SATURDAY 16TH JULY, 2005
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2) BOCA JUNIORS 2 (1)
Spurs Team (4-4-2):- Cerny; Marney, Dawson (sub Gardner, 63), King (Capt.) (sub Huddlestone, 75), Bunjevcevic; Tainio, Carrick, Mendes, Reid (sub El Hamdaoui, 77); Mido (sub Keane, 80), Defoe (sub Routledge, 64)
I am hopeful of getting a match report from a man on the spot “Johnny Hotspur” in due course, but like many Spurs fans either unable to afford a trip to Korea, or who chose not to make that level of commitment, I sat at home and watched the game on the Eurosport channel. Now, obviously, it is a blessing to be able to watch our heroes thousands of miles away thanks to modern technology, but wouldn’t it be nice if the broadcasters could fork out to a) send their commentators to the venue, rather than sitting in a studio here in blighty, and having to rely upon the rather grainy images transmitted from South Korea, and b) wouldn’t it be nice if said commentator and “analyst” (I use the term in its loosest sense) at least bothered to do a bit of research and find out a bit about the team before the game?
The “analyst” was after all an ex-Spurs player – Paul Walsh, although I believe his allegiance lies in another part of London, and some of his so-called expert offerings were cringe-making in the extreme. In the brief pre-kick-off summary, he suggested that Dean Marney was going to play up front in support of Defoe, whereas any Spurs fan with an ounce of intelligence could have told you straight away that Marney would be at right back. Neither Walsh nor commentator Tim Caple even knew that substitute Anthony Gardner had failed a fitness test at Charlton recently, and both were astounded when he replaced Michael Dawson after 63 minutes. What a pair of amateurs! Walsh made reference to Mido having scored a hat-trick on his debut for Spurs. Well, I suppose he was close as it was two, but I could have done a far better job than these two, who decided that Spurs second pre-season friendly was worthy of deep analysis, and supposition about all those taking part. Mind you, of all the players and signings they mentioned, neither of them was seemingly aware of Paul Stalteri – yet to appear in our colours. There was also a reference to an “indifferent start to last season”. Oh this was the one when we were in the top six till late September and had only the second best defensive record to that of Chelsea. Remember the team bus at Stamford Bridge guys?
As for the game, it was without a doubt played at a far higher tempo than Spurs would have liked, as they are at such an early stage of pre-season development, whilst Boca looked really sharp, and apparently have such an intensive close-season programme that it seems they hardly have a break at all! Mind you, that is information I have only gleaned from the afore-mentioned comedians, so who knows the truth of the matter?
It was by no means a first choice Spurs team, and skipper Ledley King was making his first appearance of the pre-season. Spurs were caught on the hop as early as the second minute, when Delgado latched onto a long ball, was in the clear, and beat Cerny with a crisp shot. After a poor Carrick free-kick in the Boca half, the Argentinians countered swiftly and Cerny was having to make a smart save all too soon. Cerny showed firm handling throughout, and was called upon to make several decent saves. With the rumour abounding that Paul Robinson will not be fit enough to start the season proper, Cerny looks capable of giving more than adequate cover.
Carrick’s poor use of a free kick was a symptom of one of Spurs problems in my view. I lose count of the number of times when we fail to take territorial advantage of such opportunities, and often feed the ball back to the keeper, or gift it to the opposition. I look for improvement in the coming season. Carrick did actually try a shot after 13 minutes, when Tainio made a neat pass to Marney entering the Boca area. Defoe laid the ball back to Carrick whose shot was well wide. The Spurs goal when it came was deserved, as after early worries defensively, they settled down. Tainio, creeping inside his right wing berth, made a good interception and the ball fell to Defoe, who battled against the defender, got a lucky deflection into his path, and was then on the right side of the box, beating the keeper with a shoulder-height right foot shot across his bows.
Two minutes later, Mendes made a piercing pass to Defoe, who became provider to Mido, also finding space on the right of the area, this time beating the keeper with a low shot to the far post. Boca then had two or three good chances before the break – all of which were dealt with confidently by Cerny. During the long half time break, Paul Walsh speculated about Noe Pamarot’s return to oust Marney from the right back slot at the start of the season, blissfully unaware of Pamarot’s cruciate knee injury, the signing of Paul Stalteri, and the presence of Stephen Kelly!
Cerny showed a clean pair of hands to Delgado’s early chance and Boca had the ball in the net after Mido was harshly penalised for “foot-up” The ball went straight into the net from an indirect kick, and the “goal” was correctly disallowed by the efficient local –looking referee. Defoe fought well to win a long ball, but the Boca keeper made the save, but whilst Routledge had an immediate impact for Spurs nearly setting up a goal for Mido, we were largely on the back foot in the closing stages. Thus the equaliser came as no great surprise, when Bilos collected the ball on the left of the area in a tight situation, but still managed to not only get his shot in, but to beat Cerny with a low shot just inside the post.
The final frustration for me was the commentator giving Reid’s name in a couple of moves after he had been substituted by El Hamdaoui. I mean, they could at least look at the screen as closely as we did!
Spurs play again on Monday, against Sundowners, but if you get the chance to watch, it may be worth turning the sound down, and working out for yourself what is going on!
· On the spot report from "Johnny Hotspur"
· Own A Real Share In Tottenham Hotspur
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