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It was early ‘Czech out time’ for the East European republic at the end of the group stage of the World Cup in Germany.
Tipped to be one of the favourites to win the tournament, the Czech Republic exited dazed and confused.
After a disposing off the US in clinical fashion in their opening match, the Czechs faltered and stumbled out to the disappointment of many of their fans.
Injury and age may have proved to be crucial factors for the Czech slide. Striker Jan Koller was out in the first match after scoring a goal and another striker Milan Baros was injured for most of the round.
The ageing swingers of the Czech team could not maintain the consistency required at the highest level. The average age of the Czech team was 28 and a half.
There was much hope from the Czechs, particularly after their dazzling start. Their aggressive and flowing football had the US in a spin. However, everything went awry in their match against Ghana and fatal errors at crucial moments dashed their chances.
Another major disappointing team was the US. Ranked number five by Fifa, the US did little to justify such a high ranking.
The US must blame inconsistency for their poor form. They did have a few refereeing errors go against them, but their poor performance cannot be condoned.
Playmaker Landon Donovan only showed bursts of good form but failed to capitalise on his chances. The only consolation for the US was that teams did not run them over as it usually happened in the past.
The African challenge was led by Ghana and Ivory Coast with the former going through to the second round.
Ivory Coast played slick football which pleased the fans but they lost out when it came to finishing. There were splendid in attack but forgot that defence was also a basic part of the game.
Their slick buildups were exciting to watch but the many of these came to nothing. To win matches, goals matter and this eluded them.
Angola were content to defend hard and this they did with some success. But they did not grab their chances and this proved their downfall.
Togo and Tunisia did not set the pace with the latter almost losing to a lacklustre Saudi team.
The Africans, by and large, proved disappointing because only one team made it to the next stage.
With the next World Cup in South Africa, the Africans must now get rid of their ‘potential’ tag and start getting results.
They need give importance to the basics of football. If they do that, then their natural flair will take them through.