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Entries in Group D (4)


World Cup Notes: Group D = Damn Strong

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One Great Season

In the wake — pun intended — of the US Men's National Team's second loss to Ghana in as many World Cups, I felt I'd scour that match's post-game news conference transcript for words from the players and coaches themselves instead of streaming my own 18 yards of heartbreak-laced profanities. OGS has been, after all, a family website for more than 40 years.

This means that, with Sunday afternoon's thrashing of England, Germany and Group D-mates Ghana have moved into the quarterfinals, proving that "D" stands for "Damn Strong."

P.S. Now that Ghana has moved into the Quarterfinals, the author deeply regrets Korea's loss to Uruguay, as this would have realized his lifelong dream of watching the first "Ghana-Rea" match in history.

USA Coach Bob Bradley

On post-match sentiment:
"There's a pretty empty feeling right now because I think coming out of the first round, we felt that there was a real chance of doing something bigger."

On benching central defender Oguchi Onyewu in favor of Jonathan Bornstein on the left and Carlos Bocanegra in the middle:
"We thought that it was important to have both our outside backs being active and trying to get into the attack. Johnny Bornstein had fresh legs coming into this game and his running on that side of the field and his energy would help us. Carlos and Jay (DeMerit) have been a good pairing. The fact is also that in Gooch's comeback, before we got going with (the tuneup games) and then the first two games of the group, he had been out for a long time. You have to factor in minutes."

On opposing players who feign injury:
"I hate to see players acting like they've been hit getting away with it. That is the simplest thing of all to clean up. When I see Kaka get sent off, it's too bad for the game because he is a great player. That is play-acting at its best — or worst. I like to see real competition. I would be in favor that, if it's as obvious as somebody getting pushed in the chest and grabbing his face and laying on the ground, I would rescind the red card and suspend the player who did it for a good number of games.

On the growth of the game in the US:
"We understand that every four years, to some degree, that growth will be put to the test by the results of that World Cup. That's just the way it is. If we do take it further, then maybe that shows people the progress. When you don't, then you still have to keep going. So we've got to keep going.

USA Midfielder Landon Donovan

On losing to Ghana:
"Soccer is a cruel game. Sometimes you're at the top and sometimes you're at the bottom of the mountain. It sucks, man."

On his team's errors:
"I think the way we went out is frustrating because we played a pretty good game, but made a couple of mistakes and got punished for it. It's a tough lesson to learn when you don't get a chance to redeem yourself. I guess the warning signs were there, getting scored on early, and it came back to bite us."

On whether the energy spent fighting back for three straight games took its toll:
"I actually don't think so. I thought we were the fitter team and had more energy in the second half and into overtime. But when you're consistently behind in games, it's very difficult to get back into it."

On the end of the World Cup for Team USA:
"The finality of it is brutal. You realize how much you've put into it not just in the last four years, but your whole life. There's no guarantee there's another opportunity at that. It's disappointing."

USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard

On the future of American soccer:
"We're one of the biggest countries in the world so we've got to start producing some megastars somewhere along the line. But you have to catch that bug first, so you hope this is all part of it for the next generation coming up. I'm sure it will be. I have no doubt."

USA Defender Jay Demerit

On Ghana's second goal:
"When you have sharp forwards that sit on your shoulder, they wait for balls like that. For defenders, we have to worry about the ball in front and the ball behind, and sometimes you get caught in two minds or you just get caught in the space and have to react. The athleticism that they have on that team, they were able to react a little bit quicker than us and showed good strength and a good finish.

Ghana Coach Milovan Rajevac

On the USA-Ghana match overall:
"Both teams deserved to win (Saturday), but only one could go to the quarterfinals. During extra time we needed strength and we had this strength."

On midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng's injury:
"Boateng was injured against Germany already. It is going to be a huge problem to get him ready for the next game."

On the challenges the team faces in the next match:
"It is fantastic to be in the eight best teams, but our problem over the next six days is an injury to Kevin-Prince Boateng that will have our medical staff working hard, and two players (André Ayew and Jonathan Mensah) suspended through second yellow cards."

Ghana Striker Asamoah Gyan

On team perception:
"I said it before: most of Africa turns to take us for granted, but we have proved the critics wrong. I'm the happiest man in the world we did it."

Ghana Midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng

On the injury sustained against the USA:
"I don't know if I will play in the quarterfinals. I don't know if it is a big tear in my hamstring but I will be devastated if I've to leave my friends and brothers like that, but I am praying."

Click here for Steve's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


Serbia Wins In Red-Card Shocker

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Caught On Video:
German Fans Arrested
After Stunning 1-0 Loss

One Great Season

HAMBURG, Germany -- I just like saying "shocker."

