World Cup talking points

Time Out’s resident pundit Vinny Maddage gives us this week’s lowdown

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The main issue

Booing one of your own players has never made sense to me. Until now. There is one player who continues to irk supporters of his club and his country, and he’s got me rapidly turning to dissent. Who? Emile Heskey. Why? Frankly, he just shouldn’t be starting. (Peter Crouch should).

Let’s face it, Emile has given up trying to win the hearts of England fans. In fact, he’s now trying to appeal to a whole new market: providing row Z spectators in stadia all over SA with match ball souvenirs – one way of making friends. Injuring your own captain is another quick path to scoring brownie points with rivals, which will no doubt be his most notable contribution this summer. As a fan you give your all to your country, hoping the 11 in front of you do the same. Yet too often with England I end up feeling dejected and let down by individual efforts.
I fear Emile will be the carrier of such disappointment this year – let’s hope he proves me wrong.

The possible upset

While many will see the Ivory Coast as the most capable of the outsiders in this tournament, I can’t help but think that brutal group D could provide the greater story. If Germany are world football’s Goliath, then Serbia, in their first outing as an independent nation, could be the David. They have artistry and craft in midfield (Stankovic and Krasic), mayhem aplenty upfront with 200cm Zigic and real steel in the back with Vidic and Ivanovic. If Coach Antic can harness this technically gifted squad, we may have a genuine upset in Port Elizabeth on June 18. Tournament football certainly brings out the best in the Germans, but without the talisman Ballack, an emerging Serbia (albeit at 66/1 for the World Cup) may just trump this fading giant.

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