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Menace Players React to World Cup: Part Two

Piffer, Moloto, Kariya
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  – The Des Moines Menace fields players from all over the world, including seven nations represented in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Those players hail from the United States, England, Ghana, Nigeria, Japan, South Africa and Brazil. Last week, we profiled players from the United States, England, Ghana and Nigeria. Today, we spotlight Japan, South Africa and Brazil.
 
Yuki Kariya: Japan
 


World Cup Recap:
Japan 1, Cameroon 0
Japan 0, Netherlands 1
Japan 3, Denmark 1
Japan 0 (3), Paraguay 0 (5) – Knockout Stage
 
            Kariya represents one of the more surprising nations in the World Cup. Japan advanced past the group stage for the first time on foreign soil, and was penalty kicks away from advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time in team history.
            “I was surprised,” Kariya said of the team’s performance. “But the players were not surprised. The goal is to get into the top four, and they were on the way to get to that goal.”
            Kariya said a noticeable difference in this Japanese team is the emergence of a world-class striker. Keisuke Honda, who played for CSKA Moscow of the Russian Premier League, was the team’s top goal scorer in the World Cup, and Kariya said he is now the most recognizable player in the country. With Honda, he said that Japan has changed its style of play to become more aggressive instead of playing a possession game without making too many mistakes.
            “Each Asian country doesn’t have a true striker, but we finally found one,” Kariya said.
            Kariya also said the professional soccer league in his home country, the “J. League,” is similar to Major League Soccer in the United States. He said the league is rapidly growing, but still not on par with the world’s best leagues. However, he said, it makes for some of the most entertaining soccer in the world.
            “It might not be the top league; not on the same level as the English Premier League,” Kariya said. “But people say that the J. League is more fun to watch.”
 
World Cup winner: Spain
 
Lebogang Moloto: South Africa

 
World Cup Recap:
South Africa 1, Mexico 1
South Africa 0, Uruguay 3
South Africa 2, France 1
 
            South Africa made history when it was chosen as the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup. Unfortunately, it made more history on the field, becoming the first host country to fail to advance past group stage.
            “It’s so disappointing for the whole nation, but mostly for the guys (South African players),” Moloto said.
            Despite the team’s performance, Moloto is proud of the way the World Cup turned out in South Africa. He said that the country brings a unique culture to the game, contributing to the growing international popularity of the “vuvuzelas,” the large horns that have pushed FIFA to its boiling point. FIFA even considered banning vuvuzelas for the rest of the World Cup after all of the complaints it received during group stage. Moloto was relieved when he found out that FIFA decided to drop the protest and allow vuvuzelas at games.
            “It’s (South Africa’s) way of showing passion and it has been happening before the World Cup, so why choose now to ban it?” he said. “Good players, especially professional players, should be able to cope with it.”
            Like the rest of Africa, Moloto immediately became a supporter for teammate Stephen Okai’s home country of Ghana when it became the lone African nation remaining in the tournament. He had hoped for a Ghana versus Spain final before the team was eliminated in penalty kicks against Uruguay last Friday.
            “An African nation winning in Africa would be special,” Moloto said.
 
World Cup winner: Spain
 
Luis Piffer: Brazil

 
World Cup Recap:
Brazil 2, North Korea 1
Brazil 3, Ivory Coast 1
Brazil 0, Portugal 0
Brazil 3, Chile 0 – Knockout Stage
Brazil 1, Netherlands 2 - Quarterfinals
 
            Perhaps the most disappointed Menace player is Piffer, whose top-ranked home country was eliminated in the quarterfinals last Friday. It was the second straight quarterfinal exit for Brazil. The world's most renowned has won five World Cups, which ranks tops in the tournament's history.
“It felt so bad,” Piffer said of the loss. “I can’t believe it. We played so well in the first half, but didn’t play that way in the second. Soccer is about playing the whole game.”
Despite the loss, Piffer still believes his home is second to none when it comes to soccer talent.
            “I think the competition is the best in the world,” he said. “As soon as you’re born you feel the soccer environment. It’s soccer for boys and volleyball for girls; there are not many choices for sports.”
            Brazil has produced some of soccer’s all-time best players, including Pele, Ronaldo, Zico and Ronaldinho. Piffer said Brazil produces soccer talent “like a machine.”
            “We make a lot of good players,” he said. “Some are retiring, then another group comes in. There are so many great players.”
            Before Brazil was eliminated, Piffer believed his home country would have beaten Germany to take the crown. Then he hoped that Uruguay, the lone remaining South American country, would win, but Uruguay dropped a 3-2 decision to the Netherlands in the sem-finals yesterday. After another change of heart, Piffer has selected Spain as his champion.
 
World Cup winner: Spain
           
Menace intern Matt Moran, a junior at Drake University, wrote this story


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