It's been 17 days and finally the group stage of the 2011 WCP Cup is finished. While some groups wrapped up their playoff berths early, others took until the very last Sunday to finish their business. Here are the Group wrap-ups.
Group A: In my preview I figured that El Salvador would get first in this pool based by beating Laos. What I never anticipated was that the group would actually come down to which squad performed best against upstart Sudan. While Laos eked out a 2-1 win, El Salvador succumbed to a 6-3 loss. Luckily for both, the Saturday night contest wasn't do-or-die because Sudan went and choked away a 2-1 loss to Colombia.
Finish: 1. Laos; 2. El Salvador.
Group B: Ireland and Norway went out and handled business early. The two were the class of the group and didn't let any of the other teams get going in the first four games. First place came down to a showdown between the two which Ireland easily won. Not quite what I thought would happen in my group or game preview, but I did accurately predict the order of finish. Sierra Leone also had three impressive wins.
Finish: 1. Ireland; 2. Norway.
Group C: Greece came out and won its first game against Nigeria 4-2. That was unexpected. Then Greece went and also beat Botswana, Italy, and Afghanistan. Crazy. But not as crazy as Greece also tieing France 4-4. Wow. Yes, Greece is one of the teams going through to the quarterfinals, the same team that hadn't one a game in two straight years. On a side note, France didn't lose either and finished first because of goal differential - but that was expected.
Finish: 1. France; 2. Greece.
Group D: This was the Group of Death. Even after each team had played three times it was still unclear whether or not anyone but Scotland was out yet. Poland started off with three clutch wins and ultimately took the group at 5-0. Canada started off strong against Jamaica but then faltered against Poland. Jamaica started off poorly, but surprisingly beat Germany. And Germany didn't do much of anything, but ultimately fell only one goal short (needed a 2-1 win over Canada instead of 1-1 tie) of advancing in secon place. I thought it would come down to Poland, Germany and Canada, and I picked Germany instead of the Canucks. Good for Canada taking care of business.
Finish: 1. Poland; 2. Canada.