Germany 2006 Day 14

Ghana 2-1 USA

Okay, so the USA went out. This was, I'll admit, quite a surprise. I guess the USA team found out just how annoying penalties are.

I was very disappointed at the ESPN team who went about three minutes after the final whistle before ripping into the players and the coaches and apportioning blame.

No blame is necessary. This is football. 22 men, green grass, and a ball.

The USA is the richest, most powerful nation on Earth. They have the world's most advanced training programmed, facilities, and some of the world's best coaches.

Ghana is so poor that its football governing body couldn't afford to pay the team members to go to the World Cup and, instead, their government stepped in and promised each player US$20,000 (an absolute fortune in Ghana) for each win.

Yet Ghana beat the USA and sent them out of the World Cup.

Population (USA: 292 million, Ghana: 20.47 million), size (USA:9,631,418 Sq Km Ghana: 239, 460 Sq Km), GDP (USA: US$37,600, Ghana: US$2,100). None of this matters. Ghana has a professional domestic football league, USA doesn't. Ghana is football crazy, USA isn't.

Ghana is through to the next round, USA isn't. Don't blame the coaches or the team. They fought hard. But the pure lack of interest back home was telling.

And, remember this:

For the USA, they must beat Ghana and Italy beat Czech Republic or beat Ghana and Czech Republic beat Italy with a combined +6 GAD or more to go through.
Had USA won, they'd have gone through:

Czech Republic 0-2 Italy

Well, Italy showed why they rank highly in the world when they slammed their way through to the second round with this very nice victory over Czech Republic. I guess that the Czech Republic being a man down for the second half didn't hurt either.

Japan 1-4 Brazil

What can I say? It's Brazil. Another team to go through with a full 9 points. Were you expecting anything less?

Croatia 2-2 Australia

Australia clinched their second round berth with this draw. That's the good news. The bad news is that they now have to face Italy.

Okay, four more:

Italy play Australia on the 26th, and Brazil play Ghana on the 27th.

Tomorrow brings Switzerland vs Korea, Togo vs France, Ukraine vs Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia vs Spain.

I'm predicting Switzerland, France, Ukraine, and Spain.

These matches conclude the group stage of the tournament, so on Saturday (Germany vs Sweden, and Argentina vs Mexico) we're down to sudden death. Win or go home.

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