Monday, June 7, 2010

Predictions! For Groups A and B

I've been doing the Countdown to South Africa 2010 World Cup blog since last July. I feel as if I know a little about all 32 teams. More than a little. Enough, actually, that I've forgotten a fair share of it.

I concede, I do not know as much as you know about your team. (Unless your team is the U.S.) No way. But what do you know of North Korea, Paraguay and Honduras? Aha!

We will start with group-phase predictions for groups A and B. On Tuesday, groups C and D. On Wednesday, groups E and F. On Thursday, groups G and H.

And on Friday, before the first match kicks off, predictions on the knockout phase, right up to the championship match.

Here we go!

Group A:

Mexico 1, South Africa 1; France 1, Uruguay 0.

South Africa 1, Uruguay 1; Mexico 2, France 2.

Mexico 2, Uruguay 1; France 1, South Africa 0.

Standings: France 7 points (plus-2), Mexico 5 (plus-1), South Africa 2 (minus-1), Uruguay 2 (minus-1).

My thinking: France is poorly led by Raymond Domenech, but the French have considerable talent and have played in big matches -- and have the considerable advantage of a favorable schedule. I would pick Mexico to win this group, except that Mexico gets South Africa in the opener, and the host team won't know yet it isn't going to advance and will play out of its mind in a very supportive atmosphere, the sort that will influence a referee. So, Mexico gets only a draw out of that match. But by the time South Africa gets to its third match and knows it is basically out of it, France wins. Uruguay just not up to getting out of this group, even though it is better than South Africa on a neutral field.

Group B:

Greece 1, South Korea 0; Argentina 3, Nigeria 2.

Argentina 3, South Korea 1; Greece 1, Nigeria 0.

Nigeria 3, South Korea 1; Argentina 0, Greece 0.

Standings: Argentina 7 points (plus-3), Greece 7 (plus-2), Nigeria 3 (plus-0), South Korea 0 (minus-4).

My thinking: This is an outstanding group for the Greeks and coach Otto Rehhegel. Three teams it should frustrate to madness with its ultra-conservative occasional-counter style. Euro teams that know the Greeks have trouble with it, and these three haven't seen it. ... Argentina has so much talent that not even Diego "El Jefe Loco" Maradona can mess up the group stage. I'm pretty sure. ... Nigeria could get the "home continent" boost, but its results just haven't been that impressive of late, and Greece will frustrate it and Argentina will have too much talent. Nigeria will take out its frustrations on South Korea in the final match, and then the country will sit back and rue the cheesy late goal that Greece scored in the opening match. South Korea is the better of the Koreas, but this is not a good group for it. Maybe next time.
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Local Lingo You Should Know

The Johannesburg Times has compiled a list of 40 South Africanisms you should know.

These are intended for World Cup tourists ... but for those of us who will be following the event, it doesn't hurt to know what they mean. And maybe toss a few of them at the TV, now and then. Like, "I need a 'dop' or 10 because we played so badly. And I don't care if I have the 'babbelas' to end all 'babbelas' in the morning."

It strikes me that The Times could be making all of these up. But they should legit ... a sort of mix of Afrikaans and black African words.

A few other interesting usages:

BLIKSEM (BLUK-SEM): If you're in a pub and you accidentally spill a beer belonging to a man with a thick neck, he may say: "Do you want me to bliksem you?" Don't respond. Just run. Run for your life. It's the Afrikaans word for hit or strike or punch.

DAGGA: Again pronounced with a harsh "g". Marijuana. Illegal, but admittedly very easy to get hold if you're so inclined.

DOF: Stupid.

EISH (AYSH): Common term that denotes a wide range of emotions from joy and surprise to confusion and anger. When in doubt, use it.

HUNDREDS: Normally repeated twice in a sentence as in "Hundreds, bru, hundreds." It expresses either total agreement with what someone has just said, or confirmation that your life is all good (eg: "How are you?" "Ah, hundreds, man, hundreds"). Can also be used as a way of simply saying yes.

JOL: Party. Can be used as either a noun or verb, as in "That was a lekker jol" or "I went jolling last night and ended up in Fabio Cannavaro's hotel room. It was great. We set fire to it."

LANK: Beyond cool is lank cool. Also means a large amount of, as in "There were lank vuvuzelas at the game last night."

LEKKER (LAKKA): Great, awesome, amazing.

NOOIT (NOYT): Expression of disbelief or disdain. As in "Aah, nooit! There's chewing gum on my seat!" or "When I saw that advert with Ronaldo striking a homoerotic pose in a pair of tight underpants, I just thought 'Nooit, bru!'"

ROBOT: When you're asking for directions and someone says: "Left at the third robot," it is not because our streets are overrun with menacing cyborgs made by Japanese scientists. No. A robot is simply our word for traffic light.

SIFF: Gross, disgusting. "Check, that guy is picking his nose." "Siff, boet."

If you want to see the entire list ... follow the link, up in the first line.
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