Rounding Up A Busy Day of International Football

February 7, 2013 — by Suman


As we posted to our tumblr yesterday morning, there were at least 10 international matches of interest yesterday, ranging from the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals in the morning, to a bunch of international friendlies in mid-afternoon, and capped off by the 1st three Hex matches.

Here’s a roundup of various match notes and observations from the CultFootball crew:

The two Africa Cup of Nations semifinals: I put on the first semifinal, Mali vs Nigeria, midway thru the 1st half, and quickly saw Nigeria go up 3-0 within the span of 20 minutes. Goals from (1) Elderson, assisted by Chelsea’s Victor Moses (no, Elderson is not a naturalized Nigerian originally from Brazil–his full name is Uwa Elderson Echiéjilé, born in Benin City, playing the last few years in Portugal for Sporting Braga (no, he’s not a naturalized Nigerian originally from Benin–Benin City is in Nigeria); (2) Ideye Aide Brown, a 24yo striker who plays for Dynamo Kyiv, assisted by Emmanuel Emenike; and (3) Emenike, another 24yo striker who also plays in far Eastern Europe, for Spartak Moscow.  Nigeria made it 4-0 via a goal from yet another young striker playing in Russia, Ahmed Musa (20yo, CSKA Moscow). Mali pulled one back in the second half, but their inspirational run ended emphatically.

The second semifinal was a huge upset. The conventional wisdom is that the final would be a clash between two West African powers, Nigeria and Ghana. But instead West African minnow Burkina Faso pulled off the shocker, beating the star-studded Black Stars of Ghana. Ghana scored an early 13′ goal off a PK, but couldn’t add to their lead.  Burkina Faso’s striker Aristide Bancé equalized in the 2nd half (born apparently in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, but moved with his family to Burkina Faso as a child; now playing for Bundesliga minnows FC Augsburg). Burkina Faso then held off Ghana’s attack through extra time, and won the match in penalties.  This match report cites a couple missed chanced by Asamoah Gyan in particular, although Jonathan Wilson’s match report highlights another unfortunate aspect of the match: “Refereeing errors threaten to overshadow Burkina Faso’s dramatic win over Ghana

The Burkina Faso-Nigerian final will take place on Sunday in Johannesburg, at 8pm local time (1pmET), and will be available for viewing via

Among the many International Friendlies, some among us watched Spain-Uruguay, England-Brazil, and France-Germany.

Here are Coach Larry’s observations on Spain’s 3-1 victory over Uruguay:

The match took place in Doha, Qatar at (Wiz?) Khalifa international stadium. pretty sure hex match will have same commentators as BeIN uses the remote setup. Color guy is German but I don’t know who. Then the play by play called him Bodo, and he praised a Victor Valdes distribution, so it’s Bodo Illgner.

No Xavi, no Xabi Alonso. Cesc as false nine, so no Fernando Torres nor David Villa nor Fernando Llorente. Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta wide right with plenty of room as Uruguay started out shading to other side against Jordi Alba, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, and Pedro.

Uruguay was all counter attack at the beginning.  Cesc scored in the 16′ on a long range shot right through Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera‘s hands. A little swerve to it, but Muslera [now with Galatasaray, previously with Lazio] should have held it.

A wrong offside decision in the 29’ denied Spain a 2-0 lead, and denied Carlos Puyol a goal to cap off his 100th Spain cap. Spain played a short corner, which was then played back to 8-10 yards off the near corner. Ball was swung in across three face of goal, maybe a flick but volleyed by a wide open Puyol, who was called offsides.

Spain then lost some concentration, Uruguay appealed for a penalty which was denied, but Spain’s organization broke down and Uruguay found a through ball to the top of the box, spin over turn and slid home by Cristian Rodríguez. [Rodriguez came up with Peñarol, played at PSG and Porto before moving last summer to Atletico Madrid].

They honored Puyol for his hundredth cap with a montage and halftime ceremony. Looking forward to his future as a Bond villain.  Plus Sergio Ramos and Torres look very twin-ish with the haircuts.

The second half started wide open. Both teams were stretched and attacked more quickly. Spain attacked down their left, Uruguay snuffed it out but lost it right away in the transition to Pique (who had come on for Puyol). Pique slid in a ball for Pedro, who converted with a slide rule to the far post (51′).

Jordi Alba is bit of a punk. could have had three yellows in one sequence.

Cavani could have converted one but decent save from Valdes.

