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Best of the Blogs: January 2013


If you’re a ground-hopping-obsessive-compulsive-disorder type football fan then you might just be interested in taking in five games over two days in beautiful Nottinghamshire.

Is it possible to stop watching the Premier League? James Longhurst investigates

Mexico 86, panini stickers, high quality images. Have I piqued your interest, all can be viewed here.

It can happen. Sometimes the “other team” scores a goal. Narrow the Angle takes a look at the problematic area of the opposition scoring.

A beautiful and soothing video about the players who make up the elite group of the 38 Club.

If footballers were tube stations, what would the underground look like? Apart from a terrible mess? Well, probably something like this.

Here’s an amusing picture of Ally McCoist and a terrible chart and this is a beautiful Belgian ground hewn from wood, and this is Garrincha wearing a Wales shirt!

For  something non-football related this is a fantastic piece on a Russian family who didn’t realise World War II had happened .

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Featured

 

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December 2012: Best of the Blogs


In the excitement of Christmas and new year my monthly round-up of what I found interesting on blogs and the interweb was forgotten.

This first piece may be in French, but I’m not sure any words could add to this excellent collection of Trifon Ivanov images. The photos stretch all the way back to the Bulgarian international’s childhood. Outstanding work from Le Foot Selon Trifon.

If you want some more serious football writing then what on earth are you doing here? After you’ve scolded yourself for your stupidity you should head over to A Football Report‘s “Best of Football Writing 2012”. The site lists many football articles and blogposts well worth a few minutes of your time.

With the Africa Cup of Nations kicking off in less than two weeks it’s probably a good time to take a few moments away from  polishing your vuvuzela to take a glance at The Carvalho Peninsula. There’s a wonderful retrospective on Herve Renard and his Zambia side’s remarkable 2012 AFCON win on there that I heartily endorse.

If your eyes are tired and your ears are receptive you could take a listen to AC Milan’s version of Last Christmas. See if you can make it all the way to the end.

What better way to finish than looking at a load of Panini stickers. Old School Panini do a grand job of documenting some of the wackier Panini stickers to have graced our swaps piles over the years. Here’s their best of 2012 collection.

A belated Happy New Year to everyone from all of us as Spirit of Mirko.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Featured

 

Integrating penalty shoot-outs into a nation’s psychology

Integrating penalty shoot-outs into a nation’s psychology

In 1252 King Henry III enacted the Assize of Arms. This act decreed that all Englishmen between the ages of 15 and 60 must, by law, equip themselves with a bow and arrow. This ensured that Englishmen would be familiar with the weapon, and when war inevitably arrived (inevitably against the French) the populace would be ready to fight back. Incredible victories such as Agincourt in 1415 (the 13th century’s Denmark 92 moment) were possible due to the expertise of the Henry V’s well practised archers.

Similarly to Henry III, Roy Hodgson has called for the introduction of penalty shoot-outs should one of his side’s friendly games end in a draw. It’s a perfectly sensible suggestion. After all, penalty shoot-outs have been an integral part of professional football for decades and there’s no reason why a friendly international shouldn’t be used to practice them. There are likely to be opponents to this move who will assert that you can’t mimic a penalty shoot-out at a World Cup finals in a friendly international. But you can’t mimic a World Cup finals football match in a friendly international either, yet we still play them.

Despite being in agreement with Hodgson regarding the addition of penalty shoot-outs after friendly internationals I feel this idea could be taken a lot further. The penalty shoot-out is now ubiquitous in cup competitions across every nation’s cup competitions as well in continental and international play. Any football nation that wants to edge ahead of the rest should attempt to become the gold standard of penalty shoot-out takers. I believe there are a couple of ways that a nation such as England could seek to do this.

Firstly, the head of the nation’s FA should dictate that after every academy or youth team match that the team’s should take part in a penalty shoot-out (regardless of the result). This would give young players regular exposure to penalty kicks. And if the old adage “Practice makes perfect” has any basis in truth, then it should mean that young players who take part in these competitions would improve.

