Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2014 Contents Issue 144 • Friday, June 13, 2014
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Hosts Brazil would have reaffirmed their position
as favourites to win the World Cup Finals with
strong play in their final warm-ups, but the rubber
hit the road this week, with yesterday's opener
After years of anticipation, internal grumbling
over the cost of hosting the Finals and social out-
rage against the excesses of public spending, Brazil
2014 is finally underway.
Hosts have won six times in the 17 World Cup Fi-
nals, and Brazil's chances are usually as good as
anyone's. Will they make it lucky seven for host
teams and put another star over the iconic crosses
that make up the confederation's crest?
With a solid back four featuring Daniel Alves,
David Luiz, Marcelo and Thiago Silva in front of first-
string goalie Julio Cesar, Brazil has conceded one
goal and scored 17 in their last five matches. But it's
up front that the goals are going to come from, and
though he's the natural go-to man on the team, Ney-
mar is not the only first class forward on this team.
This is a different kind of Brazil, though, and fans
will be contented to see steady wins and not the
magic of the five other teams that took the trophy.
Let's look at some of the other favourites and
how they will match up this opening week...
With two unconvincing draws and one big blow-
out win against mediocre opposition, Germany fans
will no doubt feel somewhat despondent about their
chances at the World Cup Finals, which started this
week in Brazil. Next Monday, Germany will face Por-
tugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo who is on a mission
to add to his FIFA Ballon D'Or and Champions
League trophies. But take hope, Germany fans, as
CR7 is still not 100 per cent recovered from niggling
As for Portugal, to say that they depend on
Ronaldo is an understatement---he scored all their
goals in the play-off against Sweden that secured
their WC Finals berth. If you like Portugal, don't ex-
pect too much.
The English speaking press will always tout Eng-
land as a favourite to win this thing, but football afi-
cionados know that the British will be lucky to leave
the group stage unscathed. Look instead to an angry
Mario Balotelli to try to prove that his name should
be mentioned among the pantheon of the gods of
Italian football. And he better---a string of low-scor-
ing draws have littered their record since they last
won, against Czech Republic in September, and only
one win in 19 matches is a record that scares ab-
solutely no one. But if Super Mario only gets it all to-
gether, he's going to put some into the net for the
Spain is an interesting proposition---the last team
to win back-to-back World Cups was Brazil in 58'
and 62'---52 years ago. In the modern era, Brazil has
featured in three of the last five championship
games. With the waning potency of the tiki-taka
style of Spanish football, and the greys popping up
on the heads of their core of players, this may be
Spain's last chance to grab the Cup.
Outsiders abound, with anyone from Belgium to
the Netherlands, France and even our northern
neighbours the USA worth a serious mention. Per-
haps too it will be a year for the Africans to finally
claim their first lien on the title? They certainly have
the quality of players to give any opponent
headaches. Asians? I doubt...not enough quality
across the pitch, but they do run like robots---untir-
ing and precise, with teams drilled in technical abil-
ity. But football is a team game and the team takes
each player's skill and the team makes it more. Or
the team will let you down because the individuals
never gelled together.
Which brings us to Argentina, a squad that, on
paper, has all the qualities of a champion.
Leo Messi no longer has the shadow of Carlos
Tevez lurking over him. But does he want it as much
as Carlito always has? In the 3-0 run out against T&T
last week, Messi didn't---or at least he didn't show it.
The Barca man was magnanimous in his post game
praise of the Soca Warriors, but in all fairness to the
T&T team, that was a game to buss we throats. De-
spite the reminder from Ataullah Guerra, the foot-
ball God never showed up in the 90 minutes after
that bow. Would he over the coming weeks? Let's
see who does. Let's see who wants it the most.
He's back! And like he hasn't
missed a step. Richard "Torpedo"
Thompson is well and truly back
and in full flight.
Last Sunday, at the Fanny
Blankers-Koen Games, in Hengelo,
Netherlands, the T&T sprinter ran
his best legal time in nearly three
years as he defeated 20-year-old
Brit, Chijindu Ujah in the 100m by
one-one-hundredth of a second
with a time of 9.95.
Thompson had suffered since
his London Olympics bronze in the
4x100m relays, and some had sug-
gested that he may not ever re-
cover from injury.
However, visits to the Michael
Johnson Performance Centre, in
Dallas, Texas, where the athlete's
race was scientifically examined,
seems to have corrected flaws
that could have contributed to his
injury. Whatever the case, Thomp-
son is back to his old, sub-ten-sec-
The weekend before Hengelo,
Thompson had put down an insane
9.74 at the National Training Cen-
tre/Pure Athletics Last Chance
Meet, in Clermont, Florida. At that
same race, T&T teammate, 2013
national 100m champion, Keston
Bledman pulled up with an injury.
Aside from the personal issues,
that injury is of concern to the T&T
team because Bledman is the lead
off man in the 4x100m relays.
Thompson and Bledman had
combined with Marc Burns, Darrel
Brown and Rondel Sorillo to run in
the men's 4x100m at the inaugural
IAAF World Relay Championship
held at the Thomas Robinson Sta-
dium in Nassau, Bahamas. Thomp-
son ran an awesome anchor leg
that certainly looked to be sub-ten
class and it was enough to pull
T&T into second place with a
38.04. Bledman's injury is not
good news for the quartet who
would be looking to put something
down on the records during the
upcoming Commonwealth Games,
later this year.
In an interview with Express
Newspaper's Kwame Laurence,
Florida-based Bledman said he has
been contacting the Ministry of
Sport about his cheque---the an-
nual grant of up to $250,000
granted to T&T's elite athletes.
"I have no funding for the year
yet. I always get money last. I'm
very grateful for it because it
helps a lot, a lot. But I've been per-
forming for the last two years, and
every time I call it's not ready, not
ready. I need the money. I'm using
my money to pay for all the
things---massages, vitamins, rent,
grocery. I have to live," said Bled-
Let's hope his pleas do not fall
on deaf ears at the Ministry of
• Catch the FBK-Games 100m
race here: youtu.be/CL-tQTRTXOs
T&T's Richard Thompson, centre, Chijindu Ujah, left and Bingtian Su, come down the barrel of the gun at
the FBK-Games in Hengelo, Netherlands.
Brits got jokes ... but aside from the
very funny placement of their England
squad at the centre of the known foot-
balling universe, the rest of these pre-
dictions on this venn diagram from
babb.telegraph.co.uk is pretty spot on!
The wait is over. The reasons
TVs were invented is finally
here: World Cup fever is
spreading ... catch it now.
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