Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Soccer Acting

JOHANNESBURG — The Ivory Coast forward cried out in apparent agony, covered his face with his hands and dropped to the turf with a thud in the waning minutes of his team’s 3-1 loss to Brazil on Sunday at the World Cup.

The forward, Abdul Kader Keïta, was not hit with the ball or slapped across the face or punched, just bumped by the Brazilian star Kaká, who did little more than shrug, sticking his right elbow into Keïta’s chest.

That was all it took for Keïta to fall to the turf as if he had been doused with pepper spray.

The referee punished Kaká with a yellow card, his second of the game, forcing his ejection and leaving his team a man down for the rest of the game.

Many who saw the replay wondered whether Keïta’s fall was the tournament’s latest example of what officials call simulation. Much of the flopping, flailing and falling in soccer is little more than diving to the turf in an effort to dupe the referee.

If successful, the diver could be awarded an unimpeded kick from the point of the infraction or, if it occurs in the penalty area in front of the goal, a penalty kick from 12 yards.

Fans are already seeing as much bad playacting as tricky dribbling during the World Cup in South Africa, despite efforts by FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, to punish divers. Some of the best players in the world crumple under imaginary contact to win a penalty, or writhe in seeming pain to run the clock down or give their teammates a breather.

“I wish it wasn’t part of the game,” said Paul Tamberino, the director of referee development for U.S. Soccer. “Players will do whatever they can.”

In his first game of the tournament, the German midfielder Mesut Özil tumbled as if gnomes hiding in the grass at Durban Stadium had tied his shoelaces together during his team’s opening game against Australia last week. An innocuous challenge from a defender did not seem enough to send him to the ground. Indeed, no foul was called. Instead, for his ruse, Özil was punished with a yellow card.

Özil’s tumble and Keita’s pantomime did not affect the outcome of either game; Germany and Brazil easily won their matches. But with so few games, and with goals at a premium at this World Cup (1.97 goals per game through the first 29 games, well below the low-water mark of 2.21 in 1990), an erroneously awarded penalty or unjust suspension could prove decisive.

In the Round of 16 at the World Cup in Germany four years ago, Italy and Australia were tied, 0-0, in added time. Italy’s Fabio Grosso rushed into the Australia penalty area and doubled over the lunging defender Lucas Neill. Italy was awarded a penalty kick, converted it for a 1-0 victory and went on to win the title. The penalty kick eliminated Australia.

“When he slid in, maybe I accentuated a little bit,” Grosso told Football Plus magazine in the spring. “I felt the contact, so I went down.”

According to FIFA’s Laws of the Game, “attempts to deceive the referee by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled” are punishable by a yellow card. But it can be difficult at full speed, with only the naked eye and no video replay to consult, for a referee to spot the difference between a foul and a phantom.

The referee Koman Coulibaly whistled a foul in favor of United States forward Jozy Altidore in the 85th minute of the Americans’ 2-2 tie with Slovenia on Friday — awarding a free kick that led to a controversial disallowed goal — but replays showed that minimal contact occurred before Altidore crashed to the ground. Players know they are more likely to get away with it and tacitly condone the practice.

“Personally, I’m against any type of simulation; I don’t think it should be part of the game,” Alessandro Del Piero, a teammate of Grosso’s, said recently, before adding: “It went in Italy’s favor and I was happy. If it went against us, I would be upset.”

Del Piero and his countrymen were indeed upset in 2002 when Italy was knocked out of the World Cup in South Korea by the host team after Francesco Totti was ejected for a second yellow card after disingenuously trying to earn a free kick.

Referees say that it is difficult to penalize a player for simulation because it is akin to calling him dishonest.

“If you’re going to give a caution for simulation and there is contact,” Tamberino warned, “it has to be very obvious that he’s trying to cheat.”

Sometimes, simulation is so transparent that it more resembles vaudeville than world-class soccer.

