Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas N’Koulou’
Starting with Nicolás Lodeiro back in December last year, Football Further selected 32 players to watch out for at the 2010 World Cup and then tracked their progress through the tournament via weekly scouting reports. Below is a full compilation of those reports, along with conclusions (and marks out of 10) on how each player performed.
Players with asterisks* were scouted by Football Further in the build-up to the World Cup.
South Africa: Katlego Mphela
- Group match 1 (South Africa 1-1 Mexico): Led the line with uncomplaining dedication, played a key part in the build-up to Siphiwe Tshabalala’s opening goal and hit the post late on with a rather tame left-footed effort.
- Group match 2 (South Africa 0-3 Uruguay): Forced to plough a lone furrow again, he managed to craft a few half-chances for himself but was let down by the quality of the service he received.
- Group match 3 (South Africa 2-1 France): Bowed out of the World Cup with a man-of-the-match performance. Bundled home South Africa’s second goal from Tsepo Masilela’s left-wing centre and could have had a hat-trick. Tested Hugo Lloris three times – twice with well-controlled efforts from distance – and also rattled the post with a side-footed shot from close range.
Overall: 6/10. Made to toil in the hosts’ opening two games, he confirmed his quality in the victory over France.
Mexico: Giovani dos Santos
- Group match 1 (South Africa 1-1 Mexico): Illuminated the first 45 minutes of the World Cup with his enterprising dribbling in central areas. Had less of an impact in the second half but drew fine save from Itumelung Khune with rasping shot.
- Group match 2 (Mexico 2-0 France): Not as influential as against South Africa, but posed a threat whenever he got the ball in the right positions. Looked to get in behind the France defence at every opportunity and sent a low shot a couple of yards wide after outmuscling Patrice Evra shortly before half-time.
- Group match 3 (Mexico 0-1 Uruguay): Often Mexico’s most advanced player, he could not capitalise on the space occasionally afforded him as El Tri were made to accept the unpalatable prospect of a last-16 meeting with Argentina.
- Round of 16 (Argentina 3-1 Mexico): Started on the right but was repeatedly unable to exploit promising situations purely due to the fact he always had to cut inside onto his left foot. Slipped cute pass through to Javier Hernandez in the game’s early stages but endured a largely frustrating evening.
Overall: 7/10. Failed to rediscover the form that made him the stand-out player of the tournament’s opening game, but he nonetheless remained a dangerous weapon for Mexico and was nominated for the Young Player of the Tournament award.
The following 32 names represent Football Further‘s players to watch at the 2010 World Cup. We’ll be following their performances closely over the course of the tournament, with weekly scouting reports rounding up their progress.
Names preceded by squad numbers. Players in bold have been scouted by Football Further in the build-up to the World Cup. Players in brackets were scouted but not called up by their national sides.
England: 23. Joe Hart (Jack Wilshere)
United States: 4. Michael Bradley
Algeria: 7. Ryad Boudebouz
Slovenia: 15. Rene Krhin
Germany: 6. Sami Khedira
Australia: 23. Mark Bresciano (Tommy Oar)
Serbia: 3. Aleksandar Kolarov
Ghana: 18. Dominic Adiyiah
“When Sochaux’s Martin, Ideye and Maurice-Belay found themselves in a three-on-one against Nkoulou with a match-winning 4-2 goal at their feet right at the end of the game, the goose looked well and truly cooked for Monaco,” wrote L’Equipe‘s Jean-Pierre Rivais in his match report on Monaco’s Coupe de France quarter-final with Sochaux on Wednesday.
“But the young Cameroonian somehow recovered the ball and, at the end of Monaco’s counter-attack, Pino popped up at the right moment to beat Richert and make it 3-3…”
Nicolas N’Koulou’s timely interception may have owed more to luck than judgement, but it laid the foundations for a 4-3 extra-time win and was further proof of his growing importance to a club for whom he has made 43 league appearances over the last two seasons.
The dreadlocked teenager has demonstrated his versatility in Monaco’s last two games – the cup win over Sochaux and the goalless Ligue 1 draw at Grenoble – by stepping back into the centre of defence to cover for suspended team-mate Cédric Mongongu. Mongongu has been Guy Lacombe’s preferred partner for Sébastien Puygrenier in central defence this term, with N’Koulou operating in the kind of deep midfield role favoured by his international team-mate Alex Song. He plays at centre-back for Cameroon though and, much like England’s Jack Rodwell, it is the role he is expected to master as his career progresses.