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World Cup 2002 - the build up

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  • the myth of the English gentleman will likely be shattered next year.
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      06.02.2009 18:07
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      It's football at it's best

      The World Cup is held every four years since 1930 which Uraguay won. Each World cup has a host country and this year it will be played in Japan and South Korea. There will be eight groups of four teams that I will list below:
      GROUP A
      France
      Denmark
      Uruguay
      Senegal

      MY PREDICTION:
      1.France
      2.Denmark
      3.Uraguay
      4.Senegal
      France won the last World Cup and I think they will win this time as well.Denmark will just clinch second place just ahead of Uraguay.Senegal are lacking experiance but have done well to qualify for the World Cup.Zinedine Zidane will be a threat.

      GROUP B
      Spain
      Slovenia
      Paraguay
      South Africa
      MY PREDICTION:
      1.Spain
      2.Paraguay
      3.Slovenia
      4.South africa

      With players like Raul, Spain have a good chance of finnishing top.Paraguay got to the second round last year and will probaly do the same this year.Slovenia will just miss out, but have a chance.South Africa were knocked out in the group stage in 1998 and will probaly do the same in 2002,but with there determination after missing out on hosting the 2006 world cup anything could happen.
      GROUP C
      Brazil
      Turkey
      China
      Costa Rica

      MY PREDICTION:
      1.Brazil
      2.Turkey
      3.Costa rica
      4.China
      Brazils amazing skills will earn them first place.Turkey have had success in club football and will probaly finish second.This is Costa Rica's first World Cup in twelve years but they may not get past the first round.China's lack of experiance will probaly mean they finish fourth.Rivaldo will be a threat.

      GROUP D
      South Korea
      Poland
      USA
      Portugal
      MY PREDICTION:
      1.Portugal
      2.South Korea
      3.Poland
      4.USA

      There will be a real fight for second spot between South korea and Poland but South Korea being host nation will probaly clinch it.As for the USA they have done badly in recent World Cups especially in 1998 where they lost all three games but if they do well who knows.Portugal did so well in Euro 2000 and with players like Luis Figo (who is one of my favorate players)Will help Portugal come first.
      GROUP E
      Germany
      Saudi Arabia
      Ireland
      Cameroon

      MY PREDICTION:
      1.Germany
      2.Ireland
      3.Cameroon
      4.Saudi Arabia
      Also like Group D there will be a real fight for second place.If Roy Keane is fit for the World Cup Then he might help Ireland to second place but Cameroon will not make it easy for them.Germany will finish first because they have being a strong team in previous world Cups but there defence is probaly ther weak point.(You know what i'm thinking).Saudi Arabia probaly wont make it because they have got a tough group and eight coaches came and went in the past six years.

      GROUP F
      Argentina
      England
      Nigeria
      Sweden
      MY PREDITION:
      Argentina
      England
      Sweden
      Nigeria

      Ths group has being rightly named the group of death.Argentina with all there skill and players will probaly clinch first spot.Then there will a fight for second place between England,Sweden and Nigeria.Nigeria are a little bit inconsistant.They can thrash one team one game but lose another game.In 1998 they toped thier group only to lose 4-1 to Denmark in the next round.Sweden are a very tough side to beat and have not lost to England in their last nine meetings. Svens knowledge of Sweden will help England to Second place.It also looks like Daid Beckam will be fit and hopefully score a few more free-kicks which helped England get to the World Cup.Henrick Larsson and Feddie Lyungberg will be England biggest threat.
      GROUP G
      Italy
      Ecuador
      Croatia
      Mexico

      MY PREDICTION
      Italy
      Mexico
      Croatia
      Ecuador
      Italy have a lot of experiance of the World Cup and will finish first.Mexico and Croatia will fight for second place.This is Ecudors first World Cup so they lack experiance although they did beat Brazil to reach the World Cup.Francesso Totti dazzling creative skills will be a threat to Italy's oppenents.

      GROUP F
      Japan
      Belgium
      Russia
      Tunisia
      MY PREDICTION
      Belgium
      Japan
      Russia
      Tunisia

      Belgium will want to forget there dissapointment of Euro 2000 by doing well in the World Cup.They will go top.Japan will be determined to do well on home soil but will have to do well to overcome russia.Tunisia will do better this World Cup but probaly won't get to the second round.
      The top two teams from each group qualify for the second round. The winners of the second round go into the quarterfinals. The winners of the quarterfinals go into the semis and the winners of the semis go into the final. The World Cup will start on May 31 and last until June 30.

      ~CLIMATE~
      People going to the World Cup will better take an umbrella because it will be very wet and humid.The average temprature will be about 25c(77f).
      ~ Who will win the World Cup? ~

      Usually, if a good team host the world cup, then that team will win, as they are always the home side. However, this year, the hosts aren't particularly world-beaters so the cup's up for grabs. I think the team with most of a chance of winning would be France, Argentina or maybe Brazil. These teams have won before, but France have been improving over the last few years. As for England, I'll obviously be supporting them but I don't think they will win, although I think they can do well. So good luck to England!

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        15.06.2002 17:35
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        There's what was predicted. Then there's what really happened. Group A For the world champions France, this was meant to be a stroll in the park. Their only possible competition was Denmark. What was that? France knocked out? Not scoring a single goal? Yeah, right...oh, you're not joking! Exactly, imagine how the French feel. Instead, Denmark topped the group, and outsiders Senegal came second. Perhaps the biggest surprise. Group B Spain were obvious favourties to qualify, with Paraguay and Slovenia not far behind. Spain DID qualify, but stunned the other teams, by beating them all! Paraguay also qualified. Group C Obviously, Brazil, although they struggled to qualify, were favourties to top the group. Costa Rica or Turkey were expected to be chasing them close behind, and of course, China were predicted to come last. Of course, as we all know, Brazil and Turkey qualified. However, China and Costa Rica did not go home without putting up a fight. Group D Portugal and Poland were the favourties to qualify, leaving co-hosts South Korea and USA at the bottom end of the table. What really happened? The exact opposite. Surprisingly, USA qualified, and beat Portugal 3-2. Then, South Korea ended Poland and Portugal's hopes of going to the second round. Group E The favourties were of course, the Germans. However, Roy Keane had the responsibility of leading the Irish through to the second round. Having said that, they had to do better than Cameroon. Where was Roy Keane? They didn't need him, the Irish qualified anyway, beating Cameroon and Saudi Arabia on points. Group F The Group of Death. Argentina, of course, were expected to qualify, along with Enlgland, with Sweden and Nigeria not far behind. Well, we all know about Argentina's failure, but Nigeria failed to win a single goal, and went ho
        me scoring only one goal. However, England and Sweden qualified. Group G Italy were expected to be the strongest team in the group, but facing some competition from Croatia, who were tipped to come secon. Who would have thought that Italy had to score a last-minute goal against Mexico to come second in the group. Also, Mexico beat Croatia to the top of the group. Group H The Europeans, Russia and Belgium were group favourites. Tunisia were weak, but co hosts Japan would put up a good fight. Russia were actually knocked out by Japan, who qualified alongside Belgium.

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        11.06.2002 02:07
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        When I first found out that the world cup was to be held in Japan and South Korea I though that FIFA had made a mistake. Watching the first match I was convinced they had made a mistake. My first doubt was the accessability to the matches. Both countries are a considerable distance from Europe, Africa and the Americas, and are subsequently expensive to travel to. Secondly, there is the culture of the countries. Japan has a culture of politeness and reserved behaviour around public places, and certainly not one of shouting and screaming. Although these may not be the most desirable qualities, the best atmosphere is a noisy one. Thirdly (and finally) was the actions of the officials. I'm aware for the need for security, but they went over the top. Men abseiling in from above? Target practice for a true hooligan. About now you are probably thinking that I am going to continue slating the organisers of the tournament, but no. I sat down for the France-Senegal match with a doubtful frame of mind, and to be honest, it didn't change. There was no atmosphere in the stadium and the game felt dull and empty to me. However, my opinion has changed after watching the first week. Although the home nations do not have a great footballing history, this has not hindered the fans. Instead, they have adopted a passionate following for just about every team, ensuring a good atmosphere in the games and excellent support. The police and authorities have accepted the visiting fans and provided a relaxed, trouble free environment. The stadia are simply amazing, with excellent facilities and well kept pitches. Overall the Japanese and South Koreans have excelled themselves and lay down a very hard example for the organisers of 2006 to follow. I hope it continues in the same manner, and of course, England win. Come on Beckham....

