So after nearly three months of managerial mind games and exciting encounters the group stage is finally complete. Sixteen sides have been eliminated and sixteen sides remain. To confirm, the draw for the second round is as follows:
1. South Africa vs Korea Republic
2. Nigeria vs France
3. USA vs Germany
4. Ghana vs Slovenia
5. Netherlands vs Paraguay
6. New Zealand vs Cameroon
7. Portugal vs Honduras
8. Spain vs Cote d’Ivoire
We’ve had a few shocks in the tournament so far – much fancied teams like England, Brazil, Japan and Italy crashing out while relative minnows Slovenia and Honduras have endured, and not just because the fans love an underdog or surprise package. As unlucky as some sides were not to progress, those that have did so on merit. Of course the draw, both on paper and in practice, has been more favourable to some than others but that’s all in the game.
The imminent Round of 16 sees no all-European clashes, with only five out of thirteen European sides remaining. In general the lack of intercontinental ties at this stage demonstrates how Pop is the true global game. As far as continental integrity and fan favour goes, Africa lead with five out of six sides still in the contest. Each one can be considered a strong contender to go all the way. Ghana’s 100% record (being the only team to win all three of their group matches) in particular is not to be sniffed at but other teams are only just starting to hit form and we could see even better performances from those who saved their best just for if or when they really needed it. That time is now, as a draw is no longer enough and a higher share of the vote is a WIN no matter how narrow.
Follow the results on the Pop World Cup site, keep listening and voting in the matches as they appear on Freaky Trigger and we welcome feedback from all spectators.