Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 15th 2014 Contents A68
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt June 15, 2014
in a Flamengo shop
Jonathan Arguero is a passionate fan of Buenos
Aires club River Plate, which means he despises the
city's other big team---archrival Boca Juniors.
He couldn't believe what he saw the other day in
Rio, where he's arrived to watch today's World Cup
match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Browsing in a shop run by Rio club Flamengo, he
spotted a fan of archrival Fluminense wearing---of all
things---a Fluminense shirt.
"If a Boca fan arrived in a River Plate store wear-
ing a Boca shirt, he might not leave alive," Arguero
said. "I am not exaggerating. The animosity is very
great. I'm using measured words here."
Brazil loves football, though attendance is poor for
club matches, averaging about 15,000---less than
Major League Soccer in the US One reason is that
newly built and remodelled stadiums are pricing out
the working-class fans. Tickets for a club match at
Maracana can start at US$40-50.
About 50,000 Argentines are expected in Rio for
today's match---most without tickets.
In it for Iran
A group of about three dozen journalists from Iran
are on their own World Cup road trip---following the
team around the country on a bus organised by the
Iranian football federation. After the team's final
training session in Sao Paulo, the travelling media
circus loaded onto the bus to pick up their gear at
the hotel before the 400-kilometre journey south to
It's clear that the shared adventure---they all also
flew in from Teheran together---had bonded the
gang. Some immediately took off their shoes, plac-
ing their feet atop the seats ahead. Others leaned
back in their chairs, laughing. Every few minutes
someone broke into song in Farsi.
"We are a big family," said Shervin Gilani, who
freelances for the Teheran Times and the Mehr
News Agency. "We all hope that Iran will advance.
But also all know that will be a big surprise."
Argentina thumbs up
OK, so we all know yellow and green is good at
the World Cup in Brazil. Blue and white stripes?
Whoa. Not so much.
One brave cab driver was proudly sporting Ar-
gentina's team shirt as he whizzed through the Sat-
urday morning traffic in downtown Rio de Janeiro.
On every side of him there were quizzical looks, nor-
mally followed by a hoot or a stern shout in re-
sponse to the colors of Brazil's fierce South
American rival. Sometimes a wave of a hand. No, no,
no!Then, just as it felt he was all alone, a car pulled up
next to him full of fellow supporters of the country
of Lionel Messi. Their hoot was accompanied by
cheers and thumbs-up this time as they pressed
their blue and white Argentina flag up against the
window. Seems you'll always find some friends at
the World Cup.
Croatian players just won't forgive Japanese ref-
eree Yuichi Nishimura, who awarded Brazil a contro-
versial penalty in the World Cup opener with the
Now, they are taking a gibe at his English. Or
rather, his alleged lack of knowledge of the language.
"During the match I asked him something in Eng-
lish, he replied in Japanese," Croatia defender Vedran
"It is unbelievable that throughout the game, he
communicated with us in Japanese," Corluka said.
"For me it is unthinkable that a World Cup opener is
refereed by a person who does not speak English or
any other major international language."
Croatia lost 3-1 against Brazil on Thursday after a
series of questionable decisions by Nishimura.
That left the Croats furious.
"After this game, it would be better if Brazil was
immediately given the World Cup trophy and the
rest of us go home," Corluka said. "It is now clear
that no one can beat Brazil at this tournament."
BELO HORIZONTE---Colombia s new gen-
eration unlocked Greece s notoriously
steely defense with such verve that they
could just have become the team to beat
in Group C at the World Cup.
The Colombians beat Greece 3-0 yes-
terday, and didn t need star striker Radamel
Falcao to do it.
Falcao, who was ruled out of the World
Cup due to a knee injury, was just one
among the thousands of Colombia sup-
porters who dominated the crowd, turning
Mineirao Stadium into a sea of yellow,
tinged with red and blue in the colors of
the national flag.
The fans chanted constantly as play-
makers James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadra-
do sliced through Greece s defense and
helped Colombia get an early jump in a
group that also contains Japan and Ivory
Colombia s golden generation of the
1990s, led by Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama,
failed to live up to its promise. Now,
Colombians are calling the 22-year-old
Rodriguez "El Nuevo Pibe," or the "New
Kid," and are hoping he can lead this group
to the kind off success that the previous
generation couldn t quite achieve.
Rodriguez capped a fine performance
by scoring Colombia s third goal, after a
neat backheel flick from Cuadrado.
