2014 WC Group A

Convicted match-fixer claims Cameroon players fixed World Cup games

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Well this isn’t good.

A convicted match-fixer tells German magazine Der Spiegel that up to seven Cameroon players were involved in fixing their group matches at the World Cup this year.

The Indomitable Lions looked poor in defeats by Mexico, Brazil and Croatia.

In one match, Alex Song was sent off and detained match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal of Singapore correctly told authorities there would be a sending-off and 4-0 score line.

From the BBC:

A statement from Cameroon’s FA read: “Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon’s 2014 Fifa World Cup three preliminary games, especially Cameroon versus Croatia, as well of the ‘existence of seven bad apples [in our national team]’ do not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration, in line with Fifa’s code of conduct and the ethics of our nation.

“We are strongly committed to employ all means necessary to resolve this disruptive matter in the shortest delays.”

The investigation will form part of a wider inquiry ordered by the country’s president, Paul Biya, into the team’s poor performance at the World Cup.

Fifa did not comment on whether it was looking into the issue as football’s world governing body did not want to “compromise any possible investigations”.

Cameroon players initially refused to board their plane to World Cup in protest of unpaid bonuses, and these allegations certainly contend that money ruled their roost once they crossed the Atlantic.

The Indomitable Lions lost 1-0 to Mexico, 4-1 to Brazil and 4-0 to Croatia.

This is the part in the post where we’re supposed to sum up what this means in a wise and clever way to transmit the news in a digestible fashion. Here’s what I’m giving you: if this is true, it stinks.

Top Ten Players of the 2014 World Cup’s Group Stage

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It’s quite a task selecting the best 10 performances from 32 teams playing three games each, but in the hard world of being employed to rank world footballers, I stand ready.

It’s especially hard not to just latch onto incredible moments and insert a player on the list. Robin van Persie’s headed goal against Spain still amazes me, but was he the driving force behind the Netherlands’ surprising group stage? Certain teams got by on defending, so does that mean one defender can rise above the rest?

[ RELATED: Complete bracket for Round of 16, more ]

Oh, shoot. Let’s just do this thing. The Top Ten players from the 2014 group stage were:

10. Gervinho, Ivory Coast – No, Les Elephants were not able to charge out of their group stage funk, but that was no fault of the electric Gervinho, who challenged back lines and midfields alike.

9. Arjen Robben, Netherlands – He’s a menace, and his motor never stops going (even during his full-energy dives). Robben drove the Dutch into the knockout rounds.

8. Enner Valencia, Ecuador – The bright spot in a disappointing tournament for La Tri, the ‘other’ Valencia has been linked with a number of Premier League sides including Newcastle United.

7. Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico – You watched the Brazil/Mexico match, right? Can you believe El Tri had coaches who didn’t suit this guy up?

source: AP6. James Rodriguez, Colombia – Absurdly-gifted and just as productive, James is one of the main reasons Colombia could emerge from the loaded CONMEBOL quadrant and into the semifinals.

5. Karim Benzema, France – If this guy played in England, he would be one of the most popular players for American audiences. He’s big, talented and hard-charging.

4. David Luiz, Brazil – So PSG is going to team Luiz up with Thiago Silva? Champions League, beware.

3. Neymar, Brazil – If there’s been more stress placed on a younger player by a host nation, we’ve yet to find him. Coming into his own during this tournament.

2. Thomas Muller, Germany – All he does is score goals, and that bullet against the United States was bordering on impossibly well-placed.

1. Lionel Messi, Argentina – Any more questions about the Atomic Ant on the international stage? He was Argentina in the group stage.

