The 2009 edition of the Confederations Cup was certainly memorable in the truest sense of the word. The upsets, surprise performances and different styles of play brought to the competition from all corners of the world made the the Cup a football fiesta fit to whet the appetite before the upcoming World Cup.
The important thing to also note is that the tournament wasn't treated like a glorified friendly fest while the calibre of teams involved; like Brazil, Spain and uh, Italy, lent to its prestige.
And before I get called up on this yes Italy, supposed reigning world champions, did indeed take part in the tournament, even claiming a win against those mighty giants of world soccer, the USA; believe it or not.
All in all the Confederations Cup has proven a pretty darn good idea by FIFA over the years.
So what can we take from the 2009 season finale and what kind of World Cup can we expect in South Africa in 2010?
First off, top marks to the stadia and supporters in general. The 2006 WC was a little sterile for my liking but the mostly African supporters dancing, clapping hands and smiling was refreshing in comparsion to the stereotypical sunglasses and scarves brigade (Spain), Japanese tourist (Old Trafford) and empty seat (Serie A) we're used to seeing in European football.
The stadia all looked grand, clean and things like flares and pig's heads were thankfully absent from the games so big ups to the security aspect too.
I guess the only whinge point about the South African hosts were those damned vuvuzelas (which *amazingly* were absent for the South African games). That interminable drone of the work of a Chinese factory child really reminds me of Eastern European football circa 1973. I mean, do they even qualify as a musical instruments?
If they count, nunchucks should count.
As for the football some of the games in particular the Eqypt-Brazil, Spain-USA and Brazil-Italy games were very memorable. Who would've guessed world football outside of Europe and South America was at such a competitive standard? (crappy 'oh no!, anything but the half way line' Iraq aside)
Spain seem to have self-imploded as the smug levels in the team reached critical mass. Eygpt did what all good underdogs usually do and shot themselves in the foot against even bigger underdogs like the USA when only a draw was needed.
And don't Brazil play more like Germany than Brazil nowadays? But who's complaining—Dunga has won 2 trophies already.
As for the USA, well this was really the USA's tournament wasn't it? (Not that anyone cared in the USA)
So Brazil have officially taken the lead from France as the most times Confederation Cup winners and in the process confirmed they it will take some doing to eliminate them next year.
Spain meanwhile have a serious problem, they have no decent right wingers and can't find a way to get Cesc Fabregas into the team without making it worse. They desperatley missed a dribbler in midfield like Iniesta for this tournament.
Was this a just flash in the pan for the USA? Is African football finally coming good? Are Spain too 'Arsenal like' against defensive teams (right to left, left to right, when will somebody shoot?—nobody knows).
One things for sure, the Confed Cup has made me look forward even more to next summers events.