Posts Tagged ‘ Mexico ’

World Cup 2014: Best XI Of The Tournament

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The sun has now set on the 2014 World Cup finals, with Germany trotting off back to the heart of Europe with the trophy tucked neatly under their collective arm. It threatened to be a World Cup for the underdogs, until the established powers of Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands and Germany used their nous to edge out the likes of Costa Rica and Colombia in the quarter-finals. But it was undoubtedly entertaining from start to finish, and here we will look back and celebrate the best performers on this grand stage, with our best eleven players from the World Cup.

Goalkeeper:
Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)

A key part of Costa Rica’s surprising drive into the last eight of the competition, Navas was a reliable pair of hands behind his defence, when called upon. The Costa Rican defence was very strong throughout, but Navas still had to make twenty-one saves over the course of five games, and that was before taking part in two penalty shootouts. Predictably, his exploits have led to plenty of rumours of big clubs trying to sign the Levante man, with the word now that he is off to Bayern Munich. A well-earned reward for the stalwart custodian between the Costa Rican sticks. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: Second Round Review

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This past week saw the 2014 World Cup enter the knockout phase, as the last sixteen teams battled it out for a place in the quarter-finals. The obvious lack of a truly exceptional team remains, and the parity among the remaining sides was very evident, as five of the eight games went to extra time, before penalties in some cases. Here is our full review of the action. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: The Story So Far

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With the World Cup group stages now having come to an end, we’re here to provide a full review of the action over the last week, as people get geared up for the knockout rounds. There have been plenty of twists and turns in this World Cup so far, and you can find out how all the groups ended right here.

Group A:

Brazil were in a strong position at the end of the first week, having beaten Croatia and earned a draw against Mexico. With their final group game this week, they put a tepid Cameroon side to the sword, winning 4-1. Neymar notched another two goals, adding to his claim to be the tournament’s star performer. Even more encouraging for the host side, the under-fire striker Fred notched his first goal of the tournament, easing the pressure a little. But Brazil will need big improvements, with the knockout rounds up next. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: Recap Of Week One

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The first week of World Cup 2014 is now behind us, and there has been plenty of talking points and memorable moments. Here is our recap of all the action that has taken place so far.

Thursday:

The opening game between Croatia and the host nation Brazil was the sole game on Thursday, and provided no end of controversy. Croatia had taken a well deserved early lead against a sluggish Brazillian outfit, before Neymar conjured an equaliser out of very little to get the home fans on their feet. Yet they failed to get the upper hand in the contest, until the referee awarded a very controversial penalty to Fred as he tumbled under Dejan Lovren’s presence in the penalty area. Neymar converted, and Oscar wrapped up the 3-1 win with a good finish from outside the box, although there was strong suspicion that Ramires had fouled the Croat player in possession before moving the ball to his Chelsea teammate. The home side were very unconvincing throughout, however.

Friday:

The standard of the officials continued to be brought into question during Friday’s first game, as the linesman ruled out two seemingly good goals for Mexico’s Giovanni Dos Santos in their game against Cameroon. Mexico did eventually get the breakthrough when Oribe Peralta turned in a rebound after Charles Itandje failed to hold Dos Santos’ shot. That was the only goal of the game, securing the win for the lively Mexicans, with Cameroon looking very poor. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: Predictions For Every Team

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With the kick-off of World Cup 2014 now less than a week away, the excitement is starting to build. Coverage of the event is starting to really pick up, as the footballing world gets ready for the beginning of it’s biggest event of any calendar year. With that in mind, I would like to put forward my predictions for every team and how they will fare, including all the teams who will fall at the group stage hurdle, all the way on to who I predict will be the eventual winners.

Group stage eliminations

Cameroon

The most likely victim of what is a very tough draw, Cameroon seem like long shots to emerge from Group A. Hosts Brazil, potential dark horses Croatia and Mexico make up the rest of the group, and it may well prove too much for Cameroon to claim enough points to sneak in to the knockout stages. An experienced squad led by captain Samuel Eto’o as well as veterans Alex Song and Jean Makoun, Cameroon also boast young defensive talent in Nicolas N’Koulou and Joel Matip. Unfortunately for them, it seems unlikely that they will prove good enough to edge out two of the other teams, and so it looks like three games and out for Cameroon.