Secondly (and probably more controversially) it should also be dictated that penalty shoot-outs should be played at every Premier League and Football League match at the conclusion of proceedings, whether the game ended drawn or not. The shoot-outs would have no bearing on the final league tables, but the results would be recorded and a parallel “Penalty Shoot-out League” would be run alongside the regular Football League to give fans an update as to how their team was getting on. I believe this would have a few benefits:

  • It would give players much required extra exposure to penalty shoot-outs.
  • If the shoot-outs were scheduled after the conclusion of the match it would enable players to take the penalties in a fatigued state (a similar state they would take them in a major international tournament).
  • It would give teams with nothing to play for something to focus on should they be out of contention in the proper league. (In addition I’d also like to see the winners of all four divisions penalty shoot-out competition take part in a finals tournament at Wembley, similar to the Watney Cup).
  • Any “handbags” at the final whistle could be sorted out over a series of penalty kicks rather than in the tunnel. Or it would at least delay them.
  • It would give Sky and football bloggers another set of meaningless statistics to trawl over.

Whilst a few of my suggestions above are facetious, I think if any nation wants to take penalty shoot-outs seriously then they do need to start thinking about integrating penalty shoot-outs into their competitions or at the very least their training. More than anything I think that adopting some of the approaches above would give a nation a slight psychological edge over other nations because their opponents will know that they are facing a country that had assimilated penalty shoot-outs into the very fabric of its footballing mentality. That’s got to be worth something?

 

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Featured, International

 

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November 2012: Best of the blogs


A brilliant new initiative dedicated to documenting great matches throughout history. The Museum of Football contains links to full matches on YouTube from World Cups past. Well worth re-living some of these great games: http://www.youtube.com/user/footballemporium

Anyone who spent much of the 1990s playing Sensible World of Soccer on the Commodore Amiga will appreciate this next site. Famous football stars depicted in 8 bit at: http://8bit-football.com/

The brilliant David Squires of The Sunshine Room published a fantastic comic of Rafa Benitez earlier this week. His other work is well worth a look too.

Have you ever wondered what sort of music the players and staff at AS Roma were into? Well, wonder no longer as you can find out on Roma’s official site

The Football Attic continues to provide nostalgia in bucket-sized slops. Here’s their take on the fabulous Esso badge collection series of the 1970s.

Against Modern Football, Joe Harrison asks you to think again, things aren’t always as simple as they seem. He’s also written a historical piece about a Basque refugee side in Cardiff which is also worth a few minutes of your time.

TheFootyBlogNet has compiled a list of 49 fantastic blogs (and this one) that you should visit before you die (or something).

On the non-football front, this piece from the Olympian weightlifter Zoe Smith is thought provoking, and very, very right.

 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Featured

 

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Liverpool’s cluttered flat leaves Brendan Rodgers with problems


As price of players corkscrews upwards, the transfer of mediocre players for incredulous prices has become an epidemic in the English game. Liverpool are probably the main culprit of this practice, having signed Jordan Henderson (16m), Stewart Downing (20m) and Andy Carroll (35m) in recent years. In fact journalists and fans have found Andy Carroll’s transfer fee of 35 million pounds to be so mind-bendingly remarkable that his name is invariably preceded by the term “35m”. The only person who doesn’t call the former Newcastle striker “35m Andy Carroll” is probably his mother, who undoubtedly calls him “35m Andrew” instead.

One of the most interesting aspects of this propensity to spend ludicrous amounts on average players is that managers often feel duty obliged to play them. Whilst this isn’t always the case, Paul Lambert at Aston Villa has left out Darren Bent in recent weeks,. many managers will be under pressure to field these players. I’m looking at you Fernando Torres. The theme of playing these players has become most apparent with Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool who has desperately tried to fit Stewart Downing into his line-up to the point where he’s using the winger as a full-back. Like a man with the best of intentions of losing a few pounds by purchasing an exercise bike they never use, instead using it as a clothes horse for wet washing.

Whilst Stewart Downing may be compared to a clothes horse exercise bike (and many Liverpool fans would argue that Downing isn’t even fit to carry clothes, certainly not the famous red of Liverpool), Andy Carroll can be compared to an overpriced Nintendo Wii who is currently being lent to a mate because he’s unlikely to get anywhere near what he originally paid for the item on eBay. And Jordan Henderson is a brand new telescope, placed on the top of the wardrobe with the intention of   one day being used to view the rings of Saturn or the moons of Jupiter.

I don’t offer any solutions to the issue of player transfer fees adding pressure to managers. I only state that it is a problem and I think a rather unfair problem for Brendan Rodgers who has been left to deal with the problem. After all, it wasn’t him who cluttered the flat with all this crap, it was that Scotsman who moved out last summer.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Club, Featured

 

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Ghana and Congo to gain extra places in CAF continental competitions?

