Mexico, Holland and Portugal

Angola deserves respect

The main objective of the Angolan football team was to come to Germany and earn respect. This they certainly did, despite falling behind to an early goal from Pauleta, Portugal’s highest ever scorer, after 4 minutes, converting a Figo pass. However Angola settled into the game and by the tenth minute could have scored twice, through Akwa and Mendonça. Portugal seemed bewitched by an Angolan team which played excellent football, passing the ball around the field and not being afraid to take on the Portuguese players.

The first half saw other chances by Akwa, who tried a bicycle kick for the second time, and Portugal’s Ronaldo, who hit the bar on 34’. Both Ricardos in goal pulled off some spectacular saves to keep the score as it was – Portugal’s Ricardo Pereira denying André and shortly afterwards, Angola’s João Ricardo blocking a sizzling shot from Ronaldo.

In the second half, more of the same, with Angola refusing to give up. Mantorras substituted the embattled Akwa after 60’ – an option to refresh the attack and Portugal put on Costinha for Cristiano Ronaldo, a defensive option, as Scolari decided to hold on to what he had. Angola then started to dominate the game for large spells, but always lacking the final killer touch.

Angola kept up the pressure, with Edson substituting Ze Kalanga after 70’, refreshing the midfield and Portugal replied by putting Maniche on for Petit. Ten minues later, both teams used up their last alternatives, with Oliveira Gonçalves trying to keep the motor running, substituting Figueiredo by Milloy, Scolari pulling off Tiago and sending on Hugo Viana.

The progress of this fantastic Angola team can be seen by analyzing the results in the last two games between these teams, namely 6-0 and 5-1 to Portugal, the last one being abandoned after Angola had three players sent off for violent conduct. This time Portugal was lucky that Angola entered the game without due concentration because it was not the best team on the field.

Classification of Group D

Mexico (3 goals scored, 1 against), 3 points; Portugal (1-0) 3; Angola (0-1) 0; Iran (1-3) 0

Mexico, in the end

Mexico finally imposed its organised game on a spirited Iranian side, which committed abominable defensive errors in the final quarter of an hour, gifting Mexico with two goals (Omar Bravo, 76’ and Zinha, 79’) after Bravo had scored on 28’ and Yahya Golmohammadi had equalized on 36’. Iran played on equal terms for half the game but with a defence like that…

Next games: 16th June – Mexico-Angola; 17th – Portugal-Iran and 21st- Portugal-Mexico and Iran-Angola

Holland beats Serbia-Montenegro

Arjen Robben scored the only goal of this tight contest after 18 minutes, after both teams had come close. Robben showed his danger twice more during the first half, as did Kezman and Koroman for Serbia-Montenegro, showing the Balkans team was far from beaten.

In the second half, Serbia-Montenegro took control of the game but Holland defended well and both teams showed, like Argentina and Ivory Coast the day before, that Group C is open for grabs, being the group in which nobody deserved to lose.

Argentina and Holland lead with three points, Ivory Coast and Serbia-Montenegro have 0 points. Next games:

16th – Argentina vs Serbia-Montenegro and Holland vs Ivory Coast and 21st Holland vs Argentina and Ivory Coast vs Serbia-Montenegro.



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey