Poster boys stay at World Cup - on posters only

JOHANNESBURG - Images of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Samuel Eto'o are still festooned on posters all over South Africa - but sadly for them that's their only involvement as the World Cup reaches its final stages.

Along with the likes of Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Fernando Torres of Spain, they were supposed to score goals, lead by example and have a battle royal to prove themselves as the world's best player.

It did not quite work out like that.

Messi, who has had an excellent tournament so far without scoring a goal, and Torres, who has had an indifferent tournament without scoring either, are still involved with Argentina facing Germany in their quarter-final and Spain playing Paraguay in theirs.

They still have time to leave an indelible mark on this World Cup but the chance has gone, for at least another four years, for Rooney and Ronaldo. For Drogba, who will be 36 in 2014 and Eto'o, who will be 33, the chance may have gone for good.

WOEFUL WAYNE

Rooney undoubtedly had the worst World Cup of the lot.

The build-up to the tournament in England was dominated by stories of how an-in form Rooney would lead England to the semi-finals at least.

Rooney though, was never on form, played without a smile as if he would rather be anywhere else, and although he came close to a goal in England's final Group C match against Slovenia, he had a miserable sullen campaign.

It was summed up by a wild, ludicrous "shot" at goal during England's 4-1 second round defeat to Germany in Bloemfontein when his effort appeared to be heading for the landlocked nation of Lesotho 80 miles away rather than the back of the German net.

His old Manchester United team mate Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's most expensive player, also rarely rose above the mediocre.

He came close to starting the tournament in glory with a long-distance strike that crashed against the Ivory Coast post and was mostly ineffective for the rest of that game.

He did shine, though, in the 7-0 rout of the North Koreans, firing shots against the bar, the side netting and the keeper as well as making some delightful passes and breaking his long dry spell for the national side with a comical late goal.

With Portugal's defensive approach in the final group game against Brazil, the winger saw little of the ball and, excepting the odd useful pass, his threat was nullified by imposing centre back Lucio.

LITTLE SERVICE

The second round tie against the Spaniards offered Ronaldo a great chance to shine but Portugal's direct method to counter their opponents' passing game left him with little service and his main chance came from a fierce, swerving free-kick that Iker Casillas struggled to defend.

Frustrated by not being able to make darting runs and with his free kicks mostly flying into the stands, Ronaldo spent most of the tournament pouting.

His tournament ended sourly after he told journalists to "speak to Carlos Queiroz" when asked to explain the loss to Spain and then had to retract the comments in a statement.