Thomas
Hunter at the Crikey sports desk writes:




What
is it they say about a team of champions?
Brazil’s
team of superstars is heading home after losing to a spirited French team (1-0)
on Saturday night. “We never prepared for this moment,” Brazilian coach Carlos
Alberto Parreira said after his team’s shock loss. The search for scapegoats is under way, with
many holding Parreira accountable. “For
someone who
had three-and-a-half years to work, with a golden generation as his
disposal
and years of experience in the profession, Carlos Alberto Parreira was
a
complete disaster in this World Cup,” the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper
said.
But Parreira wasn’t the only target, with underperforming superstar
Ronaldinho
also coming in for criticism. “He played badly, he didn’t dribble, he
didn’t have
a shot at goal, he misplaced passes and did not, at any moment, take
responsibility. It was a portrait of his participation in the World
Cup:
apathetic, bureaucratic, mediocre and afraid of deciding,” wrote the
Estado de
Sao Paulo
newspaper. For their part, a revitalised France, with
Zinedine Zidane
in match-winning form, are now looking more and more like contenders
for the
grand prize.

Beckham quits captaincy: Many are suggesting England’s
loss to Portugal on Saturday night could well mark the beginning of a new era
in English football, with David Beckham, captain since 2000, stepping aside,
and Sven-Goran Eriksson coaching his last game for the Brits. While everyone
knew Eriksson’s tenure was coming to a close, Beckham’s resignation, something
of a surprise, will be remembered as a case of good timing – a gracious
departure instead of an ugly sacking. Reading from a brief statement, Beckham said:
“This is the most
difficult decision of my career and I came to it some time ago, but I hoped to
leave on the back of a successful World Cup. Sadly, it was not to be. I am so
proud I lived the dream.” Incoming coach Steve McLaren’s first order of
business will be to decide on a replacement, with John Terry and Steven Gerrard
topping the list of candidates.

Hewitt
gaining momentum:
After scraping through the second
round in a tight five setter against Korean Hyung-Taik Lee, Lleyton Hewitt made
much lighter work of 26th seed Oliver Rochus to advance to the fourth round at
Wimbledon. Hewitt’s path to the finals was made easier on Saturday when Andy
Roddick was beaten by Scottish teenager Andy Murray. After cruising past Rochus
in straight sets (6-1 6-4 6-4), Hewitt is not being over-confident ahead in his
approach to David Ferrer, his next opponent. “He’s a tough player on all
surfaces and he’s very competitive. I’ve never seen him sort of go away in
matches. Hopefully on grass I can put him under a little bit more pressure,” he
said. If Hewitt defeats the Spaniard (and history suggests he can, never having
lost to a Spaniard – including Rafael Nadal – on grass), he’ll face either Andy
Murray or Australian Open runner up Marcos Baghdatis in the quarter finals.

Peter Fray

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