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        30.05.2002 22:04
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        Whatever the reason for Roy Keane's Taz-style behaviour over the past few days (and, let's be honest, the great man has actually been acting strangely for some months now), there can be no question that he has put himself into a very tricky position with relation to his three or so million fellow countrymen and women.   Ireland is very passionate about its football. And about its status as a go-ahead, thrusting nation. And these two things, perhaps worryingly for Roy Keane, are linked. The relative success of the team over the past couple of decades is seen by some as a reflection of the nation's emergence from beneath the yoke of cultural timidity and economic weakness that were the bequest of the departing Brits. Anyone who threatens to undermine that link, and to make Ireland appear a bunch of ass in the eyes of a watching world, is liable to become Public Enemy Uimhir A Haoin (that's Gaelic, buster) and pretty damn pronto (that's Italian) too.   So you could reasonably expect that, as soon as he next touches down on Irish soil, Keano will be confronted by the braver elements of the local populace and told, in no uncertain terms that he is, to quote himself, a f*****g w****r. And it's not a label that is likely to go away any time quick. There is no nation on earth more adept at keeping alive old wounds and grudges than the Irish.   And yet there is something going on in Ireland that means that it's possible that Keane will largely get away with his antics. Or, at the very least, only endure the wrath of half the country. The downside for him, if he cares, is that he will have to spend the rest of his life associated with Sinead O'Connor, Father Ted and Daniel O'Donnell.   Let me explain. There is a battle going on in Ireland. It is a battle for the heart and soul of the nation. I know about it because my parents and half my siblings live there. Hence I spend loads of time there and the
        emotional tug-o-war is all too clear.   At one end of the rope you have those who wish to hang on in some way to Ireland As She Was. These are the people who liked the Ireland of the immediate post-War period; poor but happy, a simple land that rejoiced in the rural, easy-paced face it presented to the world. It was the world of raven-haired colleens in Arran sweaters, pints of foaming Guinness, jaunting cars, jovial priests and John Wayne in The Quiet Man. Of course (just like Morrissey's black and white Fifties England), it was a place that never really existed, and totally ignored the tragedy of mass economic migration, the very thing that resulted in my sorry carcass being born in Kilburn rather than Kilkenny. But the fact remains that it is a place, a time and an atmosphere that many Irish people long for, and wish to protect.   At the other extremity of the hemp there is the modern Ireland, the Ireland that likes to go under the slightly fanciful title of The Celtic Tiger. This is the young, lively country, freed (by its close ties with the EC, source of much of its new wealth) from the need to constantly measure itself against Britain, a hothouse of cultural activity and economic achievement. To the folk who promote this version of the country, much of the trappings of Ye Olde Hibernia is anathema. They want realism over romance, effort over effervescence, credibility over craic.   Hence are the lines drawn in Ireland, and each big news story tends to polarise the society. At the stern end of things, the regular arguments about abortion cause this fault line to appear. Less seriously, people tend to take sides over their cultural icons. The conservatives, for instance, love a jumper-wearing, blow-dried singer of sentimental songs called Daniel O'Donnell. Daniel is not the sort of lad a girl could take home to meet her parents; they would find him too wimpy. Yet he represents something about old Irel
        and and is adored by his fans. The New Irelanders find him at best an irrelevance, at worst an embarrassment.   Equally divisive are Sinead O'Connor (perhaps before she went slightly crackers and declared herself Holy Roman Emperor) and Father Ted. Icons of a young, past-rejecting nation to some, the devil incarnate to others.   Enter Keano. His publicly-stated beefs (that the FAI is amateurish, that his teammates are more interested in having a laugh than seriously training to win - yes, win! - the World Cup, that Mick McCarthy concentrates on team spirit at the expense of technical training) go straight to heart of the argument.   A great many Irish people have enjoyed their country's international adventures without ever harbouring the notion that Ireland were actually becoming a world power. They loved the underdog efforts of their boys and were genuinely proud - and often genuinely inebriated - when the inevitable footballing reality eventually kicked in. For the Celtic Tiger gang, this was never enough. This kind of grinning acceptance that it's a bit of a laugh, an excuse for a party, was a source of pain.   Thus it is that Roy Keane may not face the wrath of an entire nation scorned. There will still be plenty who find his extreme professionalism tiresome, self-indulgent, selfish even. But for each of those there will be others who adopt him a patron saint of the new, determined, forceful Ireland. Neither role is one that is likely to improve the mood of Mr Grumpy. In Roy's mind he probably has more in common even with the Old Trafford prawn-munchers than he does with the baldy crooner of Nothing Compares To U?

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          29.05.2002 23:40
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          As a rule I tend to avoid this type of issue on what I believe should be a consumer-based site. The fact is that there have been acres of newsprint wasted already and even though I know all of this I still felt that I had to put virtual pen to virtual paper and give you my opinion as a soccer fan. (We call it soccer here in Ireland, as football is an amateur sport of a different kind). Over the last eight days we have seen the Irish camp at the World Cup descend into a farcical shadow of it’s former self. Remember Italy 90 and USA 94 when the Irish were the toast of both tournaments? Not because we played great football but because of our relaxed attitude to the game. We were glad to be there and enjoyed the spectacle. Those memories are distant and likely to be forgotten in the face of the tsunami that has obliterated Irish moral. Two men have brought this change about, Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy. On the one hand we have a player who is without doubt one of the greatest midfielders in the game today. On the other, a manager who has taken over an ageing squad and with limited selection and resources has taken them though the toughest of qualification groups to the final stages of the greatest tournament on earth. There have always been tensions between the two and this has been evident from the start. McCarthy made Keane the captain of Ireland for his performance on the field and he is an excellent motivator on the pitch. His style is to drive and berate rather than lead and encourage. We have heard about the demanding standards that he sets himself and others and I do not disagree with any of this. McCarthy was also a terrier on the pitch and made up for his obvious lack of flair and talent with a work rate and application that were second to none. He is an honest and brutally frank man and at first he struggled with the transition to international manager finding dealing with the media difficult. There
          were many people in Ireland who wanted to see him fail. Chief amongst them was one Eamon Dunphy a retired footballer, active journalist, soccer pundit and radio talk show host. Many people will be familiar with Dunphy after this week's events but will be wondering where he has come from and how he is now an unofficial spokesperson for Keane. Dunphy is a prime example of what my country does best. We call this type of person a begrudger. Someone whose main talent is the ridicule of others. Dunphy has made a career out of this. Anyone who has read The Van by Roddy Doyle will understand what most people think of Dunphy in terms of his soccer punditry. A battered sausage was nicknamed a Dunphy, in the book, because of its resemblance to the male member or pr**k as it is colloquially known. Mr. Dunphy was a major critic of Jack Charlton and has always shown contempt for McCarthy. He is also Roy Keane’s biographer. To be fair he is an excellent writer and his talk show is very popular but he has reverted to type with his blinkered view of this debacle. It makes me mad to see and hear him in the English media presenting a supposed local view of the affair. He constantly alludes to the fact that there is a ground swell of support for Keane here when even polls carried out by his own radio station show only one in five back Keane’s actions. And so our two heroes had a disagreement. Keane was unhappy with conditions in Saipan and expressed this to his manager. His manager explained that they were there for rest and not to worry as excellent training facilities were waiting in Japan. This was not good enough for Keane and he announced his retirement from international football at the end of the tournament. This was a major blow for team and supporter morale. Keane gave an interview to the papers where he again criticised the management for lack of organisation and bad facilities and this lead to McCarthy
          calling a team meeting to clear the air. Keane exploded and personally attacked his manager and verbally abused him. McCarthy sacked him on the spot. Now think about what would happen in your own situation. I have a responsible job in a multinational company. I am given autonomy to act on my management skills but I still have to answer to my direct superior. Were I to do what Keane has done I would be dismissed forthwith and I assume that the same is true of most people who read this. Regardless of how the situation was managed, McCarthy had no choice but to dismiss Keane. There are no winners here but there are a number of valuable lessons to be learned. Regardless of your talent or worth to your organisation you are still expected to behave in a respectful and dignified manner towards your superiors. I would argue that professional footballers have an even greater duty in this regard as so many young people look up to them and value them as role models. Our professional football governing body is a shambles. I do accept the talk of poor facilities but I would call into question the response and actions from and by the FAI since the row. When Keane and McCarthy first fell out it was important that someone stepped into the breech and tried to mediate. This was not done and the situation was allowed to fester and to get out of control. I have not touched on the alleged comments by Keane to McCarthy. Only one of these, in my view, is really significant. He is alleged to have made a comment about McCarthy’s nationality. McCarthy is an Englishman but qualifies to represent Ireland on the descendants’ rule. He is no different from Patrick Vierra who represents France even though Senegal is the country of his birth. As a nation we are proud of all of the players who pull on the green jersey and our most successful international manager was an English World Cup winner in the shape of Jack Charlton. <
          br> If this comment is true then I believe that Keane should never be allowed to represent this country again. We have enough bigots without including them in our national team. We are trying to get away from that sort of bigotry and forging our own place in Europe and the world. We should remember USA 94 when England backed us for the World Cup and showed an enthusiasm that is rarely displayed by my own people in support of our neighbour. I will never again go to a game where Mr. Keane is playing and certainly not in an Ireland shirt. Mick McCarthy has been a loyal servant to this country on the field and in the dugout and he deserves our praise for his achievements with this team. He did not handle this debacle as well as he could have done but to his credit he offered an olive branch that Keane refused to take. I am sorry that this will undoubtedly be his last action for Ireland. I hope that he can steer us through the group stage and win a game or two. Remember that our record thus far stands at played nine, won one. The people who have been forgotten in all of this are the 22 other players who will represent Ireland in this World Cup. They have a struggle ahead and we would not be there at all without the efforts of each and every one of them. I hope that they can pull together and do themselves justice as this whole affair has taken the shine off what should have been a couple of great weeks for the players and the nation. Thank you for reading. © MurphEE 2002

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            29.05.2002 21:25
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            Last time the World Cup was on I was getting excited weeks before the opening ceremony but this time I'm only just starting to get into a state of anticipation. Part of the problem is the time difference. Last time I watched most of the games and so really got into the whole tournament. This time because of the games being played early in the morning I will probably only catch the important ones. Media overkill has also damped my enthusiasm. All we seem to be hearing about is Beckham's foot or Dyer's injury. They're both important players but surely we should also be hearing a bit more about the other teams in the tournament? Respite from the England situation came from Roy Keane this week. However if you were to arrive in Britain from another planet (or America) and pick up a paper you would assume that the World Cup was being played in Japan between England & Ireland and that the teams would be Keane vs Beckham & Dyer. I think that it would be of benefit to the whole country if there was a bit more emphasis on the other teams as, if against all odds, England were to win the public would realise what a great acheivement it would be. At the moment it would seem that as long as Beckham is fit England will win however even the smallest nations have talismanic players that they believe will bring them glory. Come the opening ceremony I am certain that I will be excited. If England were to win would it be possible for the papers to donate more space to David Beckham?