Mexico

It looks quite likely that Brazil and Croatia will emerge from this group, especially if the Croatians can get a point in the tournament’s inaugural match. Mexico had a very ugly qualifying campaign to even reach Brazil, finishing fourth in their group, behind the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras. They eventually beat New Zealand comfortably in a play-off, but it does not augur well for them in such a tough group. Still, Mexico boast a very experienced squad, with the likes of Rafael Marquez still around to organise them. If the likes of Javier Hernandez (who has a scoring rate of better than one every two games for his country) catches fire, then maybe they have a shot. But all signs point to an early exit for Mexico.

Continue reading

World Cup 2014: The Dark Horses

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Yesterday, we had a good look at the four teams most likely to win the upcoming World Cup. What we have yet to touch on is one of the most lively debates before any international tournament. Who will be the team who emerges from nowhere to thrill the crowds and cause a few upsets along the way? Is there a team from lower down the international pecking order who can surprise us all and go all the way? Usually there is at least one team who overachieves in these competitions, and calling them right is often the difference between winning and losing the fantasy football wars, so here we will look at four teams who could potentially go from dark horses to World Cup champions in the space of a few weeks in June. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: The Favourites

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2014 is shaping up to be a great year for football. With exciting finishes ahead in the Premier League and La Liga, both of whom are currently topped by pre-season outsiders with only a few games to go, and a couple of exciting ties remaining in the Champions League, it will be a year to remember. There is, of course, a World Cup coming straight after the end of the club season, so quality football will continue well into the middle of the summer. Here, in the first of a two part special, we will examine the favourites for the competition, who look set to take Brazil 2014 by storm. Continue reading

Over 100 Human Trafficking Victims Rescued In Texas

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More than 100 people presumed to be victims of human trafficking were uncovered at a house outside Houston, Texas on Wednesday.

The suspected house which is believed to have contained illegal immigrants was found during a search for a 24-year-old woman and her two children, a 7-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, who had been missing since Tuesday. Continue reading

Ballancing Act: Irish Wrestler Seeks Further Success

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We sat down with Irish News Review wrestling columnist Gary “Bingo” Ballance to assess the current state of Irish wrestling and see what 2014 holds in store for the Zenith Of Zero Gravity.

What needs to be done to help Irish wrestling as a whole grow stronger in 2014?

I think television coverage would be a massive step forward but, on a smaller scale, an emphasis on quality shows and value for money for audiences each and every time would certainly be a good place to start.

Will we ever see the many Irish wrestling promotions unite to form one major promotion?

In my view? No. “Too many cooks…”, as the saying goes. Each promotion/promoter has an idea of what’s “good for business”, and the battle of egos would lead to a giant clusterfuck. That’s not a knock on anyone running a promotion at the moment. If I was running one, I’d have an idea of how I wanted things done, and have a method of working to that, and wouldn’t be particularly happy to work to someone else’s template. To be honest, I don’t think one giant promotion would be good even if it materialised; it would monopolise the number of spots available in the country- more so- and the lack of competition would lead to complacency. A bit of strong competition is always healthy, I think.

Could Irish wrestling ever turn into a full-time job for wrestlers like yourself?

If there were regular bookings for good money, and you could make a comfortable living? Sure. That’s not the current state of play in this country, though, as it stands, so it’s not an option. Not for me, anyway. Not at the moment.

Do you think the big American promotions underestimate Irish/European talent?

I don’t think so, no. They have a number of European wrestlers on their roster at the moment, and have previously featured the likes of Finlay and Regal in relatively prominent positions on their shows. I think they definitely appreciate what the likes of Barrett, Sheamus, Drew and Cesaro bring to the table, and the addition of these guys adds a bit of variety to the show, and a more hard-hitting, European flavour to proceedings. Part of Sheamus’ gimmick is that he’s Irish, so WWE can say they have an Irish wrestler as part of their show. Unless another Irish wrestler had something very special and something different to set themselves apart from him- like Fergal Devitt, for example- why would they take a gamble, and wade through all the visa crap and red tape, when they have hundreds, if not thousands of wrestlers on their doorstep? It’s just logistics, really, in my opinion.

