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Column 060914 Wall

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mexico is on its way to the 2014 World Cup Games in Brazil

By Allan Wall

The 2014 World Cup of soccer is scheduled to be held from June 12th to July 13th, in Brazil.

The World Cup is the international soccer championship tournament in which 32 national teams compete.

The World Cup is held every four years, and every four years hope springs anew in Mexico that the Mexican national team might win. Mexican television runs hours of coverage of the World Cup.  It's a big ongoing story.

Mexico has never won a World Cup, however.  But this time it could be different!

Before moving to Mexico a few decades ago, I knew almost nothing of the World Cup, but I became familiar with it while residing in Mexico.

I'm certainly not a soccer expert, and I generally don't follow it.  But I find the World Cup, given its international flavor, to be interesting. I especially like to watch the prelude to each game, in which both teams line up on the field and the national anthems of both countries are played.

When the World Cup starts there are 32 national teams.  Here are the 32 teams who are in this 2014 World Cup, listed as part of the continental confederations through which they qualify:

1.  From the Asian Football Confederation: Iran, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

2.  From the CAF, Confederation of African Football: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

3.  No teams from the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) qualified.

4.  The CONCACAF (Association of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football): Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.

5.  The CONMEBOL is the South American soccer federation, and it has  six teams at the World Cup: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay and host nation Brazil.

6.  The UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), the confederation of the European soccer zone has 13 teams at the World Cup: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, and the last Cup’s champion Spain.

So here’s how it works.  At the beginning the 32 national teams are divided into groups of four.  In the first round, each team plays the other three teams in the group.

At the end of this first round (three games per team), two teams from each group are eliminated and two stay in the tournament. That leaves 16 teams for the second round.

In the next round, with the 16 teams, it's single elimination. If you lose, you're out.

Following the Round of 16 are the quarter-finals, with only eight teams.

By the semi-finals there are four teams left.  These teams are paired off, and the two losing teams take on each other for the third-place playoff.

Finally, with all but the final two teams eliminated, those two teams fight it out for the World Cup.

Four years ago, in the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa, the final game featured the Netherlands vs. Spain.  Neither national team had ever won the World Cup before.

That game was quite evenly matched.  Neither team scored during regular game time (consisting of two halves of 45 minutes each).  They had to go into overtime (or as they call it in soccer, “extra time”) and Spaniard Andres Iniesta scored, thus handing the Spanish squad a 1-0 triumph.

The first World Cup was held in 1930. Here is the final tally of all the national teams which have won it through the years, and how many times each has won the World Cup: Brazil (5), Italy (4), West Germany (3), Uruguay (2), Argentina (2), England (1), France (1), and Spain (1).

The World Cup 2014 games will be held in 12 cities across Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Recife, Cuiaba, Manaus, Natal, and Curitiba.  Brazil is a big country and these cities are really spread out.

Each of the 32 teams has a Brazilian base camp, the Mexico team’s base camp is in the city of Santos.

Team Mexico’s head coach is Miguel Herrera, called Piojo, Spanish for “louse.”  There are 23 players on the roster.  They are all professional soccer players who normally play for city teams, 15 in the Mexican league, three in the Spanish league, two in the Portuguese league, one in the French league, one in the German league, and one in England’s Premier League (that’s Chicharito, who plays for Manchester United).

Mexico is in Group A, which also includes Cameroon, Croatia and Brazil.

The United States team is also participating in the 2014 World Cup.  It is in Group G, along with Ghana, Portugal and Germany.  The U.S. base camp is in the city of Sao Paulo.


2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil - Matches

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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