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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Non World Cup News Round Up

If like me you're well fed up of World Cup stuff and need something different you're in the right place. Have a look below for the weird and wonderful sports round up of bits and bobs that tickled my funny bone this week!

* Boxing in Moscow last weekend saw us take a Gold and Silver medal thanks to our boys Barnes-who nicely took the gold and O Neill-the silver. A great fight from both men however O Neill's opposition out classed him on the night.

Dong Fangxiao of China was stripped of her Oylmpic medal last week when committee officials discovered she was only 14 at the time of the 2000 Sydney Games. 

* The luck of the Irish was with our rowers last week when Queens University Belfast took the eight and quads in the men's top division at Queen's Regatta in the Castlewellan Forrest Park lake in Co Down. Galway RC won the fours, St Michaels RC from Limerick took the double scull and pair and City of Derry BC took the single sculls. UCD were placed first and third respectively in the novice eights. According to rte.ie the womens teams also did well. 

*Kerry footballer Paul Galvin has been suspended (yet again) following a clash with Cork's Eoin Cadogan. He'll be quiet for at least 4 weeks while he cools his "unnacceptable" temper. 

* Mayo's successful Ladies Football team bolted from the campionship this year due to issues between the players and the management. Since they're no longer insured to train it's unlikely they'll be able to play on June 19th against Sligo. 

* Micheal Schumacher the seven times F1 champ won't be punished after tipping Massa's car last Sunday. Massa had to stop with just 6 laps to go for a new front wing. Schumacher's team boss Ross Brawn defended his driver claiming his tyres didn't have enough grain or grip. No malice they say on Micheals behalf. 

* London Mayor Boris Johnson wants to take total control of the grounds of the 2012 Oylmpic  Games stadium in London. He's torn between letting West Ham have it for their stadium or use it as a venue for "pop concerts". I know which one I like and it's not West Ham....

* 67 caps for Ireland and Geordan Murphy has won the captain armband at long last. He'l be El Capitan against New Zealand's Maori in Rotorua International Stadium on Friday. 

* Woods claims to be almost at his best form following his intense preparations for this weeks US Open at Pebble Beach. This is Golf related right Wood?

* Barry Hearn is to take a 51% controlling share of the commercial business end of snooker. Eh I don't know if this makes any difference to a sport I don't believe to be a sport but eh......

A magnificent century from Shahid Afridi could not prevent Sri Lanka from a 16-run win over Pakistan in the first match of the Asia Cup in Dambulla. Eh yeah what he said....

Enough rambling for now I'm off for a nice glass of wine and some Greys Anatomy...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Some World Cup Quick Hits

So with only a matter of hours left until the beginning of the World Cup, I’ve put my neck on the line and I’ve predicted the results all the way to the final on July 11th.  You can see my predictions here.

The main points in Gavin Grace’s World Cup are as follows – France miss out in the group stage, Mexico reach the Quarter Finals before losing to England, while Brazil are champions with a win over Argentina in the final.

A couple of points about it:

  • Firstly... ya it’s not the most exciting of predictions.  England/Argentina/Spain/Brazil in the semi-finals is far from a shock.  However years of filling out similar brackets for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament have taught me that going chalk is the way to go!

  • France’s early exit is only partly based on my dislike of the French football team.  They are a team in decline, and are most people’s selections for a flop in the next two weeks.  Reports of revolt in the camp don’t bode well, and I’m not inspired by anything I’ve seen from them in recent times, especially in last week’s loss to China.  You’ll also notice that I’ve predicted that South Africa will emerge from Group A.  They’re not the strongest team, but the Bafana Bafana are unbeaten in their last 11 matches, and no home team has ever failed to reach the second round of the World Cup.  I think they’ll maintain that streak, albeit finishing behind Mexico, but it could be one of the tightest groups of them all.

  • Some of the groups are pretty easy to pick the top two out of:  Group C (England/USA), Group F (Italy/Paraguay) and Group H (Spain/Chile).  Others weren’t so easy however, even if the winners are most obvious.  Portugal should finish ahead of Ivory Coast in Group H, while I’ve picked Greece to beat Nigeria to second in Group B – I’m not too confident about that, to be frank.  I like some of what I saw of Nigeria in the African Nations Cup, but the Greek’s defence is why I went for them.  South Korea could cause an upset there too.  Germany’s group is also a corker.  I’ve gone for the Germans to top it ahead of Australia (in part because of the fact that I think the Aussies will go far-ish).  Serbia’s loss to New Zealand was enough for me to write them off, while Michael Essien’s absence means I’m not backing Ghana to do much.

  • In the knockout stages, there’s some games that I feel could go either way:  I went for Brazil over Holland, but the Netherlands can attack, of that there’s no doubt.  Germany v USA is a potential upset – the Americans are good, and the Germans are lacking experience.  Meanwhile Mexico just might, maybe, perhaps be capable of knocking England out.  

  • How easy is Italy’s run to the Quarter-Finals?  Paraguay/New Zealand/Slovakia should pose little threat, and provided Holland win their group then Cameroon/Japan/Denmark should provide fairly easy fodder.  

  • I worry about the impact that the long seasons for players in England and Spain could have, and in part that’s why I have both nations falling short of the final.  Mind you, when I’m doing that then I readily admit that I should also perhaps degrade Argentina’s chances as well, given their dependence on Messi and Aguerro.

  • I’m looking forward to seeing some teams playing, even some that I say won’t exit the group stage.  I’ve had a grá for Honduras for several years, and their games against Spain and Chile in particular will be interesting.  Nigera can play, and if Drogba can return to fitness then they could trouble anyone in Group H.  And speaking of Group H, I honestly fancy North Korea to get a draw with Brazil.

  • For top scorer, since i have them going to the final, I’m going to go with Luis Fabiano but my outside bet is Lucas Barrios of Paraguay, given their fairly easy group.  

They’re no Olympics, but I do love the World Cup.  Heroes and villains will be made in the next month, and no matter predicitions from both experts and people like me, things will happen over the next month that none of us can foresee.  We will enjoy it, we will love it, and I hope that we also get some phenomenal moments that I’ve been revelling in while watching classic matches in recent weeks.
Let the games begin.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Ten Days To Go....

June has arrived.  More importantly, June 2010 has arrived.  It is the month in which most of the World Cup will unfold before us, and come July 1st only 8 of the 32 teams who have qualified for South Africa will be in with a shout.

Therefore, I reckon it’s high time that we start to get excited for all things football here on the Almost Daily Sports Blog, and that’s the plan for next few days.  Between now and Friday week I’m going to post a preview of one of the tournament’s pools, A-H as FIFA dictates, followed by a prediction of how the knockout stages will unfold on June 10th, the night before the opening game.  More blogging will then be done throughout the tournament, where I hope to bring you some unusual/interesting pictures and videos and more than just simple match analysis.

Speaking of interesting videos, and to get you somewhat into the mood, ESPN have created some short video pieces which you can see here.  It’s some of the finest work the station has ever done in my opinion, and contains interviews with several players who have scored goals in World Cup Finals, including Ireland Assistant Manager, Marco Tardelli.  It’s wonderfully shot, and well worth checking out.  Enjoy it, and come back here soon for our World Cup coverage.


PS Thanks for your votes in the quandry I posted recently.  I’m taking your advice on board and some changes will likely be implemented, albeit not until after the World Cup at the earliest.