain and Netherlands together, almost writing off Chile and Australia’s chances. The Spaniards might have on-form striker Diego Costa in their ranks, even without him they have Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Torres and David Villa as reliable options upfront. They have a rather complete team with decent reinforcements in every position. Netherlands, can rotate between Robin van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar in attack, both being boosted by the likes of Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Ibrahim Afellay.
Chile, despite in a tough group, might spring a surprise and progress at the expense of one of the group’s giants. Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez will be the key men to look out for in the Chilean side, as they are attacking players who can produce goals and chances from out of nowhere. Australia are Group B’s underdogs. Regular goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has retired just before the tournament, leaving Ange Postecoglou with limited options except for Reading’s Adam Federici and Borussia Dortmund’s Mitchell Langerak. They can, however, count on all-time Aussie top scorer Tim Cahill for the goals.
Group C sees seeded side Colombia grouped with Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan. Personally I think this group is split wide open and any team can progress to the next stage, however Colombia being the seeded team might have more chances. The Colombians also have the highly sought-after Radamel Falcao as an option. Ivory Coast have a wide range of attacking choices, ranging from “King” Didier Drogba, Seydou Doumbia, midfielder Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, WIlfried Bony to Arouna Kone.
Greece, hopefully can spring a surprise as they did nine years ago at Euro 2004, and progress as far as they can in the tournament. Giorgos Karagounis, capped 131 times by his country, will lead the Greek side out for the tournament, alongside players like Kostas Mitroglou and Vasilis Torosidis. Japan boast their foreign-based players, such as Atsuto Uchida, Eiji Kawashima, Yuto Nagatomo, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki. They also have a speciality in set pieces, through their regular free-kick takers Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo.
D for Death. Group D has a huge reputation of being the Group of Death and indeed it was. Uruguay, England and Italy are in a group while Costa Rica round off Group D as possibly the deadliest and trickiest group this World Cup. To be honest, I cannot give you an assured answer if you ask me which two teams can progress. Costa Rica, having endured a eight year wait to finally land a World Cup berth again, have unfortunately been placed in a group of giants and they will be seen as underdogs among the other big guns.
Uruguay will hope that Liverpool hitman Luis Suarez be on scintillating form as he had been for Liverpool the past few seasons, alongside fellow star strikers Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan. For Italy, they have an extremely watertight defence where leaks are rather rare so their opponents have to up their game against the mighty Italians, who also have a dynamic midfield ranging from the hardest of defensive midfielders to the quickest and craftiest of wingers. England’s fate will lie in how well their star players gel together from different clubs and blend together under one name, The Three Lions. They do have on-form strikers Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge but they must click to form a truly deadly attacking partnership.

Can Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge form a lethal attacking partnership for England?

In Group E, seeded Switzerland are grouped together with European heavyweights France, Ecuador and Honduras. Of course, the French and Swiss are heavy favourites, but you can never write off Ecuador and Honduras. The Ecuador team are morally inspired to achieve greater heights to mourn the death of their star striker Christian Benitez during the qualification season, while Honduras have shown grit and true strength in a tough North American qualification stage, even managing to finish above regional powerhouses Mexico.
Argentina are the favourites for Group F, with one of the most lethal attacking forces in the tournament. Barcelona mega-star Lionel Messi has the likes Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel di Maria and Ezequiel Lavezzi alongside him. Bosnia-Herzegovina have qualified for the World Cup for the first time and they will be hoping to start off their World Cup journey with a bang, possibly even out of the group stages. The Bosnians are spearheaded by Edin Dzeko and protected at the back by Asmir Begovic. Nigeria are also strong contenders for a spot in the Round of 16. Their Chelsea stars, Kenneth Omeruo in defence, Mikel anchoring in midfield and Victor Moses injecting pace and trickery into the flanks, will lift them up. Iran have to be considered the minnows in this group and are not expected to progress past the group stages. However as they always say, the underdogs face the least pressure and may perform better, possibly staging an extremely miraculous giant-slaying.

Will a World Cup triumph establish Messi’s claim as the best player in the world right now?

