Day: February 10, 2012

European Championship Stories: 1972 – West Germany’s Spring Of Absolute Contentment

At the Heysel Stadium in Brussels on the eighteenth of June 1972, West Germany lifted their first major tournament trophy since the 1954 World Cup. Two years later, at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, they lifted the World Cup. Yet it is sometimes said that the team of 1972 is more fondly remembered than the team of two years later, and it is certainly fair to say that the road to these twin victories was not without its problems. For most people under the age of fifty, West Germany and Germany has been a footballing powerhouse at both club and international level, but the introduction of any degree of professional football to the country was relatively late to the country. By the beginning of the 1960s, West Germany still had no single, professional league – rather, the country’s leagues consisted of five regional Oberligen (Premier Leagues) – but clamours for a more unified set-up would intensify with a disappointing performance in the World Cup finals at the start of the new decade. The story of post-war German football begins, of course, with The Miracle Of Bern. West Germany had lost by eight goals to three against Hungary in the group stages of the 1954 World Cup finals, but battled their way through to the finals and, with the good luck of seeing Hungary start the match with an injured Ferenc...

Read More

The 2012 African Cup Of Nations: The Semi-Finals

“Check that’s not Jackie Chan, will you?” after one particularly high challenge in the African Cup of Nations (ACN) semi-finals. Ah yes. Gary O’Reilly was back on Eurosport. And welcome back too. However, the most telling comment of any international football tournament is “no goals against.” And that’s a quote from Cote D’Ivoire. The pre-tournament favourites waited until their 1-0 semi-final win over Mali to impress – but without a goal against, they’ve been unbeatable. And Mali were not about to prove otherwise, as ‘limited’ in this match as in most of their previous four. “Barcelona’s Seydou Keita” gave way to “Arsenal’s Gervinho”, and deservedly so. Les Aigles rode their luck much like Zambia in their shock 1-0 win over Ghana. But where Zambia had Emmanuel Mayuka, Mali had Cheick Diabate; which needs no further comment. Ghana also showed something of their true form in their semi. But Cote D’Ivoire won and Ghana lost because of the relative opposition. The Elephants ran lanes through Mali early on and could have been aiming for the posts, so often were they hit. Zambia defended… well… they defended. There was initial sympathy for Mali and their vociferous support. Ref Daniel Bennett was born in Dewsbury. But this was hushed up after he failed to book Ivorian Chiekh Tiote on 41 seconds for a trademark clatter yet cautioned Mali’s Ousmane Berthe moments later…and...

Read More