World Cup 2014 views from Tokyo: Ghana and Costa Rica

by Mark Buckton

Special To The Japan Times

Effah Kwabena
Assistant professor, 39

Who is Ghana’s man to watch?

There is this new guy, very much unknown to the football community. His name’s David Accam and I really like him — very talented and very, very fast in attacking. I think he’ll be the new revelation in Ghana’s side.

How far do you expect Ghana and Japan to get?

Japan has a very good team — tactically they are good and very well-composed, and I foresee them going past the group stage and probably meeting Croatia, and maybe Croatia will take them out, unfortunately.

Of course, Ghana is my country and I wish them well. I think Ghana will go to the final and will probably play Brazil in the final, but before that they have to beat Argentina.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

I am hoping Brazil could meet Spain in the round of 16, and Brazil will kick Spain out. I also think Portugal will go out in the group stage. This is my prediction.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

I think Brazil will win, because they have a good team, a very young side, talented and very energetic. They are very well-composed, well-organized and they have prepared quite a long time compared to the other teams, knowing that they are going to host it, to be able to win it at home, and of course the samba festival (atmosphere) and the home support will be huge for them.

The dark horse is not actually a dark horse: I foresee Argentina also making every effort they can to upset them. But Brazil and Argentina can only meet in the final, if you look at the way the groupings are done, and for Argentina to do that, it means that they have to beat Ghana, who I predict will meet Brazil in the final, meaning Ghana is then the dark horse!

Rodrigo Gonzalez
Master’s student, 27
(Costa Rican)

Who is Costa Rica’s man to watch?

That would be Keylor Navas. He has been playing for the Levante football team in Spain, and he was presented as the best goalkeeper in the Spanish league this year, so everyone’s hopes are kind of on his shoulders.

How far do you expect Costa Rica and Japan to get?

Costa Rica is in a very, very difficult group. We’re playing Italy in the first round, who have four world championships under their belt; Uruguay, who have two, and they won the first World Cup ever in 1930; and England also has one, in 1966, if I’m not mistaken. And so our chances are slim, I’d say, to make it past the first round. But our team has very talented athletes and very young players, and I’m pretty sure everyone is going to do their best.

Japan has a better chance. They’re in a group with Colombia, Ivory Coast and Greece, so the odds are in their favor. Also, I really like Japan’s football. As a joke, we say it’s like watching a video game, in the sense that the lineup and the way the players move is the way it’s supposed to be — very orderly, disciplined — so I very much look forward to watching them play.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

I’d say Costa Rica vs. Uruguay, which is the first game Costa Rica is playing. Uruguay hasn’t been doing very well up to the playoffs, so people are kind of looking forward to this game. And secondly, Spain and the Netherlands, of course, because this was the final game in South Africa in 2010. I’m pretty sure everyone around the world is eager to watch this game.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

Well, I have to agree with most people that it is very likely Brazil are going to win, being the host and all.

And dark horses? I would say Belgium because, well, Belgium hasn’t been in the World Cup for quite some time now, and they have very good players. Their lineup consists of players who are in European teams and have been doing very well lately. So I think as a European alternative, Belgium is looking good for this World Cup.

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