Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tuesday cup of coffee

A round up of recent news and events.

CSA press conference: No news is no news

I don't think we learned anything that was terribly interesting from yesterday's slightly ballyhooed CSA presser in Toronto. Stephen Hart was confirmed as full-time head coach (we more or less knew that already), and the CSA plans to host two friendly matches in fall (I'll believe it when I see it).

The 24th minute takes the NASL/TOA angle and worries about the present non-sanctioned state of the new league and potential problems for CONCACAF Champions League qualification should the Whitecaps or Impact win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, but I think its a bit premature to get into a panic about it. The USL-1 owners have played all the wrong cards so far, and I think the USSF is quite happy to see them punished for it.

World Cup loose ends

I have already filed a brief report of my thoughts on the World Cup draw. I'd not be half the blogger I claim to be if I didn't also make a set of irresponsible and incredibly premature predictions.

So, in that vein, the teams to advance will be:

Group A: Mexico, France
Group B: Argentina, Greece
Group C: England, USA
Group D: Germany, Ghana
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark
Group F: Italy, Paraguay
Group G: Brazil, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Honduras

Not really going out on a limb, except with the Honduras pick. Which I'd love to see. You'll notice I only have one African team advancing out of the group stage, and no Asian teams.

Frankly, I believe we always overrate the African sides. But the historical evidence is stacked against them:
  • Exactly 1 African team, Ghana, advanced past the group stage in '06 (no Asian teams),
  • Exactly 1 in '02, the surprising Senegal (only the 2 Asian hosts, Korea and Japan, made it through).
  • How many African sides advanced in '98? Exactly one, again. (No Asian teams either).
We'll come back to these predictions in 7 months time.

AZ report: Advocaat swoops in

Advocaat is a Dutch liqueur, made from egg yolks, sugar, and brandy. Dick Advocaat is the Belgium national coach.

Advocaat and Advocaat.

Both are currently in season: Advocaat goes well with a bit of whipped cream and spices, and is kind of like a Dutch egg nog. Dick Advocaat is in the news because he has taken on an interim job with my boys, AZ, who finally fired the rather incompetent yet still somehow employable Ronald Koeman. (This man ruined AZ's 2009-2010 campaign, as well as Ajax's 2004-05 season when I was living in Amsterdam.)

The homo sapiens Advocaat will take over at AZ after tomorrow Champions' League finale against Standard Liege. Which is in, of all places, Belgium. A win qualifies AZ for Europa League; any other result ends their European year. It might not be all bad if they are forced to focus on domestic results: they are currently 19 points behind leaders Twente, who are now in a two-horse race with PSV. Mounir el Hamdouai will likely be available as a substitute Wednesday, which should provide further punch to the sputtering AZ attack.

Democracy now!

It seems we've gone a while now in this country without an election, but if you're itching for some polling, don't fret. Vote for me (or anybody else: the actual best blog in the sports category is probably the Drunk Jays) in the Canadian blog awards. You can vote daily until Saturday, so please make the most of this opportunity.

Also, if you're registered on the Voyageurs forum, you can also vote for the Vs player of the year for 2009. On my ballot were, in order, Mike Klukowski, Will Johnson, and Atiba Hutchinson.

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