Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Tuesday 22 June 2010 – WORLD CUP DAY TWELVE

There will be tears tomorrow. When two months ago I booked the day of the England v Slovenia off at work at holiday my boss flip flopped. Now he appears to have completely forgotten it, appearing to even fail to register that the World Cup is on and in the process he is foisting more work onto my already heaving workload. This causes me some discomfort. Should I come clean and battle it out with him in a game of persuasion or do I keep schtum and drop myself in for a potential ton of shit at a later date? In the end I plump for the latter (much like Homer Simpson’s tactic when he asked Marge to the prom). My boss is just not working class; he does not get it (although three days of borderline racist joke text messages suggest he is trying).

Elsewhere people seem to have royally turned on John Terry for his comments in the press conference. Personally they didn’t register as all that scandalous to me, quite frankly it was refreshing to hear someone with a bit of a bark in the England camp. The responding interview on the BBC with Fabio Capello just felt creepy in comparison (but this was perhaps not helped by the camera periodically zooming in on his face/expression). Regardless of what Terry says I think Capello has lost it. And I have no idea why or how? From some angles it genuinely appears that we might have our own version of the French situation on our hands. Very quickly Capello is beginning to resemble something of a crazy man, physically almost like a Spitting Image puppet as in conversation he just appears to be rambling, is the Ibogaine effect? During both games from the bench he was been seen to walk around in what appears bewilderment. It is truly gutting to see how things are panning out now as a 4-1 victory at Croatia now feels like a lifetime ago.

Seems were are all having our problems with management and authority figures

In many ways this is the most fascinating game of the day. At work my colleague actually asks me “what happens if France doesn’t turn up?” Have things really got that bad? It certainly seems that people are getting that impression. The reality is that FIFA would probably give South Africa a 3-0 victory and ban France from competing in any major tournaments for the foreseeable future until Platini would manage to pull some stings. Regardless France do turn up and it is with a team that looks fractured on paper alone. Did anyone really expect Cisse to start a game in this World Cup? Ahead of Henry? From my vantage point of my desk at work I try to watch the game online but because BBC aren’t covering it I wind up Iraq Goals where I think most other working stiffs currently are. As a result inevitably the game is just one long buffer and soon I give up (returning to downloading old episodes of The Bugle podcast before The Times zap what remains of their website). Much like most of the world my colleague and I would love to see South Africa go through but it’s just an order too tall. Then again memories remain of the Senegal victory over France at the 2002 World Cup. From here it doesn’t take too long for good news to come through as on the 20th minute mark Khumalo gives the South Africans the lead with a goal where the expectations were there but not there. Five minutes later Gourcuff gets sent off which suggests that having been forced to eat dinner on his own has finally taken its toll. That and the French team really do not give a fuck. Just before halftime the world rejoices once more as Mphela adds a second for South Africa in the 37th minute. At halftime France bring on Malouda for Cisse (makes sense) and then finally ten minutes later Henry shows his face at this World Cup. On the 70th minute Malouda pulls one back for France and then that’s it. France go out and South Africa go out both having been very entertaining for very different reasons.

Ultimately with Group A as the heart says South Africa, the head says Mexico and Uruguay as their progress feels somewhat more earned and inevitable. Compared to the other game in the group there is less interest in this match it seems not least represented by the fact that I appear to be able to get a decent online stream of this fucker. In the end Suarez gets over his tissue incident last Wednesday to score in the 43rd minute to give Uruguay a 1-0 victory to top the Group A table and the probable reward of avoiding Argentina in the process.

With a fourth train delay in two days facing inevitably when I get home this evening the Argentina v Greece is already in progress. Much against expectations it is not too much of a weakened Argentina side with Messi on the field. Today is the 24th anniversary of Maradona’s Hand Of God incident at Mexico 86. These days I don’t think he could manage to leap so high. With their place in the knockout round seal Argentina largely coast it while Greece appear intent in getting their chops in on Messi. At the 36 minute mark the World Cup gets its latest cottonmouth in the form of Avraam Papadopoulos from Greece. Early in the second half Russell Brand (Samaras) gets in a decent effort, working the move pretty much solo. Towards the end of the game a frustrated Messi gets rolling, not least in the 68th minute when he strikes an amazing free kick against the Greek post. Argentina eventually take the lead in the 77th minute when a scramble ram from a corner by Demichelis almost takes out the net. Now that’s a headband. In the 86th minute Messi almost breaks the goalpost again with another effort before two minutes later old man Palermo scores from distance after a Messi rebound. Group B ends with Argentina unsurprisingly on full points and a first round encounter with Mexico set for Saturday.

During the television Argentina v Greece game a corner caption opens up to report that Nigeria have scored with another goal from Kalu Uche from a seemingly harmless cross (at the 12 minute mark). It’s a nice finish coupled with terrible defending. Not long after this he smashes the ball against the South Korean post. Later Jung-Soo Lee scores an equalizer from a crossed free kick with a header cum kick in the 38th minute. Not long after halftime while we still await the first goal in the televised Group B game South Korea take the lead by a free kick from Chu-Young Park. In the 69th minute Yakubu puts away a penalty making the game 2-2 which it is how it ends as both Nigeria and South Korea exit the World Cup to little surprise.

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