Last 16 in sight for USA after hard-fought win over rivals Ghana

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TFN’s Kyle Hulme analyses USA’s 2-1 victory over Ghana…

The people of the United States are no strangers to history; they can proudly recall how they threw off the shackles of the British in 1776, name the field commanders of the Civil War and talk with intrigue and pride about the Battle of the Alamo. But after last night, perhaps they will have a new historical event to talk about around dinner tables and in classrooms up and down the country – the night soccer established itself as a part of their national identity.

Americans are no strangers to rivalries either – ask any hockey fan and they’ll explain how nothing feels better than getting one over the Russians or the Canadians – and last night another ghost was laid to rest. Ghana may seem like an unlikely rival, given that the two countries have no historic problems and they are separated by oceans and thousands of miles, but the Black Stars have been a thorn in the side of the US soccer team for years, bettering them in the group stage in 2006 and knocking them out with a goal in extra time in 2010. Ghana were a demon in long need of exorcising. But last night the US rewrote history, triumphing under a siege of Alamo proportions and moving one giant leap closer to the initially unlikely progression from their “group of death”. Continue reading

The Non-Redemption of Ricardo Quaresma

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Ahead of Portugal’s opener against Germany, Hugo Greenhalgh looks at one player who didn’t make the cut…

Ever since the appointment of Jose Mourinho as Chelsea manager, there has been an obvious and sustained Portuguese imprint that lasted at the club for around a decade. The easily forgettable Filipe Oliveira predated his arrival, but he quickly brought in his able lieutenants from Porto, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira, while Tiago Mendes joined from Benfica. In 2006, Hilario was added as a back-up goalkeeper and two seasons later, after Mourinho had left, Jose Bosingwa and Deco were signed.

During that 2008/9 season, another Portuguese also joined the ranks on loan in the January window. A one-time prodigy, Ricardo Quaresma had been playing for Inter, incidentally under Mourinho, but his time in Italy had not been particularly happy. Very much a ‘style over substance’ player, Quaresma was criticised for his lack of effort and suffered the indignity of winning the Bidone d’Oro award for the worst footballer in Serie A for 2008. Continue reading

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

Ghana’s Albert Adomah & the World Cup’s Non-League Connections

wpid-Albert-Adomah-made-thd-provisional-Ghana-squad-for-the-2014-World-CupTFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh profiles Middlesbrough’s Albert Adomah and looks at the other players with non-league connections at this World Cup…

Ghana’s squad for this World Cup might be one of the youngest at the tournament but it still features some illustrious names from Europe’s top leagues. In Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari they possess two Champions League winners with nearly 140 caps between them, while Kevin-Prince Boateng, André Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah have been recent regulars in the competition.  Yet alongside stars such as these, there are a couple of players who started their careers in England’s non-league.

Albert Adomah currently plays for Middlesbrough but he started out at another ‘Boro, five divisions lower, in the Isthmian Premier with Harrow Borough FC. Adomah used to have kickabouts with his local street wardens when he was a teenager and they encouraged him to play for a Sunday team. This lead to trials at Harrow Borough, in North West London, who Adomah signed for while he continued to take a painting and decorating course at a local college. Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #2 – The British Commonwealth

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In our second installment of the Hypothetical XIs series, Pete Starr concocts a Commonwealth side with a few surprises…

At its height the British Empire was the largest ever accumulated, encompassing almost a quarter of the earth’s total area and about 1/5 of the world’s population. We had fingers in pies in every continent on the ruddy planet and when people started to get a bit eggy about the whole thing we created a nice friendly Commonwealth. Continue reading

African Cup of Nations 2013 Preview: Group B

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The False Nine’s David Dodds previews Group B in the African Cup of Nations…

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Ghana will go into the tournament as one of the favourites. The Black Stars have moved up four places in the latest FIFA rankings and have beaten Egypt and Tunisia in pre-AFCON friendlies. Continue reading