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World Cup Soccer:
2002 Preview

Thursday, May 30, 2002

By Jim Law
SJSports Staff Writer

Here it is only a day before the start of the World Cup and the American media is still asleep. When will they wake up? This is the single most viewed sporting event in the whole world. We in North America are very naive to think we are the center of the universe. Thirty two nations have spent the past four years qualifying for this event. All 736 players are ready.

With Beckham hurt, how will England survive? Roy Keane has been sent home to Ireland in disgrace. Zindane, the most complete player in the world is hurt. What will France do without him? Can Claudio Reyna motivate the Americans to a level they have never performed to?

Who will they be talking about at the end of June? It was Michael Owen in 98, Gazza in 90, and a certain Edson Arantes do Nascimento in 58.

Here are the British odds of winning along with the team and the player to watch.

4-1FranceZindane, the best all round player in the world.
6-1BrazilDenilson, reminds one of Pele.
6-1ItalyTotti, at the top of his game.
7-2ArgentinaVeron, invaluable mid fielder.
9-1EnglandBeckham, inspirational and creative.
9-1SpainMendieta, if he rediscovers his touch he could be the tournament star.
12-1PortugalFigo, destined to shine.
14-1GermanyBallack, attacking mid fielder.
40-1CameroonEto'o, highly rated.
40-1RussiaIzmailov, young attacking mid fielder with immence talent.
50-1CroatiaBoksic, classy striker.
50-1ParaguayParedes, fine all round player.
50-1Rep. of IrelandHolland, hard worker.
50-1UruguayRecoba, back in action after the passport scandal.
66-1JapanNakata, heart of Japanese creativity.
66-1NigeriaJay Jay Okocha, very creative.
66-1SwedenLjungberg, deceptively skilled mid fielder.
66-1TurkeyBasturk, nippy mid fielder.
80-1BelgiumWalem, excellant passer.
80-1DenmarkJensen, although injured his incisive passing would be key.
80-1PolandOlisadebe, excellant forward.
100-1MexicoGarcia Aspe, well experienced.
100-1SenegalFadiga, classy mid fielder and free kick specalist.
100-1SloveniaZahovic, great goal scorer.
125-1EcuadorAguinaga, Ecuador's best ever player.
150-1South KoreaLee Yound Pyo-Pacy, penetrating mid fielder.
150-1USAReyna, as near as it can get to be world class as a US player.
200-1Costa RicaCastro, fine dribbler and useful crosses.
200-1Saudi ArabiaSami Al Jaber, best Saudi ever.
200-1South AfricaNomvete, exciting left side attacker.
200-1TunisiaBaya, experienced mid fielder.
350-1ChinaQiHong, creative mid fielder.

How about some world cup trivia?

  1. Who were the youngest and oldest goal scorers?
  2. Who was the top goal scorer?
  3. Who were the oldest and youngest players?
  4. Who made the most appearances?
  5. Who received the fastest red card, 56 seconds?

In my last writing I predicted the US would not advance to the second round. I still stick with that. Who will be the winner? I predict France, the likes of Zindane are just too great for the opponents to overcome.

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Jim Law is a South Jersey soccer referee with over 21 years of USSF, high school, and indoor experience.

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