What can Irish/European wrestlers do to have a better chance of getting noticed?

Get bigger, have contacts, and have something marketable to set themselves apart from anything WWE currently has.

You have faced and worked with a number of international wrestlers throughout your career. How would you describe that experience?

It’s varied, but each situation has provided invaluable experience, and something to learn from. I worked a Fatal 4 Way early in my career with Red Vinny, TJ Wilson (now Tyson Kidd) and Ricky Marvin, and it was an absolute mess. Marvin’s from Mexico, and was by far the most experienced of the four of us, and he laid out the match. Even at that stage of my career, it didn’t make a lick of sense to me, and I knew we weren’t gonna go anywhere near the time we’d been given for the match. It was an interesting experience, though, to just go out and see what happened. Similarly, working with Keni’chiro Arai was fun, back in 2007- I have pretty much no Japanese, and he only had a little English, but we managed to put a match together, and I really liked working with him. He was a gent. The experience working with some of the ex-WWE/WCW/ECW and/or ROH/TNA talent has varied. Some have been really sound (Doug Basham, Tracey Smothers, Daivari and Alison Danger, amongst others), while others like Raven and Vito behaved like prima donnas. It’s always cool to meet more experienced people, though, and pick up bits and pieces of advice, and tips to try and strengthen your own performance.

Two Irish talents were snapped up by WWE in 2013- that must be a huge boost for all to know the top American promotions are keeping tabs on Irish talent?

I can’t speak for the rest of the lads, really, just myself. I don’t get the impression that anything has changed, really. WWE still seem to be looking for what they’ve always looked for, and for those that fit their mold- unless you find a way to fit that mold and/or have the contacts in the organisation, a tryout or a shot at getting in there seems as elusive as ever.

Will Irish wrestling prosper in the future or are the numbers signing up for training declining?

I don’t think there’s been any noticeable decline in people joining training, really- not from what I’ve seen, anyway. I’d say that as long as trainees are getting information and advice from those with plenty of consistent in-ring experience and a broad knowledge of all aspects of professional wrestling- guys who know what they’re talking about, not bullshitters- and get the opportunity to learn and grow on shows, I have faith that the Irish scene will be in good hands in the years to come.   

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How would you describe the evolution of your character from your debut in 2005 until now?

It’s hard to say, really. Bingo Ballance and Gary Ballance are essentially one and the same, so any changes in “Bingo’s” personality or character would mirror my own experiences, and outlook. I don’t think I have sufficient objectivity to judge any changes in my personality over the years, but I’ve tried to stay true to who I am as a person outside the ring, as much as I can. When I started, I was fairly naive, and tightly-wound. Nowadays, I’m slightly less tightly-wound, a little more laid-back, and definitely more cynical. I doubt that would translate into my performances, though! One noticeable evolution, however, would be my comfort in the ring, and that’s something that people who know me have commented on. They’ve seen my early work, and my more recent work, and noted that I look more at ease and comfortable when I’m wrestling, and that’s definitely something I feel. It’s a nice place to be, mentally.

Which of your title reigns has been your most enjoyable and why ?

That’s a tough one, actually, and I don’t think I could actually pick a favourite one; each was enjoyable for different reasons. My first reign as IWW Zero Gravity Champion will always be special to me, for sentimental reasons. Holding the Wrestlezone Undisputed Title was great, too, as it was my first championship in a promotion overseas, and I have a great fondness for Wrestlezone, its wrestlers and its fans- it was cool to be Champion there, even for just a brief while. Winning the CCW Title last year, as well, was great in its own way as it was totally unexpected, and at a stage where I felt like I was winding down. That night in Cork helped prove to myself that I still had a little bit of the ‘old magic’, and was a confidence boost when I needed one.

What would you say has been the biggest eye opener for you during your time in the industry?

