• Get the Blackhawks Championship Package
    Get the Blackhawks Championship Package
  • Give the Gift of SI
    Give the Gift of SI
Posted: Wednesday June 30, 2010 1:51PM ; Updated: Wednesday June 30, 2010 1:51PM
Grant Wahl
World Cup Power Rankings
22New Zealand
Pre-tournament: 32
New Zealand
Let's give a hand for the Kiwis, who didn't win a game but didn't lose one either. Remember, this was a team whose main objective, I wrote before the tournament, was not to be the worst team in the history of the World Cup. Let the record show that 1) I was wrong, and 2) no fewer than 10 teams were worse than New Zealand in this World Cup, including the two teams that reached the final of World Cup 2006.
More crow-eating time: I was the genius who predicted Serbia would go all the way to the semifinals. The Serbs showed flashes of that talent in the win against Germany, but they completely choked in the last group game against Australia. I was right in thinking that we'd see a surprise team in the semifinals; I just didn't know that team would be Uruguay, Ghana and/or Paraguay, not Serbia.
As impressive as the Danes' win against Cameroon might have been, the losses to the Netherlands and Japan were truly disappointing. Might want to practice defending set-pieces before Euro 2012 qualifying starts.
One comeback win (thanks to a Nigerian red card) and two unimpressive losses equal a first-round exit for the Greeks, who were what I thought they'd be. Glad to see they'll get some new blood in charge of the team with the replacement of Otto Rehhagel by Fernando Santos.
No team wasted more of its opportunities in this World Cup than Nigeria, which went ahead against Greece and South Korea only to lose the games. Memorable moment: Yakubu Ayegbeni's mind-bending miss of a sitter in front of a wide-open goal against South Korea. Surprisingly, everyone in Nigeria seems to want rent-a-coach Lars Lagerbäck to stay on.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Despite struggling to ties in its first two games, the World Cup champion Azzurri still figured to find a way to sneak into the second round. Instead it got smoked by Slovakia, revealing an Italian team that was just too old to win. At least coach Marcello Lippi took full responsibility. He should have.
Nippon Daihyo
One of the World Cup's biggest underachievers got off on the wrong foot in a 1-0 loss to Japan and never recovered in three straight losses. This one remains inexplicable to me.
It's hard to be too positive about a team that didn't score a goal in three games, but the Desert Foxes did manage to get a tie against England and a near-tie in a 1-0 loss to the United States.
The Catrachos saved some pride by salvaging a point against Switzerland, but I still expected more from these guys. It never came.
31North Korea
North Korea
The high point was the 2-1 opening-game loss to Brazil in which the North Koreans held the mighty South Americans scoreless for 55 minutes. The rest of the World Cup didn't go so well: no goals scored and 10 goals allowed to Portugal and Ivory Coast. Hope the players are treated OK now that they're back in Pyongyang.
The definition of dysfunction, on and off the field.
1 - 10 11 - 21 21 - 32

Hot Topics: NBA Draft Yasiel Puig NHL Playoffs NBA Playoffs Mark Cuban Jabari Parker
TM & © 2014 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines, your California privacy rights, and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint