the study of all things kicker related

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Knockout Goals: Paraguay & Spain

In the only match so far in this year's World Cup to go to a penalty shootout, Paraguay prevailed over Japan. They became the fourth South American team to advance to the quarterfinals. The last quarterfinal spot was secured by Spain as they won the battle of the Iberian peninsula over Portugal.

Paraguay 0(5)-0(3) Japan
All five Paraguayans hit their penalty shot, beginning with Edgar Barreto.
"To be fair we tried to play football for the whole 120 minutes, but we couldn't find the net. What's left at the end of the game, however, is a huge sense of joy for making the next round. It's really pleasing to be able to make history with this squad."
"What we are achieving is for [Salvador Cabanas]. We called him from our room last week, and we'll continue to do so. He's always with us in spirit. We have good news in that he's in his second recuperation stage and he's doing well."
"We come from a poor country and we feel a very strong need to do it proud."
“Thank god we got through, Paraguay have never gone so far. We are all very happy, me because I scored the penalty and got it in, thank God. It was a very difficult match because Japan too have very good players."
Yuichi Komano hit the crossbar on Japan's third penalty try.

Spain 1-0 Portugal
"It was one of my best goals because it got us through to the next round. I am very happy for the win, although we suffered a lot. We deserved to win, though, so I believe the result is fair. Individually, they have two excellent central defenders, but luckily we were able to take one of our chances....
My aim is to keep scoring like this, especially in the big matches, so we can advance through the tournament. I thank the fans for their support. We have kept on improving as a side after the loss to Switzerland in the opening match."
"Every rival up to now has played back to shut us down and a game like Switzerland can get away from you, but our results over the past years have shown that we know how to be successful. We suffered a lot against these teams that decided to play us at the back, but you have to have patience and adapt your style. But there was never any fear - 99 percent of the time our style of play means victory."


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Knockout Goals: Netherlands & Brazil

In the 1994 World Cup, Brazil and the Netherlands met in the quarterfinals. Brazil won a memorable match 3-2. In 1998, the two teams again played, this time in the semifinals. Brazil again won, 4-2 on penalty kicks after the teams drew 1-1. The teams will play once again this year in the quarterfinals, after both won their Group of 16 matches yesterday. Both wins were nearly clean sheets, except for a penalty kick by Slovakia at the very end of stoppage time.

Netherlands 2-1 Slovakia
"That was nice today. If you're at the World Cup it should be fun. We didn't play our best match today but the important thing is that we advanced. For me personally it was a great experience to be back on the pitch again from the first minute and to be decisive for the team. It was a great feeling if you can do it in the first game, straight away."
"It is obvious what [Robben]'s worth as a player. We needed him today."
"We’re going home proud and with our heads held high. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, not just today, but from the first to the last match. We’re winners to the people of Slovakia, and I hope we feel able to celebrate. I’m personally pleased because I’ve shown the world I have goals in me."

Brazil 3-0 Chile
Juan opened the scoring with a header off a corner kick.
"Today the national team really showed an evolution. We managed to play comfortably, touching the ball, creating counterattacks just the way we like....
Everyone is celebrating. It's another step, another difficult match that we have overcome, a very good feeling for someone like me who has never played a World Cup....
[The Dutch] are another strong team, another team with great quality, but Brazil is increasingly ready."
"I am happy that my contribution tonight was to the benefit of the team. My intention has always been to see Brazil doing well in this competition more than me seeking personal glory. If I can be the tournaments best player it will be fine and I will be excited but right now my priority is on the team. You could see that throughout this game tonight and the others that we have played before that I was always concentrating on the team. I am not going to chase personal glory at the expense of the team."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Knockout Goals: Germany & Argentina

Germany won the battle of the Old World over England. Argentina took New World honors over Mexico. The winners will face off in match featuring two clubs with plenty of history. The Germans have have appeared in 17 World Cups and won three times. The Argentinians have appeared in 15 World Cups and won twice.

