Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 17: Uruguay 3, South Africa 0

You want goals? Uruguay becomes only the second team of the World Cup to score more than two goals in one game. (In fact, only the Netherlands, South Korea, and Brazil in addition to these two teams have scored twice.)

Granted one goal was against a depleted and dispirited South African side fairly late in the game. South Africa's goalkeeper was sent off, meaning the team had to play with ten players. (They do get to use their second goalkeeper but he has to sub in for another player.)

As mentioned several times, the first tiebreaker for advancing is goal differential, so that third goal is pretty big. Uruguay will go into their final match, against Mexico, needing only a tie to guarantee going through to the next round and would probably advance even if they lose, unless there is a big shellacking. Strange things can happen, though. In last year's Confederation Cup the United States lost to Brazil and Italy yet managed to go through to the semifinals based on goals scored when they beat Egypt 3-0 and Italy lost to Brazil.

While not mathematically eliminated, South Africa would need a lot of help to advance. It would have to beat France and get some combination of results in the other games. Since no host nation has ever failed to advance to the second round, this is a bit of a big story. It was kind of sad to see the crowds flooding the exit late in the game.Kudos to ESPN for actually showing this and the commentators for mentioning it. Will the host nation get behind another African nation? Or will the rest of the matches become more muted? Some teams will travel well and have international appeal, but if there were already empty seats for, say Greece and South Korea, will FIFA be embarrassed if the crowds wane? Brazil is scheduled to host the 2014 World Cup, and given that this is the first African hosted World Cup, it's not out of the question that issues might affect the thinking of future bids. There are nine nations bidding to host 2018 or 2022: Australia, England, Japan (seems unlikely given that they were cohosts in 2006), Qatar, Russia, South Korea (see note for Japan), and the United States. Joint bids have been made by Belgium/Netherland and Portugal/Spain.

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