Month: May 2014

When England Welcomed Romanians – USA 94

Free of the burden of England’s participation, the 1994 World Cup was an opportunity to get stuck into international football in a consequence free environment. The novel backdrop of an American audience, the sun kissed stadiums and late night kick offs contributed to a hugely enjoyable tournament. Purists may say there were better tournaments than 1994 but this World Cup had some crazy football, crazy referees and crazy Diego. It also represented a high water mark for Romania who had their very own ‘Maradona of the Carpathians’ Gheorghe Hagi. Hagi was, as we all know, a magnificent player and...

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World Cup Warm-ups: Nigeria v Scotland

“He’s just thrown it in the net,” noted BBC Scotland match analyst Kevin Gallacher. Twice he said it. In a match which had been newsworthy in its build-up because of claims it had attracted the attention of match-fixers. That’s it, Kev. You calm the waters. If the fix was in on Nigeria’s World Cup warm-up friendly against Scotland at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, why did Nigerian goalkeeper Austin Ejide so convincingly claim he was being fouled as he threw Shaun Maloney’s corner into the net? And if the fix was in, then why wasn’t at least as much attention paid to Scotland’s borderline-slapstick defending for Nigeria’s 90th-minute equaliser, especially as they had been a largely formidable rearguard to that point? Maybe the fix was in on the time of Scotland captain Scott Brown’s inevitable booking – who would have put money on the 87th minute? Had there been a sweepstake, would it have been worth printing any tickets higher than 50? Or was there some form of spread betting on the wide spread (sorry) of Nigeria’s shooting? The African champions had about a dozen shots off target which were a combined total of about a mile high and/or wide of their scheduled destination, Gallacher’s fair comment about one shot heading for “Kensington High Street,” showing an impressive, or impressively-researched, knowledge of West London geography. But if the fix was in,...

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The 200% World Cup: Dotmund’s Red Card Frenzy – A Preamble

Well, there are now only a couple of weeks to go before the start of the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, so it’s time to put our game faces on and present our traditional – this is the third World Cup we’ve covered, so I think I can use that word – pre-tournament build-up with the introduction to a series that will be running over the next week or so on the history of red cards at the World Cup finals. Here’s our very own Dotmund with an introduction to his “red card cards,” the first of which will be published on here tomorrow morning. If I’m honest, I think I only watch the World Cup for the dismissals. International football’s biggest tournament has a way of elevating everything it touches. There have been countless better goals than Diego Maradona’s second against England, but the combination of place, time and significance means that it looks set to remain as THE goal. Likewise, there’s no indiscipline quite like World Cup indiscipline. People rightly argue that it is a shame that George Best or Ryan Giggs never got the opportunity to grace the World Cup stage, but I feel just as much of a sense of loss for Pat Van den Hauwe or Vinny Jones. Paul Scholes played at two World Cups, but I always got the impression that he...

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