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              29.05.2002 17:45
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              I am disgusted at all this bad press flying around about the captain of my team. I have to say that too many people are calling him without knowing the whole story and I think the fact that he plays for Manchester United has something to do with it. To be honest though, to say what he said about McCarthy to the press was a little out of order. He should have just said it to McCarthy's face. He disagreed with a lot of the things the McCarthy was doing and voiced that. To be thrown out of the team just for that is a little harsh. O.K. We all can accept that he is a little bit of a psycho, but on the pitch he is a footballer before anything else. He accepts the referee's decisions and stuff like that. But when it comes down to it, he is still willing to play for Ireland, but he's not going to apologise for voicing his concerns overMcCarthy's methods. This I think is proof of his integrity as a professional player, and that he is NOT going to forfeit this just to play in the world cup under a questionable (in his mind) manager. If we look at other cases of player not playing for their country we only need to look north to Scotland where Duncan Fergusson refuses to play for his country at all. Why is there and why wasn't there any fuss kicked up about that???? There was a few articles in the paper and that was about all. I am thinking that because Keane plays for United and knowing the feelings of a lot of the country about the team, He is being victimised for nothing. We saw it with a few other united players when they had a go at Fergusson. In all I think that if the bad feelings of jealousy and rivalry were put aside (as they should be) there would not have been such an angry response to his possibly accurate words. One last thing to think about... He complaine dabout their training scheme... They had NO training equipment where they were in Japan/Korea, and so the training scheme
              had to be a little suspect. So instead of just slagging im off, lookat his stroy and decide for yourself, not what the papers tell you to believe.

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                29.05.2002 00:14
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                So you think you can do better than Swedes and Turnips..... now's your chance to prove it! As we build up to the 2002 World Cup kick-off, there are plenty of challenges out there for budding World Cup managers to get their act together and prove themselves to the sniggering masses. Can you win fame and fortune, or will you fall flat on your face? HOW TO PLAY With many different types of fantasy games around, from straight forward predictions to managing a squad within a fixed budget and dealing with transfers, the first thing to think about is what you're good at. Personally, I prefer the strategy games where you get the chance to think like a real manager and pick the right player to earn you the most points in his position -- yes we're talking about men's World Cup Football here..... although some of the ones I pick, tend to play like wet blouses. The straight forward score predictions are also fun..... but if you're good at that, then you might as well put your money where your mouth is -- at the bookies -- and rake in the real profits. On our World Cup site, we did a fairly simple fantasy prediction game, for France 98 (which teams go through the group stages and each subsequent round, to eventually win the final), but it was a lot of work and I'm not sure I'd be prepared to go through all that again..... even though it brought in some extra traffic. Besides, some places on the web are doing it much better now, have very smart automated systems and therefore attract a larger user base. WHERE TO PLAY There are plenty of newspaper games, with valuable prizes on offer, but here are some of the things I've come across -- online. ~~ TACTICAL GAMES ~~ Where you get to pick the players and face off against other members in a league. ismgames.com For me, the best of the bunch is Can You
                Kick It -- it's FREE. Their English Premier League game is very popular and UEFA soon followed suit with the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup and more recently, the UEFA European U21 Championships. ____________________________________________ CYKI World Cup: Now that CYKI have released their 2002 World Cup game, it really is the place to go. Basically, you have 100 million pounds to spend on a squad of 13 players (maximum of 2 from any country) -- 1 goalkeeper, 4 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 strikers. Each player is given a value at the start of the tournament and their value rises and falls depending on the trading volume during the group stage. As a side note, my 1800-WorldCup.com team made 4th most valuable overall on UEFA and 7th overall on CYKI -- maybe that's I way enjoy playing this game so much. A Word About Transfers I'm not sure if I'll try and go for the money table this time around..... unless my initial line-up are all injured or red-carded. It seems CYKI's 20% tax, for the Premier League game, didn't put enough people off hitting the transfer market and making huge gains; to increase buying power in the later stages. So, for the World Cup there's going to be a massive 50% tax on the profit you make on a player when you transfer him, along with the 2 point deduction. And with only seven matchdays in the tournament, the points might be too valuable to throw away. Having said that, the points loss could be worth it to pick up players who get the bonus points for attacking passes and defending tackles..... a new addition to the points structure. Knockout Stages Like the UEFA tournament, transfers can be made at no cost during the Knockout stages..... and there will be no price rises. You also get to select more players from each country: Second Round (3); Quarter Finals (4); and for the Semi Finals , Fin
                al and 3/4 Place Playoff (5). Scoring Points Once you've selected your 13 man squad, given them a kit to play in and called your team a name, you will have to select your eleven starters and choose a captain -- who earns you double points. Depending on the two players you leave on the bench -- by unchecking the box beside their name -- you can will have a variety of formations at your disposal: 2-5-3, 3-5-2, 3-4-3, 4-5-1, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. Defenders who keep a clean sheet and score a goal for your team are priceless. Players who supply the final assist to the goalscorer are also worth keeping an eye on. For full details on how the points are calculated and the transfer deadline dates, be sure to check the game rules. Entering A League This is the fun part about CYKI games..... you can set up your own league to challenge your friends. There's also a forum there to talk to one another, although that aspect could do with a little more fine tuning as messages tend to get purged from the system periodically. Link: http://worldcup.cyki.com So what are you waiting for, show us what you're made of and join our very own league by entering this code in the My Leagues section of the site: fans@1800-Worldcup.com_53008 ================================== Classic Fantasy League: (Dubbed the original..... this is where Soccernet go for their corporate experience). For a £5 entry fee, there's a cool £10,000 first prize on the table, as well as a chance to fly to Rio de Janeiro -- for a week's holiday, during the annual Beach Soccer Championships. The runner-up also pockets £1,000 and there are £500 prizes for the winner of each of the 5 game phases. You can also set up little friendly leagues for fun -- once you've handed over your fiver. How to Play Here you get to choose 15 players (maximum two from any country),
                without any budget restraints, and have 10 transfers to put things right; if your squad aren't playing up to scratch (maximum 4 transfers per game phase). You have to play in a 4-4-2 formation but can chop and change your substitutes, for each position where needed, without eating up your transfer budget. You can make substitutions and transfers at anytime, apart from the 15 minutes before the start of a match. If you miss the deadline your transfer will count in the next match. The trick here will be to make sure all 15 players get to play in every game their country plays, so you'll need to keep a close eye on the fixtures. And if you need someone to join you on the trip to Rio...... you know where to find me! Link: http://classicwc.fantasyleague.com ================================== Telegraph Fantasy Football World Cup: For a £5 entry fee, the winning manager earns a tasty £50,000 with The Telegraph..... almost as much as the cool Swede himself. This is the same game as they run in the newspaper but with the online edition there's also a Super League facility, to let you compete against your friends. You have a £50m budget to compile a fantasy team of 11 players, in a 4-3-3 formation. Point scoring is on player performance but you can make only 8 transfers throughout the tournament -- so give your initial line-up a chance before you axe them too hastily. There are also points awarded in penalty shoot-outs, and minus points if your player misses. You also need to buy a copy of The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday to make a transfer, as it contains the transfer password for that week. You can then make your transfer(s) via the website or over the phone. Link: http://worldcup.telegraph.co.uk ================================== The Beautiful Game: It costs £5 to enter here as well and you could win regular prizes of t
                ickets, cash, signed shirts and footy gear throughout the World Cup. Once you register you will receive a budget of 140 stars with which to build your squad. You will need to pick a squad of 23 players, made up of three goalkeepers, seven defenders, eight midfielders and five strikers. Each player has a star rating depending on his own ability and his team's ability to reach the World Cup Final. You are free to pick who you like as long as your squad's collective star rating does not exceed 140. Once you have submitted your squad you'll need to pick a formation and a team of 11 players from your squad of 23. You can't change the squad but you can change the lineup and formation once a day. Link: http://www.thebeautifulgame.co.uk/worldcup/fantasymanager ================================== Sky Sports Super Manager: Only open to UK residents. For an entry fee of £4.99 (come on, make it a fiver) you get the chance to win a family season ticket to an English club of your choice -- although it doesn't say anything about the size of the family. There are also 20 runners-up prizes of £100 to spend in Kitbag. If you've already registered for the Sky Sports Super Manager game, you don't need to register again here. Just enter your username and password and you can add your World Super Manager teams under that account. A team consists of 11 players -- 1 goalkeeper, 2 fullbacks, 2 centre backs, 4 midfielders, 2 strikers -- and one manager. In the group stages you can only have two players from the same country (moving up to four and then six in the later stages). You can make 10 transfers until the end of the second round stage, then there's an unlimited window to prepare you for the 1/4 finals -- when you'll be able to make another 6 transfers for the semi-finals. Unlimited transfers are available again, if yo
                u're holding a squad of losers at the final stage. The game is also available through interactive television (at 10p a minute). Link: http://worldsupermanager.sky.com/ ================================== Dreamracers: Not quite in the CYKI mould of selecting individual players and making transfers. Here you select a nation to keep goal; to be your defense; to be your midfield; to be your forwards -- within a budget of £60m. Once a nation goes out of the tournament, that's it for their position(s). There's also a facility to create a private league and talk of prizes..... but the space to be watched for details hasn't shed further light on what the package might be. Link: http://www.dreamracers.com/4_rules.php3 ================================== Deadlystrike: The goal of this game, organised by Americans who feel that 'soccer remains an under-served market outside of the UK', is to select eight players who will earn you the most points. There's a nice little graphic of a doctor's bag next to injured players -- so don't select them. Goals count as 3 points, an assist as 1 point, and wins as 1 point. For clean-sheets (or shut-outs, as they like to call it), goalkeepers earn 3 points and defenders 1 point. There are 5 bonus points awarded for hat tricks, Golden Goals, and to each player on the side that wins the tournament. There's also a private league facility and a global forum to discuss fantasy strategy, Deadlystrike and the World Cup in general. Link: http://www.deadlystrike.com/Cup/help.asp ================================== Fantasy Football @ BlueHyppo: This one could be interesting for World Cup fans in Malaysia. The game is available in English, Thai, Malay and Chinese. You can pick up to seven players from the same nation. There's n
                o budget cap on players and you're free to make transfers; although you can't change your selected formation (4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-2-4 or 3-5-2). There's a 20 Malaysian Ringgit (RM) entry fee (a little over £3.50) with a Grand Prize of RM50,000 (£9,000), First Prize of RM2,000, Second Prize of RM 1,500 and Third Prize of RM1,000 -- you do the maths. Link: http://fantasyfootball.bluehyppo.com/worldcup/?lang=EN ================================== ~~ PREDICTION GAMES ~~ Go on, take a stab at the score or predict who will go through the rounds to win the final. Yahoo Games If you've got a special Yahoo! id there's no fee here and you can join other Groups of Fans or set up your own private group, to see who can amass the most points. You earn points by selecting the exact place each team will finish in their group and bonus points if you get the teams' points total right. There's a maximum 640 points available in the first stage. By editing each group and selecting who will win each game, or if it will be a draw, Yahoo automatically calculates how many points you think each team will make and where they will finish in the table. If the points total of two or more teams are equal, then you will have to select who you feel will finish above whom -- you'll need to think about goal difference or jot down what the scores might be on a piece of paper...... or just select one and hope for the best. In the knockout stages you just have to guess.... excuse me, predict..... the winner of the matches. The points available rise as we get through each stage: Second Round (20 points for each correct pick); Quarterfinals (40 points for each correct pick); Semifinals (80 points for each winner); and 160 points for the winner of the final -- that's another 640 points for the taking. Amass 1280 points and you'll almost certainly
                be famous throughout the Yahoo! world. "What aren't there any prizes?" you ask. Well, in Yahoo's own words you could "potentially" win two tickets to the final, for getting the most points in the Group Stage; a digital camera for the second stage; and an audio/visual entertainment system for being top of the pile. Check the official contest rules for eligibility. Link: http://games.fifaworldcup.yahoo.com ================================== World Cup Fantasy Footy: This one looks professional enough. Registration is free and there's supposedly a thousand pounds on offer to the winner, £500 for second and £250 for third. This game is about predicting results, scores and goalscorers and points are awarded for your astuteness -- bonus points if you make your predictions before the tournament gets underway. Link: http://www.worldcupfantasyfooty.com ================================== The Prediction League: All about predicting match scores and scorers. You can also look at the match prediction statistics to see what people have predicted so far. Link: http://www.predictionleague.co.uk/competition.php?comp=50 ================================== ~~ THE ALSO RANS ~~ World Cup 2002 Fantasy Football A Freeserve site with the redirect domain of www.fantasyworldcup.info is putting something together at a charge of £5 per entry ($7.00 by PayPal, for international players). Basically, you pick fourteen players (only one from each nation) and choose your team on either a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 formation. No transfers or budget to play with here and the substitutes' point scores will only be used in the event of a tie. This place looks very homemade and not very automated, so I don't know how well they'll do with updating all the statistics. <br>A percentage of the
                kitty will be shared out between the winners, depending on how many people take part. Link: http://mysite.freeserve.com/fantasyworldcup/index.htm ================================== Predictions For Cash: This free-to-enter competition is a promotion by Kimptoc Ltd and FreeFlats. Basically you predict the scores of the World Cup matches, with a 1st prize of £500 for the manager with the most points. There's also a facility to join a league. Link: http://www.soccer2002.org.uk/portal/pane0/Home ================================== Fantasy Champions: UK based outfit, established in 1999. The very first competition (Rugby World Cup) involved 39 players, with prize money totaling £78. Since then, over 300 players have joined in the various competitions, with minimum prize money guaranteed at £200 per competition. There's a £2 entry fee and the object is to predict wins and draws and who will win the groups and finish runner-up. Points are awarded on a sliding scale so that you get more points for getting the teams in the later stages correct. The player with the most points wins £100, 2nd (£50), 3rd (£25), 4th (£15) and 5th (£10). Link: http://www.fantasychampions.co.uk/world_cup.htm ================================== World Cup Predictions: Another predict the results of matches in the 2002 World Cup. Nothing to win and you can't see much of what is going on without signing up. Link: http://www.fantasyfacup.com/worldcup/default.asp ================================== ~~ And last but not least..... World Soccer Exchange: Virtual football stock exchange where you can buy and sell fantasy shares in your favorite football players, managers and clubs. Link: http://en.wsx.com I thought I'd stick this one in at the end, although I haven't had time to
                check it out properly, but at least I know where to find it when the World Cup is over...... or all my fantasy dream teams are having a nightmare. Enjoy the World Cup build up..... but don't get so carried away with the fantasy football that you forget about the real thing. Michel http://1800-WorldCup.com

