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Managers’ Rejects 2010
By Abdalla M. Taryam May 26, 2010
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THE World Cup is upon us and it’s that time again where football fans and pundits alike print out their downloaded football excel sheets and start predicting the outcome. According to his or her own philosophies, everybody always has a crack at a dark horse causing an upset, but at the end of the day it basically comes down to a guess between 3 or 4 top candidates.

Brazil has a permanent seat on that list of title hopefuls and in South Africa they are joined by European Champions Spain, The Netherlands and the Fabio Capello-led England. Some romantics would want to give Maradona an outside shot at proving to everyone that he is not insane, but only because he possesses the magic of the one and only Lionel Messi.

As we wait anxiously for the world cup to kick off, the players themselves have a discomforting ordeal to deal with. Would they be picked to represent their nation at the biggest stage in football? This year’s selections demonstrated that no player is safe from the dreaded World Cup snub.

Let us start with the defending champions, Italy. Marcello Lippi has a tremendous challenge ahead of him to try and come out of this tournament with a respectable showing. The simple fact is that the Azzurri no longer has the star players. Either they are too old, underperforming or simply not talented enough. But if you look at the squad that Lippi has named you would notice that his weakest line, his forwards, could have easily been strengthened. Antonio Cassano and Fabrizio Miccoli have consistently dazzled in the Serie A this season, yet amazingly they did not get the call. 

Next we analyse Dunga’s exclusions. Over the years, I have never seen a Brazilian team missing a star player for a reason other than injury, but this year Dunga has made it a point to rob the world from football’s greatest showman. Ronaldinho’s earlier exclusions may have been attributed to his poor form and expanding waistline but lately he has blissfully gained his old form that reminded us of his Barca days. Still capable of taking on hordes of players with a smile on his face; Ronaldinho is surely the biggest snub of them all. Dunga though found a way to further disappoint by omitting his club teammate Pato. With a front line consisting of two inexperienced players, an underachieving Robinho and Luis Fabiano, he surely could have made use of them.

Moving on to the French, I immediately ask the perturbing question, does Raymond Domenech have something against Arabs? Probably not, but his selection certainly makes people wonder. Benzema, Ben Arfa, Nasri and Adil Rami, the four Arabs that have regularly played for Les Blues, were all destined for South Africa but the controversial trainer has never failed to disappoint. A team that barely squeezed into the tournament, albeit by an illegal goal, surely cannot miss players of this calibre. Apart from those mentioned, he has previously ostracised keeper Sebastian Frey and defender Philip Mexes, pushing the former into early international retirement. A decision that will undoubtedly change once Domenech is relieved of his duties.

Finally we come to the Argentine selection. A god of a footballer and a clown of a manager, Diego Armando Maradona, has accomplished the unimaginable and has named a worse team than all the aforementioned. This is not like in Italy’s case where Lippi struggled to find decent players. Nor was it a case of personal vendettas. This is just an unexplainable episode.

How do you not select Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso for any team? If they are good enough to play for Jose Mourinho and the European Champions then surely they warrant a place on the national team. What about a stalwart like Gabriel Milito who has successfully come back from injury to put in some fantastic performances for Barcelona? I cannot possibly comprehend the inclusions of Ariel Garce, Clemente Rodriguez and Martin ‘I missed three penalties in one match’ Palermo while the other legends stay at home. Even the Valencia box-to-box midfielder, Ever Banega, has my sympathy for not making it after a great season. The Argentine Football Association chief must be recollecting the biggest blunders of his life and Maradona’s appointment should be up there with the worst of them.

Looking back at the names that we won’t be seeing in South Africa, adding other notable rejects like Spain’s Marcos Senna and England’s Ashley Young, it is possible to assemble a squad that is capable of competing for the title. It is just a shame that the fans that fuel a spectacle like the World Cup get to miss out on these entertainers. Oh well, maybe we’ll get to see Maradona’s belly flop again.

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