As it turned out,Samurai Blue
emerged out of what turned out to be one of the weakest groups competition-wise
in 2010 World Cup group play
,as every other group seemed to be a Group of Death
.While their match against la Albirroja
is fairly winnable,the road to their first World Cup trophy
gets rockier should they advance beyond the Round of 16 for the first time:should they defeat Paraguay(not exactly one of the stronger South American teams),they must face the winner of the Portugal/Spain grudgematch(between 2 of the highest ranked teams worldwide)in the quarterfinals;and should they upset their way into the semis,they must face the winner out of perhaps the 'quarterfinal bracket of death"(Germany,England,Mexico,Argentina)
.The other semi-final bracket,is relatively easy though a Netherlands/Brazil match would be interesting barring either or both teams being upset in the round of 16...
On the eliminated teams,the Stars and Stripes simply ran out of miracles mainly because Richard Kingson
good guarding Ghana's net.The fact that both 2006 finalists went three-and-out in the group stage is a sure eye-popper:Not so much the behind-the-scenes drama that tarnished le Tricouleur
,but rather how gli Azzurri
was neutralized in what turned out to be a 'Group of Death'
:aside from being held to a pair of 1-1 ties in their first 2 games;while the defending champs were shocked in a must-win against the Slovakians despite offensive signs of life.Speaking of 'Groups of Death,'being placed in one that included France,Uruguay,and Mexico
contributed to South Africa becoming the first host country to go three-and-out though they did beat France.On the lighter side,at least the still-alive Portuguese had the guts to 'nuke North Korea' in one sense;while nobody thought the Slovenians would make things interesting for the English or the Americans
Back to the Blue Samurai,they've already advanced further than a pair of teams that made them bottom feeders in a 2006 Group of Death
:not only did Croatia fail to qualify for this year's edition,but the Suckeroos
were doomed early when they had their star
on top of getting throttled by the Germans in their cup opener...
Happy birthday to Sumiko Shirakawa(who turns 75),Makoto Ataka(who turns 53),Yuuko Minaguchi(who turns 44),Kaori Asou(who turns 43),Isshin Chiba(who turns 42),and Chiro Kanzaki(who turns 31)...