Ghana and Congo to gain extra places in CAF continental competitions?

With the 2012 CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup competitions almost over I decided to have crack at calculating which African nations are rising through the co-efficient to gain that all important top 12 continental spot. Let me explain…

Each nation in Africa is given two spots in continental competition. One for the premier competition, the CAF Champions League and another for the CAF Confederation Cup (the continent’s version of the Europa League). However, if the country is ranked in the top twelve in Africa on their club’s performances over the previous five years then they are permitted to enter four sides (two into the Champions League and two into the Confederation Cup). A fuller, more detailed explanation can be found on wikipedia.

Congo's AC Leopards upsetting the odds in this year's CAF Confederations Cup.

Congo’s AC Léopards “doing it for the co-efficient”

The African footballing calendar differs to Europe in that each CAF Champions League competition takes place within the same year (beginning in February and ending some time in November). Due to the vagaries of leagues around the continent (to give an example Kenya’s league finished on the same weekend Tunisia’s began) the entrants for the 2013 CAF continental competitions are almost already decided. Clubs in leagues need to know what places they are fighting for during the season, therefore the number of places  each nation is permitted for the 2013 CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup is based upon performances of a nation’s club sides between 2007 and 2011.

So, as the 2012 CAF competitions are nearing their conclusion, and assuming that CAF continue to use the same calculation as they did last year, we can calculate which nations will be permitted entry of four sides  rather than the regulation two.

I have calculated the CAF 5-year ranking for the 2014 CAF competitions below. Now, please be aware that these figures were calculated by an amateur (me) so they’re far from binding and there’s no guarantee that CAF won’t come up with another way to calculate these rankings.

Please be aware that I have also made some assumptions:

  • Espérance (Tunisia) will defeat Al Ahly (Egypt)  in the second leg of the CAF Champions League final.
  • Djoliba (Mali) will defeat AC Leopards (Congo) in the CAF Confederation Cup final.
  • That Tunisia will still be awarded a point for Etoile du Sahel’s qualification into the group stages of the CAF Champions League (they were disqualified)
(It should be noted that none of the assumptions above will change the nations who will be included in the top 12 for 2014)
CAF 5-year ranking for 2014

CAF 5-year ranking for CAF competitions 2014

So, for the analysis. Firstly Congo appear in the top twelve for the first time since the inception of the CAF Champions League. The 2011 Congo Cup winners AC Leopards’ heroic run into the CAF Confederation Cup final means that their nation will now have four entrants in 2014. Congolese clubs have a lot to thank Leopards for! Similarly, Ghana make the top twelve after a great CAF Champions League run this season by an “Emmanuel Clottey inspired” Berekum Chelsea. The two sides who will miss out in 2014 are a crisis ridden Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast who will only be allowed to enter one club into the CAF Champions League and one into the CAF Confederation Cup.

Another interesting thing to note is the (terrible) performance of South African sides in continental competitions. Despite being a very well funded (in comparison to other African nations) professional league they’ve not managed to get a single side into the group stages of either continental competition in the last five years.

Flickr Photo Credit: ennaimi

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Africa, Featured, Statistics

 

Cardiff City: What’s in a colour?

Cardiff City: What’s in a colour?

A few weeks ago I was flicking through the channels on my TV and came across Sky News. They were showing brief highlights of a game from earlier in the day and I didn’t initially recognise who the teams were. It wasn’t until I’d seen a team score a couple of goals that I realised that I was watching Cardiff City. Not being able to quickly identify a club that I had supported for almost twenty years was strange and it made me feel more correct in my decision to cancel my season ticket this summer after the football club scrapped its century old tradition of wearing blue shirts.

Identity is important to football and Cardiff City appear to agree as they ordered the change to red not only as a mechanism of looking more like Liverpool and Manchester United (as they sell shirts in Asia) but also to:

“..actively grow the brand and drive the brand in all its aspects…. Vincent Tan can see the red brand as driving the awareness of Cardiff City and he can use it to open a series of internet cafes or sell Cardiff City products through his retail outlets then great.” – Alan Whitely CEO Cardiff City

Cardiff City turn their back on south Wales based supporters in favour of advertising to Malaysian insomniacs.

