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Club World Championship: Sydney v Saprissa
Sydney FC 0-1 Deportiva Saprissa
>>Photos at Fifa.com

These first few years of the CWC (as opposed to the Toyota Cup where only the Euro and S.Am champs played) are bound to be a little awkward and unbalanced. Especially the games between the new participants. The scores could tumble either way, and perhaps had to do with who could hold it together longest.

I expected Deportiva Saprissa to win this game. Their roster is pretty much the Costa Rican national team, and they have a couple amazing players. The experience and stability of Sydney's veteran footballers was clear in the first half, and though I felt their passing was a litte too quiet and lacked pace, they controlled the game. What was interesting was the both teams were built around a clear concept... Saprissa centers itself around the Costa Rican national team maintaining momentum and loyalty, and Sydney being a new club in a new league succeeded this far by lining up players with long careers in the game.

I was surprised Saprissa gave so much of the possession to Sydney in the first half, aiming only for counters. Sydney should have and could have scored in this first half. There were a number of great opportunities, I think Sydney have something like 9 shots. But they failed to convert.

Just after the second half started, Saprissa caught Sydney off with a long feed from the back. It found Bolanos for a chest trap that got him past the defenders followed by a well-timed shot. Wonderful control and body balance for the goal. It was quite an emotional moment for Saprissa, Bolanos balled up on the ground in tears of joy, even some of the bench players rejoicing with tears.

Though Sydney tried to equalize throwing themselves forward, they just could not make use of the chances they set up. The biggest problem from what I saw, if I were to single out something, was that most of the crosses lacked precision, and there was a lot of missed windows for good passing moments because of a lag in decision-making. It got very crazy towards the end, with Sydney putting up a tremendous fight, and Saprissa hanging on.

Sydney manager Littbarksi had warned the team that the kind of fouls they may get away with in the A-league often do not translate internationally; however a one-chance moment when Ceccoli bared his points at the Saprissa goalie sent him off with a red. We saw red again when a Sydney player cut his head and took time stopping the bleeding.

Saprissa showed their nervousness in the first half, but came through with a proper goal in the second and hung onto the lead despite the barrage from Sydney in the dying moments of the game. Sydney, despite being one man down put on a spirited show but perhaps lacked that one player or play that could make a difference all on his/its own. Maybe that was the role Kazu Miura was supposed to play...

This is a new experience for not only the teams but also for us watching. But though there are great differences in degree of interest or knowledge with regard to the 6 teams involved among football fans around the world, the aim of the tournament I think is intriguing.

People say that the future of world football is moving away from the national teams (and things like the World Cup) and towards the clubs. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I agree I've enjoyed seeing clubs from different parts of the world play each other like this.

Saprissa go on to play the just arrived Liverpool FC.
Sydney will play Al Ahly for 5th place.
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2005/12/13(火) 16:47:58 |
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