We are down to the last four at FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014 but not without some nail biting late drama at the FONTE NOVA in SALVADOR on Saturday evening.
A stroke of tactical masterclass maybe by Dutch boss LUIS VAN GAAL and his goalie coach FRANK HOEK. With less than 30 seconds remaining in added time in extra time, he replaced JASPER CILLESEN with so called penalty specialist TIM KRUL. Actually the Newcastle United had saved only TWO of 20 penalty kicks. He saved twice against the team that had been spot kick perfect against GREECE in the Round of 16. HOEK has also joined VAN GAAL at Old Trafford.
The pride of CONCACAF, the TICOS, survived an assault from one of the world's best strike forces and nearly brought off a shock result. I watched them beat SCOTLAND at ITALIA '90 in GENOA and they also won again against SWEDEN, before losing 4-1 to CZECHOSLOVAKIA in BARI in the Round of 16.
<.p> Speaking about Scotland brings back memories of the first of SIXTEEN WORLD CUPS that I have watched live or on TV. The fifth World Cup took place in Switzerland in 1954. There was an organization called EUROVISION, a combine of all the European countries that had a television network. As in SWEDEN four years later, they picked the matches they would televise and that's all that you got I remember listening to England v Belgium on the radio.
. FIFA, in its ultimate wisdom had four groups of four, but each team only played against two opponents in the first round. ENGLAND tied BELGIUM 4-4 and beat SWITZERLAND, but avoided ITALY. SCOTLAND lost 1-0 to Austria in Zurich after which manager Andy Beattie resigned and the dreaded COMMITTEE picked the team that got hammered 7-0 by Uruguay in BASLE. They had selected a squad of 22 as allowed, but only 13 players travelled, including one goalkeeper, and the rest were on stand by back home..and never caught the plane.
ENGLAND only travelled with 15. AT BRAZIL 2014 The THREE LIONS brought over a party of SEVENTY SEVEN !!! Their first round match v Belgium ended in 3-3
at regulation time so for this world cup extra time was played in opening round matches. England players scored BOTH GOALS in extra time, NAT LOFTHOUSE and then JIMMY DICKINSON scored an own goal.
The Dutch maestro has already announced that CILLERSEN will start in the semi-final match up with ARGENTINA in the second semi-final at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, a day after Brazil v Germany at Estadio Mineiro in Belo Horizonte.