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Winners and Losers Day 9: The Day After

June 19, 2010

The United States and England are still buzzing about yesterday’s results. Not every day can be like that and today wasn’t, but there was another ugly Dutch win and more disappointment for the host continent. As many predicted, Japan’s first victory, like South Korea, appears to have been a fluke. The Aussies came alive despite playing a man down for most of the game again. Ghana blew it’s chances of taking a stranglehold of its group while Cameroon blew a 1-0 lead en route to becoming the first country eliminated from this year’s tournament. The all-level and unpredictable Group F plays tomorrow and so, too, does the Ivory Coast and Brazil who look to improve upon their first game efforts. The now infamous Koman Coulibaly rated poor in review, according to an unnamed FIFA source, and his performance will be likely be addressed Monday and will (hopefully) be heading home as well. The winners and losers after the jump.

Winners:

Wesley Sneijder – The Netherland uncharacteristically won a 1-0 game and in a game with few highlights, Sneijder scored a beautiful goal from just outside the penalty box. For a team suddenly lacking creativity, Sneijder has continued his excellent form from Inter Milan in sparking his team to yet another victory. The Dutch are possessing the ball well and winning matches, but their best form is uncharacteristically likely ahead of them and not behind them.

Brett Holman – He filled in more than adequately for Tim Cahill at forward, taking a misplayed ball by Ghana keeper Richard Kingson and putting in the back of the net for an early 1-0 Australia lead. When strike partner Harry Kewell left with a red card, he disrupted the Ghana attack with constant ball pressure in the attacking third. With the draw, Australia remains alive and will surprisingly advance from the group stages with a win and Germany loss. Not bad for a team previously thought to be the tournament’s worst less than a week ago.

Germany – With a disappointing Ghana draw, Germany regains control of its own destiny. Left for dead yesterday following a disappointing effort of their own against Serbia, the Germans can survive and advance to the next round with a win against Ghana. They may not be the tournament’s favorites or finish atop Group D, but given the chaos of Group C, neither of those are probably relevant for the squad or its supporters.

Dennis Rommedahl – He dominated the right flank for Denmark in a 2-1 comeback win. In the first half, he took a well-played long ball for center-back Simon Kjaer and played it onto a streaking Nicklas Bendtner for a clinical finish to draw even. In the second half, he took a Bendtner pass, beat his defender, and curved the ball into the far corner of the goal for the eventual game-winner.

Losers:

Australia Red Cards – For the second straight game, an Australian attacker picked up a red card. Harry Kewell’s handball temporarily saved a goal, but Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan converted the penalty kick and Australia had to play more than half the game with 10 men. However, the defense led by captain Lucas Neill held strong and then nearly counter-attacked their way to victory with a late second half flurry. Tim Cahill will be back for Serbia game, but Kewell (red today) and defender Craig Moore (two yellows) will be missed.

Ghana attack – Despite a man advantage for most of the game, Ghana only managed to only put five of their 25 shots on goal. They settled for outside shots and were sloppy with the ball until the final minutes of the game. They looked too relax on the pitch and will certainly not have that luxury against an equally desperate and more talented German side in their final group match and will likely have to score from somewhere other than the penalty spot.

Nicolas Anelka – Sent home for reportedly making obscene comments at manager Raymond Domanech. The latest drama for a team that could be labeled the tournament’s greatest disappointment so far. The criticism is, perhaps, justified given questionable decision made by Domanech. However, given Anelka’s own performance, France may be better off without the forward, but it will probably make little difference.

African Continent – Ghana could have all-but-sealed up at least one spot in the knockout round for the continent with a win against Australia, but struggled to a 1-1 draw. Samuel Eto’o gave Cameroon an early 1-0 lead, but like Nigeria earlier this week against Greece, the African country’s shaky defense could not stop Denmark’s speedy wings or Nicklas Bendtner in the center. With the 2-1 loss, Cameroon remains the only team pointless through two games and is the first team officially eliminated. Both of these disappointing result today fall, not on the managers, but on the players. The Ivory Coast is, perhaps, Africa’s only true contender for a knockout round berth.

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