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Who will win the 2003 Confederations Cup?

In this playful piece, we pose a question or make a statement about something in soccer that will be opined about, agreed and disagreed on, by YOU, the reader. No more talking heads giving safe, politically correct answers. Those days are over. Instead, we’ve opened the floor to everyone out there in Cyberland to throw in their two cents.

Home field advantage ruled the day when most of you were picking favorites to hoist the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup trophy (wait—is there a trophy? And if so, what does it look like?). While most would admit that Brazil remains probably the most talented team in the world, France is not far behind, and we saw what happened last time they met on French soil. But let’s not hand the hosts the trophy (or is it simply medals?) just yet. We received a fair number of backers of those fun-to-watch Turks (with perhaps the most original and funniest response all year below) and, of course, our beloved Stars & Stripes, who have been made the official dark horse of the tournament, bias or no bias. Below are the best of the best of what you all had to say about how it will all play out at France 2003:

“Group B will come down to a battle between Cameroon and the USA.  If the U.S. back line holds up, then they will go all the way.  Turkey won't sneak up on anybody this time and Brazil doesn't care.  In Group A, Colombia will battle the host, and France will win out because they have to avenge their World Cup embarrassment.  France will win the final, unless they come up against a solid U.S. squad, but of course I'm a bit biased. A U.S.-France match wouldn't have any intrigue, would it? (Note the sarcasm).
--Nick Youngstein / 23 / Cherry Hill, N.J.

“Brazil will do well in this tournament, very likely making the final because most of the Brazilian players work in Europe and they are not only highly skilled but also used to the climate, culture, etc. My prediction for the winner is France. Playing at home, the "blues" have the team and motivation to recover from a disastrous World Cup in ‘02. Turkey is really not that good, recently beaten 5-0 by the Czechs. Cameroon has terrific athletes, very skilled footballers, but they lack the defensive discipline and organizational skills. Our own Stripes and Stars will be hard pressed to make it out of Group B. This will be a great test to see how much we have progessed in view of the last World Cup. I'm cautiously optimistic for our good showing. Go USA!”
--Joe Santos / 67 / San Leandro, Calif.

“I think the Confederations Cup will be much like the 2002 World Cup. There will be a surprise or two from a couple teams. The USA will advance past the first round by beating Turkey and Cameroon. Their only loss will come at the hands of Brazil, who will advance with them. In Group A, France will be on top and advance along with runners up Colombia. The U.S. will fight hard but lose to Brazil. Brazil will face France in the finals and have their 1998 World Cup rematch. The outcome will be the same however, with the French winning in their homeland.”
--Vince Anthony / 17 / Downingtown, Pa.

“I say the U.S. will reach the second round and will put on a very strong performance (may finish third), in addition to Japan (fourth), but ultimately France (Les Blues) will carry the cup, largely out of home court advantage, and will beat Brazil for the second time since the '98 World Cup.”
--Chigo Okere / 23 / Houston, Texas

“It seems that most teams involved in the Confederations Cup are not fielding full first team
squads for what is a relatively meaningless competition when compared to Euro 2004 or the World
Cup.  Add to that the fact that France will want to win as much as possible following their dismal
showing in Korea/Japan, and I have to pick the host nation as the favorite to win the Cup.  Every nation has a shot, and I think Brazil, Turkey, and the U.S. should be considered among the favorites, but the 12th man in France will be rooting for the home team, and that's tough to counter.”
--Kevin Pugliese / 23 / Nutley, N.J.

“The USA has a real chance to shock the world again and win it! That's my belief, and as a seasoned English ‘footie’ fan, it will likely surprise many.  However, I made similar bold predictions for the last World Cup and people stopped laughing when they saw the results.  I used an American quote I learned since moving here 14 years ago: ‘Scoreboard, baby.’ The U.S. MNT can hold their own against many of the best, but I'm not foolish enough to believe that the USA has the best MNT in the world (not yet, but it will come soon, I'm sure of that).  However, if they bring a team that's as hungry and skillful as the World Cup team, then they will certainly upset many of the other countries who will most likely come with weaker teams and with weaker attitudes. The USA needs to field its best players, attack from the start, and play without fear of the opposition.  We won't quite have the element of surprise this time around, but our determination will bring home the trophy. It's up for grabs!”
-- Peter Matuchniak

“It is hard to say who is going to win the whole tournament, but I am going to go for the USA. After seeing the rosters of the competition, namely Brazil and Turkey, we definitely have a shot at winning this thing. We are just as good – if not better – than other teams in this tournament, and I think USA could be the dark horse pick to win.”
--Renee LaRosee / 18 / Hudson, Mass.

“Undoubtedly, Turkey will be the winner of the 2003 Confederations Cup.  Let’s look at the facts:
1. Turkey tastes good.  I eat turkey all the time, and as a result, I am a very good soccer player. Assuming that the Turkish National Team eats more turkey than any other team in the world, they stand to have at least a slight advantage.
2. ‘Turkey’ is a fun word to yell.  During the World Cup, I found myself yelling, ‘Go get ‘em Turkey!’
and ‘Come on Turkey - Come on Turkey – Come on Turkey – Come on Turkey!’ and ‘Turkey Turkey
Turkey Turkey Turkey,’ all despite the fact that I had no previous alliances with Turkey whatsoever. I think a lot of people did the same thing, and the team should benefit from such a large number of Turks and foreigners alike rooting for them and cheering and carrying on in such a way.
3. Many American girls are in love with Turk center-midfielder, Volkan Arslan, who is expected to have a great showing in this year’s tournament.  His boyish good looks and dazzling charm are shadowed only by his quick footwork and the overpowering physical presence he carries in the middle of the field.  His popularity among his teammates and countrymen has branded him a true leader and a source of hope for the future of Turkish soccer as well as for the multitude of star-struck fans across the globe who adore him so much.”
--Stuart Snufaluffagus (sic) / 27 / Dallas, Texas

Thanks to all for the outpouring of patriotism with regard to the June question. As you know, the odds of being printed are better if you keep it under 150 words so that we can put as many as 10 opinions on display each month.

The July question: Who will win the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup?

Now that you’ve had the experience of sizing up the eight-team field for France 2003, July presents the opportunity to handicap the top teams from our proud confederation as they get ready to do battle in Boston, Miami and Mexico City from July 12-27. Does the U.S. have the mettle to repeat as the champions of the longest acronym in sports and tie Mexico with three regional titles? [Editor’s note: tied with CONMEBOL at seven letters. Only in soccer.] Will Mexico get revenge for last summer and claim their record fourth oversized Gold Cup trophy in front of 100,000 fans at Azteca? [Editor interrupting too much: If you’ve seen this enormous thing, you know what I’m talking about. It’s the Stanley Cup of soccer and then some.] Or will a wild card team like Brazil or Colombia dash back to South America with our hard-earned hardware? Oh, the drama. “As CONCACAF Turns” will be right back after these messages…

Okay, smart pants, it’s time to make your pick. E-mail your BRIEF, but well-crafted response to PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FULL NAME, AGE AND CITY OF RESIDENCE. Feel free to submit responses for as many months as you wish, but in the interest of sharing the spotlight, we will be giving space to different respondents from month to month.

Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Back in the U.S.S.A.: The Big Six Venues)
2) In Threes (w/ MNT defender Greg Vanney)
3) DeeJay for a Day (w/ U-17 MNT forward Guillermo Gonzalez)
4) Queries & Anecdotes (w/ WNT forward Mia Hamm)
5) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Group B – France 2003)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ MNT midfielder Eddie Lewis)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win the 2003 Confederations Cup?)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (1999 Confederations Cup Trivia)

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