Cardiff City turn their back on south Wales based supporters in favour of advertising to Malaysian insomniacs.

What is baffling for many is that the re-brand has been so poorly implemented. If a football club were to take the unprecedented move of re-branding after wearing colours for over a century then surely the new kit would be a brave design, something to set it apart from other teams in their division and country. Instead the club chose a standard red Puma template and created a badge using free clip-art images on-line. The stadium seats remain blue in colour. Cardiff City in their new red guise are not even the most famous red sporting team to play in the city. That honour goes to the Wales rugby union side who remain the biggest draw in the capital. The new badge of a Welsh dragon is equally as baffling. The motif taken directly from the flag of Wales is unsurprisingly ubiquitous in the country and can be found on many products from biscuits, to tea-towels to t-shirts. Rather than the re-brand setting Cardiff City apart as something special or something new, the club has effectively faded itself into football’s background.

After the club announced it’s intention to re-brand as a red club many journalists and football fans have been quite surprised at just how little opposition their appears to have been to the change. There are a few reasons why I believe fans have been so acquiescent:

Promises  – The owners have promised that alongside the change of kit colour they will invest £100m into the football club. It’s irrelevant as to whether the owners are being truthful or not. We’ve all seen enough evidence over these past few weeks that football fans often leave their brain at the door when the subject of their football club arises. Despite having both Sam Hammam and Peter Ridsdale in charge over the past few years, many Cardiff City supporters are still willing to believe any snake oil merchant who promises the earth.

Status – The Premier League being viewed as the “promised land” is a theme that is familiar to most involved with football. But with Cardiff City it is goes far, far deeper than that. It’s an obsession. There are three reasons for this:

  1. The football club hasn’t played in the top flight for over fifty years. There are few clubs of the size of Cardiff City that have spent that long in exile.
  2. The elephant (swan?) in the room is the club’s local rivals Swansea City who have not only won promotion to the Premier League but have also been praised for the way they’ve played once there. Status envy is prevalent within football and merely supporting a football team isn’t enough. It has to be a Premier League team. In addition to the desire for a Premier League team a culture of entitlement reigns in Cardiff, a city that has been gifted (amongst other things) the Welsh assembly, FA Cup Finals, Cardiff Bay, the Millennium Stadium and Doctor Who. Yet what many Cardiff City fans crave most is what their poorer cousins have, the golden goose: Premier League football.
  3. With the club losing £1m a month and being over £50m in debt it appears that the gravy train of Sky subsidised top flight football is the only way that the money can ever be recouped. What is most terrifying about this is that it’s probable that even the riches of Premier League football will not be enough to pay back the vast amount of money owed. Swansea City, a supposed shining example of how to run a football club, “only” made a profit of £14m in their first season in the top flight. To put that into context at a club like Cardiff City it would take them five years of excellent financial management and prudence in the top flight to just break even, never mind make a profit.

Silent opposition – Just as the zombies head to the mall in Dawn of the Dead because that’s what they always used to do, so Cardiff City fans head to the stadium every other weekend. Many people who attend games are very unhappy with the change to red (certainly no one has ever mentioned it as a good idea in the past!). However, following a football team is a habit that can be hard to break, especially when it’s a primary route to spend time with your father, your brother, your son or your friends. And it’s also unfair to expect people to do so.

 

One of the most fascinating aspects of the re-brand is Cardiff City effectively turning their entire supporter base from fans to customers. Despite the club spending over £10m in the summer (including signing local hero Craig Bellamy) and winning their first seven home league fixtures, attendances are down on last season. That’s despite most of those attending fixtures having already bought their season ticket before the re-brand took place. The walk up crowd to Cardiff games has been very low so far this term (though this might have something to do with the £32 match ticket prices – but that’s another issue altogether). Additionally offers such as guaranteeing FA Cup Final or League Cup Final tickets have led to the club having an artificially high number of season ticket holders over the past few years and a failure to get promotion will inevitably lead to significantly lower crowds next season. The club is at a crossroads like no other in its entire history.