In 2002, Rivaldo of Brazil was waiting to take a corner kick when Hakan Unsal of Turkey appeared to deliberately kick the ball at him when he was not looking. Rivaldo went down as if he had been shot, clutching his face, right in front of an assistant referee. Unsal was given a red card, signaling an ejection, but Rivaldo was embarrassed when video replay revealed his reaction to be an act. FIFA later fined him $7,350.

“Whether it be the big flop or the big groan, sometimes it’s comical,” Tamberino said. “You don’t like to laugh, but sometimes, you give a smile.”

Referees must be close to the play and have the right angle and clear vision to make the correct call. It requires good positioning and communication between the referee and his assistants, one on each sideline. Three years ago, FIFA started a referee assistance program to train officials to, among other things, spot dives. Before the World Cup, FIFA’s technical study committee provided referees and assistant referees with scouting reports, including video, that highlighted teams with a reputation for simulation.

Being a good diver may help a player get an occasional call, but when he earns a reputation as a cheat, it can be difficult to erase.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the fastest and most dangerous forwards, is often the target of deliberate fouls or the victim of overzealous defenders.

“Referees should protect the more skillful players when they are getting fouled by the opposition,” he said Tuesday after Portugal’s game with Ivory Coast. “Sometimes it is difficult for me when the referees give fouls because they think I dive.”

But they think that for good reason. Ronaldo was notorious for feigning when he was a young player. He was lethal on direct kicks, and he relished the chance to show off his ability to strike the ball from long range. But now that he has developed into one of the game’s most hardened players, who is often hacked mercilessly by slower, less-skilled defenders, he does not get many calls.

“They don’t protect talented footballers anymore,” said Carlos Queiroz, the coach of Portugal. “I’d like to see if the rules are the same for everybody.”

Players and referees say they know which players go down too easily, but they are reluctant to identify them.

“I’m anticipating all forwards are capable of doing that,” said the American defender Oguchi Onyewu, who at 6 feet 4 inches and 210 pounds is an easy mark for conniving forwards who exploit the perception that a bigger player fouls more often.

“I think referees are taking the proper measures now more so than in the past to eliminate that kind of exaggeration,” Onyewu said. “Giving the players themselves a card and not the defender.”

But defenders and forwards agree that diving will be hard to eradicate as long as players get away with it.

“You try to get the ref on your side and you hope that he can see through all of that,” said Jonathan Spector, a defender for the United States. “There’s only so much you can control in a game. The call was made. Just get on with it.” NY Times, 2010

Offside rule

Here's a little secret in the soccer world: No one really understands the offside rule. Not all the time, anyway. That became very clear during the first half of today's World Cup opener, when fans and pundits alike cried foul after the assistant referee lifted his flag just before Mexico's Carlos Vela slammed the ball into the net.

When showing replays, commentators pointed out and graphics demonstrated that there was a South Africa defender (it was Steven Pienaar, by the way) positioned on the back post, whom they claimed kept Vela onside.

It's true that Pienaar was there, and just behind Vela where he stood by the opposite post. But the relevant position was that of South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, not Pienaar. Khune had run off his line to try to intercept the corner kick, leaving Pienaar as the last defender in front of the goal.

The offside rule reads that a player is offside if he is "nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent" -- the last opponent typically being the goalkeeper. Usually when an attacking player runs past the "last defender," the goalkeeper remains in the net -- meaning the "last" defender is really the second-to-last defender.

In the case of Friday's game, the goalkeeper was not there behind the defense. The second Vela passed Khune in the middle of the box, he was offside, regardless of Pienaar's position at the post. It was an intelligent call from the referee and his assistant in a complicated demonstration of a complicated rule.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Battle ground Bolkiah kem drew 4-4

19th Jun: Four goals by Regimen Pasukan Khas (RPK) denied Kroniz Fc a win at Bolkiah kem when both teams drew 4-4.

Kroniz led 2-0 in the first half but in the second half felt behind 2-4 but managed to come back with two more goals to level the score.

Alinordi scored a hattrick and Arch scored the other but four goals from the RPK piled the pressure back on Kroniz and even two late goals were not enough to force victory.

Kroniz were architects of their own downfall as the four RPK goals came from lack of focus in the second half.

