BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

Liverpool’s legendary manager Bill Shankley once said of the game “Football is a simple game made stupid by idiots” and the Scot would have smiled – if he did smile – at Japan’s progress to the second round of the World Cup.

The group as simple. Holland had qualified and Cameroon were going out. The two played with the Dutch winning 2-1 with Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring while the Referee awarded a soft penalty when Rafael van der Vaart was pulled up for handing a free kick blasted into the box. Samuel Eto’o scored the penalty.

The complexities of Cameroon football one would not hope to guess at. A place where the wealth of footballers is in such stark contrast to the poverty of the people the mind set of those who have got out – and how they represent those who have not – is less than it should be.

The Cameroon of 1982 and 1990 and Roger Milla represented a nation, the Cameroon of 2010 could hardly even represent each other.

The Dutch go through with three wins and will play Slovakia in the next round. They are wearing the favourites tag well and welcomed Arjen Robben back from injury tonight. He hit the post for Huntelaar to score the rebound from. They are assured, confident and stable. They will take some stopping.

Keisuke Honda’s free kick from fully thirty five yards would have taken some stopping but it arrowed past the poorly placed Thomas Sørensen in the Danish goal to put Japan on the way to the win or draw they needed. Honda’s free kick showed control, accuracy and power and that Sørensen was a step too far to the left does not diminish the quality of the strike.

There was a time – about a month ago – when a free kick on the edge of the box was the signal for a testing shot for the goalkeeper and often celebration of a goal but this World Cup and it’s infamous Jubulani ball seem to have altered the rules of the game, shifting the balance away from the sides who flop on the edge of the area and have a good dead ball man.

Yasuhito Endo hit the kind of free kick that David Beckham would have been proud of putting a ball up and down over the wall and into the back of Sørensen’s net. Two free kicks by Japan had – more or less – sealed the progress of the Asian nation and while Jon Dahl Tomasson scored the rebound from his own penalty after Daniel Agger had flopped onto the floor but the two goal lead was restored when Honda deftly turned in the box and squared to Shinji Okazaki who finished.

Tomasson levelled the Danish scoring record but goes home after the Danes were beaten by a Japanese side who master Shankley’s simplicity. There were flicks and drag backs but more so there were players available to the man on the ball and short passes always available.

Defensively Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Yuji Nakazawa were outstanding with Nakazawa keeping Nicklas Bendtner in his pocket all evening. In the midfield the passing was short, fast and followed by movement with Daisuke Matsui excellent and up front three goals went in.

Which put Japan into the next round to play Paraguay. Simple.

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