See You South Africa, Brazil Beckons: Ten FIFA World Cup Thoughts
Fred Khumalo, a South Africa Sunday Times Columnist, metaphorically placed the 2010 World Cup on a glorious pedestal. He wrote that the month-long experience was, "like a symphonic dream in which you are wallowing in a hot Turkish bath with nubile women feeding you grapes."
You may beg to disagree with him because I sure do; and although my mind isn't half as imaginative, all I'll remember is the incessant buzz of the vuvuzelas and the paralyzed feeling I experienced when I awoke in a stupor after staying awake till five in the morning the previous night!
Here's how I'm forcing myself to fondly remember the 2010 World Cup:
Criticize La Roja or Celebrate them? - 10101010 is not only a binary sequence. It's the Spanish score line after the group stage. In 2002, Ronaldo (yes, the real one!) scored eight goals for the tournament while the Spanish team scored eight in its entirety in 2010!
Say what you want, but here are two things to remember.
a) If the opponent doesn't score then all it takes is a solitary goal to win. More often than not, grit and defense rather than flair wins championships.
b) The Spanish style reminded me of a really good FIFA video game player; you know, the guy that keeps pressing 'S' on the keyboard and builds his attack around the all-important 'first touch'. He may not score but boy is it frustrating to counter his 'Nadalesque' approach of frustrating and breaking you down!
Here's how we make it simple. The best teams? Spain/Germany/Argentina/Holland? The Germans mauled Argentina, Spain outplayed Germany and then beat a dirty Dutch side that beat Uruguay after knocking out Brazil. Hmmm...
"Satanic" Suarez - Milovan Rajevac branded Uruguay's hero Luis Suarez as "a trivial cheat" with the "hand of a devil" after the latter saved his team from a certain goal in a compulsive instant of momentary madness. Try telling Uruguay that. My take is that not many professional footballers would have let that ball go in.
Here's the math: If that ball goes in, Uruguay's odds of coming back are zero. If Suarez blocks it, the odds of a penalty shootout are the odds of Gyan missing a penalty which is, by default greater than zero.
Play the odds, block the ball; that's what Suarez did and that's why his split-second decision was a highlight of the World Cup.
Carlos Bocanegra - didn't win the World Cup for the USA but he might have won himself the photograph of the tournament. Budweiser, for all their advertising brilliance might never come up with a better ad and furthermore, one former POTUS (in a pink shirt and pinker face), looks positively hammered!
Diego(al) Forlan - Spain can take home team of the tournament but no one's taking away anything from the hook nosed assassin from Montevideo. Over the course of the cup, the two-time Pichichi winner provided the world with breathtaking goals and a contagious flair for the game unmatched by anyone else.
Uruguay were Forlan's team like no other player was and the last image in my mind is of a disbelieving Forlan standing stunned as his lethal free kick hit German woodwork while the seconds ticked down on what will most likely be his last World Cup.
And what a World Cup it was, take a bow Diego!
Tepid Trinity - The three best footballers in the world all disappeared one by one. Rooney looked like a clumsy shadow of his former self while Ronaldo just couldn't stamp his foot on the tournament. It's harder to criticize the Messiah.
Messi took 30 shots and yet none of them found the back of the net! It is safe to say though, that before the Germans stunned them, Messi was as mercurial and influential as ever creating enough opportunities for his teammates.
It's still a bitter exit for the diminutive prodigy but he'll be back in Brazil soon enough, hopefully at the peak of his prowess.
In the meantime, we'll continue to write the future for the first two.
R.I.P Paul - Here's a conversation I was having with a friend:
Me: "Why is Paul getting so much attention? Anyone could predict Germany winning against lesser teams!"
Him: "Yeah man, but Paul doesn't know that Germany was a strong team!"
Him: "So for him it's a 50-50 call. The beast had eight matches to predict so the odds of him getting all right were 0.5 to the eighth power which is about 0.4%!"
Paul won't be here for Euro 2012. He'll be a martyr by then so we might as well remember him as an eight-legged Nostradamus who briefly captured the attention of the footballing world.
'Broers'-in-arms - Don't let this cloud Wesley Sneijder's successful tournament but there was a sense of missing chemistry between him and Robin Van Persie. The Oranje's midfield general found his Gunner compatriot against Uruguay just twice and 17 times through the first six games! In comparison, La Roja's midfield generalissimo Xavi picked out David Villa 39 times through five games!
A pass to a striker isn't necessarily reflective of a high goal rate but when it's insufficient it might force the striker to try and do too much with the ball on the rare occasion that he gets it.
That, my friends, was the story of Robin Van Persie.
Lampard's Lament - I stood transfixed to the screen like so many others when Frank Lampard's shot ricocheted off the woodwork and landed well behind the goal line to the naked eye. Then the referee miraculously acted as if nothing had happened and waved play on.
Where's technology when you need it?
In retrospect, the disallowed goal was a tragic faux pas but the disappointment was perhaps lessened by the fact that England, once again put together the Premier league's finest spearheaded by Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United's very best.
And they looked near-woeful!
This has to be an art. I'm convinced that falling short at the World Cup is a skill and the English have perfected it.
Cowabunga Dunga! - What of those glorious Brazilians? Of talent so unspeakable that they left a prodigious Alexander Pato out of the squad! Dunga has long been the target of criticism for attempting to curb the evergreen flamboyance of every Brazilian squad but I'm not sure the loss to Holland was entirely his fault.
In any case, he's gone and when Brazil host the tournament in four years, you can bet your last dime that once again, they'll have enough talent to field two competitive squads.
That's the Selecao for you. Passionate, breathtaking and bitterly disappointing!
The Fans - What would football be without us fans? The intensity and verve of every nation's supporters was duly noted and was a significant contribution towards the success of this world cup.
So if you have time to click your mouse 42 times, here you are. Feast your eyes on the very best of our fairer sex. Some hilarious, some colorful and some very very pretty!
Thanks for reading. Here's my question to you. What's the one incident, image or thought that you'll remember from the 2010 FIFA World Cup?
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