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                  28.05.2002 19:54
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                  ~ ~ You would hardly credit that we had a General Election here in Ireland just over a week ago, and that serious negotiations are still ongoing about the makeup of our next Government for the next five years or so. Only one story dominates all the print, radio, and TV media here at the moment, and that’s the ongoing saga of skipper Roy Keane’s dismissal from the Republic of Ireland soccer squad due to open their World Cup campaign against the African Champion’s, Cameroon in the early hours of Saturday morning. (1st June, 2002) ~ ~ I have no intention of going into a detailed biography of Roy Keane as a player, as any football fan will be only too aware of his standing and pedigree. He is one of the greatest midfield players in world soccer, and has been a huge influence in the continuing success of both his club side, Manchester United, and on the fortunes of the Irish International team. At 31 years of age, Roy is probably at the peak of his soccer career, and though he had stated before this year’s World Cup that it was his intention to retire from International soccer after Japan/Korea, the chances are that this wouldn’t actually have come to pass, and that there is still a strong possibility that he could play in the World Cup again in four years time, when he will still only be 35 years old. ~ ~ Keane has always been his “own man”, and in common with many other soccer superstars of the past, has a bit of a reputation for his antics both on the park and in his private life over the years. That he has a volatile temper is without doubt, as this breaking story in Japan confirms! For the benefit of those of you who may not have heard of the ongoing drama surrounding Keane and the Irish team, here’s a brief synopsis. The Irish squad based themselves initially on the Pacific island of Saipan before finally jetting off to Izumo in Japan to open their World Cup campaign.
                  Right from the outset there was friction between Keane and the Irish team manager, Mick McCarthy, over what Keane claims was a lack of professionalism in the approach of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and McCarthy himself to the World Cup. The base was too far from Japan, with a further plane journey of about 8 hours required. The training facilities, and in particular the atrocious condition of the training pitch, (it was rock hard and uneven) wasn’t acceptable. The team’s training kit was late in arriving from Ireland, and on the first day the side had to work out without boots or even proper footballs. A further heated argument occurred with the goalkeeping coach, Packie Bonner, over his refusal to allow the goalkeepers to participate in a five-a-side training match. Keane also suggested that the training schedule was too light, given that many of the players who play in the Nationwide First Division in England, hadn’t trained properly for over five weeks. Seemingly, as Captain, he approached Mick McCarthy ( the manager) and voiced his concerns in no uncertain terms, even going so far as to state that he was thinking of withdrawing from the squad if things didn’t improve. This initial bust up was smoothed over, with the timely intervention of Keane’s club manager, the equally abrasive Scot, Alex Ferguson, and all seemed to be back on course. ~ ~ But then came the amazing team meeting, called by McCarthy, where Keane was backed into a corner, and publicly criticised by the manager in front of his team-mates. At that point, and not to put too fine a point on things, it would appear that Roy “lost the plot”, and went for the manager McCarthy with a venom that defies belief. If the newspapers (and some of the other players) are to be believed, then McCarthy was told that he was an English cu*t, that he had been a lousy player, and was an equally lousy manager. Keane has since
                  publicly denied some of the words attributed to him however, both in the Press and here on TV in Ireland. But that the team meeting was very heated is beyond question, and the end result of his outburst was that McCarthy ended up sacking him from the squad, and sending him home to the UK. ~ ~ Since that time, the talk here in Ireland, both on the street, and in every section of the media, has been about nothing else. It culminated last night (Monday, 27th May) in a half hour interview with Roy Keane on RTE, (the Irish TV channel) in which he partially apologised for his outburst, and stated that there was still a possibility of his playing for the team. However, he also stated in the same interview that he considered many of the Irish squad cowards, for their failure to back him up. Since then, the players themselves, and the FAI have publicly declared that he is not welcome back into the side. So strong is the feeling here in Ireland over this incident, that the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) himself, Bertie Ahern, has publicly declared his willingness to act as a mediator in the dispute, and declared his desire to see Keane on the pitch in the green of Ireland. ~ ~ OK. Enough of the background and history. This here is an opinion site, and what I’m going to do now is to express my own opinion on the sorry saga, as a soccer fan and as a staunch Irish supporter. Put simply, I think that both Keane and McCarthy, along with the Irish squad themselves, need to do a lot of growing up (and quickly) if this is ever going to be sorted out. Keane, however justified he may have felt he was in criticising the training conditions, had no right to publicly abuse the team manager in front of the players. Equally, McCarthy, as manager of the side, should never have put Keane into a position where he felt he was being backed into a corner, as he did when he called the team meeting, instead of dealing with the matter on a pr
                  ivate basis with the player. Now we have a position where entrenched attitudes prevail, and Keane, the Irish Squad, the FAI, and McCarthy, have all dug in their heels like a bunch of ten-year-old schoolboys. Sorry, I actually take that back. Ten-year-old schoolboys would most likely have sorted it all out long ago!!! ~ ~ I was fortunate enough to be living here in Ireland during the World Cup campaigns of Italia 90 and USA 1994. I will never forget the joy and jubilation of the whole nation when the Irish team did well, especially when they reached the quarterfinals in 1990. When they beat Romania in a penalty shoot out to achieve that remarkable feat, the whole country took to the streets, in a spontaneous outpouring of joy. Cars peeped their horns, people openly hugged complete strangers, and the feeling of optimism that took over the whole country had to be experienced to be believed. Ireland narrowly missed out on qualification in 1998, but this time around, expectations were high that not only could we repeat the success of Italia 90, but that we could possibly even surpass it. And much of the hopes and dreams of the nation rested on the shoulders of both Roy Keane as Captain, and our very own “Captain Fantastic” from Italia 90, Mick McCarthy, as manager. They are both letting down the whole country very badly. I simply don’t care about the rights and wrongs of the situation at this stage. All I want to see now is a resolution before it is too late. Even if Ireland were to go on to achieve success in the competition without Roy Keane, it simply wouldn’t be the same, as he played such an important role in even getting us to the finals in the first place. Grow up lads, for God’s sake, and get it sorted!! If you don’t, then a bitter Irish public will never forgive you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ UPDATE Tuesday 28/5/02 (2.00 PM) ~ ~ Even as I was busy wri
                  ting this opinion, further dramatic developments were unfolding in Japan. Mick McCarthy held a press conference this lunchtime in which he appears to have once again opened the door to a return to the Irish squad by Roy Keane, providing he is prepared to unreservedly apologise for his behaviour. If he is prepared to do so, says McCarthy, he will then ask the rest of the team if they are prepared to let bygones be bygones, and accept their captain back into the side. My own opinion is that this move by McCarthy doesn’t quite go far enough. This sorry tale is now all about saving face (where more appropriate for that than in Japan) for all the parties concerned. In McCarthy’s shoes, I would now state quite simply that this has gone on long enough. That Ireland needs Roy Keane, and that Roy Keane needs Ireland. I would apologise for things going this far, and ask Roy to do the same, and to get onto the next plane for Japan. In fact, I feel fairly sure that if this were achieved, the Government would even make the private Government jet available to take Roy back, such is the desire here in Ireland to see him representing his country. I get the feeling that this story has a few twists and turns in it yet, and that this wont be my last update. Watch this space! ~~~~~~~~~~~~ FINAL UPDATE (I think!) Wednesday, 29th May 10.00 AM ~ ~ Well. It would appear that the Roy Keane saga has now drawn to a close. Roy has issued a statement stating categorically that he wont be playing for Ireland in Japan. We'll just have to wait and see if there may even yet be more twists in this sorry tale. A big thumbs down to all the parties involved from the 'mad cabbie'. NOBODY wins in this debacle. ~~~~~~~~~~~~

