Continental Disappointment


Cameroon and the other African teams have not seized the moment - Andy Mead/YCJ

It is incredible to think that after everyone has played two matches in the world cup, the European Super heavyweight contingency of France, England, Germany, Italy, and Spain have only two wins among them. That’s 2 wins out of 10 games. 11 points out of 30. If this was the Liga Mexicana, coaches would have been shown the door.

Other European teams have done well: Serbia handed Germany its first group defeat since the Z Cavaricci era. Usually at this point in the tournament, there are as many European teams assured of advancing as there were pleats in the said Cavariccis. As it stands, though, only Holland has a ticket. Denmark, Slovenia and Switzerland are in position to advance, as is Greece (albeit slim one for the Greeks). Portugal hung the equivalent of “half a hundred” on the North Koreans and the Dutch have hardly broken a sweat in their two wins.

So what gives? Everyone seems to have their theories. My position is that these teams have historically used the group stages as their warm-up because the tournament doesn’t really start for them until the knockout stages. However, the also-rans have improved throughout the world and aren’t the cannon fodder they once were. But doesn’t Okham’s Razor can provides us with the best explanation? They just aren’t playing very well. Outside of Germany’s 4-0 win over the Aussies in Durban, everything else has ranged from the spectacularly mundane (England) to colossally disastrous (France, Italy).

Most will probably sneak through, and if they manage to get a few wins in the knockouts, then all will be forgiven. The same can’t be said for the African teams, whose World Cup has been an unqualified calamity.

In the years leading up to the World Cup, I was convinced that in Africa’s first World Cup that the African teams were going take a leading role. I wasn't the only one. And when Africa’s most talented teams all qualified for the tournament, it seemed a certainty that one or more of these teams were going to go very deep. Some folks were even predicting that the World Cup would be lifted by an African team. But after two games, only one African team, Ghana, controls its own destiny to assure a ticket into the second stage. Another, Cameroon, has been eliminated. The rest depend on other teams to do their dirty work. Needless to say, the African teams have been a major disappointment, even more so than the lackluster efforts we have seen from the European juggernauts.

And then there is South America, who has yet to lose so far in the world cup. The South Americans have won 8 of their 10 games, with ties in the other two. Argentina, Brazil, and Chile have played some of the best footie of the tournament and have been rewarded with the full complement of points. Paraguay and Uruguay have also done well and should have no problem reaching the next round.

Could it be possible that Europeans will be outnumbered in the round of 16 for the first time in World Cup History?