Germany 4-1 England
"We were aggressive from the first minute, unlike in the Ghana game [which Germany won 1-0]. The win was highly deserved. We have always said our goal is the semi-finals at least. That's what we want to reach."
"In the knockout stages, Germany is always there. We fought and ran a lot, just fantastic today."
"I thought the first goal [by Germany], the ball took a kind of bizarre sail in the air and carried further than we all anticipated. The second goal was really good movement by them. They passed some great one touch balls....
I thought we came back really well in the game, showed some real character, and should have gone in at half time at 2-2. We came out in the second half and for the first 15-20 minutes had control of the game and pressed to score. It was that eagerness to get the goal that led us to being a bit open....
All I can say is that you have 11 players go out there and give 100 per cent and we weren't good enough to get the result. I can't explain the performances, I don't think they have been as bad as people are talking about but that’s just my opinion."
"Against England you'll give up goal chances at some point. They have so many good players. We had some luck and took the lead. After we went 3-1 up, we improved and the match was soon over after that. Now anything is possible, even if there is a tough nut waiting for us. But that doesn't matter, we just have to clean the way. This result is madness."

Argentina 3-1 Mexico
"[Messi]'s going to get it in. We know that he's the best player in the world and we have no doubt that he will get it in."
"Esta experiencia sirve, pero hay cosas que no puedes cambiar, como el sentimiento de frustración que nos queda por la eliminación."
"Yes, they were two important goals. Luckily I opened the scoring. I'm happy. You have to enjoy this victory - it wasn't easy to beat Mexico. This was an important step. We're in the quarter finals and that's what matters - that we played well....
The Argentine people are enjoying this World Cup and have every right to be celebrating. Now we have to relax a little ahead of going up against the Germans in the quarter-finals, four years after losing to them."



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Knockout Goals: Uruguay & Ghana

Uruguay has now advanced to the final eight for the first time since their title runs of 1950 and 1930. There they will face Ghana, who has now advanced one step farther than they did in 2006,  their only previous World Cup appearance. South Korea and the USA head home to ponder what could have been and to start planning for 2014.

Uruguay 2-1 South Korea
"We had to pull ourselves together after the equalizer. It was a great feeling to score the winning goal. It was a good shot, but a bit lucky."
Lee Chung-Yong scored the equalizer for South Korea.
"I didn't realise the ball was going to end up in the net. In moments like this all you want to do is enjoy them. I can't explain my happiness because I have always dreamed about this moment. At 1-1 we were scared because Korea were playing well. But then they stepped off the gas and we became stronger....
All I want now is to celebrate. I dedicate this win to all the Uruguay fans and my family. I can imagine what it will be like back home. Everyone will be so happy and they deserve it."
"What came to mind is the people, my wife, my daughter, they are always behind me. And also to the people of Uruguay. They have backed us in the good times and the bad times....
We have been dreaming since this tournament started. Some teams start out as favorites. My side is ready to fight hard for wonderful things. We have to live the emotions and what we are feeling in every match."

Ghana 2-1 USA
"Ghana is the standard-bearer for the whole continent."
"We were a little naive and at this level you can't do that. It is frustrating considering all the work we have put in, it just sucks man."
"We were strong and we fought very hard. That makes it difficult for our opponent and it makes them fear us. That was one of our targets, to make the USA fear us, and it worked."
"We have done this before, we did it in 2006, but now we have advanced one step higher. I'm very, very happy. I'm the happiest man in the world. We have made everybody proud, not Ghana alone, but the whole of Africa."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Advancing Goals: Groups G & H

The standings in Group G remained unchanged following the final matches, with drawees Brazil in first and Portugal in second. Although Ivory Coast won, they came up well short of the ten or so goals they needed to keep their microscopically thin chances alive. Despite having lost their first game, Spain still manged to win Group H. Chile slipped to second. Switzerland was certainly still alive heading into their game, but was not after a scoreless tie with Honduras.

Brazil 0-0 Portugal
"Brazil played very well early on, but after some early domination we came back into the match and controlled the game, attacking whenever we had possession. The players did extremely well. A draw is a just result....
We were looking to qualify for the round of 16. We knew Brazil were already qualified. We had the goal difference advantage of nine goals over Ivory Coast. So now we concentrate on the next round and how far we can go."
"No, we are not happy. Brazil always plays to win and we tried to attack until the end. Portugal didn't want to attack, they wanted to defend. My team is always ready to go forward and that was the case today. The Portuguese team defended from midfield backwards. It made it difficult to penetrate their defense."