There are a few possible outcomes, amongst them:

  1. Club succeeds on the pitch – It’s almost certain that Vincent Tan (Cardiff’s Malaysian owner) has no intention of making money from Cardiff City, you can’t make money from a club like Cardiff,  instead it’s a tool for his self promotion in Malaysia. The club has to be successful or it reflects badly on him. If the club do well it can market the change to red as justified (the local press are already perfectly happy to bang the drum in support of red) . After promotion Cardiff City increases its links with Malaysia and the Far East and attempts to become the first club to play in a “Game 39”. Tellingly when asked over the summer whether or not the club has plans to change the club’s name, to Cardiff Malaysia or Malaysia FC the answer hasn’t been “We’ve absolutely no plans to.” but rather “The FA wouldn’t allow it.”..
  2. Club fails on the pitch  – If the club fail to get promotion and Vincent Tan loses interest, the club fails to pay back its debt, goes into administration and ultimately liquidation. I believe that the likelihood of a phoenix club emerging from the ashes of the current club is very unlikely. The fan-base is riven with discord – the Keep Cardiff Blue meeting that was scheduled to organise a protest about a change of kit was disrupted by other Cardiff City supporters threatening to “bury” any fans who protested against the colour change in the stadium. If the club do go bust then I think Cardiff may be the first liquidated club in British history that opts not to re-emerge as another entity. There’s certainly demand for a Premier League club in Cardiff, but not a non-league one, especially not within a supporter base that’s so split in its feelings.
Unfortunately I don’t foresee a happy ending at Cardiff, if the club is successful then the owners will complete the re-brand into an entity for Malaysia, if the club fails then it’ll drop into oblivion. Even promotion to the Premier League (which seems very likely) won’t be enough to repair the damage that the re-brand has caused to this football club.

 

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Club, Featured

 

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October 2012: Best of the Blogs

October 2012: Best of the Blogs

As the great Ferris Bueller once mused “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while, you could miss it”. Ferris’ aphorism is especially true in the arena of football blogging. Twitter moves pretty quickly and it’s very easy to miss some of the good stuff amongst the tweets abusing Mark Lawrenson’s choice of shirt or people re-tweeting fake Emmanuel Eboues. Therefore I thought I’d take a bit of time to run-down, in no particular order,  some of the stuff I’ve enjoyed online in the month of October.

Philosophical Football: It’s not often the strands of philosophy and football intertwine via Theseus’ Ship (I must admit to being more familiar with this concept as Trigger’s Broom than Theseus’ Ship) but when they do you end up with something like this.

200% Podcast: You’ve read the articles, you’ve enjoyed the comic strip, now you can enjoy the podcast! The football blogging superstars at TwohundredPercent have recently launched a podcast. It covers many of the issues that you’ll find in the pages of twohundredpercent. If you like the website, you’ll love the 200% podcast.

RIP Football?: Top flight football hasn’t been much fun this season as scandal after scandal has taken precedence to 22 men kicking a ball around a field. Rich at the Football Attic feels that the past is dead..

Music: On a less maudlin note, this website came to my attention earlier this month and I’ve had a song about Huddersfield Town stuck in my head since. This is a truly great site, but be warned, once you’re sucked in you may never get out. Sing with me “Huddersfield, the best team in the land, the greatest team in football since the football league began….”

1936 Correspondence: This is simply outstanding. An exchange of letters between Swansea Town FC and Bury regarding the rudeness of the Swansea staff.

Japanese Stadia: The Japanese are currently redeveloping their national stadium in Tokyo (it wasn’t used during World Cup 2002). These architect designs (of stadia that will almost certainly never be built) range from the sublime to the ridiculous. If you like looking at beautifully drawn pictures of football stadia then click away.

Euro 88: Ruud Gullit, CCCP, Marco van Basten, looping Ray Houghton headers, Euro 88 had everything. Including a review of the tournament narrated by Craig Charles

Non football: Glen Wilson edits the Doncaster Rovers fanzine Popular Stand. He also writes a brilliant blog detailing his train journeys across the UK and beyond.

If you’ve seen anything you like online recently, or would like to promote your own blog. Feel free to do so in the comments.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Featured

 

Africa Cup of Nations 2013 preview

Africa Cup of Nations 2013 preview

The draw for the Africa Cup of Nations 2013 took place in Durban on Wednesday. Sixteen teams from across Africa, from Algeria in the north to South Africa in the south, Ghana in the west and Ethiopia in the east were placed in four groups of four. The tournament kicks off on the 19th January 2013, the first game will be between hosts South Africa and debutants to continental competition Cape Verde.

