Friday, July 2, 2010
Inside Africa - the story so far
Inside Africa: Story so far
Sunday, June 27, 2010
THE Greatest Show on Earth has had its fair share of controversies, fantasy football, ignominious exits for two European giants who contested the 2006 final and dramatic moments.
In fact, the plot synopsis is beyond any award-winning screenwriter's wildest imagination.
The usual suspects Brazil, Argentina, Spain, England, the Netherlands and Germany remain in contention, but by right the script was not supposed to have Japan , South Korea , Chile and Slovakia in the Last 16. That's the beauty of South Africa 2010. So, in a nutshell:
The story so far: Nicolas Anelka sent home, the team boycotted a training session in a mini French revolution, Raymond Domenech refused to shake hands with Carlos Alberto Parreira, Thierry Henry summoned for a tete-a-tete with President Nicolas Sarkozy.
What's next: The guillotine for sections of the squad and 'Dumbenech' to have all the time to enjoy theatre-hopping.
To think that: They were runners-up the last time.
The story so far: Defending champions who finished last in the group, had to rely on a penalty to avoid a defeat to New Zealand and Fabio Cannavaro's retirement.
What's next: Marcello Lippi's successor, Cesare Prandelli, to build the Azzurris around the new Didier Drogba, Mario Balotelli.
To think that: Cannavaro lifted the Cup in Berlin four years ago.
The story so far: The Chelsea skipper and defender launched a failed mutiny, suggested Joe Cole be included in the starting line-up before apologising to boss Fabio Capello, the team scraped a win over Slovenia, free from the shackles but Germany await in the Last 16.
What's next: Wayne Rooney to finally score from open play and Terry not required to participate in a penalty shootout for the second round tie would be decided in regulation time.
To think that: Terry's extra marital affairs would have taught him to keep a low profile.
The story so far: Questionable decisions, seemingly valid goals were ruled out, stupid sending-offs and the lack of discretion among a few men in the middle. Oh how we miss Pierluigi Collina.
What's next: More questionable decisions as the stakes become higher.
To think that: Fifa had prepared the 30 referees since 2007.
The story so far: The real star of the tournament. A boon for strikers, a bane for goalkeepers.
What's next: Goalkeepers will continue to be perplexed.
To think that: The research in coming up with the technology was conducted by United Kingdom's foremost sports university, Loughborough University.
The story so far: Also another star of the tournament, a real phenomenon.
What's next: For the plastic horn to be the next global craze, from Hanoi right up to Alaska .
To think that: Its reason for being is to summon distant villagers to attend community gatherings.
The story so far: A top-notch marksman, illustrated by the hat-trick against South Korea.
What's next: Hotly tipped to bag the golden boot.
To think that: Higuain, being born in France, had the choice of donning French colours, but common sense prevailed.
The story so far: Irresistible to watch. Diego Maradona has little experience, but his team play for him. Lionel Messi is well supported by Gonzalo Higuain, Angel di Maria and Carlos Tevez.
What's next: A possible rendezvous with fierce rivals Brazil in the final.
To think that: Argentina only secured a place in South Africa on the last day of the qualifying campaign.
Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh and Martin Hansson
The story so far: Yet to be appointed to officiate in any of the matches.
What's next: May return home with only vuvuzelas.
To think that: All referees at the 2006 World Cup were given at least one game.
The story so far: The Samurais, powered by the aptly named Keisuke Honda, showed Denmark and Cameroon the door, losing only to a stinging Wesley Sneijder's shot.
What's next: A win over Paraguay for a meeting with Portugal in the quarter-finals.
To think that: The Japanese studied the Malaysian football model in 1980
The story so far: A 4-1 defeat to Argentina was nothing to be ashamed of for the Koreans beat Euro 2004 winners Greece and drew with African giants, Nigeria, to earn a ticket to the second round.
What's next: Should be satisfied with their best performance outside their own country.
To think that: Malaysia were on par with the Koreans throughout the 1970s and even beat them at home in a pre-World Cup qualifier in 1985 thanks to a Dollah Salleh 30-yard screamer.
This is the story so far. Next, we need more goals to make South Africa 2010 a real spectacle. And a well-organised team like Brazil or a fantastic Argentina side led by the best player on the planet, Lionel Messi, to lift the Cup for a fitting audience-pleasing finale.
The Brunei Times