Ivory Coast 3-0 North Korea
"I think we had better preparation first. We knew more what we were doing on the pitch when we went out and so we had better organization. And as a team, we have grown up from the past World Cup. If we keep working hard, one day we will be at the top. You don't start at the top, you always have to work hard to get there....
We ended on four points. We only lost to Brazil, so you know we are not too sad. In football you can lose against better teams or win against better teams, you can only do your best, which we did."

Switzerland 0-0 Honduras
"It took us a very long time to find our game and Honduras created chances before us. We then had chances of our own, but we didn't deserve to qualify because we didn't score. The disappointment tonight hurts a lot, because after our opening victory against Spain we had high hopes. Now we will go home and all we can do is concentrate on the future, on the Euro 2012 qualifiers."
"They really showed courage and brought everything they had. We shouldn't have waited until the last match to show our talents, we should have done it in the first one."

Spain 2-1 Chile
"After losing against Switzerland we knew it was going to be tough. We were cruising at 2-0 today but they shocked us a bit when they made it 2-1. But the result was good enough for both teams. We've lifted a weight off our shoulders. We were focused and went into the game determined to win. Football has been a bit unfair on us given the way we play, but you gain strength from adversity and we're first in the group. I want to keep scoring goals and helping the team."
"When it comes to the style, the way of playing, this is a World Cup and we're going to try and do the best we can, even though sometimes a rival makes it complicated for you and you have to change your way. The most important thing will be to play a complete game against Portugal....
We'd all love to play beautifully and score five goals a game, but that doesn't always happen. There are good moments and difficult moments. This is football, this is the World Cup and games are played at a high level so we have to be happy."
"I'm pleased to have got the goal and I think we deserved to qualify after what we did in our other games. We've achieved our first objective which was to reach the last 16, but we're not planning to rest on our laurels. Today's game was very strange but it was very even while it was 11 versus 11."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Advancing Goals: Groups E & F

Paraguay held on to win Group F with a scoreless game. The draw was New Zealand's third in as many games, but was not enough to advance. Slovakia's win gave them second place in the group and sent the defending champion Italians back home. Heading into their game, the Netherlands had already clinched Group E and Cameroon had already failed to advance. In a game of far more consequence, Japan free kicked their way over Denmark to a spot on the Group of 16.

Slovakia 3-2 Italy
"This is a huge win. We've pushed the boundaries of Slovakian football. We never would have dared dream of this. I'm overjoyed. We proved that we're capable of great things. My individual performance doesn't matter; only the performance of the team counts."
"The coach called me over, and asked me to invent something. I did my best, but my dream of a lifetime - and of my career - is over."

Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand
"We're very happy to have qualified but it was a very difficult game. The game got boring because they were so defensive. In a game like this you expect to win but the important thing is we qualified."

Netherlands 2-1 Cameroon
"It is always good to score. In the previous two games I didn't reach my level. Today I did. I played well, that is what I am most satisfied about."
"There's no point blaming one person or another. We have to focus on the future, and we don't have much time to build it."

Japan 3-1 Denmark
"[Honda] told me before the match, 'I will score a goal and you have to score another after you are sent in,'"
"I know this is a really big win for Japan. I expected to be really jubilant but I'm not as jubilant as I thought I would be because I don't think we are finished here. I believe we can go further in this competition. The team as a whole is becoming a team that can continue in the tournament."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Advancing Goals: Groups C & D

The tight Group C race wasn't decided until today's final two games. England advanced with their relatively early (23') goal. The USA advanced with their very late (91') goal. Ghana and Germany entered their game atop Group D, and remained so afterward; however, they switched spots with Germany's win moving them into first place and dropping Ghana to second place. Algeria, Slovenia, Serbia, and Australia head home.

USA 1-0 Algeria
"I've been through a lot in the last four years. I'm so glad it culminated this way. When you try to do things the right way, it's good to get rewarded.
Clint [Dempsey] made a good run in the middle, the ball fell to me ... time kind of stopped. You can't miss from there.
We're not done yet. We believe, man. We're alive, baby."
"The moment kind of slowed down for me. It was as much a reaction as anything. I kind of hesitated. I didn’t know if he was going to play it across the goal or try to cut it back to me. Once he played it in front of the goal, I didn’t sprint, but I kept my run going and once it popped off the goalie, then I picked up a little to get there."

