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While most pundits are picking the best XI of the World Cup, I’m choosing the XI that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Coach: Raymond Domenech – France
The eccentric manager of France will be remembered in this World Cup for losing the respect of the entire dressing room, which led to a mutiny from the players. This ended up leading France to an early exit from the World Cup, with two losses and a draw. He couldn’t even lose gracefully by refusing to shake hands with Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Dishonourable mentions: Diego Maradona for his unconventional behaviour, and his unusual method of squad discipline, and, Diego threatening to streak in the centre of Buenos Aires if Argentina won the World Cup.
Goalkeeper: Luis Alberto Suárez – Uruguay
According to Suarez, “sometimes in training I play as a goalkeeper.” And he certainly used his training to good use, making the best save of the tournament and knocking off Ghana in the process. Therefore, that is enough for me to put him as goalkeeper of this squad. He will forever be remembered for this handball. This remains the most controversial moment of the World Cup.
For people who doubt his credentials as a goalkeeper, apparently Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg texted him a message saying “now you are the best keeper of the tournament.” Probably the biggest contender to Iker Casillas for the Golden Glove.
Dishonourable mentions: Robert Green for contributing to the worst goal keeping mistake of the tournament.
Left Back: Patrice Evra – France
He will be remembered for leading the mutiny of the French team after Anelka was sent home. The public argument between him and his fitness coach Robert Duverne was one of the highlights of the French team at the World Cup. He ended up being dropped to the bench due to his involvement in the strike.
Dishonourable mentions: Joan Capdevilla for his theatrics in sending off Ricardo Costa for an imaginary elbow, and Gabriele Heinze for whacking the camera
Centre Back: John Terry (Captain) – England
Whilst Patrice Evra successfully led a mutiny of the French Team, John Terry will be remembered for unsuccessfully leading the mutiny of the English team. His public criticism of Fabio Capello’s selection, and suggesting that a few players of the team will probably be sent home for voicing their opinions backfired when it turns out he didn’t have the support of the rest of the squad.
Centre Back: Nemanja Vidić – Serbia
Against Germany, he committed the second most blatant handball of the tournament. Watch the way Vidic stretches out his hands as far as possible, desperately trying to intercept the ball with his hands. Just like Suarezs’ effort, his handball was unpunished as Podolski missed the penalty.
Honourable mentions: Fabio Cannavaro for playing his part in the Nike curse by leading his team to first round elimination, and also for his part in the Smeltz goal.
Right Back: Anther Yahia – Algeria
During the match against USA, he whacked Clint Dempsey in the face splitting his lip causing a nasty wound. Amazingly, no foul, penalty or cards were given for the incident. Justice was finally done when USA scored the winner in injury time, and Yahia was sent off in the 93th minute.
Defensive Midfielder: Mark Van Bommel – Netherlands
By far the dirtiest player at the World Cup, his persistent fouling and thuggish tackling throughout the World Cup represented the pragmatism that the Dutch side has embraced for this tournament.
If tactical fouling by the likes of Van Bommel is considered a legitimate tactic, then there’s really no reason why anyone should complain when attacking sides used diving and injury feigns as tactical instruments to win the game.
Here is an example of an awful thuggish leg stamp that should have been a red carded.
Defensive Midfielder: Nigel de Jong – Netherlands
Xabi Alonso described the “tackle” committed by Nigel de Jong as, “the worst tackle I have ever suffered.”
However, I think calling it a tackle is giving de Jong too much credit. Van Bommel’s partner in crime was responsible for the most unsporting moment of the World Cup when he karate kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest in the final.
Defensive Midfielder: Daniele De Rossi – Italy
Considering the defensive nature of the majority of the team, I don’t see the problem of having three defensive midfielders, and there’s no way I could omit him from the team.
He is here because he is the inaugural winner of the Rivaldo award with a beautiful dive against Paraguay. Now some people have argued that it wasn’t a dive, De Rossi was merely cramping up. Now even if it was cramp, it does say something about his natural instinct to make him fall down as dramatically as he did.
Dishonourable mentions: Felipe Melo for a leg stamp on Robben, and Sani Kaita for his kick on Vassilis Torosidis
Left Winger: Abdel-Kader Keïta
Keïta was a bench player for Ivory Coast who only started one match in this World Cup. However, despite limited playing time, he made a huge impact in the match against Brazil in a wonderful display of playacting to send off Kaka.
This wasn’t the worst example of playacting in football history, but this was probably one of the most stupid examples of playacting as Ivory Coast were already two goals down in the 87th minute on the way to losing the match. They are now reliant on Brazil to beat Portugal by a fair margin for them to go through to the round of 16.
The result of this was that Brazil looked impotent against the Portuguese as they played out a 0-0 draw which effectively eliminated Ivory Coast from the competition. It’s highly unlikely Kaka’s dismissal would have made a difference considering the massive goal difference to overcome, but Keïta effectively handicapped his team even further.
Right winger: Cristiano Ronaldo
I could go on about the diving Ronaldo has committed in the tournament, but I’ll let him off for this because he was consistently fouled throughout.
However, he’s in this team because he is the finest representation of the Nike ad curse at the World Cup. He had a disappointing tournament partly due to the defensive nature of the Portuguese team. His team got eliminated in the round of 16 with a whimper, Ronaldo was anonymous throughout the game. Looks like there will be no statues of Ronaldo being built in Portugal.
However, he didn’t exactly lose the game with grace. His spit toward the camera, and then his criticism of his manager gets him special mention.
Dishonourable mentions: Iniesta and Robben for going down too easily.
He will be remembered for one of the worst misses in World Cup history. He kicked the ball wide when he had an empty net against South Korea. Alan Shearer was quoted of saying, “I reckon that’s the worse miss I’ve ever seen.”
This miss was partly responsible for Nigeria’s elimination from the World Cup as they would have qualified if they defeated South Korea. Although Nigeria were cleared of match fixing by FIFA, it’s misses like this that made it no surprise that they were investigated by FIFA for match fixing.
Dishonourable mentions: Rooney going back to the trailer park for his performance in the World Cup, and Fernando Torres for a disappointing World Cup.