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                    23.05.2002 02:11
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                    My ma, George W. Bush and Glen Hoddle all have something in common, they know nothing about football. So they, amongst others might not know that the biggest sporting event in…oh?...four years is about to commence. If you don’t know that World Cup Japan / Korea 2002 starts on Friday 31ST May, what the hell are you doing reading this review. It promises to be a feast fit for a big fat football fan, with teams from as far away as France and Belgium participating. So because of this momentous occasion in footballing history, I give you the Kevin Fingleton Guide To WC2002! **OK, I'VE PUT THIS IN THE WRONG PLACE, SO I'VE ASKED IT TO BE MOVED!** Firstly, you might need some advice. So I’ve laid it out in easy point form. 1) Matches are scheduled for as early as 6:30am BST and end no later than about 3:00pm if they run into extra time and penalties in the later stages. This means two things: A) You’re going to have to get up might early to watch Argentina v Nigeria, and B) If you’ve got a job, you might want to get someone to break your leg or come on to your boss so that you can get the sack 2) If you fancy traveling to the Far East to watch some games, tough luck. The World Cup (TM) is not a place for football fan. Unless you work for Coca-Cola or Mastercard, you can F*** Off! 3) The nice people in the government have made sure that all matches are screened on terrestrial TV. This means that everyone gets to watch the games, but it also means that for some games you’ll have to endure Clive Tyldsley constantly mentioning Manchester United, without any relevant reference point. 4)If you’re Scottish or Welsh, buy an Ireland or Argentina shirt. You know why. 5) I can’t think of any more advice So, you might want to know who will win WC2002. Well I can guarantee 100% that these predictions will come true*. So put you’re money on now as we follow the
                    KJF Predicatathon: GROUP A (France, Denmark, Senegal, Uruguay) Well no one wins any Brownie points for predicting France to top this group, (especially, if you’re like me and not a member of the Brownies). Demark are not the team they once were when they had the might of the Laudrups and Schmeichel. They do possess quality in another blue-nose, Peter Lovenkrands, as well as the promising Gronkjaer at Chelsea. If you watch far too much football, you’ll have seen Uruguay defeat Australia with a strong performance in Montevideo in the play-offs. Senegal only make it interesting because of the French connection. PREDICTION: It’s tight for second spot, but: France 2) Uruguay 3) Denmark 4) Senegal GROUP B (Paraguay, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain) Spain never seem to do themselves justice in big tournaments, remember Zubizaretta at France ’98? But this group is easier than an Essex girl and they should have no problem topping it with the likes of Raul and Lazio bench-warmer Mendieta. Slovenia were a nice surprise at Euro 2000 and have Zahovic as their star man. Paraguay are a well organised side with fire-power from Santa Cruz. South Africa are a Division 1 team. PREDICTION: Spain to breeze through Spain 2) Paraguay 3) Slovenia 4) South Africa GROUP C (Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Turkey) Brazil seem no where near the dizzy heights of 1970 or even 1994 for that matter, but this group is weaker than the bladder of an old drunk. Rivaldo, Ronaldo et al will win this at a stroll. Turkey are too strong for the other two, who constitute some sort of joke, considering the likes of Holland are not flying out to the Far East this summer. PREDICTION: Are you kidding? Brazil, Turkey, Costa Rica, China GROUP D (South Korea, Poland, Portugal, USA) The US failed to win a game last time round, famously losing to Iran. Korea have beaten Scotland and drawn with Engl
                    and recently and have a decent coach in Gus Hiddink. Portugal possess quality throughout and should cut through the other teams like the Batmobile through traffic. Poland have at least got Dudek in goals. Look out for Olisadebe too. PREDICTION: European union Portugal 2) Poland 3) South Korea 4) USA OLD PREDICTION FOR GROUP E (Ireland, Germany, Cameroon, Saudi Arabia) Quickly dismissed as an easy group by Mick McCarthy, therefore this is a pretty tough group for the Irish. Roy Keane is apparently threatening unity and you could drive a bus through the defence. Germany are injury ravaged and seem to possess all the pace of a Morcheeba song. Cameroon have an excellent chance to seal the group with the likes of Eto’o and the double-winning Lauren! Saudi’s will be whipped more than Angus Deayton in a sex romp. PREDICTION: Please let me be right with this one! Cameroon 2) Ireland 3) Germany 4) Saudi Arabia NEW PREDICTION FOR GROUP E The Irish side are a now a joke to be shared across the world. While Keane may have flown off the handle a little, I support him if he criticised the inept McCarthy. The top brass at the FAI and the manager should resign en masse after the World Cup. Ireland are finished because Keane dared to win. Cameroon 2) Germany 3) Ireland 4) Saudi Arabia GROUP F (Argentina, Nigeria, Sweden, someone else) If Al-Quada dropped the bomb on the White House, it would still be put behind this group in the English media. Hyperbole, notwithstanding, this is the group of DEATH. In that it’s killing me with boredom reading about it. You’ve all made your mind up now anyway, so I couldn’t even be bothered with it PREDICTION: I’m about to get loads of abuse in the comments section Argentina 2) Nigeria 3) Sweden 4) England GROUP G (Croatia, Italy, Ecuador, Mexico) Croatia are not the team they were in 1998 and the Italia
                    ns are better than they were in 1994. the likes of Totti and Montella give them the sort of fire-power that US Special Forces would envy. Ecuador are in the tournament for the first time, so I know very little about them (well nothing really). I don’t know much about Mexico, so I’m going completely on reputation here. Sorry! PREDICTION: I will learn something about Ecuador Italy 2) Mexico 3) Croatia 4) Ecuador GROUP H (Japan, Belgium, Russia, Tunisia) If you have to give up watching one group in this tournament, it’s probably this one. The Japanese fans will at least add a bit of polite excitement, but Belgium have all the flair of a Ford Escort. Russia are an ailing world power and Tunisia are hardly worth a mention. PREDICTION: Host boast Japan 2) Belgium 3) Russia 4) Tunisia SECOND ROUND 1 – JUNE 15th: Cameroon Vs Paraguay The team with the green vests will storm through in heated affair. Their defence is just too strong 2 – JUNE 15th: France Vs Nigeria Henry & Trezeguet verses Kanu? Victoire pour Les Bleus! 3 – JUNE 16th: Argentina Vs Uruguay This one promises to be a fiery encounter between two South American giants of World Cup’s long gone. But it’s the Argentines who’ll win through, although maybe not with a full quota of players by the finish. 4 – JUNE 16th: SPAIN Vs GERMANY Well I did originally predict Ireland to be here and to lose to the Spanish, but the Germans will probably put up an even worse showing. Ole! 5 – JUNE 17th: Italy Vs Poland No contest here. The Italians will just be too good for the Poles in the end, but it may be difficult in the early stages. 6 – JUNE 17th: Brazil Vs Belgium The Belgians are already suffering from injuries and they’re boring. Football wins! <br> 7 – JUNE 18th: Japan Vs Turkey Turkish fo
                    otball has been making strides in recent years. This is a difficult one to call, but I don’t think home advantage will be enough for Nakata and his makes, compared to the physical strength of Sukur and the Turks. 8 – JUNE 18th: Portugal Vs Mexico Latin flair? Yes please! But expect the Europeans to pull through to the quarters. QUARTER FINALS 1 – JUNE 21st: France Vs Brazil Is your mouth watering yet? The French may be feeling the expectations build to an unbearable weight by this stage, but I just don’t think Brazil are good enough. No revenge for the Brazilians. May be decided on penalties or even a Golden Goal. 2 – JUNE 21st: Cameroon Vs Italy Are we in for a shock? No, Italy will win, but it’ll be tighter than a duck’s arse. 3 – JUNE 22nd: Spain Vs Portugal Bring it on! This could be the match of the tournament or a stalemate of Ireland Vs England 1990 proportions. The Spanish to shade it. 4 – JUNE 22nd: Turkey Vs Argentina Expect this match to be played in the spirit of a race riot. But expect Argentina to go through SEMI-FINALS JUNE 25th: France Vs Argentina It should be the final, but it isn’t and that’s the luck of the draw, as they say! French confidence will be getting higher, Argentinean suspensions will be a problem. I’d love the French to do it, but without dear Robert, they will not! JUNE 26th: Spain Vs Italy The Spaniards aren’t prone to doing so well in big tournaments and are much more at home thrashing Ireland on home turf. The Italians will be hardened from their experience of 2000. THE FINAL, 30th JUNE, 12:00PM, YOKOHAMA ARGENTINA VERSUS ITALY In July 2001 I put a bet on for Arsenal to win the Premiership, Manchester City to win the Nationwide League and the World Trade Centre to crumble to the ground in a terrorist attack (well, not really th
                    e last one, it was actually for Argentina to win the World Cup). So, I have to stick by it. I don’t particularly like Argentina, I just have a feeling they’ll win. Now if that isn’t comprehensive, Rio Ferdinand isn’t crap. Thanks for reading and enjoy the tournament. *This is not a guarantee