Anyway, where to begin? Watching the Germany-Serbia tilt at the Hyundai Fan Fest in Hamburg promised to be a storied affair, and the excitement was far from lacking. The officiating, on the other hand ...

As I write this on a train somewhere between Hangover, Germany, and Copenhagen, the whistleblower and his trigger-happy tongue already have been well documented the world over. In the Fatherland, as you'd imagine, it was nothing short of tragedy. The CEO of BP can breathe a sigh of relief; someone else's lack of judgment has superceded his own, if only for one flatulent moment, on the front pages of tabloids and other legitimate news sources.

Check out the videographic evidence I shot last night of these two guys epitomizing the mood of the German nation:

Freedom of speech, baby!

It's no coincidence that the game's lone goal came just one minute after Miroslav Klose picked up his second yellow and a trip to the locker room for the remaider of the game and the next one, too. And Germany, long the poster-children for methodical, technically sound football, had 19 fouls, three yellow cards, and of course, Klose's red.

The World Cup does strange things to the men on the pitch. How could it be that this team, just days after decimating Australia 4-0 and looking every bit the quality of a potential champion goes scoreless to lose its first group stage match since 1986?

Another in my litany of questions: Lukas Podolski, how do you miss that penalty shot in the 60th minute? Even though Serbian keeper Vladimir Stokjovic guessed correctly for his dive, the ball was at a tame enough pace for him to routinely reject. This was Germany’s first missed penalty since 1974 — and the first one ever saved by a Serbia/Serbia & Montenegro/Yugoslavia keeper in a Cup match.

After watching Jovanovic tuck the ball under his jersey and skip his way off the field in ecstasy at the final whistle, a stunned German captain Philip Lahm said, "The referee made some strange decisions." Indeed he did, handing out nine yellow cards, a tournament high.

But I think Germany could best describe their own play using those self-same words.

Ghana Can't Take Advantage of Man-Down Socceroos

The men from Down Under soldiered on without midfielder Harry Kewell for 66 minutes to achieve a draw with Ghana after seeing the red mist for the second time in as many games. Kewell inexplicably blocked a shot from Jonathan Mensah with his arm, giving Ghana a penalty kick, which Asamoah Gyan buried in the 25th minute.

Both sides played spirited ball, with the Black Stars repeatedly breaking the Aussie defense with amazing speed but not adding to their tally, while Australia saw some excellent chances despite their man disadvantage, but they, too, failed to capitalize.

Australia coach Pim Verbeek said afterward, "We're still in the race. The boys were fighting for everything, and with everything they had. I can only be proud of the players." Of course he should say that. For a manager to say otherwise would be a breach of coaching protocol. However, I'm not sure what wizard he's consulting with — it's going to take a miracle for the 'Roos to emerge from group play and repeat their overachievement in Germany 2006.

It's hard for me to believe what I'm about to type here in my Copenhagen hotel room, but here goes before we run out to watch babes -- er, the Denmark v Cameroon match:

Ghana leads Group D with four points, followed by Serbia and Germany each with three, and Australia with one.

Click here for Steve's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup 2010: Group D Recap

One Great Season

Conveniently, this writer is playing in the Woody Hayes Celebrity Classic charity golf tournament today in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio (paired with Gordon Jump). So in combined honor of my preoccupation with the task at hand and being horribly, terribly wrong about Serbia's poise to win Group D, I'll offer this review via iPhone in short-form type:

+ Germany defies clichés to neuter Socceroos with flair and imagination (and protypically stout defense).

+ Stat of the day: Germany made more passes in one half than South Africa, Uruguay, USA, and Nigeria completed in their entire matches.

+ Australia's odd 4-6-0 formation does nothing to slow German juggernaut.

+ Dismissal in 56th minute "shatters" Australia's Cahill.

+ Klose scored his 11th World Cup goal,  tying him for fifth all-time in Cup history with Jurgen Klinsmann and Sandor Kocsis.

+ Squeaky clean: Ghana's seen just three cards in five World Cup matches.

+ Evenly matched Ghana and Serbia see first African victory emerge from Lukovic and Kuzmanovic blunders.

+ Essien-less Ghana can mathematically advance before even playing second match.

Click here for Steve's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup Preview: Group D

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Difficult Group Belongs To
Serbia, Banged-Up Germany

One Great Season

Since the ping pong balls were drawn in December, Group D has remained the most difficult group to predict for many, thanks to the overall high quality of all four teams involved and the rash of big-name injuries that's dominated the news and insomniated the managers these past few months. So let's take a look at what was, at least when the groups were announced, what had been termed this World Cup's "Group of Death."


