Monday, May 15, 2006


Today, May 15, was the deadline for the nations that qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2006 to submit their final squad list to FIFA and the organizing committee. Most teams announced their squads for the benefit of the football fraternity and the world at large, but some are still to do so. FIFA will publish all of the squad lists on February 18. Most managers have gone with the teams that were expected to be named, but there have been some surprises.
France, for example, has chosen not to go with Robert Pires, following a season where he spent a great deal of time on the Arsenal subs bench. A tragedy for the 'veteran,' who spent the 1998 World Cup looking on from the sidelines, and then missed the 2002 edition due to an unfortunate injury, at the height of his powers. Alas, the talented Frenchman has lost what appears to be his final opportunity to shine on the greatest stage of all.
Spain, somewhat surprisingly, have left out the experience but somewhat out-of-form veterans Fernando Morientes and Ruben Baraja. David Albelda has retained his place in the squad but is likely to be third choice for the central midfield role, behind Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas. Iniesta has been given a chance to display his talents as well.
The only real surprise in the Swiss squad was the exclusion of Hakan Yakin, the playmaker who has returned to the form that made him arguably the greatest Swiss player ever. On the goakeeping front, with Jorg Stiel now out of the way, Euro 2004 understudy Pascal Zuberbuhler has been handed the gloves.
Back to France, Dhorasoo and Chimbonda have been named in the squad in addition to the regulars. No real surprises in the Japanese and Croatian squads, except for Aston Villa fans, who will be dismayed to learn that Bosko Balaban has been in fine form since leaving the club a few years ago and has hence become a key member of a rising Croatian squad.
The Brazilians have gone as expected, the closest thing to a surprise being the inclusion of an in-form Fred (Lyon).
The Americans haven't gone for too many changes to the usual team, except for bringing in Chris Albright in place of the injured ex-Leverkusen player Frankie Hejduk. The main surprise, though, is that Tim Howard has been handed the number one jersey ahead of the in-form Kasey Keller. It seems likely that Keller's age and Howard's Manchester United stamp played an important part in this selection Elsewhere, Ghana has included three players who have come out of retirement after 8 years, including Stephen Appiah (Fenerbahce) and Eric Addo (PSV), and the Czechs have named a squad almost identical to the Euro 2004 one, inspite of some players being injured and Milan Baros' lack of form.
Mexico coach Ricardo Lavolpe has created some controversy with his selections. He has left out a few talented young players and also the veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco, widely regarded as the country's greatest ever player. The ones to profit include 37- year old defender Claudio Suarez and Lavolpe's son-in-law Rafael Garcia, along with foreign- born talents such as Naelson and Guillermo Franco (the much-maligned Villareal 'striker').
Angola coach Goncalves has named the expected squad, the sole ecxeption being the uncapped goalkeeper Mario. Serbia- Montenegro has also gone with the expected, with Basel's Ivan Ergic being called up to the national team for the first time.
In the Dutch squad, Seedorf, inspite of a slight resurgence in form for Milan, remains out of Marco van Basten's squad. Andy van der Meyde paid the price for leavin Ajax 2 years ago and then going to Inter and Everton by losing his place in the national team. Roy Makaay was another surprise exclusion from the squad.
Argentina is yet to announce the full squad, but we know for sure that Gabriel Heinze and Lionel Messi, neither completely fit yet, are in the squad and are likely to start for the team as well.
Sven Goran eriksson named four strikers in his squad, of which 2 (Owen and Rooney) are recovering from injury and one is an untested 17- year old (Theo Walcott). The fourth striker is Crouch, with Defoe and Andy Johnson named as backups. Darren Bent, the highest scoring English striker this season, hasn't been considered, presumably due to his lack of pedigree. Some are surprised that Owen Hargreaves, injured most of the season, has regained his place in the England squad, and also that talented youngster Aaron Lennon has burst into the squad. The expected selection of Scott Parker as a possibilty for the holding role never came up, with Gerrard, Jenas and Carrick likely to be used in that role at various stages of the tournament. Robert Green has managed to keep his place as third-choice keeper. A somewhat surprising squad, but it may be likely that Sven has decided to focus on youth and pace, and also hope that the newcomers may make the same impact that Owen made at France 98 and Rooney at Euro 2004.
Germany has left out Kevin Kuranyi (he has been named among the backup players). Instead, veteran Neuville has been recalled along with Gerald Asamoah, with David Odonkor being a surprise inclusion. In midfield, veteran Bernd Schneider has kept his place, as have talented youngsters Hitzlsperger and Tim Borowski, but veterans Paul Freier and Fabian Ernst are going to be backups.
No surprises elsewhere, with teams such as the Czech Republic and Ukraine choosing to retain their star players still recovering from injury. Previews for the eight groups to start next week.

In other news, rumours are beginning to circulate that Juventus may be relegated to Serie B if allegations of referee- fixing are proven. While these rumours seem almost impossible, they aren't without precedent, with Milan and Lazio being relegated in 1979- 80 in a match- fixing scandal. If such an event occurs, Milan wins the Scudetto. However, with Milan and Firentina now also accused of such charges, the title could somehow end up at Inter. This all seems too far- fetched, though. In this commercial age, few football associations would relegate their most glamorous clubs. Some monetary penalty is more likely to be imposed if, by some tragedy, the allegations are found to be true.
Comments are invited.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home