Build up to Brazil 2014

October 4, 2012





Ken Masters



Speculation and prediction goes with the territory, even at this early stage. Early it may be but with only the group winners sure to qualify there is no such thing as a World Cup game with nothing on it.

It’s FIFA’s flag ship, so a periodic look at their official website is good for the latest news and takes. On Monday 17th of September we had an ‘Armadillo Alert’. The official World Cup 2014 mascot was introduced to the world.

The mascot was officially launched as part of Brazilian TV’s weekly ‘Fari entertainment show, where he was welcomed by Brazilian football legend Ronaldo.

“I’m delighted to welcome such an important member to the 2014 team,” said Ronaldo. “The mascot will play a key ambassadorial role in the next two years. I’m sure he will inspire many young football fans in Brazil and all over the world with the great passion which he has for the sport and for his country.”

Too true Ronaldo, after all World Cup Willy did it for us in 1966! Remember that song? Well look out for this one; the Official Mascot this time around also has his own official song, ‘Tatu Bom de Bola’, sung by Brazilian music star Arlindo Cruz. The Brazilian population will now have the chance to give the Official Mascot a name by taking part in a public voting campaign which will run up until the middle of November; following in the footsteps of the likes of Zakumi in South Africa in 2010, and of course the fore mentioned Willie himself. Things don’t change a lot in 50 years and who would bet against the host nation lifting the trophy as indeed England did all those years ago. Is it really 50? What about England this time around, then. Well, with two down and all to play for FIFA have already featured England on its website.

First up Frank Lampard with the view that, and I quote; “Team rebuilding will take time.” “It won’t always click straight away. This is international football and these are difficult games. But with young players, experienced players, it’s about trying to find the right blend. We can get excited about the win in Moldova, but you always have to keep your feet on the ground and understand it’s a process of getting to where we want to be.” That’s Frank, to the World Cup finals, past the group stage and further; too much to ask? I hope not.

Back to the present and we must congratulate Frank on his penalty. The midfielder held his nerve to score from the spot for the second successive match and move level with Bryan Robson on 26 goals for his country.

He said: “I am proud to equal Bryan Robson’s record but was more pleased to see it hit the back of the net to gain us a point really.”

Asked if he relishes penalties in that situation he said: “Difficult question; it is obviously great to get it to get us back in the game but ideally you wouldn’t have them in that sort of position.”

Quite so Frank, but very well done and here’s good luck with the next one.

I must say that I found the FIFA web site just a touch pessimistic about England’s chances of making it to Brazil. How about this for doubt?

“A return trip to Ukraine and two fixtures with Montenegro, a team England could only draw with twice in EURO 2012 qualification, plus a double header against Poland represents a tough challenge.”

Well it does but a challenge that can be met and overcome we trust.

FIFA report that England’s effort is focused on manager Hodgson finding the right blend. They observe that seeking to avoid the biennial raising and subsequent dashing of hopes with the ‘Golden Generation’, Roy Hodgson has sprinkled his Three Lions with youthful verve as the journey to Brazil 2014 begins.

FIFA report Hodgson as saying: “We are not totally reliant on the old guard. We do have young players coming through who can step up to the plate.”

The site goes on to say that the evolution will, of course, take time, and Hodgson had to thank a particular veteran after each of England’s Group H encounters. Frank Lampard, who first pulled on an England jersey in 1999, claimed the first two goals as Moldova were thrashed 5-0 in Chisinau and, more crucially, converted that late penalty to salvage the 1 -1 draw against Ukraine at Wembley.

The site does get more optimistic: “Having recently risen to third in the FIFA/Coca­Cola World Ranking and beaten EURO 2012 finalists Italy in an August friendly, Hodgson and the fans will be buoyed by the stamina being shown among the old stagers and the enthusiasm of the next generation. If the manager can find the perfect blend, England will be confident of reaching a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup.”

So, it’s down to the perfect blend then.

Come on England.




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