England 1-0 Slovenia
"I'm lost for words, what a moment. As a young lad, you dream about doing it one day. I was focused before the game and we won, which is the most important thing. At the end of the day it was a must-win game, a cup final. You approach the game differently. The lads were fired up, we said in the changing rooms to set the tempo, put them under pressure and we started to pass it after the goal went in. It was brilliant....
I had an early chance in the second half, I was disappointed because I should have done better. But we won the game and I'm delighted....
The belief has always been there. At this level it's always going to be difficult. Look at the other games, the top teams have struggled. It's important to keep the spirit, which we have done and that showed."

Australia 2-1 Serbia
"A lot of respect for the lads. We've been through some hard times here. I'm just buzzing to hit the back of the net because this time last week my World Cup was over....
You see guys who will play their hearts out and run all day and then others come on and do the same thing. We have a team that works together and the team is fantastic."
"Normally, I would have passed it but it was one of those things with this ball and this World Cup. If you shoot from anywhere it can go all over the place. Lucky I connected well and I hit the back of the net. It was a good feeling. I am still letting all this sink in. Just to be a part of the World Cup was my goal. Now that this is over I will sit down and write down what my goals are for the next four years and we will go from there....
When you look back and you beat a good Serbia side and draw with Ghana when you have 10- men for 70 minutes, you look at Germany and say we let ourselves down a little bit there. But I think there is something we can look back and be proud of ourselves. We fought and showed what qualities we do have and the spirit we have.”
"We are totally frustrated. I have no words to describe the feeling. Our big mistake was to not take the chances we made in the first half."

Germany 1-0 Ghana
"I simply shot the ball, but I should have scored in the first half too. I had a lot of support from my team-mates. It doesn’t matter whom we play next, we have to keep winning."
"It’s going to be really difficult against England. They are clearly stronger than Ghana and they will give us a harder game. But we are extremely strong and if we can play with our strongest team then I’m sure that we will win this match."

Advancing Goals: Groups A & B

World Cup 2010 play is over for Greece.  The same is true for Nigeria and host nation South Africa, although both came tantalizingly close to advancing. France will be headed home to... a less than adoring reception. But enough of the bad news. Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina and South Korea have advanced from Groups A and B to the Round of 16. The goal scorers from yesterday's games commented as follows:

South Africa 2-1 France
"It's a bittersweet moment, we really had a good chance to win it, but it wasn't meant to be. We got four points, which is respectable...
[At halftime coach Parreir] just mentioned that we should remain calm and not rush when we were going forward. Just play patiently and go forward."
"The fighting spirit was there. It’s a bit unfortunate, but we beat France in the World Cup."
"We didn't have the right attitude to get beyond the group stage. I would like to apologise on behalf of all the players. There's a lot of tension in the squad, which isn't ideal for preparing for an important game. We lost our chance to qualify long before today. It's been difficult within the squad. We're not proud of what we've done. I don't know what we'll have to do to earn forgiveness."

Uruguay 1-0 Mexico
"We knew we had two results that benefited us. But before the match our goal was to get the three points and be group leaders. Luckily we reached our first goal, which was to advance from the first round."

Argentina 2-0 Greece
"For a central defender, helping out in the offensive side is important, beautiful, more so at the World Cup and more for the error against South Korea. I was able to get my head to it ahead of the defender and when it rebounded from Diego [Milito] it fell to my left leg. I've scored with my feet before but never with the left....
Our greatest virtue was patience, but we were in command and we had chances to score, the goals just took a while to come. Argentina is on the right track, we're strong, generating scoring chances and we must stay calm."
"I'm so happy. Scoring that goal was the best thing that's ever happened to me. It was priceless. I never thought I'd score because I only came on for the last ten minutes and it was a really tight game (but) thankfully God was there to give me a helping hand again though."