Top seeds in the group are Joachim Löw's Germany. Semifinalists on home soil in 2006 and European runners-up two years ago, the Germans polkaed through qualifying without a loss — on the scoreboard, anyway. The departure of, among others, captain Michael Ballack to torn ankle ligaments suffered in Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth is as big a blow to their midfield's strength, leadership and overall spirit as anything that could befall them. He's asked his teammates to forget about his injury; the opposition won't, you can be sure of that. Without having to scheme around the experienced, respected 33-year-old veteran, the rest of Group D's game plans just got a lot less complex.

BIO: About Steve Susi

The group's other European candidate is Serbia, which won its qualifying group with France, Austria, Lithuania and Romania — and earned the right to join the World Cup ranks in South Africa as an independent nation for the very first time (they were recognized as Serbia & Montenegro at WC06, and their previous nine appearances were under the Yugoslavian flag). Serbian pride will ooze from every pore and into every decibel, on the pitch and in the stands, as this fiercely nationalistic country has finally achieved its dream of representing its own people before the world on its biggest stage.

FIFA's No. 32-ranked Ghana hope to exert their will upon opponents in Africa the same way they have in winning four African Nations Cup titles over the years. However, in an incredible turn of misfortune eerily similar to that of group-mates Germany, their own midfield powerhouse who plays club ball for Chelsea, Michael Essien, is off the roster due to injury, leaving the middle to Serie A specialists Stephen Appiah (Bologna) and Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan). Without the superstar lovingly nicknamed "The Bison," Ghana will have to play out of their heads if they hope to advance to the second round. Where better to do so than on their home continent?

MORE: Meet The 2010 OGS World Cup Writers

Completing the foursome are Australia, who made it to the final 32 after competing in the Asian qualifying zone for the first time, albeit against a pretty easy group comprised of Japan, Bahrain, Qatar, and Uzbekistan. In fact, they finished with 20 points and a +11 goal differential. Led by Dutch coach Pim Veerbeek, the Aussies will be hopeful of equaling their 2006 display, when, coached by another Dutchman, Guus Hiddink, they advanced to the second round and were barely topped by eventual winners Italy, 1-0. There's quite a bit of talent on this side — nearly a quarter of the 23-man roster play in the Premiership — and with a crafty Dutch coach mandating total football, overlook them at your peril.

Team Roster Average Height:

  • Serbia 6' 1.1"
  • Germany 6' 0.4"
  • Australia 6' 0.1"
  • Ghana 5' 11.1"

Historic Sidenote

Group D may see a pretty cool bit of history made on June 23 at Soccer City in Johannesburg. If Germany defender Jerome Boateng and Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng take the field at the same time, they will become the first brothers to compete against each other in the World Cup.


Germany (nickname: Die Nationalmannschaft [The National Team]) 

The three-time Cup champs and seven-time finalists are always poised to vie for the 14-pound gold trophy, and South Africa 2010 should follow in that tradition. However, a wave of injuries has the quadrennial title contenders in a state of disarray, with the losses of skipper/midfielder Michael Ballack (torn ankle ligaments), defender Heiko Westermann (broken left foot), midfielder Simon Rolfes (knee), first-choice goalkeeper Rene Adler (ribs), and midfielder Christian Traesch (ankle). Yes, you read correctly — three middies including the captain have been carted off the final roster, severely limiting their options and depleting the composure and experience so crucial to advancing in this tournament.

COMING MONDAY: Mike Dick Previews Group E

In Ballack's absence, the immense weight falls to the shoulders of Stuttgart's Sami Khedira and Werder Bremen's attacking midfielder Mesut Özil, the latter of whom possesses an uncanny ability to unzip defenses with his speed and ball-handling, and might make the difference in helping the Germans eke their way out of what promises to be a close group.

To add to the team's cascade of question marks, both Schalke 04 striker Kevin Kuranyi and Werder Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings have been left back in the Fatherland, much to the anger of many supporters and a scrutinous press, and Joachim Löw must make a decision as to which goalkeeper will be his No. 1: experienced and unfortunately named Bayern Munich stopper Hans-Jorg Butt, Bremen's Tim Wiese or 24 year-old Schalke 04 keeper Manuel Neuer.

With such chaos, look for young, lesser-known German talent, of which there always seems no end, to step up and make names for themselves — or it could be an early auf Wiedersehen for the men in black, red, and gold.

Serbia (nickname: The White Eagles)

Led by the only man to coach La Liga’s "Big Three" (Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, and Barcelona), Radomir Antic, the White Eagles qualified for South Africa in intimidating fashion, decimating Romania 5-0 in their final match and tallying more points than WC98 champs France to win their group and secure a place at the 2010 Cup table.

