World Cup squad selected - Group E & F
Posted by: Sounders FC Public Relations
SoundersFC.com has selected their squad of 32 World Cup bloggers to represent the 32 nations in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Learn about each blogger with their winning entry to the question: Why will your country win?
Greg Van Hollebeke
As a fan of the Indomitable Lions for the past 16 years, I truly believe Cameroon can make a deep run into the knockout round. They have had quite a decade: winning gold in Sydney, winning the African Cup of Nations multiple times, winning the All-African games multiple times, and all the while gaining the respect of a continent and the world with a current FIFA ranking of 19. Their fast-paced play will be difficult for the other teams in their group to defend. This fast-paced play will be led by the amazing fleet-of-foot striker, Samuel Eto’o. Along with the stout defense of Song and Njitap, Cameroon will surely make a deep run, and if all goes well, hoist the ugliest trophy in all of sports.
Denmark may be the smallest Nordic country in Scandinavia - but that doesn't necessarily translate to the level of determination, heart, or performance they present on the pitch. I watched as they beat their big brothers to the north last fall to qualify for the World Cup and cheered when they won the Confederations Cup in 95 (I was 11). And while I may not be old enough or remember the Danish Dynamite, I have long followed the team and as a youth, I dreamed of moving overseas and becoming an honorary roligan. It's been eight long years since Denmark has qualified for the World Cup, and I am excited to see what they will bring to the tournament. Regardless of what people are saying about the current squad, I believe that they can put together something truly special this June that will make their country proud.
It keeps getting better. This is only their forth experience for Team Japan, though young in FIFA World Cup history, are a passionate and skilled national team. Team Japan ironically brought the heat of soccer to the little island country at the moment of painful loss in Doha in 1993. We are the people who turn pain into energy. We are the people who get energy from anger. We are the team who always focuses on what is next. Team Japan is not the strongest team within the all nations yet; however, they've learned from loss. They will play to make history. Now Okada Japan is back for 2010 FIFA World Cup. I believe they are stronger than ever.
When one imagines the stylistic components of the Oranje, an overwhelming sense of beauty, complexity and passion rushes into one's mind like the grandeur of Sneijder’s control or of Robben’s strike. The Dutch side represents all that is divine in football. In Mourinho's age of shrewd, Catenaccio tactics, Holland acts as the sole torchbearer for elegant, attacking football. We will witness sides play defensively, in attempt to grind out 1-0 victories and advance, but this didn't draw us to football, the beauty, glory, and the theatrical climaxes are what did. As a writer on behalf of the Netherlands, it is my passion to convey these pure feelings to all willing to experience the brilliance and triumph of total football and complex, aesthetic glory. Their innovation will put the cup in their hands. There is an emotional rush as the Oranje perform, unlike anything else. I will put you there.
In advance of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, I was travelling and playing club soccer in the country about to be the host. All around me was evidence of the grand party about to occur. And even though I wouldn't be there at the exact time, every town or village was united with the same sounds and sights of the beautiful game. Italia '90, even one year before first kick, was everywhere. It was in the store windows. It was on the village soccer fields and the tournament grounds where I played. It was in the cheering and the songs heard all around me. It was in the parades and the fireworks. It was even spreading to the other countries in Europe. Italia '90 allowed me to breathe in the same rarified air of the World's game and for that I'm forever greatful to be a supporter.
We won't, but we haven't played in the world cup since 1982. For the first time in my lifetime, I'm able to see the excitement that hits a country of only four million people when we're playing in the world's biggest sporting event. New Zealand is not just a small football country, but football isn't the dominant sport either. We've got just one professional team in the entire country and they play in the Australian league. Far too often football articles and blogs focus only on who will win the world cup. It's important, but being from a country like New Zealand I feel that it's important to express how big and important it is just to be competing in the world cup. Even the warm-up friendly games are huge - our 1-0 win over Serbia is one of the biggest results a New Zealand team has achieved.
Paraguay are only seen as dark horses because their players are spread all over the world: Roque Santa Cruz at Manchester City, Nelson Valdez and Lucas Barrios at Dortmund, Oscar Cardozo at Benfica, and Paolo da Silva and Christain Riveros at Sunderland. This is disregarding their talismanic leader, Salvador Cabanas, unable to play after being shot in the head in Mexico. This team contains many players from a team that placed second in the 2004 Olympics. Also, they finished third on goal differential in CONMEBOL qualifying and beat tournament favorites Brazil twice and Argentina. This team has looked red hot in recent friendlies, Barrios has scored in every game he has played for his country, and Santa Cruz looks to be returning to the form that saw him move clubs last summer for 17 million pounds before his series of injuries. Ignoring Paraguay this summer would be a big mistake.
Getting to the World Cup is the true victory for Slovakia, which has never qualified before. In fact, when Slovakia split from the Czech Republic, few thought it would ever make an impact, yet here is Slovakia while the Czechs sit at home. Slovakia should beat New Zealand, so how it does against Paraguay will tell whether it can move out of group play or not. This is a young team with a few players who play at high levels, including Liverpool's Martin Skrtel. Young midfielders Vladimir Weiss Jr., the coach's son, and 22-year-old captain Marek Hamsik, are emerging stars. This is a true Cinderella team, but a talented one that has been on the brink of breaking through for years. Now it's rewarded with the weakest group in the tournament, giving Slovakia a real chance to advance.