Hello, you. It's the First XI World Cup bulletin!
Here's what's happening in windswept South Africa today:
Tuesday 15 June 2010
12:30 New Zealand v Slovakia, Rustenburg, BBC
15:00 Ivory Coast v Portugal, Port Elizabeth, ITV
19:30 North Korea v Brazil, Johannesburg, ITV
It's the day we've all been waiting for. Yes, that's right, it's finally here. It's New Zealand vs Slovakia! Can a country famous for rugby, Lord of the Rings and being far superior to Old Zealand triumph over Slovakia, the nation formerly known as the less inspiring half of Czechoslovakia? There's only one answer to that: probably not. Slovakia are ranked 34th in the world, New Zealand are 78th. Slovakia beat Russia in a play-off to qualify, New Zealand beat Bahrain. Slovakia have Lille's decent Róbert Vittek up front. New Zealand have Plymouth Argyle's rubbish Rory Fallon. Do you see a pattern emerging?
Portugal vs Ivory Coast is the sort of game about which an uninspired pundit might say "it's got 'draw' written all over it" Superstars Ronaldo and Drogba guarantee a dangerous attacking outlet for each side and the teams look fairly evenly matched all over the pitch. But. BUT! Portugal have never drawn at match at the World Cup. In a surprisingly low 12 all-time games at the finals they've won eight and lost four.
Brazil are slight favourites against North Korea.
On this day in 1974 Italy beat World Cup debutants Haiti 3-1. The Haitians held out for a draw until half time. Well done, Haitian World Cup side of 1974.
MATCH OF THE DAY 15:00, ITV
PORTUGAL V IVORY COAST
Group G. Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth. Capacity: 46,000
Our fondness for the Portuguese side that dumped England out of both Euro 2004 and Germany 2006 remains minuscule. So what better reason to skive off work than watching The Elephants, led by human battering ram Didier Drogba, make an aggressive stab at 2006’s semi-finalists Portugal? Go on, watching the Toure brothers nobble Ronaldo will be a bit like sticking a knitting needle down a plaster cast to reach an itch. Plus it’ll also be a surreal relief watching Sven-Goran Eriksson holding court in a non-FA blazer. It took five years and a seven-figure cheque to get him to go away. Enjoy.
PLAYER TO WATCH
RORY FALLON (above)
A slice of Devon rolls into Rustenburg this afternoon in the shape of the 6ft 2in Plymouth Argyle forward who sent New Zealand to the World Cup by scoring in the second leg of their play-off against Bahrain. And since The Pilgrims have just been relegated, the 28-year-old will be looking to use the big stage to secure a move away from League 1. But the pressure’s on. And he's not very good. So it should be amusing to watch. One blogger called Fallon a “jumped up little twat” after he moaned about having to travel in Premium Economy with the All Whites. What price redemption against a stern Slovakian defence?
TV PUNDITS MAKING IDIOTS OUT OF THEMSELVES
Emmanuel Adebayor forgets to turn his phone off:
Graeme Souness with an extremely poor choice of words:
YESTERDAY'S QUIZ ANSWERS: 1 1958. 2 Scotland, with eight (1954-1958, 1974-1990, 1998). 3 Rooney, Lampard, Crouch, Gerrard, Defoe, Walcott. 4 Slovenia, France, Portugal, Greece. 5 Vittorio Pozzo, Italy 1934 and 1938.
MATCH OF THE DAY 2
MISS PORTUGAL vs MISS IVORY COAST
Who's hotter? Cast your votes in the comments box below.
It's Portugal's Catarina Gouveia. If I told you she supported Benfica would you believe me? You would be wrong not to.
Representing Ivory Coast:
It's only bloody Rosine Gnago. She done won Miss Ivory Coast 2009
More Vuvuzela LOLs.
Check back at 11 for tomorrow for the next First 11 World Cup Bulletin.