Honorable mention: Wayne Rooney, England; Yeltsin Tejeda and Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica; Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard, United States; Daley Blind, Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay, Netherlands; Blaise Matuidi, France; Xherdan Shaqiri and Diego Benaglio, Switzerland; Andre Ayew, Ghana; Juan Cuadrado, Colombia; Merhdad Pooladi, Iran; Serey Die, Ivory Coast; David Ospina and Jackson Martinez, Colombia; Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard, Belgium; Ivan Perisic, Croatia; Claudio Bravo and Alexis Sanchez, Chile; Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria; Oribe Peralta, Mexico; Diego Godin and Luis Suarez, Uruguay; Islam Slimani, Algeria; Keisuke Honda, Japan; Mesut Ozil and Mats Hummels, Germany.

VIDEO: Miguel Herrera is a madman, watch the Mexico manager’s amazing celebration

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After Mexico advanced to the Round of 16 by beating Croatia on Monday, manager Miguel Herrera was certainly a happy man.

You could see that. In fact his happiness levels, as well as his sky-rocketing blood pressure, soared every time El Tri scored as the Mexican national team put their poor World Cup qualifying campaign behind them to reach the knockout rounds for the sixth-straight time.

El Piojo is the pride of Mexico and his wild celebrations are worth reliving every single day. The former national team player arrived in Mexico’s time of need as their fourth coach during the qualifying period and dragged them over the line to Brazil. The stocky manner with the jolly, yet slightly frightening demeanor, has transformed Mexico’s fortunes.

[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ] 

Running around on the sideline kicking every ball with his players, Herrera is the epitome of a back-seat driver as a soccer coach. He is, by far, the most entertaining coach to watch at the World Cup. I think I would pay for my ticket just to watch his celebrations to goals and reactions to refereeing decisions alone. Tackling players to the floor, rampaging towards officials, screaming to the heavens after goals and pumping his fists like no other, how can you not love Piojo?

Watch the video above (complete with soothing music that accentuates Herrera’s wildness) to relive his epic celebrations during Mexico’s 3-1 win vs. Croatia.

The good news: Herrera and Mexico have at least one more game down in Brazil, as they face the Netherlands on Sunday for a spot in the quarterfinals. Whatever your thoughts are on Mexico, how can you not love Herrera’s passion and love for the game?

Marvelous, just marvelous. These are the kind of colorful images that will put Herrera into World Cup folklore.

World Cup Today: Mexico looks to advance, Groups A & B titles on the line

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What a Sunday for the tournament, with a six-goal thriller and the United States-Portugal draw making up for a yawner between Belgium and Russia.

It’s going to be difficult to top Sunday’s World Cup action, though the concurrent group finales will help. Let’s take a look at what’s in store today:

[ MORE: How the U.S. can advance ]
[ MORE: Soccerly covers the World Cup ]

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MATCH 35: AUSTRALIA VS. SPAIN
Location: Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
Time: Noon ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s Guide
Does it mean anything to Spain? Because an exuberant Socceroos side would be thrilled to knock off the reigning champs and kick them while down. Neither team can advance to the knockout rounds.

What they’re saying
Koke on Spain looking to set standard for future winners: “It’s very difficult to achieve what this group have achieved, but a new generation full of strength and hope is coming through, and why can’t we dream of doing that? I’m just one more player that’s going to fight for his national team and for his country.”

History
The two nations have never met.

Premier League Players
Australia: Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)
Spain: David de Gea (Manchester United), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), David Silva (Manchester City), Fernando Torres(Chelsea)

Major League Soccer players:
Australia: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls)
Spain: David Villa (New York City FC)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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source: APMATCH 36: NETHERLANDS VS. CHILE
Location: Arena de São Paulo, São Paulo
Time: Noon ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s guide
The fight for the right to avoid Brazil. A Robin van Persie-less Netherlands will duke it out with a hobbled-Arturo Vidal and Chile, as two teams set for the knockout rounds jockey for position. Loser likely gets the host nation. Winner likely faces Mexico or Croatia.

