We pick our own best XI

2009-08-21 12:29

Goalkeeper: Julio Cesar (Brazil)
The Egyptians managed to put three past him in Brazil’s narrow 4-3 win over the Pharaohs in their opening group match. Cesar picked himself up to keep three straight clean sheets, which translates to 270 minutes of football without conceding.

The 30-year-old has also proved to be a brilliant shot-stopper and his acrobatics came to the fore in an intense semifinal against Bafana Bafana this week.

Rightback: Maicon (Brazil)
Cesar’s teammate at Inter Milan, Maicon is a modern defender with his ability to overlap and put in inviting crosses. He added dimension to Selecao’s attacks on the right, and he is one of the tournament’s few defenders on the score sheet.

Central defender: Matthew Booth (South Africa)
Booooooooth! This is how the towering defender endeared himself to the throngs of local fans. Booth disproved his detractors not only by combining well with Aaron Mokoena in the heart of defence, but by covering up several times for his felllow defenders.

Central defender: Oguchi Onyewu (USA)
Onyewu is set to earn his 47th cap in today’s final, which attests to why he has been a regular in coach Bob Bradley’s back four. The defender, who plays in Belgium for Standard Liege, is undoubtedly one of the Yanks’ unsung heroes.

Leftback: Tsepo Masilela (SA)
Quiet as he may be off the field, Masilela has shown maturity as a full back. Bafana scored their only Confed Cup victory against New Zealand, thanks to the Macabbi Haifa player’s overlaps and pin-point crosses.

Right midfield: Landon Donovan (USA)
America’s most capped player with 113 A – international – appearances, Donovan is a true leader. Even when the Yanks seemed all but doomed after their opening two group matches, he put on a great show with his skill and runs off the ball where he linked up well with Clint Dempsey.

Central midfield: Xavi Hernandes (Spain)
Spain’s unsung hero has undoubtedly been Xavi. Not a fancy player by any standards, but the Barcelona midfielder is probably the first on Vicente del Bosque’s starting line-up. He orchestrated most of La Roja’s moves and his vision on the park has been his strong point. Xavi is also dangerous on free kicks.

Central midfield: Kaka (Brazil)
The newly signed Real Madrid superstar lived up to his pre-tournament star-status hype. His pace and individual skill were key to Brazil’s road to the final. Although he scored just two goals in four matches, he played provider for the likes of Robinho and Ramires to shine.

Left midfield: Steven Pienaar (SA)
He might be one of the smallest players in the competition, but “Schillo” showed his class as he did not allow the more well built players to bully him. He is no doubt Bafana’s most outstanding player.

Striker: Luis Fabiano (Brazil)
The tournament’s joint top scorer with three goals has been a revelation, especially after his brace led to Italy’s shock first-round exit at Loftus Stadium. Fabiano’s strength, which is his pace, eye for goal and heading abilities, sets him apart from his peers.

Striker: Fernando Torres (Spain)
He started the tournament with a bang by scoring a hat-trick against New Zealand. The goals dried up in the next three games as he was closely marked throughout. He is a true professional off the field, too.

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