As with all major tournaments there’s always a rush to label one of the groups as a “Group of Death”, for AFCON 2013 it appears that Group D has been chosen to be awarded that particular moniker. I thought I’d do some basic analysis on the groups using the much derided (though broadly accurate) FIFA World Rankings. I’ve run two separate metrics on the groups. The first one is to find the average world rankings of the sides contained in the groups. The other is to calculate the average world rankings of each country’s opponents.

FIFA world rankings for AFCON 2013 competitors (as of October 2012)

FIFA world rankings for AFCON 2013 competitors (as of October 2012)

The above table shows the current (as of October 2012) FIFA world rankings of every Africa Cup of Nations 2013 competitor. The four “seeds”, South Africa (hosts), Zambia (holders), Ghana and Ivory Coast are all in bold/italic. What’s interesting from the above is that African powerhouses Ghana aren’t the top ranked side in their group, instead it’s Mali. Perhaps more interestingly hosts South Africa aren’t the top ranked side in the group either. That honour for top ranked side goes to Cape Verde Islands.

Cape Verde will be competing in their first Africa Cup of Nations in their history. Whilst many are viewing the South Africa vs Cape Verde game as a home banker a quick look at the respective countries recent form will show you that Cape Verde have some notable scalps under their belt  (if that isn’t too much of a mixed metaphor). with victories over Mali, Burkina Faso and Cameroon in recent months.

The rise of the Blue Sharks (yep, Cape Verde are nicknamed the Blue Sharks, so that’s another African football sobriquet for you to remember) isn’t particularly surprising. They can draw from a deep pool of talent from across Europe and have players playing in the Portuguese, French and Dutch top flight. Ze Luis, a 21-year old attacker, has already played at Old Trafford in the Champions League this season. They’re no mugs. Cameroon have already seen their teeth, South Africa won’t want to feel their bite in January.*

Cape Verde may find that 2013 is the year that they finally become a football nation in their own right rather than “where Nani comes from”, though I’m sure the fact that their defender Carlitos is Nani’s cousin may get a couple of mentions before the tournament kicks off. During the last Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 it was Equatorial Guinea who surprised many when their rag-tag bunch of lower league Spanish players made it to the last eight. I can certainly see Cape Verde making a similar impact to the Equatoguineans, and whilst Cape Verde may not be hosts like Equatorial Guinea were I think they have a lot more talent available to them.

Average FIFA world ranking of opponents in group stages

Average FIFA world ranking of opponents in group stages

Togo (or Emmanuel Adebayor’s Togo as you’ll see most European outlets describe them as) have landed themselves with the toughest draw of all. The average FIFA world ranking of the sides they will face is 28. Despite the current incumbents of number 28 in the FIFA world rankings being Ireland, I still think this means they’ll have a tough job on their hands in January. It’s defending champions Zambia who face the weakest opposition in their group.

Average FIFA world ranking of countries in each group at Africa Cup of Nations 2013

Average FIFA world ranking of countries in each group at Africa Cup of Nations 2013

As you can see from above it’s Group D that is way ahead of the others in terms of the average FIFA world ranking of the sides. Therefore it’s Group D that can perhaps best be described as the “Group of Death”.

* – it’s important to get the shark references out of the way before the Africa Cup of Nations begins in January 2013.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Africa, Featured

 

Youngest international squads in Europe

Youngest international squads in Europe

Most countries have now played four games in their World Cup qualification groups so I thought it would be a good time to take a look at which countries are fielding the youngest and oldest teams so far in the competition.

In the four games that have taken place so far it’s Belgium that has fielded the youngest set of players with an average of just over 24 years old. The golden generation of young-guns like Lukaku, Hazard, Courtois, De Bruyne and Benteke helping to push the average age down. It’s the Maltese who have fielded on average the oldest players so far during qualification with an average age of almost 29 years old.

World Cup Qualification Europe: Average Ages

World Cup Qualification Europe: Average Ages

Some interesting values to note in the above table are the World and European Champions Spain are an ageing squad, on average almost four years older than the youthful Belgians.

There should be grounds for optimism for the Welsh national side who have fielded the 7th youngest set of players so far this campaign. Northern Ireland under Michael O’Neil have fielded the 21st youngest set of players, England are 25th whilst Scotland are 29th (despite not having picked David Weir so far this qualification campaign).

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in European, Featured, International

 

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