The first cycle of matches in the first stage of the 2010 World Cup have been at best average barring couple of games like Argentina v Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire v Portugal. There have been high class individual performances like Ozil for Germany, Park Ji Sung for the Korean Republic, Enyeama for Nigeria. Germany so far has had the best team performance closely followed by the Korean Republic. Of course, their performances were accentuated by the mediocre performances of their opponents. Nonetheless, they were the most impressive so far.
In the crowd, the vuvuzela seems to be the buzzword, literally. There are bans all round for banning it but Sepp Blatter asks, “will you ban your local music traditions if someone from another country came visiting?” Here’s an interesting video where Samson Ntsebeza of the Vuvuzela Orchestra demonstrates how to play the horn. One has to purse one’s lips and breathe out (sometimes spit out like spitting out watermelon pips).
In a post in the Kagalog, Heinrich Bohmke says about the people who play the horn:
Juveniles. We have a lot of inherently juvenile people in this country
People inadequately brought up
But FIFA continue to let the horns play. And rightly they should.
Goalkeepers have been in the news – couple of them for their brilliant performances, at least two for their gaffes. Victor Enyeama was the number one reason why Messi does not have a goal yet in the World Cup. And also why the scoreline of the match was 1-0 only and not 5-0 as it could have been.
Robert Green however is on a different boat. Simon Hattestone, a former goalkeeper empathises with Green:
Poor Robert Green, RIP. One mistake and he’s buried. Forwards get to miss any number of open goals and they always get another chance. Goalies? Forget it. Even if Fabio Capello forgives PRG, will the British public after the farce of Saturday night? I doubt it. How much praise have you heard for the magnificent save that kept us in the game at 1-1? Exactly. Or the way he held his hands up after the game? (If only he’d done as much in it.) Or the way he almost managed to look the camera in the eye and said these things happen.
Poor Robert Green. And poor Faouzi Chaouchi of Algeria for that matter – his cockup this weekend handed Slovenia a 1-0 win. Who’d be a goalkeeper?
Goalkeeping is indeed one of those thankless jobs where people remember you when there is a goal scored against you. I must admit that I preferred to be a goalie myself. It saved me from all the running around one had to do when on the field.
Regarding Africa in this world cup, all six teams have had their games and we have one win (Ghana), two draws and three losses (all of the 0-1). Nothing much can be read into the specific performances though Ivory Coast seemed to be the most fluent on the field. The next cycle of matches will require some of these teams to open up. South Africa play Uruguay which should be an opportunity to do well.
Finally Germany. The German team looks completely different from earlier stereotyped images of the dour mechanical physically strong men punting the football around the park with geometrical precision. There is more flair, more creativity and more colour. This could be explained with the composition of the team – 3 Poles, 2 Turks, 1 Bosnian Serb, 1 Spaniard, 1 Ghanaian, 1 Brazilian, 1 Tunisian. This social assimilation in the German team is unique. Most of them are graduates of the U-21 team which won the European championship last year. Klinsmann, the previous coach started by picking youngsters in his team in 2006 itself with Schweinsteiger and the 2 Poles. Now Loew continues bringing in Messut Ozil, easily the star of the show so far, even better than Messi because Ozil’s overall efforts culminated in goals.
Right time for me to wind up and head for the Brazil match against the enigmatic North Koreans.