This defense is stout, boasting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, Borussia Dortmund's Neven Subotic, and Man U's bruiser Nemanja Vidic. I wouldn't want to come across any one of the three in an alley, dark or otherwise. In other words, I expect them to give out more black eyes than goals in group play.

The tallest side in Group D — the average Serb has a full two inches’ height advantage over his Ghanaian opponent — is unbeaten in its last four matches, and you can be certain they'll expect Birmingham City's giant 6' 7.5" striker Nikola Zigic and Ajax sensation Marko Pantelic to bully their way into the back of the net and on to the second round.

Ghana (nickname: The Black Stars)

The Black Stars took full advantage of their first World Cup campaign in Germany 2006 when they reached the Sweet 16, only to be handed walking papers by Brazil.

Four years later, they're coached by cerebral tactician Milovan Rajevac — the team's third Serb and tenth manager in six years — who's laid down the hammer and instituted a new level of discipline that was first met with disdain, and then celebrated when Ghana made it to the African Cup of Nations finals (losing 1-0 to Egypt). Crowd support from all African national attendants will give these speedsters a big boost of confidence during the group stage, which they'll need in order to soldier on without their superstar, Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, and surpass their Round of 16 performance in Germany.

Despite an otherwise experienced midfield that includes Inter Milan's Sulley Muntari and Bologna's Stephen Appiah, who are backed by a solid core of defenders, they have a shallow bench and lack a world-class forward. However, if the games stay close, they have every chance of making the quarters.

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for the devious Olympique Marseille winger Andre "Dede" Ayew, son of Ghanaian legend Abedi Pele. The 20-year-old is the only African captain to win international titles at every level, and has a lot to prove — he's French-born, and many fans of Les Bleus resent his opting to play for Ghana, despite multiple overtures from the European nation's football authorities.

Australia (nickname: The Socceroos)

Under the guidance of Dutch manager Guus Hiddink in 2006, the Socceroos overachieved, in many viewers' minds, by making the World Cup Round of 16 before being dismissed by eventual champions Italy. This time around, with another Dutch manager at the helm, Australia will make every effort to return to the knock-out stages as the surprising underdog.

Coach Pim Veerbeek has been criticized widely for his boring style of play, which builds slowly and relies heavily on switching fields with long crosses. He finds such a statement a compliment, however, as all Australia have done is achieve their goal of qualification without a single loss and allowing just one goal during the process. A disciple of total football himself, you can bet this edition of the 'Roos will be well-drilled and ready for a fight.

Everton’s Tim Cahill and Fulham Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had great individual Premiership seasons and hope to keep that momentum going in one of the tournament's toughest groups. Young and talented Galatasary forward Harry Kewell is still recovering from a groin injury, but has resumed training with his national teammates, following a season which saw him notch 14 goals for his Istanbul side.


Mesut Özil 

After an outstanding season that started with stunning performances at the European under-21 Championships in Sweden last summer — leading Germany to the title and earning Man of the Match in the 4-0 victory over England in the finals — and culminated in 11 goals for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, this attacking midfielder hopes to achieve national team success again, this time with the big boys.

After fending off many invitations to play for his parents' country of birth, Turkey, the German-born playmaker is often accused of having eyes in the back of his head and a smooth seventh gear you’ll only find in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. This rare combination of acceleration and deft ball-handling results in dizzied defenders and dazzled spectators, and German supporters far and wide claim he's their next No. 10.

It doesn't take a Beckenbauer to assume Coach Löw intends for Özil to create the kind of chances that Miroslav Klose can finish — and knows that this kid might be the key to scoring enough to overcome the goals allowed by an injury-laden, Ballack-less midfield.


  • June 13 Germany v Australia: Durban
  • June 13 Serbia v Ghana: Pretoria/Tshwane
  • June 18 Serbia v Germany: Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth
  • June 19 Australia v Ghana: Rustenburg
  • June 23 Ghana v Germany: Johannesburg
  • June 23 Australia v Serbia: Nelspruit


Out of the gate, Group D was tagged as the "Group of Death," but now on the doorstep of the World Cup, we’ve seen injuries reduce the star power of this group dramatically, the two best examples of which being Chelsea teammates Ballack (Germany) and Essien (Ghana). Expect the matches and point totals to be tight the whole way, with the likelihood that a number of games will be drawn and tensions on the final day will reach critical-mass levels. Ghana and Australia will most certainly have their chances to see the second round, but a physically imposing, fearless Serbia and an admittedly hobbled Germany will prove to be too much in the end. (Hey, they’re still Germany for chrimeny’s sake.) Serbia wins the group and Germany limps alongside them into the Round of 16.