Thursday, 24 June 2010

Thursday 24 June 2010 – WORLD CUP DAY FOURTEEN

It should come as no surprise that I awaken into Day Fourteen nursing something of a hangover. To be honest it could have been worse but fever dreams derived from sleeping naked on top of my duvet and having people laugh at the size of my member is not an inspiring thing. This has to be some kind of metaphor for the competition so far.

Outside it is another warm day, one where only the strong will survive and where obese men now feel brave and proud enough to wear ill fitting Umbro England shirts out in public.

I am happy to say that yesterday appears to have proved my recent comments regarding certain people in the England camp wrong. For the first time in recent memory the Capello smile looked genuine and on the pitch Terry proved a lot at a time where a feeling of being undermined could have affected his performance.

ITALY v SLOVAKIA
While I am stuck at work dealing with tight deadlines and an office devoid of air con it later becomes apparent that I am missing out on what sounds like one of the most eventful matches of the finals so far. Despite not exactly setting the tournament on fire Slovakia take a 25th minute lead through Vittek before adding a second towards the end in the 73rd minute. With the Italians looking like they’re about to go the same way as France the game begins to kick off. In the 81st minute Di Natale pulls back a goal and suddenly Italy are back within a fighting chance of World Cup survival. Three minutes later and they are all but there as the apparently excellent Quagliarella scores a goal that is incorrectly given offside, much to the chagrin of the universe (and later it turns out Jimbo). With it never going to happen now the Slovakians add a third in the 89th minute Kopunek. Two minutes into injury time Quagliarella scores again but this time it sticks but the game ends 3-2 as the Italians (and the holders) crash out. This is not a tournament sympathetic towards the plight of the European heavyweights.

NEW ZEALAND v PARAGUAY
The other remaining game in Group F ends at 0-0 it what sounds like being another physical stonewall performance from the Kiwis, one maybe more fitting to a rugby pitch rather than a football one. It means New Zealand manage to end the tournament surprisingly unbeaten, which is something I don’t think anybody expected. Fortunately for Paraguay their victory over Slovakia on Sunday turns out to be enough to see them through, which feels like justice, as they have been value for money.

DENMARK v JAPAN
When I finally get home tonight I am surprised to find the BBC are showing this match in preference to the Holland v Cameroon game. It turns out to be a fine decision as the Japanese genuinely impress with an exciting performance. At the point I am able to join the game Japan are already 1-0 up from a free kick by Honda in the 17th minute. Then Japanese precision strikes again at the half hour mark when Endo strikes a perfect free kick. From here Denmark slowly fall apart, becoming tetchy and physical in a manner that is not befitting their legacy. Bendtner is visibly frustrated. He is also not the player he apparently thinks he is. Before halftime Morten Olsen is already making changes (substitutions) but going into the second half Denmark just do not appear to be capable, bordering on impotent. It makes no difference as shortly after halftime Endo smashes another free kick from distance begins to loop down seeing Sorensen having to tip the ball onto the post. It is a truly breathtaking sight, one that would have been easily on my favourite goals of the tournament. From here it seems obvious that Denmark are beaten men, a spent force not capable of recapturing previous glories. In a way it is a sad end to their performance but shit happens. With ten minutes to go they get a penalty which the lumbering Tomasson steps up and takes only to have it saved by Kawashima but he manages to fumble home the rebound while also nobbling himself as he lands funny on his knee coming down. Despite this Japan eventually seal the deal when Okazaki adds a third in the 87th minute and Godzilla weeps for joy as the mighty Samuri Blue rock on through to the knockout stages.

CAMEROON v HOLLAND
Elsewhere at the same time Holland and Cameroon play out their respective World Cup campaigns with the Dutch definitely through and the Cameroons definitely going home. Unsurprisingly the Netherlands takes the lead when Robin Van Persie scores in the 36th minute. From here no further news comes through until the 65th minute when Samuel Eto’o fires a penalty that almost takes the net with it. In the 73rd minute Robben gets introduced for his first taste of the tournament while another substitute in the form of Huntelaar snatches the winner in the 83rd minute ending the game at a 2-1 victory for Holland giving them three wins out of three, no mean feat in this competition this year. At a time where consistency is rare such solid performances are a weighty achievement.

Thus ends one of the more exciting days of these finals.

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