What they’re saying
Chile’s Arturo Vidal when asked if the club is looking ahead to a potential match-up with Brazil: “It is difficult to talk about Brazil because before that we have a match much more important. Tomorrow we will have to play to win. If we play the same way as against Spain, we can make it all the way to final, but of course you have to prove that you really live up to your own expectations.”

History
The two nations have never met.

Premier League players
Netherlands: Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
Chile: None

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source: Getty ImagesMATCH 33: CAMEROON VS. BRAZIL
Location: Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília
Time: 4pm ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s Guide
Can Cameroon salvage some pride with a shocking upset of the tournament’s hosts? It would be unlikely on so many levels (one being the officials), but all eyes will be on Brazil as they look to win Group A after a mid-group stumble draw against Mexico.

What they’re saying
Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari on the opponent fiasco: “You have to win the match, you have to advance to the next round. Some people have been saying that we might consider playing to choose our opponent, but they are either stupid or ill-intentioned. We have to play to advance, not to choose anything. We have to play to win.”

History
Brazil has won three of four matches against Cameroon, though the visitors won in the last tilt (2003 Confederations Cup).

Premier League Players
Brazil: David Luiz (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Ramires (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Paulinho (Tottenham), Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Cameroon: Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers)

Did you know: every player in the Russia squad plays their club soccer inside the country?

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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source: APMATCH 34: CROATIA VS. MEXICO
Location: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Time: 4pm ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s guide
Mexico looks to strike another blow for CONCACAF, as a draw or win would put them through. The Croatians look to set right their loss against Brazil, which is still a flashpoint for controversy at home.

What they’re saying
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera will go for a W: “We are not going to think about a tie, our intention is to win. Of course if we end up with a draw, we progress anyway and so we would be happy, but if you go into a game thinking about a tie you are most likely going to lose. The idea is to look for a win, stay intense. We know that Croatia has to win, so that should open up space for us. If we know that they have to attack us, we should be able to take advantage.”

History
Croatia has won two of three, but Mexico won the last meeting in the 2002 World Cup.

Premier League players
Mexico: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Manchester United)
Croatia: Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Nikica Jelavić (Hull City)

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Klinsmann, van Gaal suggest preferential treatment for Germany, Brazil

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One coach is talking about the knockout rounds and the other about his final group fixture, but both Jurgen Klinsmann and Louis van Gaal are implying preferential treatment by FIFA toward the favorites of the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann was discussing Germany’s set-up for the two nations’ Group G finale on Thursday, while van Gaal is concerned about a potential match-up with hosts Brazil.

The sentiments were similar. From MLSSoccer.com, here are Klinsmann’s comments on the match-up with his birth country:

“We have one day less to recover. They played yesterday, we played today. We played in the Amazon and they played in the very kind of location where they don’t have to travel much. Everything was done for the big favorites to go and move on. We have to do it the tough way, but we’re going to do it the tough way.”

[ MORE: How the U.S. can advance ]
[ MORE: Soccerly covers the World Cup ]

This isn’t uncommon in American sports, where home field advantage and preferential treatment reign. In the NCAA basketball tournament, the ‘Big Dance’ is set up to favor the top seeds, as match-ups closer to home are routinely given to top programs to create an easier path to the title.

And it’s hard not to see the concern of Klinsmann and van Gaal, coaches used to two-legged fixtures and regular rest intervals. The Dutch coach, for instance, is wondered why his Group B team will play before Brazil’s Group A today and with less rest should the two meet in the knockout rounds.

From the BBC:

Hosts Brazil played before the Dutch in the first two games but are in action after them in the final group round, which Van Gaal claims is unfair.

“Fifa plays these tricks. It’s not a good thing,” said Van Gaal who team could face Brazil in the last 16.

“It’s not fair play. I think at a World Cup the host country always has an advantage.”

The winners of Brazil’s Group A play the runners-up in Group B on Saturday, while the second-placed team in Group A meet the Group B winners the following day.

Admitting that this site is based in America, it seems Klinsmann has the better gripe here. Even so, your thoughts?