Group G can be considered another Group of Death, considering that respective continential heavyweights are grouped here. Germany and Portugal dominate Europe, Ghana in Africa and United States swept the CONCACAF qualification competition. Germany have probably the most dynamic of midfield of the tournament. Sami Khedira is a major injury doubt for the tournament, but fortunately for the Germans they have an excellent defensive midfield linchpin in Bastian Schweinsteiger. They are spoiled for choice in attacking midfield, ranging from Andre Schürrle down the wings to Mesut Ozil spraying crucial passes in the penalty box. It is still to be seen if Germany will regularly use the conventional forward system, which could see Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose or Lukas Podolski book a berth in the starting eleven. Another very plausible alternative false nine system to fully utilise the depth in their attacking midfield ranks, which could see Schürrle or Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller deployed upfront.

Germany are hot favourites for the World Cup trophy.

Many critics are convinced that Portugal are merely a one-man team, spurred on by the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the other star names will be hoping to contradict these critics, by performing to their best. These names include Real Madrid players Fabio Coentrao and Pepe in defence. Ghana progressed all the way to the quarter finals at the 2010 edition of the tournament and will hope to repeat that feat again. After all, they are probably the strongest African team in this tournament, with their midfield maestros Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari in particular. Kevin-Prince Boateng, Christian Atsu and Asamoah Gyan, among others, too cannot be underestimated. Vice-captain Andre Ayew is a rapidly rising star who, at the relatively young age of 23, has been capped 47 times for the Black Stars. The group is completely thrown open with United States joining the fold. They showed what a force they were to be reckoned by storming through the CONCACAF qualifiers and finished top of the continent. This is another group to look out for.

Is Portugal really a one-man team?

Last but not least, Group H. Belgium are favourites to top this group. This is surprising given that the Belgians last qualified for this prestigious tournament 11 years ago and their biggest achievement to date is the 1920 Antwerp Olympics’ football gold medal on home ground. Their sharp rise is due to the wealth of talent at Marc Wilmots’ disposal. In fact, they are the dark horses for the World Cup trophy.  Their striker options include Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and Christian Benteke, all of whom star for their Premier League teams. In midfield, they can pick from Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin de Bruyne, wing wizard Eden Hazard, brother Thorgan, Moussa Dembele and Nacer Chadli among others. They do have adequate replacement in every position as well. Their defenders are rock walls in their respective clubs and hope to translate their club performance for their country. Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Daniel van Buyten, Thomas Vermaelen and Toby Aldeweireld are likely to start ahead of others, though.
Algeria are the African representatives in Group H and will hope to keep the African dream alive. Russia are also hot contenders for a knock-out stage place, driven by Alan Dzagoev, Igor Akinfeev and Yuri Zhirkov and their Russian squad. South Korea has at least eleven players based outside Asia, which shows their individual strength, but whether they can play together as a perfect team remains to be seen.
As another article on next year’s World Cup comes to an end, we move closer to the quadrennial tournament. I am excited, are you? 🙂

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Just months to go – World Cup 2014

The FIFA World Cup 2014 kicks off in just over six months in Brazil! Thirty-two countries have booked their flights to Brazil next year after rounds of qualifying. Today we look at the qualifying system which 32 countries have braved through to achieve a spot in the World Cup.

The European continent was allocated 13 spots, the most of any continental federation. The countries were split into nine groups. The nine winners of these groups automatically booked their berth in the World Cup. The runner-ups had to go through another round of qualifying while those that finished below second had to wait another four years for their next shot at the World Cup finals.

In Group A, Belgium topped a group containing Croatia, Serbia, Scotland, Wales and Macedonia. A Belgian team led by young starlets from top European leagues took the group by storm, taking 26 points out of a possible 30. Croatia finished second with 17 points and Serbia’s strong defence could not hold their fellow European teams and they were third with 14 points. Wales led by the world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale and the in-form Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey could only finish second from bottom.

In Group B, Italy took top spot while Denmark finished second. However as they were the worst-performing runners-up they failed to reach the second qualifying round. In Group C, Germany swept the group with 28 out of 30 possible points as Sweden finished second with 20. In Group D, Netherlands equalled Germany’s record of 28 points and took the direct route to Brazil and Romania finished behind. Switzerland excelled in Group E with underdogs Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Albania and Cyprus while Iceland took second. Russia and Portugal tussled it out in Group F but the Russians eventually took top spot while the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portuguese team finished second with 21 points just a single point behind Russia.

In Group G the fight for top spot was even more intense! Both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece finished with 25 points but it was the Bosnians with Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko who took top spot. In Group H, England fought off stiff competition from second-placed Ukraine to snatch top spot. Last but not least, in Group I, defending World Cup champions Spain took top spot and France finished second.