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                      20.05.2002 05:32
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                      Okay hands up all those who are already sick of the World Cup. So thats quite a few of you already then. It appears that everytime I turn on the TV pick up a news paper or goto a web site there is some pre world cup garbage bombarding me. It seems the world has gone football mad. I have just returned from Japan and compared to here you would hardly notice that they where the hosts of this SO important event. I have only been back a few days and already I am sick and tired of it. I just hope that the England players see fit! to put as much effort and enthusiasm as the press, media and the general public at large have expended and are expecting. So what can a non football fan like myself do for the next 9 weeks, well personally I am going to lock myself away until after the world cup, or maybe I'll plan a holiday to somewhere where football wont be mentioned, Like MARS. Another thing that makes me laugh about the World Cup is the number of companies who have jumped on the OFFICIAL <Whatever> of the World Cup. What! The worse at the moment has to Sainsburys who are the Official Supermarket of the world cup. Dur! Hows that work then? I've got one. My belly button fluff, as the Offical Belly Button Fluff of the World Cup 2002. Amazing. Anybody want to come with me to Mars for 9 weeks?

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                        19.05.2002 14:00
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                        Oh well, with the football season just finished, you?d think all us football followers would be feeling a bit down in the dumps, I mean come on, what the hell are we going to do with ourselves on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon/evening over the next few months? What, with no football matches to attend/watch/listen to, I suppose we could all go on a holiday/break or even do the unthinkable and go shopping with the missus for once, we could get those DIY jobs that have been left half-done from last summer, finished?Or we could just sit there and wallow in self-pity and pine for the new football season to start! Hmm, just what the hell are we going to do? Well, for starters, we can soak ourselves in the beautiful game of football; we can Samba to the tune of the Brazilians, we can Mexican wave to the Mexicans, we can even be bored by the Belgians?yes folks, you?ve guessed right, the world cup is fast approaching us, the numbero uno of all football competitions is only 2 weeks away, actually its not even that far away, by my reckoning its exactly 12 days, 5 hours and 35 minutes (at the time of writing). So Brian, what?s the world cup? I?m not even going there, as if you don?t know what the world cup is, then why are you reading this? Ok, calm down, calm down (in a stereotypical Scouse accent)?I?ll explain! The World Cup is the ultimate International Football competition and as you?d have guessed, it includes teams from every country in the world that has an International football team, hence the name ?The WORLD CUP?? Anyway, over the past three and a half years or so, all these countries have been battling away, sweating blood and tears, to qualify for the actual finals in Japan and South Korea, to be one of the lucky 32 teams (29 qualifiers, Japan and South Korea as hosts and France as holders). From Bermuda to Bangladesh to Italy and England, the qualification has left us with 32 teams, don?t get m
                        e wrong, these are not necessarily the 32 strongest teams in the world (due to the qualification methods), but they all have the right to say, ?We are there!? unlike the Scots, Dutch and Czechs and many other nations that will be watching and choosing their favourites to follow. So who exactly has qualified? And who will be playing in the world?s BIGGEST sporting event? Well, for this I?ll give you a quick rundown of the qualifiers by previewing each group. The competition includes eight groups of four teams, with the top two in each group going through to the knockout stages. So here goes folks, the groups and teams that will be participating. ==================== Group A France, Senegal, Uruguay and Denmark: France the current holders of the cup, will start things off against the Africans from Senegal, this is a custom of the competition, were the current holders always play the first match. Looking at this group, I don?t see France having too many problems qualifying from it, what with the Senegalese participating in their first world cup and the Uruguayans and Danes not exactly posing a massive threat, it should be plain-sailing for Messer?s Zidane, Henry and Vieira (to whom was actually born in Senegal) and I take them to win all three games and easily qualify. Just who will come second is another thing! I?ll take a guess on the Danes to just pip Uruguay and Senegal, although I?ve heard rumours that the Senegalese are a bit of a dark horse in waiting and may cause an upset or two in the group, a bit like Cameroon did a few world cups ago, we wait in anticipation! And don?t forget, the heat and humidity of Japan and Korea could go in their favour (as well as Uruguay). I must point out, that all England fans reading this should pay attention to this group, as if England do qualify for the last sixteen, we?ll be facing either the winners or runners-up from this group, lets just hope
                        its Denmark hey? My prediction: France and Denmark ==================== Group B Spain, Slovenia, Paraguay and South Africa Once again, I don?t see too many troubles ahead for this groups favourites Spain, although they do have a knack of failing to live up to their undoubted class and usually freeze when the big tournaments come along, but I have a sneaky feeling for Spain finally doing well in the tournament this year and I also fancy a bet on their star striker Raul being one of the stars of the tournament, so I?ll go for them winning the group. As with the first group, I?m struggling to name the team that will finish runners-up, as once again this could be a very close call. All three teams are very capable of upsetting the formbook, remember Slovenia surprising a few teams in the last European Championships? But they do tend to over rely on star player Zlatko Zahovic and maybe a bit too weak to overpower Paraguay and South Africa, so I?ll rule them out and say South Africa to pip Paraguay to second place. My prediction: Spain, South Africa ==================== Group C Brazil, Turkey, Costa Rica and China Bah, just when you think the Brazilians are out of form and struggling without their star striker Ronaldo, both he and Brazil come back into form, but on the plus side of things (well, we do want to win the bloody thing), Rivaldo is supposedly out of form and struggling with an injury. Once again, looking at this group, it doesn?t strike me as an overly hard task for Brazil to win, ok we know Turkey are capable of ruffling the feathers of a few people and Costa Rica totally walked away with their qualifying group (which included Mexico and the USA), but both these and world cup debutants China will find Brazil too hot to handle, so once again, I find the group favourites (Brazil) to be certainties to win the group. As for the runners-up in the gro
                        up, I?ll go for the Turks to pip Costa Rica, as I can?t honestly see China doing anything in the group. My prediction: Brazil, Turkey Jeeze, three groups down and not a single upset yet! ==================== Group D South Korea, Poland, USA and Portugal Ah, at last, we seem to have a bit of a ?group of death? At first glance, this group looks pretty plain sailing for Portugal, to whom are no doubt the class-act of the group, but, and a big BUT at that, I see this group as being a bit trickier. With South Korea being co-hosts of the tournament and the way they demolished Scotland the other day (ok, I know that?s no hard task <snigger, snigger>) I honestly believe the Koreans will be fired up to cause a few shocks, I also believe they have one or two pretty decent players. We also have Poland, the perennial dark horse in every world cup (not forgetting they?ve got THE best goalie in the world in Liverpool?s Jerzy Dudek) to whom always seem to sneak through to the qualifying stages whenever they qualify and not forgetting the good old U S of A, to whom seem to be improving every year. But despite all of this, I?ll go for a Figo inspired Portugal to win the group, with maybe Poland scraping into the runners-up spot, just pipping co-hosts South Korea on goal difference or something. My prediction: Portugal, Poland ==================== Group E Germany, Saudi Arabia, Eire and Cameroon Hmm, another quite hard group to weigh up, I think this is a very hard group to call, and could easily see any of Germany, Ireland and Cameroon going through. First we have the Germans, yep we all know about their record in big competitions, and don?t read a thing into their struggle to qualify from England?s group, as the good old Germans are nearly always primed to hit form at the right time and are renown for their strength and determination. A player t
                        o watch out for in the German squad has got to be the very impressive midfielder Michael Ballack. Then we have Mick McCarthy?s Republic of Ireland, to whom have a team full of world-class players in Damian Duff, the Keane?s (Roy and Robbie) and also have a superb spirit about them, the kind of thing needed in such tournaments and will see them through to the final sixteen. Then we have Cameroon, undoubtedly one of the two strongest African teams around (the other being England?s opponents Nigeria) and another team that will be ideally suited to the heat and humidity, actually this may just give them the slight edge over the two European rivals. So who?s going to win the group? God only knows, but if I have to stick my neck out, I?ll go for Ireland to win the group and Germany to just pip Cameroon for second spot, as for Saudi Arabia, well I guess they?re just there to make the numbers up. My prediction: Eire, Germany ==================== Group F Argentina, England, Sweden and Nigeria Now on to just about the toughest world cup group I have ever seen, the ultimate ?Group of death?, yes honestly, in all my years of watching the world cup, I have to say, I have NEVER come across a tougher group to predict, as this group could literally go to anyone, and trust good old England to be in it! Firstly we have what many people are predicting to be the winners of the whole tournament in Argentina, I mean barring current World and European champions France, the Argies are probably the best team in the world. They also seem to always get the upper hand against us (England), albeit through luck (remember the hand of god and all that). They have a team brimming of world-class talent i.e. Batistuta, Lopez, Crespo, Ortega, Veron, Ayala, need I go on? And will not be put out one bit with the difficult conditions. Next we have good old England! Now a few months ago, I was very
                        , very hopeful of England?s chances of going far in this world cup, this despite us being in a near impossible to win group. But with all the recent injury setbacks and the team going into the finals with a team that would be more suited on an episode of Casualty, I?m slightly less optimistic, what with Beckham?s toe injury still worrying me (remember Bryan Robson and his injured shoulder?), the catastrophic loss of (who in my opinion England?s most vital player) Steven Gerrard, there?s also Kieron Dyer going there unsure whether he has the fitness to get him through the competition, I really think we?ll have our work cut out to qualify from the group stages, I also think the heat/humidity will have a bad effect on players who are used to playing in the cold British climate. But all this aside, we still have a very talented squad of players, and with Owen up front, scaring the living daylights out of opposing defenders and the likes of Scholes, Beckham, Heskey and Fowler posing a serious goal-scoring threat, I still think we may do well. Now having looked at the first two teams (Argentina and England), you?d think we?d be looking at a couple of weaker teams to sum the group up, no bloody chance, as the group also contains Nigeria (along with Cameroon, probably the best of Africa) to whom will be a MASSIVE hurdle for England to get over, as they?re a very talented team and capable of beating anyone. Then we have England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson?s native country Sweden, who are actually England?s first opponents on June 2. Now to say a team of Sweden?s class maybe the weakest link in this group totally sums the thing up, I?m sure they?ll be out to outdo their famous compatriot (Eriksson). Just how we got a group to contain FOUR world-class teams is questionable, was there a bit of rigging going on? In my opinion, there definitely was. To sum up the group, I?m letting my heart rule my head, and I?d say England to win the group and Argenti
                        na to finish runners-up. My prediction: England, Argentina ==================== Group G Italy, Ecuador, Croatia and Mexico Now this to me has a similar look to group D (Portugal?s group) in that at first glance, it looks a pretty easy task for the Italians, but take a closer look and things may be that bit closer than your first thoughts. I actually think this will be the boring group of the competition, you know, the kind that seems to pop-up at every major competition, with the majority of the matches being goal-less draws and very low-scoring wins. I think Italy will win the group, but at the same time have a pretty rough ride doing this, the challenge will come from all three of the other teams, with Ecuador proving themselves a worthy challenger after finishing runners-up to Argentina in qualification and actually finishing above Brazil, I can?t say I know much about the team themselves, but surely this in itself tells you they?re not here just to make up the numbers. Then we have both Croatia and Mexico. Both teams, on their day, are very useful sides, have bags of talent available and will push Italy all the way. But with talented players like Totti, del Pierro, Vieri and Montella, I fancy the Italians to eventually come out on top, with perhaps Mexico finishing in the runners-up spot. My prediction: Italy, Mexico ==================== Group H Japan, Belgium, Russia and Tunisia Finally we have group H, the final group and a very intriguing group at that. At first glance, none of the teams seem to grab much of your attention and this too will be a very hard group to call. First we have co-hosts Japan, like South Korea, I think Japan will be all out to impress their followers and the rest of the watching world, now without knowing too much of their team/players, what I do know is Japan are a rapidly improving footballing nation and will be no push
                        -over in this tournament. Then we have the Russians, once again, a very mysterious team in that none of their players are exactly household names, but you just know that anything to do with sport and Russia means total preparation, total focus and nearly always a very solid team that will push anyone to their limits. Next we have the Belgians, now before today I?d have given the Belgians not much hope of progressing much further than the group stages, but what do they do? Yes, they only go and beat France in Paris by two goals to one, no doubt giving themselves a big boost in confidence leading up to the finals, they have a couple of danger-men in attacking midfielder Marc Wilmots and striker Mbo Mpenza, but like the rest of the teams in this group, no real ?household names? to be found in their squad. Finishing the group off, we have Tunisia. The Tunisians supposedly have one or two very talented players that are capable of a moment of brilliance, but it is believed that their team is in a bit of disarray and have one or two injuries to star players. So summing up my prediction for the final group, I?d have to go for Russia to come out tops, with the host Japan beating the Belgians to second place. My prediction: Russia, Japan ==================== So there you have it, my little rundown and prediction of who is competing and who will progress to the knockout stages. During the competition, I may just update this and give you a rundown of the qualifying stages as they happen. Why not add a bit of excitement to the competition and throw a little bet of group winners, etc, but please don?t take my tips too seriously, as I NEVER win anything. Oh well, I?m off now to get my body-clock primed into getting up or staying awake to watch these matches, as the only unfortunate thing about the competition being held in Japan and South Korea is, the ridiculous times we are going to have to watch
                        these games, I mean come on?who the hell enjoys watching football at seven thirty in the morning? I know I don?t, but all the same, like with any world cup, I?m sure going to enjoy it and here?s hoping Sven?s walking wounded can put up a good show. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