Sloppy defending from Greece led to an
early goal from Colombia, with Pablo
Armero scoring in the fifth minute.
"The Greek defense was very strong,
but we were solid and we had patience to
find open spaces and the early goal was
a big help," Rodriguez said.
Coach Jose Pekerman commended his
team on winning Colombia s first World
Cup match in 16 years. He also applauded
Colombia s fans, saying the overwhelming
support helped turn the stadium into a
fortress for the team.
"I was very touched by what I saw in
the stands," Pekerman said. "The Colom-
bian fans always support their team. They
gave them confidence."
But Greece s coach and players suggested
the result wasn t as convincing as the
scoreline. Greece controlled 54 per cent
of possession and defender Vassileos Toro-
sidis called the score "a mirage."
Coach Fernando Santos said his team
"lacked concentration in the first ten min-
"After the goal we recovered control of
the game and we could have equalised,"
he said. "The result is misleading---It
doesn t show what happened on the field."
Colombia will get a chance to show the
result wasn t an anomaly when it takes
on Ivory Coast on Thursday.
PORTO ALEGRO---The pressure is all on
France to beat Honduras in their opening
World Cup match today, and coach Didier
Deschamps hopes his relatively inexperi-
enced squad is mature enough to handle
Deschamps points to Spain s 5-1 thrashing
by the Netherlands on Friday, and Brazil s
scrappy opener against Croatia the day
before, as evidence that nerves can affect
favourites in an opening match that often
sets the tone for the ensuing games.
France should know.
Four years ago, France had a 0-0 draw
with Uruguay and went out of the group
stage without winning a game. Four years
before, Les Bleus drew 0-0 against the Swiss
and only scraped into the second round
with two second-half goals against Togo in
their last group game.
"Even when a great team like Spain has
an enormous amount of confidence and
serenity, things are never evident,"
Deschamps said yesterday. "All the teams
are prepared here. There might not be that
much of a difference."
Uruguay also failed to live up to its rep-
utation as a dangerous contender. A semi-
finalist four years ago, Uruguay had an upset
3-1 loss to Costa Rica yesterday.
"The difficulty of the first game also
comes into it, with the different levels of
preparation," Deschamps said. "Brazil s first
match wasn t easy against Croatia, either,
and ours won t be easy."
Only a small group remains from France s
squad at the 2010 World Cup. Deschamps
has freshened things up with some young
faces but they have limited international
experience and, crucially, have never been
exposed to pressure of this intensity.
Injuries that ruled Franck Ribery and No
2 goalkeeper Steve Mandanda out of the
squad means only fullbacks Bacary Sagna
and Patrice Evra, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris
and winger Mathieu Valbuena with any
experience from the 2010 World Cup. How-
ever, Valbuena s contribution was a fleeting
substitute s appearance.
One of France s brightest prospects is 21-
year-old midfielder Paul Pogba, while 23-
year-old winger Antoine Griezmann is push-
ing for a starting place on the left wing.
The 20-year-old left back Lucas Digne has
made only two international appearances,
raising the question of how he copes at the
highest level if Evra gets injured.
"The fact that you re young (has) advan-
tages, like enthusiasm and drive," Deschamps
said. But "veterans who ve been through
this before handle this kind of experience
Deschamps has resisted one-on-one talks
with the young players, deciding that it may
unsettle rather than reassure them.
"The very fact that I d take the step to
go and speak to them might come across
as me telling them they re tense and they re
needing me to speak to them," Deschamps
said. "Everyone has their own personality,
their own character. You never know how
a player will react to the event."
In 2010, France s squad cracked in South
Africa, going on strike at training and shock-
ing a nation back home. It took several years,
and a triumphant 3-0 win against Ukraine
in the second leg of their playoff, to win
back the trust of the fans.
Deschamps has tried to distance himself
from that dark era but the questions still
When he was asked, in English, during
a news conference what is different about
the squads of 2010 and 2014, he gave a
"I didn t understand everything, but I
heard the words South Africa and that s
already too much," he said. "The most
important thing is what happens tomorrow
He rebuffed another question, too, con-
cerning Ribery---who was ruled out due to
a back injury.
sets tone in Group C
Colombia's James Rodriguez (10) celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's
third goal during the group C World Cup soccer match between Colombia and Greece at the
Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Deschamps hopes young squad can handle pressure
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