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Tottenham signed Ryan Nelsen? February 11, 2012

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Here’s Tottenham Hotspur’s matchday squad for the game against Newcastle (Courtesy of the Guardian’s Scott Murray):

Tottenham Hotspur: Friedel; Walker, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar, Modric, Parker, Bale; Adebayor, Saha.
Subs: Cudicini, Bongani, Nelsen, Rose, Livermore, Lennon, Defoe

Yes, that, in bold, is Stanford-educated New Zealand defender Ryan Nelsen. I wasn’t even aware he’d signed for Spurs. I have no idea why he has barely featured at Blackburn this season, but if he performs at all decently, he’ll make Steve Kean look very stupid indeed.

Ghana doesn’t seem to care whether it plays football or not February 5, 2012

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Ghanaian football, Tunisian soccer.
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Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic has crafted the most nihilistic side at the African Cup of Nations (photo credit: Africa Soccernet)

As usual, things haven’t gone according to plan for me regarding the Africa Cup of Nations. I’d wanted to watch all the games, or failing that at least see all the teams, but it didn’t work out. Now only four sides are left for me to think about. I’ll try to post my thoughts on each of the ones left at least.

I used to like Ghana, but I don’t anymore.

Many Americans first saw the Black Stars when they knocked the U.S. out of the 2010 World Cup and got a bad impression. I remember them from their swashbuckling 2006 campaign, where they were a glass-jawed side that tore teams apart at stretches but never seemed to believe in itself. Very charismatic.

Ghana 2012, though has none of that, even though it has more stardust and confidence than ever before. Marseille attacker Andre Ayew is the best player I’ve ever seen in Ghana’s colors and the team is built around him. Every time he gets the ball, there’s anticipation, because he can do anything he wants with it.

But Ayew, against Tunisia, was also outrageously cynical. In two extra time minutes, I remember him hitting the ground in feigned agony three times. And that’s very much emblematic of the entire team.

Every time the ball enters Ghana’s box, you can hear coach Goran Stevanovic screaming “Away!” over the crowd. Whenever the opposition gets a break, Anthony Annan hurdles out of nowhere and chops the ball-carrier down. Plenty of sides do this sort of thing, but the overall impression with Ghana is unmistakable: This is a side that doesn’t care one way or the other whether it plays football.

That said, it’s also the most complete team at the tournament.