South Korea 2-2 Nigeria
Kalu Uche and Yakubu Aiyegbeni scored for Nigeria, however I have yet to find any post game quotes from either. In lieu thereof, we turn to the team's coach...
"I never knew Nigeria would be sent home this early, we were already thinking ahead of the next match because we were poised to do everything within our reach, but the miss by Yak was very bad. I don’t know why he had to hit the ball the way he did because the ball was already in front of goal. The Korean goalkeeper was nowhere to be found. What I thought he would have done was to just put the ball in the empty net, but he messed up the chance. The miss was really a terrible one which I have never seen in my life."
"I don’t remember how I scored that goal. Everything was so hectic I can’t recollect how it all happened. I’ll have to see the replay again. I really did not expect to score a goal but it’s a relief that all of the set-piece training where I scored goals through headers came in handy....
Playing in an offensive position for a long time has helped me score goals even as a defender."
"So lucky to have scored the second Korean goal of the night. It’s great to beat one of the best keepers in this tournament. He didn’t get a good view because there were so many players inside the area. I am really happy tonight and this day is memorable."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Global Goals, part 4

While quite a few teams garnered wins during the second half of the second round of World Cup matches, two teams from the same corner of the world achieved impressive draws. The Aussies did so with only ten men, and the Kiwis did so against the defending champions. At the other end of the scoreboard spectrum, the Portuguese showed little interest in drawing their match. As always, we get a snapshot of the games from those that put the points on the board:

Denmark 2-1 Cameroon
"All my season was focused to be ready for this World Cup. It's the only thing I could think about. It's hard. It's not normal for us to finish last. But there will be other days. They played better than us in the match. It's that simple....
I want to finish with dignity in the last game. That is very important."
"They didn't take their chances and we did, and I think that was the key. But in the World Cup, three points counts, and nothing else."
“It was a tough game until the last minute. We had a terrible start. But we created a lot of chances in the second half, when it became a more open game.”

Ghana 1-1 Australia
"It's a great dream just to be here and then to actually score is something I will never forget....
You try and do your best and give everything, like every other Australian has been brought up to do, and that is what I do and I go in with the same confidence and belief that I can do a job. I try to play with a lot of energy and make a lot of runs and just doing a lot of dirty work as well for the other players and supporting the strikers."
"We should have won this game. Once Australia were down a man we should have scored.... We are looking forward to the last game with Germany and we are hoping Ghana qualify."

Paraguay 2-0 Slovakia
"It means so much to me to have scored at a World Cup, and to be honest I never ever imagined it. The most unbelievable thing is I didn't even see it hit the net. I managed to get a touch on the ball and heard the crowd roar, which is how I realized I'd scored."
"Nelson, Roque and Lucas did a spectacular job and made things easier for us midfielders. They fight, scrap, create spaces and give us the chance to steal in unmarked. In my case the goal came during a move involving another striker, [Oscar] Cardozo. What they [the forwards] do for the team is really important."

New Zealand 1-1 Italy
"It's an absolute dream. We've got the underdog tag and we are happy to keep it that way, but obviously we are turning a few heads at the moment....
As soon as the ball hit the back of the net I had a quick look around and the ref wasn't blowing up for anything so I was really excited. I couldn't have written the script any better, scoring a goal. I'm really pleased and it was a lot of hard work that's just all paying off at the moment."
"We’ve got to keep our heads up and move on."

Brazil 3-1 Ivory Coast
"I knew it was going to happen. I had been trying and I knew that I had to keep insisting. The ball would eventually get in.... It's true, the ball really touched my hand and then my shoulder. But it was involuntary. It was one of the greatest goals I've scored in my career."
"I’m not depressed. I’m disappointed because we could have been a bit more ambitious and come out a little bit and created a few more problems for them."

Portugal 7-0 North Korea
"I am very happy about our victory. Nobody would have expected this result. For us, this means a big step towards the next stage. I am very happy that I could help my team with my goal. For a striker it is always a nice thing when he scores."
"To score six goals in 45 minutes I think is fantastic. The most important thing was getting the three points. (But) we played good football. We're happy for that as much as for scoring a lot of goals. We've done that and we're happy, now we start to think about playing Brazil and looking to finish first in the group."
"My goal was funny but I’m very happy. Goals are always goals. To score seven goals in a World Cup game is not easy. I must mention my team, we played fantastic. I gave Tiago the man-of-the-match award because he was our best player. It was the right thing to do. This Portugal team believes in itself."


Chile 1-0 Switzerland
"This is for my family and for all the people who have supported us in Chile. This was a great moment for me and for our team. We are in a good position, and we have one more game to prove ourselves even more."

