Thought for the Day

by Michael Somerville

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

A friend of mine made an interesting observation about the World Cup.

“If the World Cup was played on a five a side pitch then the Japanese or Koreans would win it. If it was played on a bigger pitch then an African team would win it” he said.

The size of the pitch has always been a telling factor in football matches. Teams often point out the difference between the vast Emirates pitch and the compact ground at Craven Cottage. Different tactics are needed for varied pitches.

After observing the Cameroon vs Denmark match and the Holland vs Japan game yesterday there was one thing in common. The Africans and the Asians lost.

Although the Cameroonians were much improved from their dire performance against the Japanese, they were beaten by a technically superior Danish side. Pace and determination are important traits in football but they are not the only things needed for victory.

Without stereotyping too much, the Africans are fast and powerful. They are strong and spirited. However, particularly in defence their lack of composure and discipline can be a hindrance. European and South American teams have more of an all round game to them.

The Japanese were impressively technical against the Netherlands but in the end, the all round ability of Holland showed.

The Ghanaians were lively against the Australians but even though the Aussies were reduced to ten men for 70 minutes of the game, the Ghanaians could not break them down.

This is my theory. Although I believe it’s brilliant to have such an amazing mixture of nations at the World Cup, it’s so unlikely that an Asian or African team will win it. Of course I would love to see this come true, but as is the game of football and the vast range of qualities needed to win a major tournament, it would probably never happen.

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  • Darren

    thought of the day part 2. it’s not only England who have big problems, the World Champions can’t even beat a bunch of part timers! Shocking. Their manager gets paid 25k per year.

    Well done to the all whites!

  • William

    As many players at the World Cup are based in Europe, regardless of nationality, you could argue that football tactics are becoming more uniform. But it’s still fascinating to speculate that some countries have different perceptions of space than others, and that this is reflected in how they play football.

    Although this contradicts your friend’s interesting point, I’ve actually heard the argument that African football does not produce many wingers because of the compact pitches many youngsters play on (which is why the continent produces so many outstanding central midfielders instead). Given how densely populated many of Asia’s biggest cities are, though, perhaps that could explain why they might benefit from the tight confines of a 5-a-side World Cup.

    That said, I thought South Korea actually counter-attacked rather well against Greece by using the full dimensions of the pitch!

  • dave h

    i think that spmething a bit simpler is established atm – both african and asian countries are still learning/developing football. Tey do not have established infrastructure/training academies – or when they do they are not noearly as well funded/organised as european/south american ones…it’s just a culture thing.

    Some people said a while back that an african team would win the worlc before too long, I can actually see an asian team winning it first. They are just starting to show technical ability that is on par, if not greater, than a lot of more established teams, all they are really lacking is a deeper understanding of the tectical nature of the game (especially the tournament game), and a squad depth that will be enough to carry then through the tournament.

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