Brazil set for orange clash

Netherlands stand in Brazil’s way while Ghana try to make African history against Uruguay.

The Netherlands are yet to win a World Cup as they face multiple winners Brazil [GALLO/GETTY]

Ghana hope to go where no African team has been before and reach the World Cup semi-finals on Friday while Brazil face Netherlands in the day’s first quarter-final.

After a two-day lull, the action restarts at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth where five-times champions Brazil take on a Netherlands who have failed to lift the trophy despite fielding some of the most eye-catching teams ever.

Their four-out-of-four wins in South Africa so far have been solid rather than spectacular.

Yet with attacking talent like Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Rafael van der Vaart lurking, the Dutch could come alight any time.

“We play our better games against teams that want to play football as well and on Friday, Brazil is not going to wait,” winger Ryan Babel said.

Attacking power

For all their own attacking power, Brazil have also become masters in defence under coach Dunga.

Despite criticism at home for abandoning some flair, Dunga appears to have found a winning formula of impregnable, European-style defence combined with the lightning-fast counter-attack capacity of Robinho, Kaka and Luis Fabiano.

The notoriously grumpy Dunga, who captained Brazil to wins over Netherlands in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, seemed more worried about accommodation arrangements and a new training venue than his in-form opponents on the eve.


“It interferes with things. We will have to share a hotel with more people, there will be more confusion, and we will have to overcome this situation,” he said.

Ghana have already equalled the best African showing at a World Cup by reaching the quarter-finals.

Cameroon did the same in 1990 and Senegal in 2002.

To chart new territory and cheer millions around Africa, Ghana need to beat a mean-looking Uruguay side, who are one of an unprecedented four South American teams in the quarters.

“It is a match of destiny which places an onerous responsbility on the Black Stars,” Ghana’s former president John Kufuor told the Reuters news agency.

Uruguay also have history calling on them.

“La Celeste” won the World Cup back in 1930 and 1950 and would love to recapture those early glory days.

Strike pair Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez’s five goals between them so far would suggest the South Americans may have the upper hand.

Liverpool boost

Away from the World Cup, new Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson received an immediate boost on Thursday when he was told he would not have to sell the club’s prized assets, England midfielder Steven Gerrard and Spain striker Fernando Torres.

Supporters feared the pair would be sold to help service debts of almost $597.3 million but chairman Martin Broughton assured the former Fulham boss he would not have to get rid of anyone.

The much-travelled Hodgson has been tasked with reviving Liverpool’s fortunes after the 18-times English champions decided last month to end Spaniard Rafa Benitez’s six-year reign.

Vastly experienced, the 62-year-old takes over after a woeful season for the Anfield club who finished seventh in the Premier League and missed out on qualifying for the lucrative Champions League.

“This is the biggest job in club football and I’m honoured to be taking on the role of manager of Britain’s most successful football club,” said Hodgson after signing a three-year contract.

“I’d like to think I’ve earned this job. My career shows that kudos is not something I’ve actively sought but this job carries that with it, and enormous responsibility, and I’m ready to take it on.”

Hodgson, whose name has been linked to the England job since their World Cup second-round exit on Sunday, becomes Liverpool’s 18th manager and the first Englishman to hold the post since Roy Evans left in 1998.

Source: Reuters