Spain 2-0 Honduras
"We're happy with the way we played. We won and did it in a convincing way; we attacked a lot, had most of the possession. We played well the other day too, but just didn't get the rub of the green....
We scored twice today, but we also missed loads of chances. Our fate is in our own hands against Chile now: if we win, we go through to the next round."

Monday, June 21, 2010

CIFL Championship: Tony Smidl vs. Travis Johnson

This Saturday the Continental Indoor Football League will determine its 2010 champion. Not surprisingly, the anticipated key match-up of the game is at the kicker position.

Wisconsin Wolfpack (8-2), Tony Smidl
Regular season statistics:
3-12 FG, 20-33 PAT, 1-2 rushing conversions, 0-1 passing conversions


In recent years, Tony Smidl began working with former NFLers and current NCSers Louie Aguiar and Michael Husted.
"Everything really started to come together in 2007. I really began focusing on my kicking and became a student of the game....
I've always been known for height, not distance. Since I started playing arena, I've probably been kicking the ball five or ten yards further....
I plan on driving back to Madison for every game. I'm committed to the Wolfpack and want to win a championship. I'm willing to drive five hours every Saturday to get it done."
Cincinnati Commandos (9-1), Travis Johnson
Regular season statistics:
1-13 FG, 38-47 PAT, 0-2 rushing conversions, 0-1 passing conversions


Travis Johnson has worn many hats and shoes recently. Not only is he the Commandos kicker, he is also the team's general manager. While playing for the Kings Comets late last year, he was  named MVP of the 2009 Mid-Continental Football League Championship Game, after hitting three FGs, including the 48 yards game winner with 2:33 remaining.
“You’re either a goat or you’re a hero. You’re either going to be the guy everybody hates or everybody likes. I’m lucky we were a winner....
Earlier the wind had been blowing that way, and it’s 30 degrees outside. That’s not what I would call ideal kicking situations. I said we could get closer- it was only a foot, but oh well.”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Global Goals, part 3

With half the teams having played their second match in South Africa, we again check in on the goal scorers.

Uruguay 3-0 South Africa
"Obviously, as a forward I like to score goals, but the important thing is to win. The team is good. We also played well against France. We're very solid."

Greece 2-1 Nigeria
"We are really disappointed and we still have another game to try and fix this. We will have to see the last game, we need to win and see how it goes from there."
"We badly wanted this, because we’d never even scored a goal in the World Cup before. I can’t say whether we’ll make it out of the group. But I can say that we’ll leave with our heads held high."
"I don't care what happens now. I'm just delighted for the team, and for the fans who never stopped believing in us."

Argentina 4-1 South Korea
"It's not important. We lost to Argentina but there's no huge obstacle to get to the last 16. We're going to forget about the loss and get ready for Nigeria."
"I knew I was getting chances, but I needed to convert them. Luckily, those that didn't go in against Nigeria went in today. It was a nice challenge to score goals. It's what a striker lives for."

Mexico 2-0 France
"I remembered my grandfather in the locker room. I haven't spoken to my family yet, they're my main motivation. Thank God I could score. More importantly, we could win against a team we hadn't been able to beat in a long time."
"Le doy gracias a Dios y a toda la gente por su apoyo; esperemos llegar muy lejos en este Mundial."

Serbia 1-0 Germany
"The second half was not 45 minutes, it was like two years for us. We beat Germany after 37 years, and it's something real big for us."

Slovenia 2-2 USA
Valter Birsa:
"We learned to make sure we don't finish before the game finishes. We must not allow ourselves to get it into our head that we have won the game. You have to be more clinical and wait for the possibility to score. In the first half we played well, we tried to score. In the second half we had 2-0 but the Americans changed their system. It should not have been so difficult but in our heads everything was going down, down, because they scored very quickly and that made it very difficult for us." 
"As I looked up my first thought was to pass the ball. At the end I decided to take a touch and aim high, aim at his head – and I don't think he wanted to get hit from there. I felt relief because I knew at that point we had a chance to tie or even win."
"We weren't happy with the way that we played in the first half, and so we just said to each other, that's done, but now we've got 45 minutes to turn it around. We pushed the game hard. We closed them down, we pressed, we played balls forward, we ran, tackled, fought. The commitment from every guy to just keep going until the end was great."