Multiple subs for Spain through the 2nd half: Malaga’s young star Isco on for Iniesta; David Villa on for Juan Mata; Cazorla exited for debutante Mario Suarez [another Atlético midfielder–in fact, born in a Madrid suburb and a product of their youth system]; Arsenal’s new arrival Nacho Monreal on for Jordi Alba.

Field mics pick up Spain passing:

Thump-Thump thump thump- Thump- Thump

Elder statesman Diego Forlan on for Cavani with 20′ to play.

[Larry’s notes ended there. Spain added an insurance goal in 74′, with Pedro getting his 2nd. Via’s mbm:

SPAIN LEAD 3-1!!! PEDRO WITH HIS SECOND OF THE EVENING!! La Roja launch a blistering counter attack through the Barca trio of Cesc, Villa and Pedro, with the latter of the three prodding the ball home from close range after neat build-up play from the other two.]

Video of that Spain 3 – 1 Uruguay match:

Three interesting intra-European matches took place concurrently, at the traditional (western) European  kickoff time of 2:45pm: England-Brazil at Wembley, France-Germany at the Stade de France, and Netherlands-Italy at the Amsterdam Arena.
Check back here for notes on those, as well as the Hex matches: the USMNT’s demoralizing loss in Honduras, Costa Rica battling back to salvage a draw in Panama City, and Mexico listless performance/Jamaica’s suprising performace at the Estadio Azteca.



A Peñarol Fanatic’s Journey Back to Montevideo

June 15, 2011 — by Suman

Two weeks ago, storied Uruguayan club Peñarol stunned Argentinian Clausura table-toppers Vélez Sársfield to set up a historic matchup against Brazilian side Santos for this year’s Copa Libertadores (1st leg tonight is tonight in Montevideo; 9pm ET on Fox Deportes in the USA).  A couple days later we received this message from a Uruguayan friend–born and raised in Montevideo as a supporters of los Aurinegros, los Peñarolenses:

Can you take 3 days to go to São Paulo?  I am in some state of delirium.

Here is the story, still in progress, of where that delirium has taken him:

Forlan's Wall Photo - June 2, 2011

After that initial message, our friend (let’s call him Forlán, after another lifelong Peñarol supporter and prodigal son of Montevideo who has gone abroad to pursue his craft; the real Forlán, btw, is a newly inducted honorary member of the club ahead of tonight’s game*) was looking for someone to accompany him on a trip to São Paulo for the 2nd leg (which is next week–Wednesday June 22). But then Monday we received this via email:

date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 4:23 PM
subject: drama begins

I’m at the Philadelphia airport.
The tickets went on sale this morning at 9 and they were gone in 15 minutes.
(Some 24 thousand had been sold before to club members. The stadium fits
around 65 thousand.)
As of now, I’m without a ticket. But there’s always hope.
On top of everything, all flights yesterday and today in and out of Montevideo
have been cancelled because of the volcano in Chile. Looking at the
wind forecast
for tomorrow, I’m wanting to believe my flight tonight won’t get cancelled.
The game itself might get postponed if Santos cannot fly in.

Presumably he’d travelled to Philly from Ithaca (where he summers, playing the beautiful game and doing his mathematics) by either plane or automobile.

We next heard from him later that evening, via IM:

date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 10:35 PM
10:35 PM Forlán: i’m in miami. they canceled the flight to mvd, but luckily i knew just before leaving phl. So now i’m flying to Sao Paolo and sometime tomorrow from there to Mvd.

10:36 PM My brothers were able to get 2 tickets. Need one more for my niece, will try to get it a travel agency in sao paulo (from the tickets for Santos)

And then back on email the next day (yesterday):

date: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 2:35 PM
subject: Re: drama begins

Stuck in Sao Paulo. Will fly to Porto Alegre and catch a bus from
there (12 hours).

He left us in suspense overnight–would he make the flight to Porto Alegre and catch the bus? 12 hours on a bus?? Would that even get him home in time for the game??

But then this email arrived just a few minutes ago:

date Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 10:29 AM
subject Re: drama begins

At home in Montevideo, ready for the game in 12 hours.
A bit rainy and cold. The city awaits the big moment.
Vamos Peñarol!

So the initial leg of the drama is successfully completed–prodigal son of Peñarol completes the odyssey home in time for the next leg..the 1st leg.  Stay tuned..

*: From that article about (the real) Forlan and tonight’s match–read to the quote at the end:

Live BlogOpen Thread

3rd/4th Place Game, Germany v Uruguay: Liveblog/Open Thread

July 10, 2010 — by Suman3

World Cup 1970 3rd/4th Place Game: Uruguay v Germany (Azteca Stadium, Mexico City)

We live up to our chosen moniker–the 3rd/4th place game is quintessential Cult Football.  We will be liveblogging, and we hope you will join us in the comments!

