10 Things We Learned From Confederations Cup 2009

29 06 2009

The 2009 Confederations Cup was a nice little preview of World Cup 2010. Here’s what we learned:

1. Cold weather = High tempo
June in South Africa is pretty cold. The heat and humidity that usually slows down summer tournaments was absent. A few players had to wear gloves and Dani Alves wrapped half a bear around his neck. But the huge upside was the high tempo of the games, which wouldn’t be possible in other countries at this time of year. If that doesn’t get you excited for World Cup 2010 then I can’t help you.

2. The Confederations Cup is a legit tournament
Chris and myself have disagreed about this, and still do. He sees the Confed Cup as barely a notch above a friendly, I see it as pretty close to the real deal. The truth is probably somewhere inbetween. But because I’m writing this post, I’m going to point to the way Brazil celebrated winning this tournament.

3. Attendances will be fine
Mistakes were made and some seats went unfilled. Mostly because the cheapest ticket was three times the cost of a South African Premier Soccer League game and because no one really wanted to see Iraq vs New Zealand. But the good news is that average attendances were around 36 to 37,000 and that’s without the invasion of foreign fans that will happen next summer.

4. Spain are not unbeatable
La Furia Roja are still an excellent football team. But – as the USA proved – they can be beaten. This makes World Cup 2010 that little bit more open.

5. South Africa aren’t half bad
OK, so Group A was easy. But Bafana Bafana got out of it and gave Brazil a scare in the semis. The fears about the 2010 host nation being incapable of competing can be put aside for now.

6. Luis Fabiano is the real deal
Those who only know the big names might not have recognized the Seville striker. Not everyone who wears the Seleção #9 can be as famous as Ronaldo. But Luis Fabiano led the line more or less solo and still finished the tournament as top scorer with five goals.

7. USA are better than most people thought (including themselves)
It started badly, but at least two countries – Spain and Brazil – will be a little more wary of the United States in future. And the performances of Landon Donovan and Oguchi Onyewu could yet secure them moves tho big European teams (with all due respect to Standard Liege).

8. New Zealand are not, and Oceania’s got to go
Hate to say it, but the presence of Oceania seriously dilutes the standard of both the Confederations Cup and the Club World Cup. Time for Oceania to be absorbed by Asia I think.

9. Italy need to click refresh
You can’t take your 2006 players to a 2009 tournament and expect to win. Young Beppe Rossi proved that the Azzurri have young talent that’s ready to play. Marcello Lippi needs to let that happen.

10. Four syllables: Vu – vu – ze – la
Whether you wish death to the vuvuzela or have learned to live with them, the air horns will be a huge part of the World Cup next summer. But here’s hoping we don’t spend the next twelve months talking about how they sound like a swarm of bees etcetera. Because the only thing more annoying than the sound of the vuvuzela, is the sound of someone complaining about it.

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