In the first half kroniz were content to soak up what special army regimen had to offer and swiftly counter-attack when the chance arose and managed to score two goals by Alinordi. Kroniz defense and goalkeeper were unbeatable in the first half.

In the second half, RPK with the fit army guys fired with all cylinders and managed to scored four goals. Amazingly kroniz managed to draw level with goals from Arch and Alinordi.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Mindef fc when down to Kroniz fc

11 June: A win for Kroniz fc at Gurka Camp Sg Akar against Mindef Fc 3-1. Playing just behind a K9 training center put a lot of jitter among the players. The dogs are huge played their roles in the win as most of kroniz players run faster than usual because the dogs are just behinds them. In the first half kroniz lead 2-1 with goals from Jamri and Asri. In the second half kroniz keep up the momentum and managed to scored the third by Asri. The win gave the kroniz a better footing because the next game is with the army special regimen with fast and fit players.

Spotlight on the FIFA World Cup

Barclays Premier League stars are set to grace the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Only six of the 32 participating nations have not named a Barclays Premier League player among their parties of 23 stars.

Italy, Slovenia, Japan, North Korea, Germany and Uruguay are the only countries not to have a current player from England's top division. Indeed, the Barclays Premier League is the best represented league at the FIFA World Cup, ahead of Italy and Spain.

Germany did have a Barclays Premier League representative but skipper Michael Ballack withdrew with a bad ankle injury picked up in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth.
Technically Jerome Boateng will become a Manchester City player on 1st July when he will hope to still be on World Cup duty having agreed a move from SV Hamburg.

And Slovenia named midfielder Robert Koren who has just been released by newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion.

Inevitably England have the highest number of Premier League players with all 23 of Fabio Capello's squad playing in the top flight. The coach is pinning his hopes on Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney to have completely recovered from his ankle injury, while Gareth Barry travels despite doubts surrounding his ankle.

They are followed by France and the USA on seven each. Nigeria have six following the withdrawal of John Obi Mikel through injury.

The preliminary squads were whittled down to 23 on 1st June. These names must all come from the squads already submitted.

However countries may replace players up to 24 hours before their first match - and these substitute names do not have to come from the initial list of 30.

That means there is still a chance for the likes of Ben Foster, Gary Neville, Ashley Young, Joleon Lescott or others to get a late call-up for the England squad.

Likewise Arsenal's Samir Nasri or Patrick Vieira of Manchester City could yet make the France squad after their slightly surprising omissions by coach Raymond Domenech who will be replaced by Laurent Blanc after the tournament.

With the likes of Rooney, Carlos Tevez and (fitness permitting) Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres on show, the 2010 World Cup looks set to be lit up by Barclays Premier League stars.

The Premier League will also be represented in South Africa by Howard Webb who will be England's refereeing representative with assistants Michael Mullarkey and Darren Cann.

For a full run-down of Barclays Premier League players at the World Cup and a preview of each pool, click on the group names below.

Group A - France, South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay

Group B - Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

Group C - England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

Group D - Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

Group E - Holland, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Group F - Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Group G - Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal

Group H - Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

(Headline News Premier League, 2010)

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Kroniz defeated again

31st Mei: Kroniz blew their world cup preparation into turmoil once more with the hammering by Peguma Fc at Kebajikan Field.

A truly astonishing afternoon exploded into life once Peguma Fc had put the ball three times in the goals before the break.

At about that point, kroniz's world imploded. After their midweek to Wasabi, Kroniz were eager to re-established their ability, it was an opportunity to reinforce their credentials.

Although Kroniz were not at their best, they monopolised early possession in the second half with two goals by Arch and.........

Given that backdrop, Kroniz could have been forgiven for thinking it was 'job done'. For a team that had offered so little in the opening 40 minutes, it was a quite astonishing change of fortunes.

However Peguma took advantage of the huge holes now apparent in the Kroniz rearguard, a simple close range finish following a swift break. With that goal, it was too little to late to prevent another defeat of the season. Kroniz Fc 2 Peguma Fc 4.