I don’t think I’ve really been that shocked by anything! I knew that things on an independent level wouldn’t be as glamorous, compared to WWE, and, to be honest, I wouldn’t change that for the world. It adds character. I’ve gotten changed in alleyways, men’s rooms, caravans, and every conceivable cramped or tight space, and slept on floors, couches, in airports, on massage tables, you name it! It’s been tough at times, frustrating at others, but this is something I love doing, and they’re stories and experiences I will remember in the long run. “Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy”, as they say. I think, on some level, this is why people have gotten behind the likes of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk- they know the work these guys have put in, and the sacrifices they’ve made over the years, to do something they’re truly passionate about.

Do you foresee any loopholes that may allow you to return to CCW to reclaim your title? Is that a path you would pursue if possible?

Certainly, yeah. Y’never know. I enjoyed most of my time with CCW, and was disappointed with the way things were left with them, so there’ll always be a part of me that lacks closure in that regard. That said, I’ve other commitments this year that I’m focused on and, unfortunately, they preclude me going back to CCW, for the time being. I wish them the best, though, for their shows this year, and hope they get on well.

Which promotion has been your favourite to work for?

I don’t think I really have one particular favourite, but I have a few I’ve enjoyed for different reasons. IWW, for a fair portion of my time there, was a fun place to work. I got to do shows, travel, and work with guys that had become my friends, and had some really enjoyable matches with the likes of Bam Katraz, Red Vinny, The Ballymun Bruiser and Vic Viper, amongst others. I enjoy working for Wrestling.IE, too, as it is a really professional-looking product, an actual brand for wrestling in this country, and a fantastic platform for Irish wrestling to, as it were, put its best foot forward. As well as getting the opportunity to wrestle in front of large audiences there, I’ve had the chance to work with other Irish wrestlers that I hadn’t been able to work with in Irish Whip, like Seán Brennan, Paul Tracey, Jordan Devlin and Dunkan Disorderly, for example. Abroad, I’ve had a blast anytime I’ve gone over to Wrestlezone in Scotland- they’re a really nice bunch of lads, hard-working, and the fans there are terrific.

IWW once seemed to be on the verge of great things but has stagnated in recent years. Why do you think the promotion where you first honed your skills has dropped off in recent years?   

I don’t really know, to tell you the truth. Their online presence has diminished considerably over the last few years, so it is kinda hard, in fairness, to track how they’re doing or what’s going on. I haven’t seen any of Irish Whip’s shows since I left in 2009, so I can’t really speak to the quality of their product, workers or training, and it would be unfair of me to speculate on. I do think it’s fair to say, though, that their presence on the Irish scene is not as strong as it would have been about five years ago, or so. 

Moving forward, would you say your primary focus is on training the Irish stars of tomorrow or performing in the ring?

I’ve gotta say my focus is on my own work for the time being; while I can still perform to a standard that I’m satisfied with, I want to keep going, and going strong. I enjoy training others- and if the option of a regular training position were there, I’d take it- but in the absence of that, I’m working away on my own thing. To be honest- not to put too much of a downer on this- I’ve helped people in the past and had it thrown back in my face, so I think it’s best to just work away, and concentrate on my own stuff. It’s easier and less head-wrecking that way!   

Where can fans see you in 2014?

Any Scottish supporters can catch me again in Wrestlezone this year, and I’m looking forward very much to heading back over. On home soil, I’ll be doing shows for Wrestling.IE, and whatever else crops up. 

Will 2014 be your breakout year?

Heh heh. I honestly don’t know. It’s too early to tell. I will definitely try to make the best of whatever situation I find myself in, though, and we’ll see what happens. I just want to have great matches, and if I can reach the end of 2014 proud of my work for the year, I’ll be happy.

Images courtesy of Brett Hadley

The Globalisation Of The NBA

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Brooklyn Nets kicked off the first global game of 2014 with a resounding 127-110 win over the Atlanta Hawks at London’s 02 Arena last Thursday.

Over the past 35 years the NBA have played 147 games globally, visiting 20 different countries including China, Germany, Italy and Russia amongst others.

Yet the globalisation of the NBA has extended far beyond bringing the game cross continent.  Continue reading