Thursday, June 18, 2009

The latest round of games in the Confederations Cup wrapped up today and the tournament is continuing to excite and entertain, horns aside of course.

The big story coming out of the tournament is the rise of the African nations taking part.

South Africa dominated their first game against Iraq without scoring. Their second game against New Zealand yesterday saw another dominant display but this time with clinical finishing. The bafana bafana took New Zealand’s All Whites apart and the 2-0 scoreline could have been a lot more.

With flair and an attack minded mentality, you have to wonder what the South Africans might be able to do in next year’s World Cup if they can just bury some more of their chances in games. Roared on by what will be a fanatical and noisy home crowd, they really could be a force to be reckoned with next year and will certainly be exciting to watch.

With South Africa taking part as hosts, Egypt are there representing the African confederation and they have also been a revelation.

Having impressed by their attacking philosophy against Brazil on Monday, the Egyptians continued their fine form against Italy today, pulling of a shock 1-0 victory. Well I say shock, but anyone who witnessed the game will know that it was a well deserved win.

They had their charismatic goalkeeper El Hadary to thank for some vital saves in the second half but they were well worth the three points.

It’ll be interesting to see what else they can achieve in this tournament, although the possible loss of Zidan will be a setback for them. A rematch of their opening game against Brazil would be a mouthwatering prospect if it produces anything like Monday’s match.

When you consider that Egypt have been struggling in the African qualifiers for next year's World Cup Finals, you have to wonder just what else is going to be on show from the African contingent come 2010. The Egyptians are currently bottom of their group after the first two games but you just can't see them not raising their game now and qualifying after these displays.

It was Italy's first ever defeat against African opposition and you know how much the defeat hurt and how seriously the Italians were taking the competition when you see Buffon going up for an injury time corner.

Today’s other game saw the ruthless Brazilians destroy a weak and lacklustre looking US side 3-0, without really getting into full flow. That in itself can only be worrying for the rest of the world hoping to compete in next year’s finals as the South Americans looked rampant as it was.

A match up with Europe’s current masters, Spain, at some point is what we all now want to see. The Spanish weren’t overly impressive against Iraq yesterday and their single goal victory may not have been in doubt once the Iraqis fell behind, but they were more going through the motions than the gears.

The last round of group games will certainly be interesting as Italy fight for their lives against Brazil.

Despite my original expectations, I’m enjoying the Confederations Cup much more than last year’s Euros. I just have to stop dreaming about angry swarms now.

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