10 things we will remember this world cup for
10. This time for Africa: Finally as promised by Mr. Sepp Blatter, the World Cup went to Africa, to its southernmost nation, Republic of South Africa, who organised one of the most spectacular sporting festivals on the earth. The spirit of Africa was at showcase right from the opening ceremony through to the Closing ceremony. The vivid colours of Africa could be seen in the stadium, the Africans supporting their national teams had their own carnival going on. Dancing, singing, performing rituals and blowing their own custom designed claxons was one new experience for us Premier League watchers.
9. Poor to Average Commentary: The International Audience of the English commentary broadcast out of England was in for some irritating moments especially those that were following matches commentated upon by John Helm(including the Grand Finale). Errors ranging from Factual errors, that even Indian football fans could correct to mathematical errors you wouldn’t expect out of a dyslexic elementary school student. Fans could always be heard saying ” Dude Germany and now, Spain are not the only two nations to hold the Euro and the World Cup at the same time, remember France doing it in 2000?’ or “it is the 106th minute of the game, how can only 4 minutes be left”. Leave the errors, there were so many nerve cracking moments in the match, that we saw while wondering, where the hell the commentator was, or why he chose to remain mute on them. It appeared as if Helm was talking about the match watching from a television screen, while gladly wasting the superb seat he was given to witness the world cup action. You were sorely missed, Mr. Martin Tyler. Those lucky Americans!
8. Germany: No one in their senses outside of Germany was predicting them to reach the semi-finals, and after the news of the injury to Michael Ballack came out, their chances of making it to the second round were being questioned. But Germany silenced their critics, in style, by becoming only the first side to emulate Brazil’s performance of scoring 4 goals in 3 different games. Germany reminded everyone so much of Arsenal FC, a team full of youngsters, a team currently being rebuilt after the exodus of quite a few superstars, but when put in action, their teams have shown so much of flare, something that their teams from the past are not renowned for. And they found quite a few future superstars in the faces of Ozil, Muller, Trachowski and Khedira.
7. El Diego: Not Maradonna, but Forlan, the Golden Ball winner of the 2010 World Cup, deservedly so. Tied for first place in the Golden Boot competition(eventually losing out to Muller), the weight of Uruguayan expectations was on Diego Forlan’s humble shoulders, but they proved their might. Others may argue that they had an easy run in the knockout stages, but I’d say that reaching the semi-finals of a world cup is a very big achievement be it any team(with Ghana being no push overs). His finishing was something even the other Diego would be proud of, but what made him stand apart was his taming of the ball in dead ball situations. Hats off, for handling the pressure so well, Diego.
6. C. Ronaldo + Kaka + Rooney + Messi + van Persie = 1 Goal: Ask any person who follows European Club football to name a few top class strikers, and these would be the names that you would get. With three FIFA world player of the year titles between them, and a few golden boots from the leagues that they play in, all the hype turned into foul smelling fizz, which reeked of complacency and over expectations. Kaka and van Persie can be excused for being team men and contributing elsewhere on the field but the others simply had a dismal world cup, by their standards. Fatigue after scoring 30 odd goals for your club? Probably.
5. Fall of the Goliaths: There is a very popular group on Facebook titled, France and Italy met in the finals 0f the 2006 World Cup. In 2010 they met at the Airport. Some sinister minded England fan must’ve come up with that, but only to see his side bow out in the second round itself, along with Portugal. And what followed were the casualties of Brazil and Argentina. And probably apart from Spain, all of them were the top sides in any bookie’s list of probable world cup winners. Maybe animals know better!
4. Vuvuzelas: You got irritated at them first, you couldn’t hear the trashy commentary. You tried altering the volume to find a perfect level, some even tried downloading softwares from the internet to counter them. But all failed, you simply had to live with them. They have been labeled in two worded terms, with each of them including the name of an insect. These brightly coloured plastic trumpets were simply everywhere. I hear that they are mass producing them in China now, and are planning to make an entry into the the Premier league. Would someone from the Wimbledon’s list of authorities step in and ummm… ban them!
3. Paul: Not Gascoigne, or Scholes, and not even Masefield, but the Octopus. Bewildered? Watch the news silly, and you’ll know what I am talking about. An octopus from Germany that has been putting astrologers and bookies to shame, has been successfully predicting results of World Cup Games, and has amassed a world wide following!!! Strange!!! And last I heard, a Parrot from Singapore was giving him competition, but Paul won, by correctly predicting the result of the finals. Oh Paul!!!
2. Oranje: The jersey looks straight out of a Fanta commercial, but the team is not, they’ve got some skills. Attack wise and even defensively, they posses some of the best players in the world. The likes of van Bommel, Robben, van Persie, Sneijder, van Bronchorst in your starting line up and someone like Huntelaar to sit on your bench, then you have got a team. Probably a little cagey on occasions, but when they got going, they surely had the opposition in problems. But sadly, their fairy tale came to an end, in the finals. Their style of play wasn’t exactly reminiscent of the Total Football of the seventies exhibited by Cryuff and co.(although there were sparks of that in the semis against Uruguay) but the end result was the same, Loss in the finals. Having never won the holy grail of football, the Dutch would have to do with pot, and wait some more for the cup(no pun intended)
1. la Furia Roja: And finally, VIVA ESPANA was what the crowd was chanting, and was what banners read all over the Soccer City Stadium, and on status lines of followers of Spain on Facebook, simply because they were the the best team in the world cup, and they have a trophy to show for it, finally and have become the first team in history to win the trophy after loosing their first game. Having been labelled as the chokers of past world cups, Spain this time had probably the best shot at winning the World Cup. Having lifted the Euro Cup two years ago, this team boasted of some of the best players in the world. Villa, Torres and Pedro up front, assisted by Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso and Busquets in the midfield and Ramos, Puyol, Pique and Capdevilla making up the defence, you are sure to be in the list of pre-tournament favourites. Add to that the safe hands of arguable the best keeper in the world, Iker Casillas, and the guardian of the team as Vicente del Bosque there is more than flavour to your team. And Spain surely did live up to their expectations, and silence their critics world over. Their future is bright as well, with the likes of Fabregas and Jesus Navas who spent most of the World Cup, sitting on the bench. The only thing that wasn’t right about them was that they stood at the wrong place on the podium to receive the trophy from Sepp Blatter.
Other things we’d remember this world cup for: The Jabulani Ball, French in fights(despite not scoring a goal in 2002, and bowing out of the world cup in the first round itself, somehow this one turned out to be their worst world cup ever), the possible rise of USA, FC Barcelona, the Soccer City Stadium etc. etc.