As much as I would like to wake up early to watch as many matches as possible, I had to draw the line somewhere in fear of sleep deprivation. So Sunday’s game between Algeria and Slovenia was the perfect excuse to stay in bed. And since Pie Pie Lo is out on a business trip for most of the week, I can adjust my schedule accordingly to maximize my viewing enjoyment.
If there’s a lesson to be learned, always follow your instincts. I had tipped Ghana to be one of the African nations to play well in the tournament. But after the Michael Essien injury, my belief started to waver while reading more and more positive analysis on Serbia. So much for changing one of my dark horse picks as the Serbs self destructed and gifted an important victory to the Black Stars.
Despite fielding the youngest squad of the tournament, the Germans were absolutely clinical in their 4-0 demolition of the Aussies. All the players knew where they were suppose to be so when the ball carrier enters the final third, it’s never a case of, “Oh geez! What the hell am I suppose to do with the ball now?” German football has been known as being efficient – or boring depending on your views. This edition may very well be the exception.
What can I say? I was wrong to doubt South Korea and wrong to doubt Japan, even though the Cameroon defense, or lack thereof, basically gifted the winner. Given the positive results, I’d be interested to see if they can maintain the momentum.
As a sports fan you live for moments of greatness or the unexpected. So much better if you’re able to witness either live. What happened between New Zealand and Slovakia was one of those seminal moments for me. Why is it so meaningful, you may ask? Well, technically I’m half Kiwi – reason I shall explain down the road – thus I do feel a certain affinity towards the All Whites. Even though I tipped them to do basically nothing in this tournament, the hope is for them to perform credibly and make New Zealand proud. Given the context and the timing, a sense of joy rushed through my body when Winston Reid headed in the equalizer. It was a reminder that in sports, or in life, anything is possible as long as you compete and never lose faith.
I’ll be honest. When the match started, like many, I was cracking a few jokes about Kim Jong-Il and the players being robots or secret agents. I ended up eating some crow as the North Koreans played an unbelievably organized and tidy match against the number one ranked team in the world. Heck! They even scored a nice goal against the Samba boys. At the end though, that extra bit of quality from players like Maicon and Elano was the difference.
After the draw between Ivory Coast and Portugal I tweeted that second place in that group will be determined by who can score more goals against North Korea. That might not be the case anymore.
Watched the Spain – Switzerland match just near my office on The Drive but was surprised by the lack of people. There were some Chileans in the bistro when I arrived, basking in the glow of their country’s victory over Honduras earlier in the morning. When the Swiss opened the scoring in the second half the Chileans were all cheering and getting excited. I figured that’s pretty normal for South Americans to dislike the Spaniards. Soon after, Spain was pressing for the equalizer and the Chileans started cheering them on. It was a classic case of wanting a draw so Chile can be alone in first place. A Scot – I think – was sitting behind us and he started chirping at the Chileans. Of course I couldn’t make out half of what he said but essentially he couldn’t figure out why the group was cheering for both sides. At the end I’m not sure if the Scot ‘bought” the explanation as he mumbled to himself.
I think it’s safe to say that so far World Cup 2010 has yet to take off given the lack of quality and entertainment value. Most teams adopted a cautious approach, flooded the midfield and played not-to-lose. Now that 16 first round matches have been completed, things should open up as teams will need to fight for 3 points. And if the score lines so far are any indication, I think we’re in for an exciting and unpredictable tournament.
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