The World Cup scouting continues with Matthew Wood taking a look at Australia and Brazil.
Anyone with the nickname ‘Jesus’ is well worth covering in our World Cup scouting feature. While Joshua Kennedy did appear at the 2006 finals (labelled as Guus Hiddink’s ‘secret weapon’), it’s likely that many of you won’t of heard too much about the Aussie striker, especially considering he is now playing his domestic football in Japan.
Kennedy was mainly used as a stand-in for Mark Viduka during the 2006 finals but with the former Newcastle man not featuring in South Africa the Socceroos may rely on ‘Jesus’ to help them qualify for the last 16 with France, Uruguay and the host nation to overcome in Group A.
Standing at 6 ft 4in, Josh Kennedy has played most of his career in Germany including spells with Wolfsburg, FC Koln and Nuremburg, but moved to the J-League in 2009 after he fell out with the head coach at Karlsruher. Kennedy has quickly established himself as a fan favourite in Asia with an impressive debut season goal tally for Nagoya Grampus (a team formerly managed by Arsene Wenger).
The 27-year-old has never been prolific throughout his career but his determination, work rate and ungainly stature make him perfect for tournament scenarios. Used mainly as a target man, Kennedy’s undoubted strength is in the air and could be the present the perfect answer if Australia find themselves chasing a game. Although the forward wouldn’t like to be typecast as only somebody who can head the ball.
“I have a lot of critics out there who think I’m just tall and just decent in the air. But I have played a lot of years overseas now and with one quality only, you can’t play in top flight leagues; you have to be a more rounded player. Although my strength is in the air, I can definitely play with the ball on the ground as well. ”
Kennedy has remarked in the past he would love to play in England, claiming the Premier League is the best league in the World. An impressive World Cup could help ignite ambitions of a dream move for ‘Jesus’.
Five-time World Cup winners Brazil need no introduction to international football. The South Americans have also produced some of the very best forwards to ever play the beautiful game. Pele, Romario, Bebeto and Ronaldo all spring to mind.
This summer could see a new Brazilian star arise in the form of Villarreal striker Nilmar Honorato da Silva or just plain, Nilmar. Despite being relatively new to the international scene (having ended a four-year exodus in 2008), Nilmar has an impressive strike record for the Samba Boys with eight goals in 10 games.
Somewhat of a late-developer after suffering a series of injuries as an 18-year-old, Nilmar is recognised for his pace, mesmerizing dribbles and composure in front of goal. The striker is also seemingly comfortable on either foot.
After starting his career at Brazilian club Internacional, Nilmar made the move to Europe in 2004 with French side Lyon. After scoring two goals in his first two league games, Nilmar failed to net a single goal in 30 further appearances and was promptly sold to Corinthians following a loan spell.
Nilmar again impressed in his homeland and returned again to Internacional where he netted 19 goals in 35 games. Europe beckoned again, and this time Villarreal took the plunge and signed Nilmar for the start of the 2009/10 season where the forward has started to link up an understanding with Guiseppe Rossi.
Nilmar’s talents weren’t unnoticed by national coach Dunga and the former World Cup winner gave the 25-year-old four starts in the last five games of South American qualifying. Nilmar paid back his manager’s faith with goals against Paraquay, Bolivia and an impressive hat-trick against Chile.
And oh yeah… he’s already scored against England.