Thursday, February 16, 2006

Remember the Name(s) - Strikers
By Imtiaz Mussa

Keep it here at Sportszilla as in the coming months, we will get you prepared for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The first match takes place on June 9th.

At the 2006 World Cup, you can expect to see some of the usual veteran strikers of tournaments past. Ronaldo, Henry, Owen, and Raul should all be there barring injury but there are a group of players who are set to make themselves household names at Germany.

Wayne Rooney
Country: England
Club Team: Manchester United

Okay so you have heard of the boy wonder but have you actually seen him play? I will never forget his first game for United. It was a Champions League game at Old Trafford against Turkish side Fenerbahce. All he did was score a hat trick. If he’s on top of his game, goals will not be a problem for England. No young player in the world today has his combination of strength, speed, and overall skill. But be careful about his temper. Rooney may have toned down ever since he joined United but will have his flare ups.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Country: Sweden
Club Team: Juventus

His claim to fame was scoring the most sensational goal of Euro 2004. While at Ajax, he was the talent that no one was quite sure could make it as a big time striker in a top class league. Juventus took the chance and have been reward handsomely. He’s a big guy and utilizes it while also having some skills with the ball. But those are not used as much since joining Juve where all he needs to worry about is scoring goals.

Carlos Tevez/Lionel Messi
Country: Argentina
Club Team: Corinthians/FC Barcelona

I was originally going to make this just about Tevez but Messi has been playing so well with the stars in the Nou Camp that he deserves mention as well. Tevez is the latest one to be branded as the ‘New Maradona’. He fits the build being short and stocky yet quick and strong. Europe is waiting to strike. Messi is already in Europe breaking into one of the top sides in Europe. Because he is so fast, it just causes nightmares for defenders. Along with Tevez, these two should be Argentina’s top strike partnership.

Emmanuel Adebayor
Country: Togo
Club Team: Arsenal

Arsene Wenger’s January signing from Monaco has all the potential in the world. The only problem is that he has been known to be a bit of a drama queen. During this year’s African Nations Cup, he vowed to leave the national team after coming on as a sub in their first game. He rescinded the statement and played in the final two matches. His attitude is also a factor in why he was sold by Monaco. Wenger brought him in hoping he could learn from Thierry Henry and quite possibly take over from him if the Henry to Barca rumors are indeed true. Now take a moment to think of Ronaldinho and Henry together.

Luca Toni
Country: Italy
Club Team: Fiorentina

In a deep Italian team, Luca Toni has emerged as Marcelo Lippi’s favorite striker. Then again, with 22 goals in 25 games so far in Serie A, how can you blame him? If he is still in form heading into Germany, the United States is going to have their hands full.

Didier Drogba
Country: Ivory Coast
Club Team: Chelsea

The big money acquisition by the best team money could buy in the summer of 2004 was an initial flop at the start of his Premiership career. Now while he’s had a hard time scoring in the Premiership, he hasn’t had a problem in international play. In 14 appearances, he has scored 13 goals. Drogba is about as strong and agile as they get.

Alexander Frei
Country: Switzerland
Club Team: Rennes

It took some time for Frei to settle into a club but it has helped his international career along rather nicely. Frei’s power and pace guided the Swiss through qualifying and may take the country further in the tournament. But he’s having a hard time finding goals at Rennes this season. He only has five in 21 matches.

Tomasz Frankowski
Country: Poland
Club Team: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Having just moved from Spain to the English Championship, Frankowski has yet to score a goal for his new club. He will hope to add to the ten he’s scored for Poland in 17 appearances. At 31 years old, this is his last chance to make a name for himself at the World Cup. It will be hard to see him back for South Africa.

Country: Brazil
Club Team: Inter Milan/Real Madrid

Does Brazil need Ronaldo to win the World Cup? Probably not. Does Real Madrid really need Ronaldo? The answer again is probably not. Adriano is Brazil’s new big finisher and is ready to take over the reigns in that regard. He will play second fiddle to Ronaldo in this World Cup but should take over soon enough. It’s all about strength and speed for him. He has tallied 17 goals in 28 games so far for Inter. Robinho was the most talked about signing in the summer as Chelsea and Madrid fought for his signature. Real won and the results are tainted greatly because of the uneasiness taking place in Madrid. He is the small, pesky type of striker who will stir things up with his speed and flair. Having played in 25 matches already might pose as a problem. Most people’s first impression of him is his lack of size.

Fernando Torres
Country: Spain
Club Team: Atletico Madrid

The one name that is always in transfer speculation is Fernando Torres. At 21 years old, people are already comparing his talent to Thierry Henry or even his strike partner Raul. Atletico made him captain at the age of 19. Scoring six goals in five World Cup qualifying games will make people notice.

Pedro Mantorras
Country: Angola
Club Team: Benfica

Just how good is Pedro Mantorras? He was described as “the best player to come out of Portuguese Africa since Eusebio left Mozambique for Benfica in the early 1960s”. A serious knee injury in 2002 limited his action until the 2004-05 season when he helped Benfica win the title. He is considered to be a hero back in Angola for the amount that he donates to help feed the children but has now gotten caught in controversy. Mantorras wasn’t happy with the way he was used during Angola’s recent African Nations Cup appearance and has said that the World Cup will be the last time he will appear for the Palancas Negras. It would be a shame if that’s the case, he is only 23 years old.


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