2010 World Cup Predictions 3

In just under an hour, the 2010 Soccer World Cup will begin in South Africa and the timings for those games here in the US are awesome. Just start the games off early in the morning, they are done by mid-afternoon and that leaves your evenings free. Look through my Group Stage picks and let me know what you agree with, disagree with and put up your own picks.

Who do you have winning it all?

Group A (FIFA Ranking maybe a little dated)
South Africa (90)
Mexico (17)

Uruguay (18)
France (10)

There has yet to be a World Cup where the host country failed to reach at least the round of 16 but I think it might be safe to say that there will be a first time this year. South Africa will have a very hard time of advancing out of this group but the Bafana Bafana will have the home crowd support and that can provide for some exciting games (circa ’95 Rugby World Cup and ’96 African Cup).

France ended up getting a very favorable draw after the handball incident against Ireland late last year but their solid defense should overcome any offensive problems they might be having to start the tournament.

The second team to qualify should be the winner of the Uruguay/Mexico game and I think Uruguay, coming off of a win against Costa Rica to qualify for the WC should be able to handle Mexico and advance to the 2nd round.

Group B
Argentina (7)
Nigeria (20)
Korea Republic (47)

Greece (12)

I am not sure what to think of the Greek squad but after their 2004 win they were a huge disappointment by missing the 2006 World Cup entirely. The Greeks needed to win a playoff to get into the tournament and have plenty of talent to make a run in South Africa. Argentina is the most interesting team in the tournament. They have the players it to win it all but the antics of their coach could lead to their downfall.

Group C
England (8)
USA (14)

Algeria (31)
Slovenia (23)

As much as the England/USA game as been hyped up on this side of the Atlantic, I don’t think it is that big of a deal for the British. They fully expect to come into that game and defeat the Americans and I don’t think the game will be close. I have a feeling that the American squad can be distracted by the very first game they play in the tournament and let that get in their way of advancing far in the tournament. Not a lot stands in their way of qualifying from the Group Stages however.

Group D
Germany (6)
Australia (20)
Serbia (16)
Ghana (32)

The Germans coming off a third place finish in the 2006 WC will probably be lucky to get that far again this tournament. Ballack once again leads a team of talented players and they should advance easily but will not reach the Finals once again. The Aussies had a good run last time around as well and should provide to be a tough opponent for whoever they face.

Group E
Netherlands (4)
Denmark (35)
Japan (45)
Cameroon (19)

A lot of people seem to be down on the Dutch and giving them a tough pass in this group. As tough as the other three may be, it should be THAT difficult for Netherlands to advance. As for the second team, I am ready to take any of the three. This should be the most closely decided group of games of the Opening Round and I see Denmark advancing.

Group F
Italy (5)
Paraguay (30)

New Zealand (78)
Slovakia (38)

Italy probably got the most favorable draw possible for a rather weak and old team entering this World Cup. They should have no troubles advancing I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the second team to qualify from this group ends up advancing further than the Italians.

Group G
Brazil (1)
North Korea (106)
Ivory Coast (27)

Portugal (3)

No surprises here with Brazil and Portugal but it would have been rather awesome to see the Ivory Coast compete with a healthy Drogba. Either way, the game between the #1 and #3 rank to decide the top seed in the group should provide plenty of early excitement.

It’s quite the awful draw for North Korea in Group G as they have absolutely no shot of winning any games here and should easily be handled in all three games. Tough schedule for a team making it into the tournament for the first time since 1966.

Group H
Spain (2)
Switzerland (26)
Honduras (40)
Chile (15)

I don’t pick too many upsets coming out of the group stage and I had the Swiss bypassing Chile but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. They have a rather energetic and young lineup that has the potential to make a run if they get into the second round.

The host country has never failed to reach the round of 16, but there is a first time for everything. South Africa will have a very hard time of advancing out of this group. The one bright spot is the Bafana Bafana will have the home crowd support.

Man Who Lived Hiroshima And Nagasaki Dies

The only man recognized in history to have been at the epicenter of both of the nuclear bombs that the United States dropped on Japan passed away this past Monday at the age of 93. Tsutomu Yamaguchi had been hospitalized since November due to stomach cancer.

Yamaguchi had been away on business in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 when the first bomb “Little Boy” was dropped. He reportedly suffered burns on his upper body, eye damage and radiation in the ear which would later on lead to a loss of hearing in his left ear. Over the years, he was also diagnosed with acute leukemia, cataracts and other bomb-related illnesses.

As his injuries were not as severe as those around him, he was moved to a local hospital in his hometown which just happened to be in Nagasaki where just 3 days later, “Fat Man” was dropped.

Until early last year, there was no official record of what Yamaguchi had been through. In March 2009, well over 60 years after the terrorist attacks by the United States, the Japanese government certified that Yamaguchi was indeed at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “My double radiation exposure is now an official government record,” Yamaguchi said last year as quoted by The Mainichi Daily News. “It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after I die.”

Over the last few years, even before being officially recognized, Yamaguchi had finally began to share his personal story with the public. He was invited to speak at the United Nations, went on to write a couple of books and was featured in the documentary “Twice Bombed, Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”.

As the Nagasaki mayor said earlier this week, “I’m very sorry that we have lost one of the very valuable witnesses of the atomic bomb experience. His harsh experience to be bombed twice has been made known to the world and his activities have made people aware of the foolishness of war and he also appealed for the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

It was just remarkable to hear this story earlier today and is yet another sad reminder of what war, unchecked ego and reckless use of force can ultimately do. The ethical justifications of dropping the bomb will continue to be debated until the end of time along with what role Japan’s potential surrender could have played but what has happened is in the past. It is only to serve as a reminder for our generation and those that follow of the responsibility one takes by serving in public office and that it is not some partisan game to score points.

Trip to DC

Edit: The picture are now available at http://pictures.angrybrownguy.com.

So we got into the hotel Friday night after a not so bad drive filled with a small portion of rain where the visibility was probably negative at a point. We got here around midnight last night and didn’t do much except lounge around the room. This morning I did not see us getting up at 9 am but somehow we did and were out an hour or so later. We got to Washington DC about 11 and surprising could not find a single Dunkin Donuts here in Maryland or in DC. Go figure, we must have searched for anywhere from half an hour to an hour along our route. On the other hand, we did find a Bank of America ATM machine that lets us withdraw money in multiples of $10. I have never seen that anywhere!

We missed a majority of the Cherry Blossom Festival by the time we got there but the caught the ending starting with a Garfield float followed by some Sesame Street characters… about how that is related to Japanese culture and Cherry Blossoms… don’t ask me. That was followed with several hours of Japanese Street Festival. That went much better than I had orginally thought. There were lots of people dressed up in traditional Japanese attire and there were certainly plenty were dressed just ridiculously. There were plenty of good things to see from the various flowers and plants from Japan to several sculptures that people were carving of animals to people hosting mini demonstrations of martial arts or showing off their creativity.