2010 FIFA World Cup Previews and Predictions: Golden Boot Dark Horses
The Golden Boot—awarded to the player who scores the most goals in a World Cup—is rarely won by one of the top class strikers who go in to the tournament as favorites.
In past World Cups, the Golden Boot has been claimed by the likes of Miroslav Klose, Toto Schillachi and Davor Suker—none of who were household names before they topped their tournament’s scoring charts.
With the exception of Ronaldo in 2002, the Golden Boot is rarely won by a player whose team make the final. In fact a top scorers team doesn’t even need to get past the first round. Just ask Russia’s Oleg Salenko—joint top scorer in 1994.
With this in mind, we’re previewing some of the less celebrated strikers who will be chasing the Golden Boot in South Africa.
No. 8: Cacau (Germany)
With Germany’s usual striking options struggling for form at club level, Brazilian born Stuttgart striker, Cacau, has been creeping into contention with goalscoring performances for his club and adopted country.
He has scored three times in recent friendly matches and should he find his way into the first team could be hungry for more.
No. 7: Theofanis Gekas (Greece)
The overall top scorer in the European qualifying campaign for the World Cup with 10 goals, Gekas cannot be ignored.
Greece are not renowned for their attacking football but they are in the unpredictable Group B and Gekas may relish facing the often uncertain Argentinean and Nigerian defenses.
No. 6: Milan Jovanovic (Serbia)
As a midfielder, new Liverpool signing Milan Jovanovic is certainly an outsider for the Golden Boot. Yet his five—goal haul during Serbia’s qualifying campaign suggests he is worth keeping an eye on, especially as Serbian coach Raddy Antic will occasionally play him up front.
Serbia face a tough challenge to get out of Group D, but the battle against Germany, Ghana and Australia may yield lots of goals and Jovanovic is sure to be among them.
No. 5: Gervinho (Ivory Coast)
While opposing defenders inevitably focused on Didier Drogba, there may be opportunity for another of Ivory Coast’s strikers to rack up the goals.
If he can force his way into the starting side, young striker Gervinho is a significant threat in front of goal.
He has an impressive goals—per—game ratio, despite not playing often for his club side Lille. The 23—year old has already scored four times for his country, including one in the African Cup of Nations.
With Ivory Coast set to face the lowest ranked team in the tournament, North Korea, Gervinho may be one to watch.
No. 4: Roque Santa Cruz (Paraguay)
Roque Santa Cruz may not have had the most successful season with Manchester City, but as he showed at previous club Blackburn Rovers he is capable of scoring goals.
The Paraguayan has experienced scoring in a World Cup, when he helped his country advance past the first round in 2002.
Should Paraguay’s Group F New Zealand prove to be the whipping boys some people are making them out to be, they could be ample opportunity for Santa Cruz to rediscover his goal-scoring form in South Africa.
No. 3: Humberto Suazo (Chile)
At the beginning of 2010, experienced Chilean striker Humberto Suazo—nicknamed Chupete—left his home country for the first time in his career for a loan spell at Spanish club Real Zaragoza, where he scored six times in 17 games.
Chupete was top scorer in the South American qualifying campaign, ahead of Brazil’s Luis Fabiano, and Chile’s campaign was notable for their attacking football. If they continue with this tactic in the relatively weak Group H, Suazo could have a lot of chances to top another list.
No. 2: Peter Crouch (England)
The 6’7” striker is often seen as a joke amongst soccer fans, but he is a very effective goal-scorer with an excellent record for England.
With 21 goals in just 38 appearances, Crouch is pushing hard for a first team place alongside Wayne Rooney, ahead of the goal-shy Emile Heskey.
If he can nail down a place in the side, there could be goals in a number of England’s group matches. A quarterfinal place at least, isn’t beyond the team so there should plenty of opportunity for him to show off his robot-dance celebration.
No. 1: Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
The striker has come a long way since he was a laughing stock of Manchester United. Forlan has proved a sensation since he joined La Liga’s Atletico Madrid and last month scored twice to help them lift the UEFA Cup.
With a good scoring record for the national team, Forlan could be in the mood to plunder some goals especially if their group opponents, host nation South Africa, live up to their billing as the second weakest team in the tournament.