Netherlands 1-0 Japan
"What you need is a bit of luck. We knew it would be a difficult match. I hit the ball well but it did some strange things. I'm happy it went in."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Global Goals, part 2

With all teams having completed their first match, we hear from more players that scored for their country.

Paraguay 1-1 Italy
Antolin Alcaraz:
"It's the most beautiful day of my life."
Daniele De Rossi:
"It was a good game the way we played. We didn't give away much. On their first goal I was distracted as it was my responsibility to mark him, and we were angry, I was angry," he told Sky Sport Italia. They were aggressive and we were not that great in the final third and you pay for it at this level....
Sometimes you can win a match you can lose it, or you can end the match at 1-1 like today. We knew that Paraguay was a good team. It's very difficult when you play a South American team. We are a different team to 2006. We have no Totti and no players like him."

Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
Dirk Kuyt:
“I feel for him [Daniel Agger, who had an own goal in the game]. He’s a good friend and a really great defender. ­Denmark were very, very unlucky. Until that goal, they had defended very strongly and made it very difficult for us. They had caused us one or two problems as well....
It’s not about running around for 90 minutes – that is not the ­issue. If you make two quick sprints in succession, you really feel it [the altitude]. That was the case today, even in the first half.”

Japan 1-0 Cameroon
Keisuke Honda:
"This goal was a nice birthday present for me. I am so happy now and there is a great atmosphere in the team. We were able to stop Cameroon's attacking players and I think that was why we were able to get a good result. We had confidence before the game. Of course we played badly in the friendly matches but we didn't mind about this because they were not so important. We were only concentrating on today."

Slovakia 1-1 New Zealand
Robert Vittek:
"It was disappointing for them to score in the last minute. That should not happen at this level. I should be in a better mood after scoring our first World Cup goal, and I was happy until the last minute. Now I feel like we lost the match."
Winston Reid:
"This is the most important goal of my life. I try to get forward more often but don't often score, so this is great. I actually did not see the ball. But when I saw it coming, I knew I just had to guide it on goal and not hit it too hard and it would go in. There was so much pace on the ball, I just had to guide it in."

Brazil 2-1 North Korea
Maicon:
"I made a similar goal against Portugal in Brasilia [a friendly Brazil won 6-2]. I got to the ball already thinking about shooting the ball....
I was very happy to score in my first World Cup, and I wanted to dedicate it to my wife, who has always been there for me, supporting me. I am always away from home playing soccer, and she stands behind me."
Ji Yun-Nam:
"I'm very happy to have scored our country's first goal in this World Cup. Brazil are the best team in the world and they are big favourites for the trophy. We played well in the first half, we defended really well and didn't let Brazil create any chances. But in the second half we had two lapses in concentration and they scored their two goals one after the other."

Chile 1-0 Honduras
Jean Beausejour:
“We got over the anxiety by running, which is what we do best and by trying to play football....
They were very simple [defensively]. They didn’t don anything complicated at the back, they had no problems booting the ball upfield and in the end that can make the game difficult."


Switzerland 1-0 Spain
Gelson Fernandes:
"To be fair, I'm not used to scoring goals, so I was a bit surprised. It was a bit of luck. It's just a special moment."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Global Goals, part 1

After 3.9 years of waiting, World Cup 2010 is finally under way. We take a look at the first three days' matches, from the perspective of those who put the ball in the net.

South Africa 1-1 Mexico
"I have to admit that this has been the highlight of my career so far. At first I didn't believe that it had gone in, but when I realized it had, I cried. I feel we should have won the game but we are still happy with the way that we played because when they came at us, we are able to stop them.... It was a great feeling for me to score the first goal of the tournament. I really enjoyed the day because it was my 50th cap, a moment that I was looking forward to.... I always take shots at goal with the aiming of scoring and I feel I have been fortunate that I have scored important goals that are memorable. But it is the team that deserves credit for the way we fought."
"Both teams are going away with a bittersweet taste and now we are forced to beat France in our next game."

Argentina 1-0 Nigeria
"It's like everything that happens in football — sometimes you're in the right place. I saw the cross coming and I didn't hesitate about using my forehead."

South Korea 2-0 Greece
"We knew Greece were very strong in the air and very good from set-plays, corners and free-kicks and things like that. When we were attacking, we looked for the empty spaces and we managed to take advantage of those empty spaces and penetrate the defences of the Greek team."

