Thursday, June 25, 2009

The mouthwatering prospect of a Brazil-Spain Confederations Cup final wasn't to be, although fans looking to see that match up were nearly treated to it in the 3rd/4th place play off game on Sunday.

In a competition that just continues to enthrall, it was a story of the underdogs in the semis.

The US turned in a tremendous performace yesterday to produce a shock, but well earned, 2-0 win to end Spain's long competitive unbeaten streak.

For the young US side to come back from being all but down and out in the group stages to claiming their place in their first major final is the story of the tournament.

Confidence must be sky high in the US ranks just now and a number of players will have put themselves in the shop window for a number of the top European clubs with their performances so far and whilst their glories will have gone pretty much unreported back home, they deserve all the plaudits they are getting elsewhere.

Now they face the tricky task of playing a team in the final that just dismantled them 3-0, in a game where the States were lucky to get nil and not concede double, with the South Americans taking their foot off the gas in the second half.

Coming back from the lows of that is a feat in itself and you get the sense that the US side will have the belief to put that behind them and I would be very surprised to see a repetition of how things previously played out in Sunday's final.

Brazil had a stunning late free kick from Daniel Alves to thank today for claiming their spot in the final, after a determined defensive display from the South African hosts nearly caused an upset.

If anyone thinks that the teams in this tournament aren't taking it seriously, then you just have to look at the reaction of the Brazilian players and coaches when the winning strike hit the net. To a man they celebrated as if it was a World Cup semi final match up that they were playing.

The 1-0 win certainly wasn't Brazil's finest display of the competition but you have to credit the bafana bafana boys for making it that way.

They showed no fear, no sense of awe at who they were playing. they stuck to their game plan, their game style and took the play to Brazil at times.

They may have missed out on the chance of making their first major final but they have whetted the appetite of many in the country, and the continent, for next year's World Cup.

As I said before, with the passion of the fans cheering them on, who knows how far they could go. The hosts tradionally do well and if they play the same loose and exciting way that they have here, then good luck to them.

I'm looking forward to next year's finals already.

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