Croatia, Sweden, Romania, Iceland, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine and France were then placed in the second qualifying round. Each team was to be drawn against another and the winner would progress to the World Cup. In probably the most high-key of these matches saw Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic square nose-to-nose with Portuguese and Real Madrid mega-star Cristiano Ronaldo, meaning either one of these star strikers would miss out on World Cup action. Eventually Ronaldo sent Portugal to Brazil with his many goals, along with France after a great comeback against Ukraine from being 0-2 down in the first leg to win 3-2, Greece who breezed past Romania and Croatia, who stopped Iceland’s fairytale run and dream of becoming the smallest country ever to qualify for the finals.

In Asia, the top ten teams from three qualifying rounds were split into two groups. Iran, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Qatar and Lebanon were in one group while Japan, Australia, Jordan, Oman and Iraq were in another. In Group A Iran qualified as group winners for the first time since the 2006 edition while South Korea also qualified as runners-up, albeit doing so less convincingly than expected. Uzbekistan finished third, level with South Korea on points but with an inferior goal difference. In Group B Japan took top spot as the first country to qualify for the tournament behind automatic entrants and hosts Brazil, while Australia finished second. Jordan played-off with Uzbekistan for a spot in the AFC-CONMEBOL play-off and the Jordanians beat Uzbekistan on penalties to finish fifth in the AFC qualifications.

In Africa, 52 teams were reduced to just ten after two rounds of qualifying. The ten teams were then matched up against each other with the five winners booking their places at next summer’s World Cup. Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria qualified. Ghana qualified by thumping Egypt 7-3 on aggregate, including a 6-1 thrashing in the first leg.

A US player comforts his Panama counterpart as they narrowly miss out on a World Cup play-off berth by 90 seconds.

Meanwhile in CONCACAF, 35 North American teams were reduced to just six by the time the fourth round of qualifications came knocking. Three of the six teams won a berth at the World Cup while the fourth-placed team had to endure yet another play-off round. The three teams were the United States, who topped the six-team group, Costa Rica and Honduras. There was plenty of late drama on the final day of matches. Mexico, who had lost to Costa Rica were on the brink of missing out on World Cup action as Panama were leading 2-1 against a United States team who had already topped the group. Many thought that the United States would lower the tempo and let Panama win and deny huge rivals Mexico qualification. However, two late goals from Zusi and Johannsson ensured that Panama lost at home and Mexico booked a play-off berth against the Oceanian champions.

Argentina quaifies for the World Cup in neighbouring Brazil.

In CONMEBOL, the South American continent, nine teams squared off in a round-robin league format. Brazil, as hosts, did not participate in the qualifying competition as they had already automatically qualified according to FIFA guidelines that the World Cup host should automatically be entered into a World Cup. Argentina, led by the superstar strike force including Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel di Maria, Ezequiel Lavezzi and others, topped the group. Colombia, led by star striker Radamel Falcao finished second. Chile, spurred by Barcelona attacker Alexis Sanchez, finished third. Ecuador, despite having to endure a sad period in the middle of the qualifying competition when striker Christian Benitez passed away due to a cardiac arrest, finished fourth and took the last straight South American spot at the finals. The Ecuadorian Football Association later announced that Benitez’s number 11 will be retired from the squad. Uruguay, despite boasting a forward line of the CONMEBOL qualifiation’s top scorer and Liverpool sensation Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan, Cristian Rodriguez and Paris St. Germain strker Edinson Cavani, could only finish fifth and had to face Jordan to qualify. Despite strong nationwide interest from the Jordanians, the Uruguayans proved too much for Jordan as they thrashed them 5-0 in the first leg before a goal-less display in the second leg saw Uruguay through.

In Oceania, the only continent not to have an automatic World Cup berth, the 2012 Oceanian Nations Cup was used as a second-round qualifier. Tahiti, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and New Zealand were drawn into a group. The New Zealanders, traditional Oceanian powerhouses, took the group by storm and won all 18 points at stake. Unfortunately, they lost 3-9 on aggregate to Mexico and the Mexicans with Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez took the last spot at Brazil.

It is just months now from the World Cup. Who will have their hands on the trophy?.

Let us wait and watch.

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Posted by on November 30, 2013 in Real life football, Tournaments & Cups


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