England 1-1 USA
Steven Gerrard:
"It was a difficult game. I think the important thing in the first game is not to lose. Unfortunately, we've let a poor goal in and we couldn't go on and get the winner."
Clint Dempsey:
"I didn't know exactly that it went all the way to net or not, but I just wanted to see what the linesman was doing. I saw the linesman running back with his flag, so I knew that they counted the goal and I just went and celebrated with the whole team on the bench."

Slovenia 1-0 Algeria
Robert Koren:
“I was surprised to see my shot go in. I wanted at first to score a different goal but luck also played a part, as did the ball and the pitch. This goal is of the utmost significance but even before this match we pointed out our objective was to get to the knockout stages. This win has boosted our confidence.”

Germany 4-0 Australia
Lukas Podolski:
"I think we were pretty good from the first to the last minute. We had great attacks, got great goals and put our opponents under pressure. We implemented really well what we wanted to do and we were rewarded. I know the whole of Germany is celebrating this victory right now as they should."
Miroslav Klose:
"I always knew what I could do. I trained two-three times a day and I knew that today was important, not what happened in the friendlies before the World Cup.... Philipp sent a good cross, that's something we've been trying out in practice and I hit it very well. Few goalkeepers would have stopped it. I knew I had to focus on one chance and I used it."
Thomas Mueller:
"We were well organized. We did not let Australia scare us. 4-0, that's something we can be satisfied with."

Ghana 1-0 Serbia
Asamoah Gyan:
"Every African is behind us. I salute all you guys. We win this match for you."

Monday, June 14, 2010

CFL Week A Preseason: K Quotes

While most of the kicking world was focused on South Africa the last several days, there was a fair amount of kicking news out of Canada over the weekend. Plenty of young kickers (along with one not-so-young) saw action in the CFL's first week of preseason.

The B.C. Lions have two kickers, both of whom will apparently remain with the team this year. Veteran kicker Paul McCallum hit a pair of field goals in the teams 19-17 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders:
"I've still got some work to do with Travis [Lulay, his holder], but it's coming together. I worked really hard in the offseason. In the past, I've trained, but I haven't kicked as much. I did a lot of both this time. I wouldn't say I'm in midseason form. But maybe I'm where I'd be usually two weeks into the regular season."
Sean Whyte played in the second half and also made two field goals:
"Our competition is like any other in training camp. I try not to think about him. I just try and think about what I have to do and go out there and play my game. What you saw out there today from Paul is something you'd expect. He's an 18-year veteran. He's a legend in the CFL."
With Damon Duval battling the stomach flu, Montreal brought in Colt David to temporarily handle the kicking. He was kept busy punting in the Alouettes' 34-10 loss to Winnipeg.
"I made mistakes. You always can be better. I can punt better and kick better. You'll never be perfect. I wished I could have showed a bit more power, but I was thankful to be here today and thankful for the opportunity."
First-round draft pick Rob Maver took the early lead in the competition for Calgary’s kicking job. He went 3 of 3 on field goals in the Stampeders' 23-21 win over Edmonton:
“The way I’m approaching it is it doesn’t matter what you do in the preseason games. It’s what you do every day, practice by practice, game by game. That’s how you’re going to earn your career and stick in this league.... I did a good job today, there’s things I definitely have to do better, and this is something to build off.... I feel good. There was a lot of anticipation up to this. Camp was tough for me, but I felt better and better every day. As soon as the first whistle blew today, I felt really, really comfortable. It felt so awesome to get out there and finally play.”
Toronto’s two rookie kickers provided all of the Argonauts' scoring in their 13-10 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Grant Shaw made field goals of 41 and 39 yards:
“It was a good start. Hitting the first field goal helped with my confidence. But I’m not going to lie. I was nervous at first.”
Import Robbie Dehaze made field goals of 17 and 13 yards, along with a 50-yard single:
“The short angles mess with your head a little bit. And I know I could have punted better. I’m still understanding the width of the field, but overall, I felt I did all right.”
On the other side of the field, Ticat head coach Marcel Bellefeuille commented on rookie punter Justin Palardy's debut:
"I thought they brought some pressure on him and he got the ball off. He had good height and good depth and his placement was good. Overall, a good first outing for him."