African World Cup Preview Part 1 – Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Nigeria

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TFN’s Ethan Meade takes a look at some of the African hopes at the 2014 World Cup…

“An African nation will win the World Cup before the year 2000” – Pele, 1977

“What Pele saw was the physical attributes that African players have, but what he probably didn’t take into consideration is the mentality necessary to win the World Cup. It’s not just about physical ability, it’s about your mentality.” – John Barnes, 2014

Pele’s bold prediction of 1977 has fallen somewhat short in the intervening years. The furthest an African team has reached is the quarter-final – the Roger Milla-inspired Cameroon side of 1990, and Ghana in 2010, denied by penalty heartbreak for Asamoah Gyan. This time around, Pele’s prophecy looks unlikely to be fulfilled. That said, in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, they boast two potential heavyweight’s in Brazil, whilst an enigmatic Algerian side will be joined by perennial challengers Ghana and Cameroon. Continue reading

Five Belgians staking a late claim for the 2014 World Cup

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TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh picks five young Belgians who could yet find themselves on the plane to Brazil this summer…

1. Thorgan Hazard (Zulte Waregem, on loan from Chelsea, 20)

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As Eden continues to cement his reputation as one of the Premier League’s brightest stars, brother Thorgan is making waves of his own. Indeed, Francky Dury, his coach at Zulte Waregem, declared last week, “He is no longer Eden’s brother. He is Thorgan Hazard in his own right”. Now in his second season on loan at the Belgian side, Hazard was recently awarded the Golden Show Award for the best player in the League. Continue reading

English Football’s Five New Year’s Resolutions

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Piers Barber returns with five resolutions to improve English football for 2014. Do you have any more suggestions?

1. Don’t go out of the World Cup with a whimper

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We already know one thing for sure about 2014: England aren’t going to win the World Cup. Even if our national team did possess a higher calibre of player, the odds are completely stacked against European teams at this year’s tournament in Brazil. At the same time, there is no point in going out to South America only to limply make up the numbers. This year it would be fantastic to watch England approach the tournament with attacking ambition and character, and to see some of their more competent flair players really given a chance to express themselves on the international stage. England’s recent tournament exists, after all, have been embarrassing – a return of the heroic defeat would be highly welcome. Continue reading