The crying game.jpg

The crying game

IF THERE were still any lingering doubts regarding Carlos Queiroz’s unsuitability for the Portugal manager’s job, they were quite emphatically removed by Brazil.

Although only a friendly international, the match in Brasilia was of utmost importance to both managers in need of a boost following a string of disappointing World Cup qualification results- it was also billed as a showdown between last year’s player of the year, Kaka, and the 2008 aspirant Cristiano Ronaldo.

Truly great performers of the past, be it Pele, Cruyf, Moore, Beckenbauer, Best or Maradona, managed to shine for both club and country, something which cannot be said for Ronaldo. While his Brazilian counterpart orchestrated a brilliant 6-2 victory, the biggest ever over Portugal, to ease the pressure on manager Carlos Dunga’s shoulders, the Manchester United star was never sighted.

Ronaldo’s continued failure to perform for his country must now put a serious question mark behind his manager’s ability to continue, given that Queiroz has nothing but two facile wins against the Faeroe Islands and Malta to his name since being appointed in the summer. Both South Africa and the coveted individual accolade appear to be distant dreams at this juncture.

England manager Fabio Capello’s injury-depleted team had no such point to prove in Berlin, but still emerged the 2-1 victors over the ‘old enemy’. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Glen Johnson in particular impressed as Matthew Upson and John Terry scored the goals which made up for a second half Scott Carson error allowing the Germans to level the score.

Elsewhere, Giovanni Trapattoni suffered his first defeat in charge of the Republic of Ireland as Poland left Dublin the 3-2 winners, an early Maxi Rodriguez strike handed Diego Maradona’s Argentina victory in Scotland and Northern Ireland were beaten 2-0 at home by Hungary – but Wales managed to equal England’s away heroics with a 1-0 success in Denmark.

Other European highlights included a 6-1 Serbian thrashing for Dimitar Berbatov’s Bulgaria and a 3-1 victory for Holland over Sweden while the only official World Cup qualifier played resulted in a 3-0 win for the Czech Republic over San Marino.

Last but not least, spare a thought for poor old Sven Goran Eriksson. The much maligned former England and Manchester City manager’s latest adventure in Mexico is coming to a rapid end following his adopted country’s 1-0 loss to Honduras.