For a preview, we can do no better than the Guardian:

It’s the most pointless match in all football. An anti-climax like no other. A non-event played out by desperately disappointed, and possibly thunderingly depressed, men who know all too well their only chance of immortailty has gone, some kidding on they still care, others failing dismally to hide their displeasure. All the same, it’s still the World Cup, this, isn’t it. And with 62 matches down, there’s only two to go, after which we’ll be done for another four years. Sniff! Panic! So let’s enjoy it while it lasts, eh?

Live Blog

1st Semifinal, Netherlands v Uruguay: Liveblog/Open Thread

July 6, 2010 — by Suman23

"Those Dutch fans just don't make the effort." Photograph: Tony Marshall/Empics Sport

After two more long empty days, the semifinals are upon us!  A mere five minutes until the Netherlands kickoff against Uruguay.

Both teams advanced in dramatic quarterfinal matches on Friday.  The Dutch came back after conceding an early goal to the heavily favored Brazilians to win 2-1, while Uruguay also came back from a goal down to Ghana, eventually winning on penalty kicks (after their star forward preserved a 1-1 tie in the 120th minute with a controversial handball clearance off the Uruguayan goal line).

We’ll be doing a bit of liveblogging during the match, but most of the action will be happening in the comments thread.  Join us for the action!

Final score: Holland 3-2 Uruguay (Van Bronckhorst 18′, Sneijder 70′, Robben 73′ ; Forlan 41′, Pereira 90′)


Soccer in Sun & Shadow: A Brief History of Uruguayan Football

July 6, 2010 — by Suman3

"Soccer in Sun & Shadow" by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano

“Other countries have their history. And Uruguay has its football.” -Ondino Viera, Uruguayan national coach during the 1966 World Cup

On the surface, it appears that among the 4 remaining teams, Uruguay is the minnow, the surprise. No one really expected them to be playing today–some even doubted whether they would advance from their group, given that they were placed with two purported soccer powers in Mexico and France, as well as the host South African side.

But from another perspective, this is a return to the sun for Uruguayan football, after decades spent in the shadows.

Consider that of the remaining semifinalists, Holland and Spain have never won the World Cup (perhaps the two greatest footballing nations never to have won), and while Germany has won 3 times (as West Germany, actually: twice as hosts, in 1954 and 1974, and again in 1990), Uruguay is right behind them, having won twice, in 1930 and 1950.


Opinión de un mexicano sobre la “mano” de Suárez

July 6, 2010 — by Suman1

Luis Suarez palms the ball clear at the end of extra-time vs Ghana

We just received this opinion piece out of Mexico via email from our friend Marcelo.  Marcelo is a native son of Montevideo, a fan of Penarol and of course a close and longtime follower of the Uruguayan national team (we were talking World Cup history with him over the weekend, and he said the first World Cup he remembers is 1974–when, in a bit of historical resonance, Uruguay fell to the the famous Dutch side in the group stage).

Live Blog

Ghana v Uruguay: Liveblog/Open Thread

July 2, 2010 — by Sean52

We’re all over the place today what with the holiday weekend upon us, so let’s just get straight to the point:

Uruguay: Muslera, Maxi Pereira, Lugano, Victorino, Fucile, Alvaro Fernandez, Perez, Arevalo Rios, Cavani, Suarez, Forlan
Ghana: Kingson, Pantsil, Vorsah, John Mensah, Sarpei, Annan, Inkoom, Asamoah, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Muntari, Gyan

Danger up front for Uruguay, who can turn to a brutal, hacking style of defense if Ghana start to turn the screw. The Black Stars have power and speed in abundance, but will they hold their shape?

The comment thread is open after the bump!


Quarterfinalists News Roundup: Elano, van Persie, Forlan

July 1, 2010 — by Suman2

Asamoah Gyan and Kevin-Prince Boateng: "Let's set those records!"

As we eagerly await the resumption of play with tomorrow’s two quarterfinal matches (Brazil vs. Holland in the early game, Uruguay vs Ghana in the late game), here are a few links with the some news on each side:

Brazil’s Elano will miss tomorrow’s game due to an ankle injury–and may be done for the tournament;

Robin van Persie’s petulance causes yet more rumblings of strife within the Dutch camp;

Off the Post blog posts a handful of clips from Diego Forlan’s WC video diary;

and from, “Top Five Records Ghana Will Set If They Beat Uruguay.”