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                          17.05.2002 05:28
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                          Am I the only person to be sick of these pointless friendlies? Don't get me wrong - I can't wait for France vs. Senegal on Friday as the World Cup finally kicks off, but find all the friendlies going on currently very tedious. This is particularly in England's case. Sven has yet to choose his starting eleven for any of the friendlies due to circumstances outside his control, such as injuries. Whilst this cannot be helped, it hardly makes the friendlies exciting. They also do not appear to affect his judgement - Trevor Sinclair had a nightmare against South Korea on Tuesday so he was rewarded with a place in the squad when Danny Murphy had to pull out. Surely a world class player like Steve McManaman should have been called up instead? - someone who'll be polishing his European Cup medal this summer, rather than trying to add to his medal collection. Sinclair himself admitted that he had a terrible game and that international football was maybe still a step too high for him currently. The performance itself was very limp overall and Sven can hardly have learnt anything from it other than friendlies are boring. Surely some low-key matches would be far better. Paraguay performed equally badly when England played them a couple of months ago - in a World Cup match, they would be a much tougher proposition. Players have also been injured in these matches prior to the World Cup and adds to the fatigue that most players will be suffering due to having played to many matches, particularly those in England, but also, to a lesser extent, in other European countries. Anyway, back to the World Cup itself. There seems to be a great sense of expectation and excitement in Japan and South Korea as the final preparations begin. This World Cup seems to be very open, although many of the usual suspects are very much in the running as usual. France - undoubtedly favourites, having won the last two major championships
                          and oozing quality, particularly in their attack. However, despite an easy group, they have the harder half of the draw, which may leave them tired towards the end of the tournament if they get that far. There have already been signs of this, such as Henry's injury. There are also still some question marks over their defence and we all know about Barthez's eccentricities. Argentina - in the hardest first round group and hardest half of the draw. Great in attack, although, like France, weaker (all things are relative!) in defence. An exuberant but slightly eccentric team, very capable of winning the tournament but could also self-destruct. Brazil - very poor qualifying campaign, just scraping through in the marathon South American qualifying. However, now they've made it, they are once again, one of the favourites. Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, .... The list goes on and there class is well-known. In the easiest group and have an easy run to the quarter finals so will fancy their chances. Italy - my favourites for the tournament. One of the few big teams in the easier half of the draw. An array of strikers to choose from, a solid defence - perhaps the only criticism might be a lack of creativity in a midfield which is solid but may not have the vital creative spark. Like England, they hate penalties. Spain - Another team I think could do well and they should at least reach the semis. Great players such as Raul and Morientes and look good in every area of the pitch. But then, everyone says this before every major tournament and they never quite produce. Their mental toughness may again be their failings. England - If I wasn't English, England almost certainly wouldn't be included in this run-down of the favourites. A great first team, if a bit inexperienced, but injuries have decimated the team. Beckham and Butt are almost certain to be lacking fitness if they do play, Neville and Mu
                          rphy are out and Dyer may be out. Nightmare draw too with France likely to be the opponents in the 2nd round if they get out of the group of death. Much better bets for 2006 when most players will still be around and will have matured more.

