Saat Din. 7 days. Friday, 11th June, 7.30 pm the Bafana Bafana will take on the Mexican eagles at the Soccer City in Soweto. This stadium was the historic venue where Nelson Mandela took the oath of office when he became President of South Africa in 1994.
With 7 days to go, let’s do a check list for those who are going to be there for the whole month in spirit if not in body.
About the World Cup
1. Do you know the schedule? Here. Indian standard time, matches are at 5.00 pm, 7.30 pm and midnight.
2. Do you know the groups?
Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Group C: England, United States, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Group F: Italy (defending champion), Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
3. Do you know who’s playing and who’s not playing? Here.
For watching the World Cup
1. For the 5.00 pm match, for office goers, do you know where you can watch online? Do a search now Update: @atulmathew tells us justin.tv and channelsurfing.net do live streaming.
2. For the 7.30 pm match, do you know the nearest pub which will be screening the match? Get onto Google Maps, Yahoo Local, burrp or any other resource. Call friends and coordinate schedules. Cancel all leave. Cancel all business trips, sales calls after 5 pm, keep all meetings in the mornings, etc
3. For the midnight match, do you have sufficient beer stocked in the fridge? Chips? Pizza delivery phone numbers?
4. Which matches in the group stage cannot be missed under any circumstances?
Group A: South Africa v Mexico, Jun 11th 7.30 pm, the opening match there’s always some excitement, an upset or something. And it’s the host nation.
Group B: Argentina v Nigeria, June 12th 7.30 pm, old rivalry which cuts across Youth World Cup, the Olympic Games and the World Cup (1994 world cup).
Group C: England v USA, June 12th midnight – the last time they played in 1950, USA shocked the world beating England 1-0. It is the same this time, England with the world’s richest football league, USA where soccer comes way down the pecking order. Expect an upset here.
Group D: Germany v Ghana, June 23rd midnight – the last game of the group, could well be a needle match and one Ghanaian Patrick-French Boateng is going to face a lot of vengeful Germans besides his own brother Jimmy Boateng who is a German citizen.
Group E: Japan v Cameroon, June 14th 7.30 pm – the Asian superstars take on the Indomitable Lions led by Samuel E’to. My sense is one of them will advance to the next round.
Netherlands v Cameroon June 24th midnight – the last game. Netherlands are usually called the South Africa (the cricket team) of football because of the regular choking habit
Group F: The most boring group. Try to catch up on your sleep. Of course Azzurri fans all your matches are important.
Group G: The group of Death. Every match is critical. It could mean any of Brazil, Portugal and Cote D’Ivoire getting knocked out. And we don’t want that.
Cote D’Ivoire v Portugal, June 15th 7.30 pm – Didier Drogba and Christiano Ronaldo. It’s their stage.
Group H: Spain is stuck with three boring teams. Forget the matches, just track how many goals Villa or Torres are scoring.
For morning after, when you hit office next day bleary eyed, remember a few things
1. Check the status of your bets.
2. Check whether what you saw last night was a dream or reality (for example, should Lampard score from a penalty kick, England fans need to definitely do a reality check)
Please note I take no responsibility if you get sacked or your partner leaves you or England loses (in fact, why are they even playing).
My picks for semifinals: Spain, Argentina, Italy, Cote D’Ivoire (mandatory Dark Horse quota)