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                            16.05.2002 05:18
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                            The first game of the World Cup is just over two weeks away and the men(not forgetting the women) of England are crossing their fingers in the hope England can again win the most prestigious prize in Football. Here is my verdict on Englands build up and indeed those of the other main protagonists: ENGLAND ======= To say Englands build up hasnt gone swimmingly is the understatement of the century,firstly our saviour David Beckham our best player and the man who fired us into these finals with the now legendary free kick against the Greek's,broke the metatarsel bone in his foot and was ruled out for two months.This was the worst injury of his career and although its clear he is going to be able to play in the first game against Sweden surely he wont be 100%,add to that the fact the opposition will be targeting his weak foot and its clear our chances dont look good. Then there was the revelations about Svens lovelife with Ulrika Jonsson and Nancy,personally i dont care what he gets upto and should be judged on his Football capabilities alone. Now we have players dropping out like flies,Gary Neville our first choice right back will be missed,he links up well down that right hand side with Beckham and adds vital experience,the obvious replecement Jamie Carragher is also out requiring a hernia operation so Danny Mills has been drafted in and i have serious doubts about his temperament,he could be a liability. Kieron Dyer looks like hes out too and hes our first choice left midfield player,its unclear who will take that position. The main blow has been the loss of Steven Gerrard who is one of only three truly world class players we have(Beckham and Owen being the others),Gerrard has everything and any team would miss a player of his quality. In my opinion England would have had an outside chance given a full strength squad but i now fear our chances have become very slim.We will be missing three first teamer
                            s with a big question mark over another,you cannot win the biggest prize in world football with a patched up team. Still on the bright side of things English teams and England in general are famed for their fighting spirit and im sure this team can take away some positives from the tournament,the average age of the squad is under 25 so its still very young with a lot of maturing to do,anything they can achieve in this World Cup will be a bonus as their best chance to win something will be the European Championship's in Portugal in 2004. Players like Owen Hargreaves,Joe Cole and Ashley Cole can gain vital experience and i hope all three are given a role in the side. Our first game will be against the Swede's and our manager Sven Goran Erikkson(Swedish)will know their players and tactics inside out,this may give us an edge but the stats are against us-we havn't beaten Sweden in over 30 years!! The games wont get any easier after that as we play one of the favourites Argentina and the talented but undisciplined Nigerians.None of these games will be easy but if we can get one win and a draw it should be enough to qualify for the second phase,whether we can achieve this is another matter. I just hope that if things dont go our way,the fans wont go on the rampage like they did in the last World Cup because i fear the Japanese wont know whats hit them! FRANCE ====== France are the current World and European champions and are the favourites to be only the second ever team to retain the trophy,however they wont find it as easy this time. Robert Pires one of their best attacking players is out injured and although they still have some wonderful players including Henry,Trezeguet,Viera and Zidane their backline is questionable. Lizerazu,Lebeouf,Desailly and Thuram have an average age of over 32!!Surely enigmatic goalkeeper Barthez will make at least one clanger during t
                            he tournament and other back up players include more veteran players like Petit and Djorkaeff. In the last twelve months they have lost to Chile,Spain and Australia which shows they have had a lack of meaningful games. If they fail to take the trophy we could see a spate of retirements. BRAZIL ====== Brazil have a World Cup history second to none and have a tradition of producing top notch players but in recent times theyve started to dry up.Only the likes of Ronaldino and Rivaldo spring to mind,Ronaldo their most famous player has had two years out through injury and its taken its toll on him. Brazil were very lucky to qualify through the back door having lost to the likes of Ecuador,Paraguay and Bolivia, teams that used to give them shooting practice! The Brazilian press and fans are livid at the omission of the 35 year old Romario and that fact speaks volumes.I fear we will only see glimpses of the heydays of Brazil. GERMANY ======= Germany like England have had lots of injury problems.Inspirational leader Novotny and Scholl are out and there are question marks over Jancker,Deisler and Worns. Germany went out at the group stage at the last World Cup and only just managed to qualify this time round including a shattering 5-1 home defeat against the English. They still have some great players like Ballack,Neuville,Schneider,Hamann and Jeremies and you cant help but feel the German's experience and famous determination will take them through the group stages but they just lack something to go the whole way. ARGENTINA ========= Argentina are the best South American team around and swept through qualifying with 13 wins from 18 games. They have no injury worries and have strength in depth in every department.Players instantly recognisable include Batistuta,Crespo,Lopez,Gallardo,Aimar and Samuel and they will surely get to the latter stages. There is one question mark though,the Argen
                            tinain F.A is broke and the management team hasnt been paid,the manager has threatened to quit more than once and if things dont go to plan it will be interesting to see what the Argentinain team spirit is like!! SPAIN ===== Spain always arrive at the World Cup with high hopes but end up going home having failed to live up to expectations. One thing that could change that fact this time around is that the Spanish league is currently the strongest in Europe. The team hasnt been as hyped up this time round and the press have been quietly confident,theres no injury worries at all and team have matured together. Raul is a world class striker,Morientes is good in the box and Hierro is the captain who marshalls the backline.One thing to note is their best midfielder Mendieta has only played for Lazio twice this season having fallen out of favour and will be fighting fit. This team has genuine chances and will surely be in the shake up. ITALY ===== The Italians are very confident having qualified with ease to win their group but they have had a couple of setbacks. Pessotto and Albertini first team players will miss the tournament and will be greatly missed but having said that they still look very strong. The defence which includes Nesta,Maldini and Cannavarro is rock solid,the midfield includes the brilliant Totti and upfront theres Del Piero,Vieri and Inzaghi. There always there or thereabouts at the big tournaments and im sure it will be the same story at this one. PORTUGAL ======== Portugal havnt been mentioned by many but they have a decent chance in my book.They qualified easily and have had no injuries.They impressed everyone at Euro2000 with their football and reached the final where they were beaten by France and they are confident of building on that. Nuno Gomez is a truly world class srtiker and Figo is one of the best players in the world. Do not unerestimat
                            e Portugal!! SWEDEN ====== I think weve been highly unlucky to be drawn in the same group as Sweden who qualified unbeaten and are one of the most difficult teams to beat in Europe.Their captain is Patrik Andersson who has played centre halve for Barcelona this season and took Bayern to the European Champions Cup final last season.Freddie Ljungberg is a free scoring midfielder who has hit form at the right time and Henrik Larsson is a deadly striker. Sweden's press are confident of making it through the first phase and they are my dark horses for the tournament. 5 TO WATCH ========== 5 players you may not have heard of, who may make an impact at the tournament are: CAUTOMAC BLANCO (MEXICO) Prolific striker who has a goal ratio of better than one in two!!Very skillful and quick he could help Mexico surprise a few people who are actually rated seventh best side in the world. YILDERAY BASTURK (TURKEY) Great footballer who scares the hell out of defenders with his runs.I predict he could turn out a star of the tournament. JERZY DUDEK (POLAND) Plays for Liverpool who have only let in a measly 28 goals in the league this season,no surprise and i expect Dudek to prove he is the best goalkeeper in the world at present. PABLO AIMAR (ARGENTINA) Not one of the Argie's big names but has immense ability on the ball and i hope he gets a chance.Could overshadow the likes of the ageing Batistuta and Veron if he does!! OLIVIER NEUVILLE (GERMANY) Can only be described as a goalpoacher and may be the one bright spot of the tournament for the Germans. ......JAGO74.......

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                              10.05.2002 19:53
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                              I’m sure that there must be many of ‘our kind’; we who dread the madness which takes over the planet, every four years, and prepare to batten-down-the-hatches during four weeks of hell, us who cannot understand the fanaticism surrounding 22 players kicking a ball around a field for 90 minutes. Yes I’m talking about the World Cup (which I am looking forward to about as much as completing my tax return), and I write this ‘survival guide’ for us, the minority, who need all the help we can get. I am already tired of the build-up and being constantly reminded that ‘there’s not long to go’ by my fiancé – does he think I don’t know it?? It seems almost every food product I buy, every shop I go into, every advert on TV, every weekend and soon everyday is soaked in football. It can only get worse, what can we do? Get away from it all: Ok so it’s a World Cup, so it’s going to be difficult to escape. Why not book a last minute holiday somewhere non-English speaking; at least you won’t understand the papers and TV coverage. You should also be able to pick up a good deal, as everyone else will probably stay at home to watch the England Games. I would, however, avoid going to somewhere like Benidorm, Ibiza or similar which tend to have a large populous of (drunk) British males and therefore football (in English) is likely to be prominent. Ideally, and if your budget permits, go somewhere very remote like Antarctica or the middle of the Sahara desert (you can go to these places with adventure travel companies). If your partner won’t go with you, then (stuff them) and go it alone; they may feel guilty and repentive on your return (use this time to have control of the TV remote for the remainder of the cup). Go on Big Brother 3: Ok well we may have missed the boat for this one, but if we’d thought in advance this would have been an idea
                              l option (as no-one will be watching it anyway with the World Cup on!). It’s due to start on the 24th of May, so I suppose we can just constantly watch E4 and pretend that we’re there cos at least they won’t be talking about it either. Rent lots of films… If you can’t get away, you will want to avoid the endless TV coverage and probably the pub (where conversation will revolve around the madness). Use the opportunity to rent out movies you’ve been meaning to watch for a while and indulge yourself – escapism is the key. Go shopping… The shops are bound to be pretty empty during the matches so why not use the time to use his credit card. Our chance to shine… Ok, one good point; the games are mainly on in the morning, whilst the rest of the office is thinking/watching/talking about the game, we can diligently get on with our work and use the opportunity to gain a few brownie points. NB: It is likely that your boss is also a World Cup fanatic, in this case try to help alleviate his workload during a game and show interest in football when he mentions it! (Then you can be a real sucker!). Think evil thoughts… I will probably regret writing this, but England is in a tough group for the first round of the World Cup. If we are knocked out early, then much of our misery will be over as the country’s obsession dies! The power of the mind can achieve marvellous things, if we just all think these thoughts together! (This is not meant to offend the millions of fanatical supporters out there!) If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em… Ok, although I hate football, I admit that I can just about bear an England game (and I must say I did actually enjoy England-Germany last September) and I almost feel guilty if I don’t watch it and then don’t understand what people are talking about for the next week. I also like t
                              o watch and constantly ask my fiancé what’s going on; of course so I can show an interest in the game rather than irritate him! Obviously, even to the staunchest football hater, the hype can wear you down and you may find surrendering to it easier than fighting the battle against it! If this is the case, and you do end up having to watch some games then try to have a basic knowledge beforehand so you can at least understand what’s going on, but don’t (on any account) sit next to the ‘football nerd’ who knows it all and spurts out footy statistics, as this will just make you hate the game even more. Paint your face, wear a footy shirt, drink lager, wave a flag and chant rubbish songs; really enter the spirit of things. I think I will be doing a combination of the above and, as I work from home, I think I will be having a lot of long lie ins to avoid the games! Above all fellow sufferers… GOOD LUCK!

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